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robnew72@hotmail.com

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  1. I teach online for a community college, and daily access to the Internet is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Seven years ago, staying connected was a nightmare. I depended on dial-up or the infrequent wireless connection at RV parks--but more often than not, sought out Panera Bread (free wireless access but with sometimes spotty results) and community libraries. After a long day on the road, heading to the library took precedent over happy hour--we were not happy campers, to say the least. Four years ago, I purchased Verizon's air card, only to find that the further away from the really big cities we got (we got no service in Texas), the less chance there was I'd get online using my air card. Even worse, I was forced to accept a year's contract for the card. When we returned home from the four-month summer trip, we tried to cancel with no penalty since the card was not working as the Verizon salesperson had assured us it would, but Verizon was unsympathetic. We were charged a penalty, cancelled the air card, and were left with a BAD taste in our mouths. (We actually were also charged for cell phone overages because I was on the cell phone to the Verizon tech support so often--and even the techs couldn't help.) Last summer, I dispensed with a summer teaching contract becasuse we traveled to Alaska, and I didn't want to invite trouble. This summer, we are traveling mostly in the lower 48, and I thought I'd upgrade to the Droid and tether my computer to it for wireless service when necessary. Unfortunately, we weren't eligible for an upgrade; I decided to wait. Instead, we purchased the newest Verizon aircard--a 5 G deal with the ability (so they say; we haven't done this yet) to suspend service when we return home and have our own home-based wireless service. I have been immensely pleased. It has consistently provided me with service, even when I've barely had a bar. I am using a fairly new (2009 vintage HP Pavilion laptop with built in wireless card) and they both seem to have no trouble hooking me up to my classroom. I feel very safe in recommending the aircard--especially the one with the ability to suspend service and then re-instate it when needed. Verizon, too, has become a more sympathetic company to deal with. I unwittingly used the air card while in Alberta, Canada, a few weeks ago and wracked up $400 in international charges in one night by "Skypping" my daughters. I thought I was saving money by using the air card since we don't have international cell phone coverage. I slept on that idea overnight and awoke the next morning in a panic. I called Verizon and told them what had happended. They told me I could put the air card on international service ($129 instead of $59 a month) and rolled back the start date to include the Skyppe phone call. The $400 charge became a pro-rated $10 charge, to my great relief (I did not want to explain that one to my husband!). Then, when we left Canada, we called again and got the service changed back to the domestic contract. The data usage for the international service will again be pro-rated on my next bill, I've been assured. While I'm now eligible for the Droid upgrade, I'm thinking I might wait that one out since the air card is working so well.
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