How to affordably connect to the Internet, no matter where you are
Categories: Discover- Technology
What’s the use of having a laptop if you can’t take it beyond the coverage range offered by your home wi-fi router? Fortunately, it’s possible to connect to the Internet almost anywhere, even when you’re on the road or out and about. The real question is how to do it without your bank account taking a hit. Here we’ll take a look into the world of wi-fi, mobile hotspots, and how to connect for as cheaply as possible.
Take advantage of free public wi-fi
The most obvious way to get free Internet access on the go is to take advantage of the many places where you can connect to wi-fi for free. If you’re traveling, you’ll probably be able to login to the wi-fi service at your hotel. When selecting a place to stay, however, it’s worth it to ask whether their Internet service is complimentary for guests. Though they’re getting rarer, there are still some hotels that will hit you with an extra fee if you’d like to use their Internet connection.
If you’re not planning on straying far from home, then look no further than public libraries, coffee shops, McDonald’s, or one of the many other businesses with free public wi-fi service. If you regularly drop off the kids for afterschool activities and don’t want to go all the way home before you have to come right back and pick them up again, then it’s worth it to scope out the nearby spots with free wi-fi. If you’re not sure where to find free connectivity, just download a free hotspot finder with apps like WifiMap or Win Man.
Connect using a mobile hotspot
What exactly is a mobile hotspot? Well, the odds are that you’ve probably used one before even if you didn’t realize it. They’re basically just a portable Internet connection and commonly used on smartphones to connect you to the web using your mobile data plan. There are several ways to use the same technology on your laptop when you connect it to a mobile hotspot device.
Your first option is a traditional hotspot device that you can plug into your laptop in order to connect using a mobile hotspot data plan. There are a wide range of devices to choose from, some as small and easily portable as a USB drive. These days, however, you may find that you can just use your smartphone as a hotspot device. After all, many cellphone plans, especially unlimited ones from major carriers, include mobile data that you may already be paying for.
As smartphones get more advanced, more of them are making it easier to wirelessly tether your cell phone to your laptop or tablet. Though not all phones are created the same, it’s definitely worth checking with your cell provider to see how you can use your phone as a mobile hotspot.
You’ll also want to take a look at your current plan to make sure that mobile data is included on your current plan before you start attempting to connect your phone to any other devices. If you discover that it’s not and think it’s a perk you’d really like to be able to use, then it may be worth it to ask how much it’d cost to tack the service onto your current bill.
Last but not least, be sure to figure out exactly how much data is covered on your plan as opposed to how much you feel like you’re going to realistically use. If you’re just planning to use it to check emails or send texts when you’re out of wi-fi range, then you likely won’t need to purchase much. If you do plan to use it for things like video conferencing, however, you’ll be better off, in the long run, going for an unlimited or costlier plan. There’s nothing worse than getting hit with extra fees you didn’t plan on at the end of the month.