Here’s a clever way around pricey hotel wireless charges

By | April 17th, 2008

Unless you’re a frequent business traveler and own an expensive wireless mobile broadband aircard with a two-year plan, there’s no way around a hotel’s $9.95 per day wireless fee. If you want to stay connected when you’re away, the resort’s got you over a barrel.

But a new company called Rovair promises to add another connectivity option. Instead of signing a contract with a wireless carrier or being bilked by a hotel, you can rent a mobile aircard by the day.

I don’t travel enough to own an aircard. (In fact, I really hate traveling — but that’s another story.)

If I wanted one, I’d have to pay $60 a month to Sprint, Verizon or AT&T. That’s way too much for someone who’s on the road every other week.

I tested Rovair, which costs as little as $5.95 a day according to its site, on a recent trip to New Orleans. It took about five minutes to order the card from the company’s site and it arrived by UPS the next morning. Installing the Spring SmartView application took another five minutes.

The Sierra Wireless AirCard plugged into one of my laptop’s USB ports without any trouble. The card is a little bulky, but after some fiddling I managed to lock it in the upright position, where it stayed out of my way.

In terms of performance, the card worked flawlessly every time and offered a lighting-fast connection. I Skyped my family using video, and there were no noticeable delays. One of the things I really liked about the card is that it worked anywhere — in the hotel, the cab to the airport, at the airport. Really, anywhere I could open my laptop, I could connect.

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I would recommend Rovair for any occasional traveler with a need to connect.

Before signing up, do a little math. Price the Rovair card option against the daily connect fee at your property, and if you’re going to be a guest at the hotel for a longer amount of time, see if it can waive or reduce the connection charge. If the resort insists on billing you $9.95 a day, Rovair is a good bet.

Certainly, it’s a more flexible one.