Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rogers Portable Internet

I live in a fairly rural part of Canada, and this means that we sometimes lag behind other parts of the world for the latest technical advances to become available. We were late getting digital cell phone coverage, Vonage service, Cable modems (although we did have DSL coverage long before the rest of the country for some strange reason).

However, this should not not be any kind of barrier to the truly dedicated. After all, my goal is to get much of this kind of functionality for free, or at least as close to free as I can get. Besides, you will often see larger corporations doing little more than charging you a monthly fee for something you could get for free yourself.

Take Rogers in Canada, for instance. They now offer the "Portable Internet". This is a Wifi adaptor that connects to your computer, and then searches for and connects to available Wifi networks. As some readers have helpfully pointed out, Rogers portable internet is not a Wifi service at all. Mea culpa, and my apologies to Rogers. However, you can still use this post and its followup to connect to free Wifi networks if you happen to have any nearby. This is a great idea, and Rogers helpfully supplies you with coverage maps showing where the "hot spots" are throughout the country. What they neglect to tell you is that in a lot of cases the "coverage area" is not supplied by Rogers at all. In fact, all they are really doing is renting you a piece of hardware for what seems to me to be a very high price (at the time of this writing, you pay approximately $100 for the "modem" and $50/month for the service). Given the fact that all they really need to do is ship you the "modem", and someone else is providing the actual connectivity, this is a bit outrageous.

In fact, you can give yourself exactly the same service as Rogers excellent access to available free Wifi Networks in your area for a one time fee of about $50.00. It involves purchasing the appropriate wireless router and installing dd-wrt on it.

I'm going to post detailed instructions for doing so here. I like Rogers' network, and in fact subscribe to a number of their services... but this $50/month for the right to use someone else's network strikes me as usurious.

Stay tuned...