Even though business travel used to be easy -- you could just pack a bag and a briefcase and hit the road -- staying in touch with the office was hard.But now, new technology gives us plenty of ways to keep in touch. And if staying connected is part of your job, it helps to know where you can access the Web and read your email, even if it means a little pretravel planning. How you'll connect to the Internet will vary with your hardware or service agreement. Your laptop or PocketPC might have a connection to a CDMA-based PCS wireless network like Sprint's ( S), or you may just have a generic 802.11b/g Wi-Fi card. CDMA and Wi-Fi access coverage areas are expanding, as business high-speed wireless is becoming more in demand and employees need connectivity to the office network and email while away. Hotels, airports, bookstores, coffee shops and now even whole cities are gearing up for online connectivity.
At Your ServiceThe promise of high-speed, always-on mobile broadband Internet access is finally beginning to be fulfilled. CDMA wireless Internet service is offered by many carriers, including Cingular, Verizon ( VZ), T-Mobile and others. These plans require that you install their hardware into your laptop, or purchase a separate mobile device and subscribe to their service. Some carriers, like Sprint, offer GPS capabilities with some mobile broadband devices, allowing you to search for points of interest without having to input your current location. Since this is a very hot technology revenue-wise, carriers are expanding their CDMA coverage areas very quickly. Check each carrier's Web site for the most updated coverage maps. If you haven't committed to a plan yet, use these maps to help you decide which vendor has the best plan for you. To view Russell Vines' video take of today's small-business travel segment,
Go GenericYou might not even need a dedicated CDMA wireless network to get on the Internet. Some services, such as Sprint's PCS(SM) Wi-Fi Access and Cingular's Wi-Fi Connect, can find and use generic 802.11 Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those found in coffee shops and airports. Neither vendor requires that you have their broadband PCS hardware installed in your laptop, only a login account, which commonly runs $30 a month or $9.95 for 24 hours of access. Sprint's Wi-Fi