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What is a Wireless Air Card?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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A wireless air card, or Internet card, is a card designed to help a computer connect to a cellular telephone system for communication with a network, most likely the internet. It is advantageous to the user in that it can be used to connect to the internet when there is no other way to do so. This card can be a convenient tool for those who are dependent upon multiple computing and need that connectivity.

While notebook computing has always been a convenience, there have always been some limitations, especially when it comes to internet access. Wireless internet access can include many ways of getting online. WiFi is, perhaps, the best well known of all the internet connections. However, WiFi has some very severe limitations. While it is ideal for those who can count on being in one location for a significant period of time, it is nearly useless for those who find they will be doing a lot of moving around.

However, a wireless air card, which uses cellular phone frequencies, has a much broader range. In fact, nearly anywhere where a cellular signal can be obtained, a this card may be used. However, it can only work if the cellular network supports not only voice transmission, but data transmission as well. There are other things to consider about Internet cards as well.

The main consideration is that different air card types work with different types of technologies. The technology that is compatible with some types of systems may not be compatible with other types. Therefore, check with your cellular provider to see what types of cards may work in your area. The cellular provider should also be able to provide you with a map of coverage throughout your country, and perhaps the region.

The wireless air card will only work for those who are subscribed to the network. Therefore, such a card will often require a monthly subscription fee. However, there may be other payment arrangements which are acceptable as well. Though the first ones may have started out only allowing a certain number of hours per month, the standard now is for unlimited access.

For those who are looking for a wireless air card, the best bet is to check with your own cellular provider. That company will often be the best choice and may even offer a discount on a package deal. Those who choose a wireless air card may opt to cancel a traditional internet service, as the connection is often comparable.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By FrameMaker — On Dec 17, 2010

@ Georgesplane- I have an HTC smart phone that has this feature. I use it all the time. I have a group of people that I study chemistry with, and using the wireless air card allows all of us to be internet connected virtually anywhere. We often go to the park and sit at the picnic tables to do our studying, hooking our laptops up to my phone network.

By Georgesplane — On Dec 16, 2010

Certain phones from sprint and t-mobile can be used as wireless air cards. Both of these networks also offer unlimited internet access options. I am with t-mobile, and I can use my phone as a wireless aircard to hook up to five computers to the internet through my 3G connection. This comes in handy when I am traveling and don't want to use potentially fraudulent wifi connections, or if I want a secure private connection to connect to the internet with.

Phone routers are also useful in places where there is a charge for wifi. Coffee shops, airports, hotels, and even some libraries will charge for internet access, but using your cell phone can circumvent all these fees.

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