MiFi 2

What is a Mobile Hotspot?

What is a mobile hotspot? Mobile hotspots (a.k.a. portable hotspot or portable location) are portable devices or features on smartphones that offer wireless Internet gain access to on numerous devices (your laptop, smartphone, MP3 gamer, tablet, portable video gaming device, and so on).

Like USB modems from wireless carriers, mobile hotspots generally use mobile broadband service from cellular suppliers for 3G or 4G (5G) Internet gain access to.

Unlike those mobile USB sticks, however, mobile hotspots permit multiple devices to link at the same time.

Mobile Hotspot
Verizon MiFi Jetpack 4620L Verizon Wireless Wi-Fi 4G LTE Hotspot Modem

Among the earliest mobile hotspots was the MiFi (Compare Prices), a small card sized device made by Novatel and used first by Verizon. It relays the 3G cellular signal that can be shared wirelessly by as much as 4 devices. (The MiFi was positively examined by About’s VoIP Guide and picked here as a leading travel accessory). Besides the MiFi, which is likewise carried on AT&T and Virgin Mobile, there are other similar mobile hotspots, such as Clear’s iSpot for Apple iOS devices and 3G/4G Clear Spot.

Besides portable mobile wi-fi hotspots, some smartphones can function as mobile hotspots, sharing their wireless information connection with several devices. The Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus had this feature built-in and Verizon provided the hotspot service for free (generally hotspot gain access to gathers an extra $10-$ 20 charge, just like wireless service providers’ tethering add-on charges).

Verizon presented a special 3G mobile hotspot feature with its launch of the iPhone 4.

See also: How Does Mobile Hotspot Work

If you have multiple devices that you use on the go, purchasing a mobile wi-fi hotspot can be a crucial accessory. Rather than using your cell phone as a modem and linking it to your laptop with a USB wire or via bluetooth for tethering, you can link to a mobile hotspot (device or your smartphone) for Internet access anywhere you have a cellular signal.

The major drawback is that you frequently need to pay an extra cost for mobile broadband service.
Likewise Known As: mobile wi-fi hotspot, wi-fi hotspot, portable hotspot
Alternate Spellings: mobile hot spot
Examples: The MiFi is a mobile hotspot that provides wireless Internet gain access to from Verizon and other cellular companies on approximately 5 devices.

Do You Really Need a Mobile Hotspot?

Skyroam Mobile Hotspot
Skyroam Mobile Hotspot

We’ve been reviewing cellular modems and hotspots because 2005, when they were the only reliable way to obtain mobile Internet access. In the previous few years, though, many people have gotten smartphones, most of those smartphones have 4G LTE, and most of those LTE phones have a hotspot mode. So what’s the point to having a hotspot any longer?

The difference breaks down to business versus enjoyment, with a sideline in vacation homes. As a frequent business traveler, I still rely heavily on hotspots and modems for reliable all-day connection that does not affect my main phone. So ask yourself: Do you need a hotspot for business or individual use?

Business Travelers Probably Need Hotspots

If you’re at a trade show or in a long day of conferences, you’re currently playing brinksmanship games with your smartphone battery. Hotspot mode is among the most battery-intensive things you can do, nearly ensuring that you’ll be trying to find a charger (or a secondary battery) by the end of the day. Devoted hotspots, on the other hand, typically have adequate life to run all day.

Hotspots also have the tendency to support more devices and more security options than the hotspot mode on your phone. The majority of phones can connect to five devices; hotspots can deal with 10 or more, with better support for things like VPNs, parental controls, and port forwarding. If you’re setting up a mobile workplace for a work group, a hotspot, not a phone, is what you want.

Furthermore, if your business trips take you abroad, grabbing a hotspot can conserve you from acquiring expensive roaming costs. The Xcom Global International MiFi Hotspot uses endless data connection for a flat cost in nearly 200 nations.

I haven’t seen a great deal of difference recently in between the Wi-Fi range on hotspots and industry-leading cellular phone. But a leading hotspot will get far better LTE reception, particularly when connected to an affordable external antenna. So if you have a villa out in the woods, a hotspot might be a more economical answer than a more pricey whole-house WeBoost signal booster system.

Likewise, this might appear odd, but not if you’re a business traveler: Hotspots are typically a discrete cost which you can charge to your business. Burning your own individual data prepare for business hotspot use might get you a thumbs-up from your company’s accountant, however it may also suggest you can’t use Yelp when you’re out with your pals later that night. Carrying a business hotspot keeps business and pleasure easily separate.

Many Consumers Don’t Need Hotspots

The benefit of using the hotspot mode on your phone, of course, is that it’s a lot cheaper. Your existing wireless service strategy most likely consists of some hotspot usage, and if it does not, it’ll be cheaper to include a few gigabytes of hotspot use than to purchase a whole new devoted device. So if you’re only thinking about a hotspot for casual use, you’re probably better off simply using hotspot mode on your phone.

If you intend to dip more heavily into hotspot use, make certain to get a good information keeping track of application such as Roamy or Onavo. As no provider provides unrestricted hotspot use (even on Sprint and T-Mobile unrestricted information strategies), you’ll need to remain within your limits.

Which Hotspot Option Is Right For You?

For periodic use–and even silencing the kids by streaming Netflix in the backseat– there’s no have to surpass the hotspot mode on your phone. 

However serious Internet gain access to requires dedicated connection. And if it’s for business, you can likely cost it. If that sounds like you, check out The Best Mobile Hotspots on Every Carrier.


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