As a REALTOR®, you realize how important it is to have Internet access at all times–f or email, for zipForm® 6 Professional (online), online faxing, accessing MLS and the numerous other applications that require the use of Internet access.

As you are not always at home or at the office, outside Internet connectivity becomes increasingly important. There are several different ways to get Internet access:

1. WiFi. This works just like your wireless router at home, where you don’t have to be connected, yet you can get high-speed internet access. There are many “hot spots” around the country, some free and some not. Sky Harbor Airport, Paradise Bakery and Starbucks are just a few of the places that give free Internet access. Others are encrypted, meaning you need to pay an hourly, daily or monthly fee to get Internet access. Almost all computers built in the last four years have WiFi access built into them, so you just search for the signal and connect.

2. Broadband cards. If you don’t want to rely on someone else’s signal or drive around to find a place that will give you that signal, you can use a broadband Internet access card. These will run you about $60 a month through a cell phone carrier, but unless you’re grandfathered in from when it used to be unlimited Internet access, most companies put a limit on how much you can use per month. As you don’t really know how much you are using, this can add up pretty quick if you’re downloading lots of songs and movies.

3) Data packages. Cell phone carriers also allow you to put a data package on your phone. You must understand that there are two different packages–one for your phone data (emails and Internet on your phone) and another package that allows you to use your phone as a modem to hook up to your computer so that your computer can get Internet access. There are two separate fees, so it can get pretty expensive.

There are some secrets out there that will help you save a lot of time and money that the cell phone carriers don’t mention or you have to do some searching to find.

Secret #1. You can go to to pay a one-time small fee to download an app for your phone that will turn your phone data plan into a modem, which allows you to get Internet access on your computer. It’s nice–easy, inexpensive and (after the initial download) free! (Not all phones are covered, and some plans to charge extra for the privilege.)

Secret #2. Depending on what phone you’re using, there is an app to turn your smart phone into a mobile WiFi hot spot. This will allow you to search the Internet connections in the area from your computer, and as one will be your phone that is now broadcasting a WiFi signal, you can log on to that encrypted, secure Internet access point. You can also give out your code to 10 other people, and they can also log on to your phone! iPod Touch, computers, iPods and any other device searching for a WiFi signal can now use your phone to get Internet access. (Putting on multiple users will slow down the connection. Check with your cell phone carrier as usage charges may apply.)

Just like your cell phone has dead zones, broadband cards and using your phone as a modem will also have dead zones, but with my Windows-based HTC smart phone, I almost always have a high-speed Internet connection that will allow me to work in my car, at a hotel (that charges $15/day for Internet connection) or any place else where I don’t want to rely on finding an encrypted signal.

You can find a related story, “Tech Tools for the Mobile REALTOR®: Mobile Computers & Wireless Networking,” in the July issue of Arizona REALTOR® Magazine.

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