Accessing wireless internet?

So here's my situation: I have a laptop that can access wireless internet just fine, but when I'm home for vacation (I'm in college), I don't have wireless and people around me have password protected internet. I have a desktop at home with dial up (outdated beyond belief, my parents refuse to... show more So here's my situation: I have a laptop that can access wireless internet just fine, but when I'm home for vacation (I'm in college), I don't have wireless and people around me have password protected internet. I have a desktop at home with dial up (outdated beyond belief, my parents refuse to upgrade our internet since I'm the only one that really uses it). So my question is regarding buying one of those "internet access cards" that they advertise on TV (AT&T being my example since it's the first one that comes to mind). Is that for laptops that can't normally access wireless and it would be useless for me to buy one?
I've also talked to my parents about getting wireless internet, but they're concerned that it will be on all the time. As much as I've researched wireless internet, I can never seem to find answers to my questions since my home internet is so outdated. Using the desktop, our internet takes up our phone line and I've been told that wireless internet is not available for such internet connections. I've been trying to find reasonably priced options so that I can have internet for breaks (so I don't have to constantly go to the library and I can have internet whenever).
I've also researched tethering my phone to my computer (I have an iPhone 3G) and recently AT&T opened tethering to my phone for a monthly fee, which isn't very helpful since I don't need it 8 months of the year, give or take. That seemed to be my best option when I heard about tethering but the programs I keep seeing are no longer available or I'm unable to locate them for whatever reason.

Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated, thank you!
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