There has been a large increase in the usage of Wi-Fi hotspots over the last few years. These allow people to access the internet using laptops or other devices when they are away from their home or office.
With an ever increasing data rate speed, improved coverage across the country, and a variety of payments for data available, why then don’t we replace home Wi-Fi internet services with the services provided with a cell phone? Can a mobile hotspot replace your home Wi-Fi?
While many benefit from being able to gain Wi-Fi internet access, especially when it is free, there are also some disadvantages.
Before we cover the drawbacks, let’s cover some basics.
What exactly is a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot anyway?
Think of it as a tiny, battery-powered Wi-Fi base station that’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Generally speaking, mobile Wi-Fi hotspots come in two forms: either built into a smartphone, like an iPhone or an Android phone, or as a standalone portable gadget, often no larger than a small stack of credit cards. Indeed, if you own a relatively new iPhone or Android handset, you probably already have a hotspot in your pocket.
How do mobile Wi-Fi hotspots work?
Well, here’s the thing about mobile Wi-Fi hotspots: they won’t just work anywhere. Put simply, a portable hotspot taps into 3G and/or 4G cellular networks, just like a smartphone does. Once it’s zeroed in on cellular data connection, a mobile hotspot can share that connection via Wi-Fi with nearby laptops, tablets, game consoles, or anything that can connect to a Wi-Fi network. No cellular connection? No data, which means a mobile hotspot won’t do you much good if you’re deep in the woods with no cellular signal.
Mobile hotspots can be a godsend when you need to get online somewhere that doesn’t offer Wi-Fi. But, like any technology, hotspots also have their downsides.
The Problems with Mobile Hotspots
It’s a Data Hog ― The largest reason to avoid a personal hotspot is that it eats up your data. Every device that is connected to your hotspot uses data from your cell phone. Be sure to check into your mobile plan to see how much usage is allowed. Any overages will result in a hefty additional fee.
It’s a Battery Drain ― Be sure to keep your phone charger handy! Using your phone as a hotspot will drain your battery quickly.
You Can Wear Out Your Welcome ― Most carriers allow you to have a certain amount of hotspot data per month. After the hotspot data is used, your speed slows down significantly. You will have to be aware of your usage to avoid carrier overage fees or throttling.
Streaming movies and videos or downloading large files can drain your hotspot data very quickly, so you may want to limit the usage. A home or office broadband internet connection is much better suited for this type of usage.
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