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Old 04-11-2006
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jared is on a distinguished road
Some real issues:

If you are overseas, the equipment must be approved for the country you are in. Not all use the same channels or power requirements, and in some places they enforce that with serious fines.

PCMCIA cards: PCM or USB, no difference per se. Look at the output power rating, and the receive sensitivity rating. They vary greatly.

Security & "free": Well, if you see a network ID like "UseMyWireless" that's probably meant to be shared. But hooking up without permission is illegal in most places. And, if the network is open, that also means your computer is open to anyone else on it, and your traffic can be monitored by whoever is running the WiFi point. Once you send email over a "free" link, unless you are using an encrypted email server and client software, your password now belongs to the world. Along with everything else you've sent. So, please, be paranoid about "free" open links. Yes, there are folks who intentionally put "free" access points on the air simply to share, but there are also folks who put them up so they can steal your information.
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Old 04-24-2006
Beneteau Oceanis 390
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bigreddo is on a distinguished road
In the USA, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, you can get wireless cellular connectivity from the major cell phone providers. It is not as fast as 802.11 and it is not free, but you do not need to hunt around for a wi-fi hot spot that is unprotected. The cell phone companies offer unlimited plans so you can transfer as much data as you like without paying extra.

I have the Sprint service in the USA, and I commonly get speeds like 200-300Kbps (about 5 times faster than dialup).
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