So when you live disconnected from the grid, how do you get internet access? Many people, myself included, like being free from dependance on the main power system for multiple reasons. The main one for me is location and the fact that I am in a remote location with no other option. But that doesn't mean that everyone wants to loose access to all the benefits of internet access with it's wealth of information. So I looked at a lot of options when I was preparing to make that move off grid. There are few options when there is no cable or other hard line connection and all of them have issues.
Satellite tends to be very expensive and can be affected by weather making it unreliable especially if you live in a little pocket in the mountains surrounded by trees.
Wireless hotspots through a cell provider are the main viable option at the moment. But they tend to be pricy and come with a limited amount of data use. This makes it tough to do things like watch movies or up and download large photo files. Verizon has the best coverage in my area but 10 gigabytes of data which is about my average use per month costs over $100. AT+T's and Sprint's plans are similar. That's pretty pricy especially if you are trying to keep your living expenses low.
There are several pay as you go providers that basically resell space on the larger networks. I have used one of these (Page Plus) for my cell phone needs for years now and been very happy with them. They don't provide a data option that works for use with a laptop though.
First I tried Flashwireless. They offer data plans with approved use of laptops, tablets, and other devices. And they offer an unlimited plan, their most expensive one, with an extra charge per month to allow you to use things like your laptop with it. This added up to about $85 a month. Still pricy, but seemed worth it to me to have internet and not have a strict data cap. They offered a two week trial period and during that time, the service performed perfectly. I tested everything, loading photos to my blog, watching movies, browsing in general, etc. A few days later however, the company slowed the speed down so much that loading a simple web page would take 10 minuets. I contacted them because the difference was so drastic it was clearly something that had changed on their end. After much very frustrating discussion back and fourth I got nowhere. Flashwireless does have an acceptable use policy and it specifies lot of things you can't do. They all make a lot of sense, below is copied directly from their web site.
(Examples of prohibited data uses: Flash Wireless data Services are provided solely for purposes of web surfing, sending and receiving email, photographs and other similar messaging activities, and the non-continuous streaming of videos, downloading of files or on line gaming. Our data Services may not be used: (i) to generate excessive amounts of Internet traffic through the continuous, unattended streaming, downloading or uploading of videos or other files or to operate hosting services including, but not limited to, web or gaming hosting; (ii) to maintain continuous active network connections to the Internet such as through a web camera or machine-to-machine connections that do not involve active participation by a person; (iii) to disrupt email use by others using automated or manual routines, including, but not limited to "auto-responders" or cancel bots or other similar routines; (iv) to transmit or facilitate any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, telemarketing, promotional materials, "junk mail", unsolicited commercial or bulk email, or fax; (v) for activities adversely affecting the ability of other people or systems to use either the Services or other parties' Internet-based resources, including, but not limited to, "denial of service" attacks against another network host or individual user; )
There is also a disclaimer that says they also have the discretion to determine other prohibited uses, but it seems reasonable to assume that would not be out of line with the things listed above. However what I was told was that I had already used 3.5 gigabytes of data that month, (this is only about a third of the data Verizon would sell you on a limited plan with no claim to be unlimited for a similar price) and this use was just too high (on a plan marketed as unlimited, remember) so they had to slow down the date use for the rest of the month. I was also told that if I had a problem with the service or wanted any refund, I had the two weeks trial period to change my mind. Of course, everything worked fine during that period and only after it ended did they slow down the connection. No matter who I talked to or how reasonable I tried to be, no one would budge on either turning the service back up or refunding anything. I finally told them I would be giving them a very negative review and asked them to please disconnect my service.
Next I tried a small local provider in my area, Silverstar and they have been terrific. Their date plan is not unlimited, but does come with 30 gigabytes of data for about $60 with an additional 30 only costing $10 more. They let you take a hotspot (which is just on loan, but costs you nothing if you return it whenever you discontinue service) home for a few days to test the service in your home since mountains do create small dead areas. Everyone at the company has been extremely helpful and I am very satisfied with their service. So I would recommend checking out small local providers in your area for their wireless hotspots. For me this seems to be the best option for internet at my house.