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Mobile Lawyering: 3G/4G Data, Lessons From Working on the Road

By William Peacock, Esq. on July 01, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Greetings from a flyover state! (It’s OK. I’m from Missouri. I can say that.)

One of the greatest tech innovations of the last decade has been cellular data connections. Ten years ago, you’d be tethered to an Ethernet cable at your office, or hoping that Starbucks would have one of those fancy Wi-Fi networks that would allow you to check your email on the go (at an incredibly slow speed).

Today, with the right equipment, you can have high-speed Internet anywhere (well, almost anywhere, so long as you aren’t in Southern Utah). However, if you are going to rely upon mobile Internet for purposes of telecommuting or lawyering on-the-go, here are a few lessons I learned the hard way, during this trip to my dear home state:

Always Check Coverage

Who would have thought, that with two redundant sources of mobile Internet (a T-Mobile tethering data plan and a FreedomPop 4G stick), that 90 percent of the drive through Utah, Colorado, and Kansas would be a dead zone? And who would've guessed that, had I taken the route through the deserts of New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma, that I would've actually had coverage (in addition to heat stroke)?

Always check the coverage maps before you leave. Some companies, like FreedomPop, only have coverage in a handful of cities. Others will have varying coverage levels depending on your plan, prepaid or postpaid status, and your device's technological capabilities. For example, most carriers only have 4G LTE coverage in major cities, while most have older 3G coverage along all major freeways. RootMetrics has great coverage comparison maps for select cities.

Batteries and Chargers

Alright. My two devices failed to work. How about my brother's device, which was on a third network? Never mind. He didn't bring a car charger.

Always, always, have a car charger or a spare battery for your phones, modems, laptops, and/or tablets. Nothing is more aggravating than finally obtaining a cell phone signal, only to have "low battery" pop up and crush your hopes and dreams of finishing that memo or brief.

Expect the Worst (Back-Up Plans)

Okay, those three devices failed to, well, do anything. What other solutions are there? Nearly every McDonald's and Starbucks in the country has free Wi-Fi and plug-ins to charge your devices. Most airports do as well.

How do you find your nearest free Wi-Fi hotspot? You could try the WiFi FreeSpot Directory, except, well, you need internet to access the site. We repeat: plan ahead. Perhaps try printing out paper copies (we know - that's so 1995) of the states you'll be crossing.

Or, of course, you could just leave the work at the office while you are on vacation. (Nah.)

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