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Heading out to Los Angeles this week for Communications Developer Conf / ITEXPO...

Sprint or Verizon? Recommendations for broadband access card for my Mac?

Who would you recommend for a wireless broadband access service for my laptop? Sprint or Verizon? (Those seem to be my main choices here in Keene, NH.) And would you recommend the USB dongle or the ExpressCard version?

In heading out the Communications Developer Conference/ITEXPO next week in L.A., the show organizers have already told me there is no free WiFi access at the LA Convention Center... but I can, of course, pay for the access through the local provider. (And probably deal with the same usual headaches of getting adequate signal strength.)

I am so incredibly sick of show WiFi, both in terms of paying for it and also just in quality, that yes, indeed, even though I am a cheap Yankee... er... "frugal", I think I need to suck it up and pay the $720/year to have wireless Internet access over the cell networks. This will also be hugely beneficial for all the wonderful times I spend hanging out in airports.

My choice seems to be either Sprint or Verizon. (AT&T and T-Mobile don't have great coverage in my area.) Both will cover whatever limited roaming I do in my local area... and both have coverage in the major cities I tend to travel to. I've seen both used on the Amtrak train down to New York. They both charge ~$60/month... they both charge $50-100 for your actual broadband access card. They both require a 2-year contract (or reference a 1-yr but then your hardware costs go up.) And they both seem to have 5GB monthly limits (on-network).

On the actual hardware, it seems that I can get either a USB dongle or an ExpressCard. The USB is interesting in the sense that I can plug it into virtually any computer and use it. But the ExpressCard version looks interesting because: 1) I don't use that slot currently for anything else (whereas I do plug things into the USB slots); and 2) it looks like a smaller external form factor, i.e. there's less sticking out of my laptop.

So my questions for you all, dear readers, are these:

  • Have you seen any great reason to prefer Sprint or Verizon?
  • Do either one work better with the Mac? (my laptop these days)
  • Do either work better than the other inside of buildings like convention halls? (I'm imagining neither one works great.)
  • Any suggestions of the USB dongle over the ExpressCard card?

Any advice or recommendations is definitely welcome... I'll probably be picking one of these up in the next couple of days. (Thanks in advance!)

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