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Sunday, June 26, 2016

WiFi On the Go

Traveling has gotten me thinking more about mobile wifi. In Japan I had friends who had devices which allowed them to have wifi anywhere. We were traveling to parts of the country where we would not have Internet access, so it was really nice to be able to access the Internet all of the time.

One other benefit to having your own mobile wireless is that using shared networks can be risky. You are exposing your computer and the information on it to anyone else who is on the network, which could be anyone. It is important to think about that if you do go to coffee shops to do work or just use your computer for whatever. 

The way it works is that the device connects to a cellphone tower and converts the signal to Wifi. If you have a recent iPhone you can already do this by going to your settings and turning on your personal hotspot. So, if you are in a place that does not have cellphone towers (which is becoming more and more unlikely) it would not work.

Because it is using a cellphone connection this device is something that has a monthly charge. It is just like your cellphone. If you use it too much you are charged huge overages, so you have to be careful. There are no plans with unlimited minutes and you find that the number of “free” (or paid for with your monthly charge) minutes is not enough. It costs more than using Home Wifi.  These devices also need to be charged. They last about 10 hours depending on the device and how you use it.

The device itself costs from as high as $450 to $50!  It makes me wonder If they are just making up the prices to see what people will spend!  The higher end ones connect to more devices and have faster connection speeds.  

There are reviews online which are worth looking at. These companies make devices that you can purchase and set up an account for.
  • TMobile
  • Sprint
  • Verizon
  • ATT

There are several smaller companies and they cost less usually, but it is good to remember that they use the same cellphone connections as the big companies. For example if Sprint is weak in your area the smaller company will also be weak.

One interesting company is Karma Go. Their device works in a little different way. It is set up so that you can share your connection with others and in that way lower your own bill. I am not sure how it totally works, but it might be worth looking at their website to understand it. You should also find out which cell network they use before choosing their service.

Karma Go – $150  shared wifi


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