When you’re on the go with laptops and tablets, you rely on your cell phone’s Hotspot to access the internet using its hotspot feature. However, this often drains your battery, and also consumes data if you don’t have an unlimited plan. Fortunately, a hotspot portable Wi-Fi It can be a good alternative if you need an additional connection, since it allows you to connect several devices at the same time and share it with friends and family.
If you’re interested in a portable WiFi hotspot, but don’t know where to start, this is the right place. This article will explain what it is, how it works, and some other features that you should consider before buying it.
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What is a portable WiFi hotspot?
A WiFi hotspot is a dedicated device that takes a cellular connection and wirelessly relays it to multiple devices, or you can use your smartphone to act as a mobile hotspot in the same way.
In either case, you get to take advantage of a single mobile connection for several devices that only have WiFi and do not have a cellular signal and access to a telephone company.
Although a hotspot can be created for home internet use, most people use them as secondary connections for when they are away from home. Portable WiFi hotspots provide more flexibility by allowing you to connect on the go.
You will only need access to a network through a mobile operator, and some offer simpler fully unlimited prepaid plans. Internet speeds on portable Wi-Fi hotspots are typically the same as those available to a cell phone on the same network, which can reach more than 2,000 Mbps on 5G.
How do portable WiFi hotspots work?
A portable WiFi hotspot device uses a 3G, 4G, or 5G internet connection to create a wireless network for multiple devices, such as tablets, phones, and laptops. You can take advantage of the network to stream your favorite shows, complete schoolwork, and do other activities.
In essence, a portable WiFi hotspot is a cell phone without a screen or an advanced operating system: it only has the ability to take a mobile connection and create a WiFi network. These access points have their own battery (of different sizes), and are usually recharged in the same way as cell phones through a USB.
Do portable WiFi hotspots work anywhere?
To create a portable hotspot network, you will need a mobile data plan. That means you’ll only have coverage where that specific provider has availability. In the US today, that’s almost nationwide, outside of the most rural parts of the country.
Be sure to check the coverage maps of the operator you want to sign up with before buying a hotspot from them. Keep in mind that carriers have different coverage areas depending on whether you’re looking to get 4G or 5G speeds.
5 features you should know before buying a WiFi hotspot
Thinking of buying a WiFi hotspot device? If so, there are some things you should know before deciding on one in particular. These factors are:
Check the limitations with your wireless service provider
If you want to enjoy a quality internet connection, try to choose a provider with the best coverage in your area and the most extensive data plans. Cellular carriers offer portable hotspot plans with different features.
For example, some data plans come with monthly caps that limit your usage. At the same time, some carriers may offer unlimited data, but limit internet speed after a certain point.
It will be easier to choose a hotspot device if you know these conditions or limitations. Be sure to read the fine print on your data plan, especially if you plan to do data-intensive activities online (for example, streaming video).
Take into account the availability of the service
Depending on your mobile operator, a portable hotspot may not be the right option. Remote areas often have sporadic network coverage, making it difficult to establish a stable internet connection using a portable WiFi hotspot.
It’s a good idea to check your carrier’s network availability map to determine if you can get adequate coverage in specific remote or rural areas. Fortunately, major network providers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have almost full coverage in the United States.
Urban areas with the best network coverage are often ideal locations for portable WiFi hotspots.
How many devices do you plan to connect at once
WiFi hotspots can accommodate at least five devices at a time, but higher-end models can handle 10 or more at a time. However, most people will be fine with just five, as battery and bandwidth considerations start to matter beyond that point.
If you are adding multiple devices to a single hotspot, keep in mind that the data speed available to each of them will decrease considerably. If so, make sure to use a 5G hotspot.
Connectivity capabilities of portable WiFi hotspots vary. Some devices support 5G connections, while others only support 4G. These differences in wireless internet technology can also determine the price of the device and the plan.
Cheaper WiFi hotspots, like those from prepaid carriers, can often be limited to just plain 4G or 5G networks. They’re good enough for most tasks, but they’ll be outclassed by the latest hotspots with 5G connections.
By investing in a 5G hotspot device, you can enjoy fast download and upload speeds for all devices connected to your mobile network. This type of wireless technology is more reliable, but you will pay a significantly higher price. While 4G is available for less than $100, you can spend several hundred dollars for a 5G version.
Check the battery life of your device
To ensure that you can meet all of your internet needs, you will want to choose a hotspot device with a long battery life. Some Wi-Fi hotspots are small and fancy, but often last for less than a few hours.
The more data you use and devices are connected, the shorter your battery life. You may also need to invest in a high-quality power bank to keep your device powered on the go.
WiFi hotspots charge just like cell phones, via a USB cable, so you can use a cell phone wall charger or portable charger to keep them going and charging time will depend on battery capacity.