After the fiasco with the phone company on Tuesday we had a sit down to figure out what we were going to do about internet access and quickly. The time pressure comes from the fact that I’m starting back to work next week and need reliable internet access to do my job.

DSL was not an option (for a while at least), it’s not clear if cable is available here (and we’d heard bad things about reliability anyway) and satellite is expensive, also potentially unreliable & would take time to organise. Miri’s brother Avi suggested mobile broadband as an option. Miri also had the bright idea of asking our neighbour Leo (a Cuban-American lady who Miri had just met for the first time) what internet access she had.

Sure enough, it turned out she used a flat-fee mobile broadband service from Sprint, so we trundled off to the mall in Mayaguez where there was a big Sprint store. We spent at least 90 mins in there with a very helpful sales lady (who fortunately spoke reasonable English!) looking at options, haggling over price plans, getting a credit check, reading the contract small print etc. etc. and finally coming away with a laptop card for broadband access with unlimited use for $59.99 a month and a cellphone with lots of included minutes, free incoming calls worldwide and free off-peak calls to PR and mainland USA for $49.99 a month.

We dragged Avi to the store with us and fortunately they had a laptop setup for demonstrating the internet connection, so while Miri and I were busy, Avi took the chance to check emails, pay bills and chat to a couple of friends!

We’d had such bad reception at our house on the Cingular pay-as-you-go mobile that I was dubious about the speed & reliability of this new service. We have a 30 day cancellation clause, so its effectively a risk-free trial. So far the Sprint cell phone reception has been much clearer than Cingular and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the internet speed. For the those interested; Sprint claim it runs at 500-900kbps (up & down) and I’d say we’re at the lower end of that, but it is definitely useable. Another test will come this afternoon when I try and play Counter Strike online with my friends in the UK.

It is great having internet access at home. Its amazing how much you come to rely on it and miss it when its not there. Driving to coffee shops every day to check email, do blog postings etc. gets wearing very quickly. Once we decide we’re definitely keeping this service, we will invest in a wireless router so Miri and I can share the connection from both our laptops simultaneously.

This is our first blog posting done at home, on the balcony this morning…

Blogging on the balcony