Are Mobile Hotspots Worth It?
Using the internet is a given these days. If we can’t be “connected,” we go a little batty. We expect to be able to be connected at all times, regardless of where we are. There was a time (not that long ago!) where we were using encyclopedias and actually asking friends for directions, but that has all changed.
That said, there are times where we aren’t as able to be as connected as we’d like to be. Times when we need to get some work done or do research on our laptop, but there isn’t a connection to be had. That is where a hotspot comes in.
A mobile hotspot is basically a tiny Wi-Fi station built into your smartphone. This means that you can have access to the internet on a handful of devices (i.e. your laptops and tablets) that do not have their own Wi-Fi. The hotspot uses data from your phone to actually share a wireless connection.
There are many pros and cons to using your phone as a mobile hotspot to connect to the internet, so if you’ve wondered whether you should spend the extra money or not, here are some points to consider.
Benefits of a Mobile Hotspot
- Available Anytime – Using your phone as a hotspot is great because it allows you to have an internet connection on larger devices while you are out and about. No more searching for the nearest stores or restaurants that offer free internet access.
- Available Anywhere – Are you a parent who spends a lot of time driving the kids? Having a hotspot available allows you to sit outside in the car and get some work done after sporting events and classes or while waiting for the final school bell to ring.
- Safety First – The hotspot on your phone is password secure, which means that you can access your bank account and make purchases without having to worry about someone stealing your information. If you were to use public Wi-Fi instead, any information that was available on your device would be exposed to anyone using the same hotspot.
- Accessible On-The-Go – Because your hotspot is on your phone, it is usually where you are, regardless of where you are. This means that if you are on a road trip, at a piano lesson anywhere else, your children can use it to connect to their tablets on-the-go as well.
While this information may have you already onboard to having your own hotspot because they are incredibly convenient, there are downfalls to going this route as well.
Disadvantages of Mobile Hotspot
- 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. Streaming movies and videos or downloading large files can drain your hotspot data very quickly, so you may want to limit the usage. You’re better off using public wireless connections for these viewing options.
- It May Not Pay for Itself – Having a hotspot, paying for it every month, and never using it is a waste of money. There are lots of free options available around town that will help you save money each month.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Investing in a hotspot should be dependent on your personal needs. The answer won’t be the same for everyone
On one hand, if you lead the type of lifestyle that has you always on the go with a need to connect frequently, hotspotting makes complete sense. That said, you will have to be aware of your usage. You may no longer be able to spend hours binge watching Netflix or YouTube, so you’ll need to break that habit unless you are at home or on a free connection.
On the other hand, if things are going well just the way they are, don’t bring a new bill upon yourself. Free wireless connections are available all over, so if you can take advantage of them, do it!
If you’re on the fence, give a hotspot a try for a month. You may find that it leads to much more convenience in your life and you may find that you never use it. That will be the biggest and most effective test.