One of the best features of Google’s Chromebook is the free 2-year Verizon data plan for up to 100MB/month. It’s perfect when I’m traveling and don’t have easy access to wifi. I realize most people just use their smartphone, but my $10/year T-Mobile piece of crap Samsung t139 flip phone is not what you’d call smart.
The Verizon contract ends this December and I’ve been curious to see if other providers would offer a cheap data plan for laptops and other devices (i.e. iPad/Pod) when wifi isn’t available. Gizmodo found an offer from NetZero, a company most considered dead and gone, that for $50 gives you a USB stick and 12 months on a 200MB/month data plan. Their hotspot will set you back $100, but supports up to 8 devices.
Another option touted by several folks in the comments is Clear.com. At $35/month for unlimited data, it’s a complete solution for internet connectivity rather than a once-in-a-while backup solution, but it’s still a way to have a device-agnostic, no-contract data plan.
As free Wifi becomes more prevalent, paid data plans may seem quaint, but I speak from experience when I say they can be handy when you’re in a dilly of a pickle.