If you want to use the Internet, you typically have two options: the regular broadband option or the portable mobile variant. Due to their differing natures, you usually only make use of one of them on each of your devices. With the developments of mobile broadband, however, it’s very possible for WiFi and mobile broadband to work together. This is the case of mobile WiFi and can be a great help during daily life.
What Mobile WiFi Is
“Mobile WiFi” may sound like a strange oxymoron, but it’s very simple in design! A mobile WiFi device usually comes in the form of a small hotspot which can be easily carried around and powered by a rechargeable battery. This device connects to the internet via mobile broadband, usually a 3G or 4G connection. Other devices can then connect to the hotspot over a WiFi connection and use its mobile connection to get online.
In this situation, the hotspot acts as a middleman between your devices and the mobile broadband. This allows you to connect devices to mobile broadband that don’t normally use it, such as PCs and laptops. It doesn’t matter if the device itself doesn’t have mobile broadband capabilities; as long as it has WiFi, it can connect to the Internet via the mobile WiFi.
When Is It Used?
It may seem strange to put WiFi devices onto mobile broadband. After all, if your device is using WiFi, can’t it just connect to a regular router and use the Internet that way? While this is true, mobile WiFi can fill some interesting niches.
When Your Regular Internet Goes Down
If you find your Internet keeps going down, mobile WiFi can be a good emergency backup. Given that it’s a hotspot that supports multiple devices, you can get the whole household back online when your Internet drops. If a constant connection to the Internet is vital, such as performing work at home, mobile WiFi can be a great backup tool to prevent being stranded without Internet.
On the Go
Due to their portability, they’re also great companions to take travelling. From the local cafe to an entirely different country, mobile WiFi can help get you online wherever you are. If relying on public WiFi hotspots makes you shudder, why not bring your own instead?
Given you’re on the move, you’ll very likely be using a laptop. There is a mobile broadband solution called the “dongle” which attaches to a USB port and provides Internet that way. The problem is laptops can sometimes be starved for ports, so it’s not ideal to sacrifice one to get online. By using a mobile WiFi device, you can keep those ports free and still use the Internet.
Moving House (Literally!)
If you’re living in a mobile abode, a mobile WiFi hotspot can be a lifeline for getting your devices online. People residing in caravans or boats may have a broadband port that fits a cable, so a typical wired Internet connection in a mobile home is not unheard of. However, while you’re on the move or stopping somewhere rural, mobile broadband may be the only internet connection for miles. Mobile WiFi can help get your devices connected no matter where you are.
Even better, some caravan owners have reported great success buying mobile WiFi devices with a magnetic aerial which then sticks on the roof to maximise the mobile broadband signal.
Getting Set Up
Unfortunately, mobile WiFi comes with its costs. Because the device itself has its own mobile broadband connection, it also needs its own SIM card and data plan with a provider. It’s ideal to know your choices before buying a mobile WiFi device so that you don’t end up spending more than you have to.
If you see yourself using your mobile WiFi regularly, a monthly plan is ideal. You simply pay the provider a monthly fee and they give you a set amount of mobile data per month that you can use. Make sure you read the details to see what happens if you breach this data allowance. This option is best for people who do a lot of travelling or perhaps live in a moving home such as a caravan.
Alternatively, you might opt for an option where you load up with credit and use it as you go. This makes for a more ideal solution for occasional trips or when your main Internet connection fails you. If this sounds ideal, make sure to research how much it would cost to “top up” your mobile WiFi with the data you need for your trip, as well as if the provider forces purchased credit to expire after a specific timeframe.
Choosing a Network
If you have a selection of networks to pick from, make sure you choose one that covers the areas you want to use it in. Usually these providers have coverage checker maps in order to avoid disappointment, so check these before buying from a provider to make sure you’ll get a good signal. If you have a favoured mobile provider for your mobile phone, check to see if they do mobile WiFi deals, too.
With mobile broadband becoming a key component in our lives, getting devices online has never been easier. From emergency use to travelling the world, mobile WiFi hotspots have many uses and can even connect devices that usually never use mobile broadband.
Do you see yourself using mobile WiFi a lot? Do you already? Let us know below!