Most people have been in a scenario where they desperately needed to connect their laptop to the internet but had no connection available. Whether you need to send an important file to the office or review a document, there are moments when you cannot wait to get somewhere with WiFi.
Fortunately, most cellphones are now capable of creating a mobile hotspot. Some devices available are specifically tasked with this job. Both act as a conduit allowing your laptop or tablet to connect to your wireless provider’s network.
The convenience of these hotspots cannot be denied. The ability to connect a device to the internet from anywhere that has cell reception would have been considered miraculous not long ago.
Unfortunately, these hotspots are not yet perfect. At times, the connection can be a little shaky. There are also other problems you should be aware of before relying too heavily on your cell phone to provide an internet connection.
Not All Hotspots Are the Same
The term mobile hotspot is used throughout the tech world to talk about multiple different tools used as portable connections.
The most popular is the app or integrated technology on your cell phone that allows you to connect to your cell provider’s network via your mobile phone. Most connect to the phone via Bluetooth, but some phones allow cabled connections, as well.
Alternately, there are devices made specifically to create a mobile hotspot. These units connect to your mobile provider’s network but do not require you to connect to your phone. Like the phone connection, Bluetooth or cables are typical ways to connect to a mobile hotspot (MiFi).
Most MiFi devices are set up with their own data or service plan with your cellphone provider. This allows you to connect without the stress of keeping track of how much cellular data is being used.
Mobile Hotspots Are Not Without Problems
It is important to have realistic expectations for your mobile hotspot, especially if you’re using a cellphone. There are several areas where these connections may suffer, and you should be aware of them before putting too much hope in a hotspot connection.
Cellphone connections are notoriously slower than regular WiFi or MiFi connections. Think of it the same way you would of your cell signal. You can expect remote locations to have slower or non-existent connections. It is unrealistic to think that you will be able to play games or watch movies everywhere by connecting to your phone.
Using your cellphone as a hotspot means every bit of internet use by your computer uses data from your plan. Data can go quickly when connecting a computer to your mobile network and this can have drastic consequences if you go over your monthly allowance.
Remember to have your phone plugged in while using it as a mobile hotspot, too. Battery life is greatly impacted as your phone acts as an internet connection. If you do not have your phone plugged in, you will notice a quick reduction in remaining battery life.
Investigate how your phone handles its capability to act as both a hotspot and a phone while connected. Most cannot do both at the same time so you should be aware that there will be no incoming calls while the phone acts as a hotspot.
How to Avoid Relying on a Mobile Hotspot
While convenient, mobile hotspots do not come without their challenges. Relying on a mobile hotspot exclusively can be a headache for those who travel frequently or work in areas without internet access.
It is best to save a cellphone mobile hotspot for true emergency internet access situations. Some simple planning can help avoid the need to regularly connect to your mobile phone.
While traveling, plan to work and send emails when WiFi is more likely to be available. Keep in mind that you should be using a VPN to protect your laptop or tablet from any hacking attempts.
Download work that can be done offline for the time when you have no connection. Google Docs makes it possible to work on things while away from the internet.
Finally, if you find that you are frequently without internet access, consider investing in a mobile hotspot with its own data plan. This can help you avoid costly overage charges that cellular phone hotspots often accrue.
There are many options for those who need access to the internet while out of range of WiFi or hardwired connections. Consider your needs before committing to using a cellular mobile hotspot every time you want to connect.