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As I write this article, my laptop is connected to my smartphone mobile hotspot. I have come to love the flexibility of a mobile hotspot. My mobile hotspot provides quality wireless internet access to connect my kid’s’ tablet as well as all my mobile devices needed to run this website!
I no longer need to look around for a nearby library, coffee shop, or other public places to get a wifi signal. I have my own personal dedicated internet connection as long as I have my 4G LTE smartphone with me.
My wife and I also use our mobile devices to stream online services at home like Netflix and Disney Plus. I had always heard the rumors that online streaming services needed a dedicated internet provider but it turns out I can watch them with my mobile hotspot without any issue.
Because of this, we have been able to cancel our cable internet service and now only use our mobile hotspots for internet access!
Can I Get WiFi Without an Internet Provider?
One budget line item for most individuals is for internet service, and depending on many factors, the cost can be significant. Since virtually no one can live without internet access, that cost is a necessary evil, right? Nope – you can get WiFi without an internet service provider at all. Just use a mobile hotspot!
What Is a Mobile Hotspot and How Does It Work?
Your smartphone’s mobile hotspot can be thought of in the same way that a modem and router are used with your desktop computer. A mobile hotspot taps into the phone’s cellular data network to provide a way to get your device and other nearby devices connected to the internet.
The additional devices use your phone’s data while they are online. Just like your home internet, it does require that users have the password, so you don’t need to worry about random strangers nearby being able to connect to your hotspot.
In most cases, using your own mobile hotspot is more secure than using a public Wi-Fi connection!
There are two ways to access a mobile wifi hotspot. Most people simply access the hotspot feature on their phone, if their phone has that feature, and tether their devices to that.
Some people, if they are going to connect several devices to their hotspot or if they are going to use it frequently, choose to purchase a separate, stand-alone mobile hotspot. These separate wifi hotspots are offered by wireless phone carriers, and you need to buy an additional data plan for that portable unit.
What Is the Difference Between WiFi and Hotspot?
Wi-Fi is an “invisible” service that allows you to access the internet from wifi-enabled devices like laptops or smartphones. It is available in many places, like coffee shops, hotels, and airports.
A hotspot is an access avenue – a way to use your mobile phone to allow several devices (laptops, tablets, gaming consoles, etc.) to connect to the internet when traditional Wi-Fi is not available.
You Can Use a Hotspot Instead of Traditional Wifi!
Of course, you can use a hotspot whenever you are traveling. You can check your email while waiting to be seated at a restaurant, you can connect your child’s handheld game console while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, and you can collaborate with co-workers on a presentation in Google Docs while you are waiting for your child’s piano lesson to end.
All of this is really convenient and allows you to never be TOO off of the grid. But one of the best uses of a mobile hotspot is using it at home, in place of traditional Wi-Fi.
How Much Hotspot Plans Are per Month
If you are using your smartphone’s hotspot feature, it simply uses and shares the data from the data plan that you have purchased for your phone. However, if you opt to use portable mobile hotspot devices, you must purchase an additional hotspot plan.
Here are some examples of current costs of mobile wifi hotspot plans from primary carriers:
Republic Wireless Hotspot:
- $25 a month for 2 GB
- Add more data for $5 a month per 1 GB (up to 15 GB)
- $25 a month for 2 GB
- $50 a month for 5 GB
- $75 a month for 8 GB
Boost Mobile Hotspot:
- $25 a month for 1.5 GB
- $50 a month for 10 GB
Straight Talk Hotspot:
- $15 a month for 1 GB
- $25 a month for 2 GB
- $40 every two months for 4 GB
- $50 every two months for 5 GB
- $75 every two months for 7 GB
- $5/1 day for 500 MB
- $10/7 days for 1 GB
- $30/mo for 3 GB
T-mobile offers auto-renew plans: from $20/mo for 2 GB up to $95/mo for 22GB
- $20/mo for 2 GB
- $30/mo for 4 GB
- $40/mo for 6 GB
- $80/mo for 14 GB
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- $30 a month fo 5 GB
Cricket Wireless Hotspot:
- $60 a month for 15 GB and unlimited talk and text
- $40 a month for 5 GB
- $30 a month for 2 GB
Do You Get Charged Extra for Using Hotspot?
Most mobile hotspot plans involve a monthly fee and you do not have to sign a lengthy contract. If you choose to use mobile hotspot devices, the only cost you would pay initially is to buy the device. You can purchase an efficient hotspot device for well under $50.
However, if you use your smartphone’s hotspot feature instead, normally you will not have an extra charge; you will simply use the cellular data from your phone’s data plan to run the hotspot.
How Much Money Do We save by Using a Mobile Hotspot Instead of an Internet Provider?
For this, I compared many of the common internet plans to really show the difference in price.
- Xfinity’s Gigabit Package – unlimited data with a 24-month contract is $1000 upfront, then $70/month for the first 25 months.
- AT&T Internet 300 Package – 1000 GB of data with a 12-month contract. The cost is $99 upfront, then $50/month for the 12-month contract term, then the cost increases.
- Cox Internet Preferred Package – 1000 GB of data with a 12-month contract. The cost is $75 upfront, then $59.99/month for the 12-month contract term, then the cost increases to $84.99/mo.
- HughesNet 20 GB Package – 70 GB of data with unlimited slowed data after the data allowance is used. The cost is $449.98 upfront, then $69.99/month for the 24-month contract term.
Compare internet service provider prices with unlimited data plans. Verizon offers four different unlimited data plans, ranging from $70 – $90 per month. AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan is $50/month, after AutoPay and paperless billing discounts.
You can see how easy it is to save a TON of money by using a mobile hotspot instead!
Is Hotspot Free with Unlimited Data?
If you use the mobile hotspot feature on your smartphone, you will be charged data according to your monthly data allowance on your cell phone plan, and there would not be an additional monthly charge.
If you have an unlimited plan, there may be some restrictions, particularly if you use a prepaid unlimited plan. However, Verizon’s regular four unlimited plans, for example, include unlimited mobile hotspot accessibility.
Is It Bad for Your Phone to Use It as a Hotspot?
It is not necessarily bad to use your phone as a hotspot. However, it can use up data quickly, particularly if you are streaming movies or downloading large files. Also, using your phone as a hotspot drains the battery at an accelerated rate.
So, if you are tethering devices to your phone’s hotspot, try to charge your phone while you are using it. Otherwise, do not expect your phone to last a long time without charging it.
Companies That Offer Unlimited Hotspot Plans
Virtually every mobile phone service provider offers at least one unlimited data plan, which would allow you to access the internet via your hotspot device or phone.
These plans offer a wide price range, from the T-Mobile Magenta Plus Plan at $85 per month, the Verizon Do More Unlimited Plan at $80 per month, and the Sprint Unlimited Premium Plan at $70 a month all the way down to the Visible $40 Unlimited Plan, which is $40 per month.
There are restrictions to that low price, however, including that you can only tether one device at a time.
A Mobile Hotspot Can Replace Your Home Internet!
So, can you use a mobile hotspot to replace your home internet, and save money doing it?
Absolutely! A mobile hotspot can connect any devices (laptops, gaming consoles, etc.) to the internet and it can be used for all streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. In fact, because of the convenience and lower cost of a mobile hotspot, it may replace home internet for many people, just as lower-cost streaming services have replaced cable TV for millions.
The Negatives to Using Mobile Hotspots
Although mobile hotspots are terrific tools and can help reduce your monthly internet cost, there are also some disadvantages, including:
- You can’t use applications like video doorbells (such as Ring). Those require constant wifi in the house, and if you take your mobile hotspot with you when you leave, the video doorbell will not function.
- Because your mobile device goes with you when you go to work each day, no one at home will have internet access when you aren’t there.
- You may find that mobile hotspot is not quite as fast as a home internet service.
- Tethering a device (or more than one) to your hotspot can drain your phone’s battery quickly.
- A mobile hotspot does use data in your wireless data plan, so your current plan may not accommodate the increase in data usage. So you may have to move to a higher data package.
How Many Hours Is 10gb of Hotspot?
When mobile providers use terms like MB (megabytes) and GB (gigabytes) to refer to amounts of data, it is difficult for a regular person to know how much online activity that translates into.
The amount of hours your data will last depends on what you are using the internet to do. Suppose that you purchase a data package that offers 10 GB of data. With 10 GB of data, you could do any of these online activities:
- Check about 5,000 emails
- Stream music for approximately 60 hours
- Video chat for 32 hours on Skype
- Browse the internet for about 500 hours
- Download 10 movies in standard definition
Does a Hotspot Use a Lot of Data?
A hotspot can use a good bit of data, but it really depends on how you are using it. Here is an idea of how much data is used per hour when you are online:
Checking email: Less than 1 MB
Surfing the internet: About 60 MB
Checking Facebook: About 80 MB
Streaming music: Up to 150 MB
Watching Netflix: Around 250MB
Does Hotspot Kill Your Battery?
Because you are using your mobile phone as a router, your battery will drain more quickly.
Your phone uses more battery power when you are using the internet than when you aren’t, and when you use your phone’s hotspot feature, you use more battery still. The hotspot feature requires your phone to carry data in and out of its hotspot network to one or more connected devices.
If you always use your phone’s hotspot, it is likely to reduce the battery life five to ten times faster than if you never did.
Can Low-Income Families Get Free Internet?
Often, families that have lower income can qualify for assistance in obtaining internet service. Lifeline is a government program that provides monthly phone or internet service discounts.
One way to do that is through documenting income that is 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. That amounts to roughly $34,000 household income for a family of four.
Another way is if someone in the home participates in another government program such as SSI, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Tribal Programs for Native Americans, and others.
Persons who qualify under one of these criteria should contact an internet provider in their area to sign up.
Is 100GB Enough for Netflix?
Like most situations involving data, the answer to this depends on how much you are using it and the quality of the video that you would like to have.
Let’s say that you wanted to watch 60 hours of Netflix with medium quality streaming. That would use approximately 42 GB of data.
If you wanted to watch that same 60 hours of high-quality video streaming, it would require about 180 GB. You could, however, watch 30 hours of Netflix in high-quality video streaming and use 90 GB of data, so 100 GB would be enough, in that case.
Wrapping It Up
As time goes on and internet service providers offer bigger, better, faster internet, you will see the cost of that service rise, along with the requirement to commit to a lengthy one-year or two-year contract.
Eliminating your home internet service and adding a mobile hotspot option instead can save you money in your monthly budget.