How To Figure Out Which Wireless Hotspot Is Right For You
Now it’s time to speed up your daily life. Traveling from place to place can be a hassle for anyone, but especially to those who have to work on the go or are away from home frequently. Maybe it’s not traveling, it’s just living outside city limits. Before this era, you would have to put any online projects on hold, find the nearest internet cafe, or just hope that your hotel would have a functioning business office. Now, we have the ability to bring wireless internet with us.
With all the options available, figuring out which one is right for you can be tricky as each mobile hotspot device has its own benefits and disadvantages. Trying to identify your needs while balancing what is unnecessary makes the choice that much more complicated. From small hotspots for the individual or hefty ones for the household, here are some tips to help discover what is best for you.
Find Out Which Provider Offers Hotspot For Your Area
This one can be a little bit misleading as most providers offer mobile hotspots that are supported everywhere. What this really means is that you need to do some research into what service is best for your specific area or frequent travel destinations.
If you have a tendency to travel to or you live in Wyoming, South Dakota, or Montana, then Sprint may not be the best choice. Now, on the other hand, if you live on the East Coast, Sprint has great coverage and a large selection unlimited plans. Verizon and AT&T have great overall coverage, but have a tendency to provide slower services in rural areas within their coverage. Location is crucial in this first step to choosing your device, especially if you’re not able to expand your cellular plan to have a mobile hotspot on your phone. You can compare coverages on this chart here.
How Much Data Do You Need?
Just like with the data you use on your cell phone, using a mobile hotspot requires a data plan. With the addition of a mobile hotspot on your smartphone, you can acquire the same data as you use on your smartphone already. Not all providers allow this, most will make you choose a plan with a specific amount of designated mobile hotspot data to use each month and others offer limited 4G data then reduce the speeds to 3G or less.
If you’re not looking for high-speed data or high-speed data is not required for what you need, search for specifically 3G capabilities. This will expand your options for adding a hotspot to your smartphone. If you really need the 4G, look into mobile hotspots that offer those capabilities. This is where balancing want and need come into play. If you only want 4G and do not need it, but you need more internet overall, it will be easier to find an affordable unlimited hotspot plan. If you have to have 4G, be prepared to have a limited amount of high-speed and then have the speeds slow down after you’ve gone through your set amount of data.
On The Go Or For The Home?
Each situation is different when considering what you need. Some need a wireless hotspot to maintain signal when riding in a car for long distances, others need a hotspot to support an entire household of devices, while even more need an individual hotspot for multiple purposes. Determining which of these situations come closest to your own allows you to categorize your options.
For Those Who Need The On The Go:
A great option for those who needs focus mainly on maintaining their work or keeping an online presence while they are traveling is the Verizon Global Modem. It connects directly to your computer and provides ethernet cable connection type when in use. This one require no charging as it functions off the power provided by the laptop or device using it. It is a perfect style for travelers who need to maintain a steady connection when on the go.
When you need to support multiple devices and regular internet service is not available, or your entire household is frequently on the go. A device like the Skyroam Solis Mobile Hotspot or the AT&T Nighthawk Mobile Router is something to look into. These devices can support multiple connections at once, but often come with slower data speeds.
If all you need is some extra Wifi each month, then adding mobile hotspot to your normal plan on your smartphone might be the best option for you. It does kill your battery quickly if you’re not careful, but this one allows you to have the freedom of device connectivity while support high-speed internet for a decent amount of time. This can be the most affordable option depending on where you live and how frequently you travel, as this one does not require the additional purchase of the modem.
Check Before You Buy
- Battery Life & Type: 2100 mAh battery with a 10 hour run time or similar.
- Quality: Read recent, up-to-date reviews to determine the lifetime of the hotspot itself
- Connection: Ability to be connected to a SIM card
- OS Support: Supports Windows, MAC, and Chrome OS
- Wireless Security: WEP, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK
- Ports: Mini USB, LAN/WAN
These are not requirements, they are simply guidelines for finding an adequate device to support your different devices at home.
Keep In Mind…
If you’re planning on taking the mobile hotspot on your smartphone route, the are a few things to be weary of. The hotspot can run your phone hot, especially if in use for long periods of time. This is a similar situation for other types of mobile hotspots, just not as prominent. Another issue is that your phone will die and quickly. If you’re on the go and this is your main source of internet, it is best to invest in a mobile power bank to keep your phone charged and allow your phone to focus most of its battery power into supporting your hotspot connections.
Test Your Hotspot Expertise
With all these new things to consider, now you’re prepared to go out and shop for a mobile hotspot device and plan. Organize your thoughts, what you knew and now what you know. Set up your budget and figure out what you need. Identify which providers offer the best deals and service in your area. After moving through this process and discovering whether or not the mobile hotspot was right for you, it’s time to shop around.
If you already have a device to use and are just shopping around for possible service providers, there are a few that stand out against the rest with quick speeds, unlimited data, and are contract free! These top three services are definitely the best options for those, in available areas, searching for alternative Wifi and hotspot options.
**Article originally written Nov. 2014, Updated: June 2019**