What is a Broadband AirCard&Reg;?

R. Kayne

A broadband AirCard® is a wireless modem manufactured by Sierra Wireless®, which comes in many proprietary flavors. AirCards are used primarily with laptop computers to provide high-speed Internet access using cellular technology. Most AirCards are made to fit into the ExpressCard or PC Card slot of the computer, though some feature a USB adapter or connector.

Though most AirCards are designed to fit into a card slot, some feature a USB adapter or connector.
Though most AirCards are designed to fit into a card slot, some feature a USB adapter or connector.

With digital subscriber line (DSL), cable and fiber optic Internet available for computers, you might wonder what role cellular Internet can play, particularly when it’s more expensive than most plans. As people are becoming increasingly dependent on connectivity both in business and in their personal lives, it isn’t always convenient or even possible to find a hotspot. A broadband AirCard® ensures Internet connectivity is available wherever cell service is available, and for most people that’s virtually everywhere, all the time.

With a broadband AirCard, a person can get high-speed Internet access in the back of a taxi.
With a broadband AirCard, a person can get high-speed Internet access in the back of a taxi.

The sheer convenience of a broadband AirCard® justifies its higher price tag for those who need Internet access on the go without the hassle and restrictions associated with WiFi® access. Not only does an AirCard® eliminate the problem of seeking out a hotspot, you can work from any location, even while in transit from one location to another.

Due to the flexibility provided by a broadband AirCard®, it seems tailor made for businesses. Field representatives, traveling salespersons, business executives and jet setting CEOs can avail themselves of everything from the company’s private network to cloud computing resources and online research without giving a thought to, or wasting a moment on, how to get online from the road, from a client’s office, from a taxi, or even from a moored yacht.

It’s not only businesses, however, that can benefit from broadband AirCard® technology. Nearly everyone with a laptop has found himself or herself wishing to get online at times when hotspots or other forms of access were unavailable. One of the nicest options of a broadband AirCard® is the ability to get temporary access when you need it most. Just plug in the card and purchase a 24-hour pass. Viola! Instant Internet served hot and fast on the spot, no waiting required.

Cellular Internet also comes in handy in other situations. Taking a vacation soon? Buy a week’s pass, two weeks, or a month and forget about the hassle of connectivity on your trip. Using a broadband AirCard®, you can get online from that cozy beach cottage, look up sight-seeing options on the road as you explore the local colors, check email from a scenic lookout or park, or see what’s up at your favorite socializing hub with your toes stuck in a sandy white beach.

Since cellular carriers use proprietary AirCards, choose the carrier first then purchase a broadband AirCard® branded for the carrier. Ask about coverage and roaming charges before committing, and if you’ll be traveling abroad, be sure the carrier has international coverage in the areas required. In this case the broadband AirCard® will also need to support international standards, which typically means choosing one that is compatible with tri-band and quad-band frequencies. In all cases look for a card that supports the newest cellular technology available at the time of purchase, as newer technologies provide higher data transfer speeds.

Businesses interested in purchasing several AirCards and a company account might get a large discount from major carriers. Unlimited plans require a monthly fee, while pay-as-you-go subscribers can opt to purchase blocks of time as needed.

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Discussion Comments


I live in a rural area of Arkansas. We are unable to get high speed internet through phone lines or cable. I have a Cricket Air card which does fairly well but not as well as I'd like. Sounds like Verizon and maybe others should work in this area, but do not.

I have a friend with an at&t air card and it works fine in other rural areas but not here. Do we need fiber optic in this area or why are we unable to get high speed internet. We're only a mile from the Little Rock, AR city limits. High time we had high speed internet. Please help.

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