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GSM without the phone

GSM and other cellular networks offer an alternative to Wi-Fi networks. Cellular networks provide better coverage, but no wireless network is perfect.

I have a question regarding GSM and wireless Internet.

Wireless networks can only be used where a Wi-Fi connection is available. GSM, on the other hand, is everywhere a cell phone can be used. Internet navigation is available through GPRS/EDGE technology. Has anyone in the IT industry tried to put those technologies together: GSM Internet with a computer, without using a cell phone? My customers find themselves in places where only cell phones work, but they would like to access the Internet with a computer. Is it possible?

First of all, let me correct a slight misconception -- any wireless network will only work wherever it provides coverage. Neither Wi-Fi nor cellular are perfect. Both can suffer from gaps in coverage due to limitations in where cells or access points (APs) can be located, as well as the vagaries of radio propagation. But, you are correct -- while the situation is fluid, cellular (be it GSM or CDMA) in general today provides better coverage than a metro-scale or other Wi-Fi network. You can often connect a notebook or other computer to a cellular network via Bluetooth or a USB cable to many cellular handsets; check with your carrier to see if this will work in your case. To avoid the phone altogether, get a PC card adapter from your carrier. You'll need a separate data plan, but this option will enable a notebook to connect to the Internet via the cellular network without using a handset. By the way, if you have a newer notebook computer, ExpressCard versions of these are also starting to appear.

Get more tips and best practices for networking on-the-go in our mobile networking topic center.

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