There are a number of different services and technologies which might be called "wireless internet service" and there exists some confusion about what exactly a wireless internet service might provide. Let us examine the options.
The Wireless "Hotspot"
Most internet users are now familiar with this type of wireless access: Accessing your neighbor's wireless network or a hotspot at a local coffee shop, library or airport. A "hotspot" is simply a short range wireless router connected to the internet which is then broadcasting it's signal and allowing others to connect. The internet connection itself could be any type of connection including standard cable internet or dsl. While these hotspots can be convenient they are often also a security headache since everyone using the hotspot is connected to the same local network.
While free hotspots are available in many large centers, a number of DSL and Cable Internet providers are offering their own hotspots to subscribers in order to add value to their service. Access to these hotspots is often an additional charge to your monthly Internet bill, but some high speed internet providers offer hotspot access freely to their customers.
In order to access a wireless hotspot your computer - most often a notebook or handheld - must have integrated wireless or a wireless networking card with the proper software.
"Line of Sight" Wireless Internet Service.
Most popular in rural or sparsely populated areas, line-of-sight wireless internet requires that the customers install an "antenna" within a direct line of site to the providers tower. The internet service is provided via radio signals. Understandably the limiting factor in the growth of this technology was the "line of sight" requirement. Subscribers cannot have any obstruction - not even a tree branch - obstructing the signal path. Inside the home, this type of service is very similar to a dsl or cable internet set-up.
Next-Generation Non-Line-of-Sight Wireless Internet Service
Growing in popularity, this type of internet service provides a strong wireless internet signal within a larger coverage area and a dedicated private frequency range - similar to how cellular phone networks operate. Unlike older technology there is no line-of-sight requirement. This is true wireless internet service. The coverage for this type of service has expanded greatly in the last few years and most cellular phone service providers have upgraded their networks to accommodate the next-generation mobile devices.
A 3G or 4G equipped mobile device or a wireless modem is required, but no specialized equipment or software is required for the subscriber's computer. We talk more about accessing wireless broadband here. It is portable within the coverage area. Wireless internet service such as this can easily be wirelessly networked with the home or office - In effect creating a local wireless network within a larger wireless network. Newer wireless "Hot Spot" devices and MiFi modems act as both a wireless router and a wireless modem.
The wireless age may still be in it's infancy, but there are already many options for those of us who wish to rid ourselves of the cables and wires that tether us to our technology. Wireless allows us to better integrate technology within our lifestyles and not have our lifestyles dictated by that same technology.
Be sure to evaluate all options before choosing a High Speed Internet Provider.