Data coverage is getting there but has a long way to go.
You need to look exactly where you are traveling to and compare this to the providers coverage maps. Sometime you will get only the slowest data rate but just across the street you will get the max speed available. Choose your provider based on where you feel you need the high speed the most and which location you can live with lower speed.
Almost all newer "cards" are USB based but the pci cards come in handy if you every need a router to attach multiple machines.
The newest on the market is sprints new WIMAX service. If you are in the coverage area the speeds are the highest you can get and they offer unlimited data for $70. Of course the fine print says if you move to the slower 3g because you cannot get 4g coverage you are limited to 5gig/month with a huge overage charge.
Don't expect anything to be fast. If you get 1m down on any 3g system that is very good. You get on a busy tower and is drags. The little I have played with the sprint 4g seems to work fast but you don't know if that's because its fast or its just not overloaded yet. My house is in a dead spot for sprint 4G so I have to wait.
Read the fine print. This new sprint one is the first that for now is truly unlimited. You will find all kinds of extra fees for stuff if you are not careful. Some say you cannot stream video even though they have commercials showing streaming video to the phones.
I suspect this market will change very fast in the next year. Sprint is first to market with a 4g system but verizon is starting to role out their LTE based 4G. Lots of arguments if LTE is better than WIMAX but it will all come down to if you even have a choice because of coverage of a particular location.
Bottom line is to study and zoom in to very low level on the coverage maps. There are many more dead spots for data than for voice.
I was wondering, in your guys' experience what the best laptop card to go with is? Or rather, the best provider. Be it Sprint or Verizon, or whatever. I just got a laptop and I will be traveling a lot and I want a better speed than I get on my cell phone. Granted, when I had my Instinct on Sprint it seemed to be pretty fast and I wouldn't be too upset with that. I just have a normal phone now.
I was looking for something along the lines of Clearwire speeds, at least. I'm based in California. The reason I can't use Clearwire's cards are my laptop is very new and only has an express card 34mm slot which Clearwire doesn't support. Can anyone provide any insight as to what service I should look into for good speeds? Thank you.