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Mobile WiFi Hotspot Routers


NewTricks

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@David H. Lipman posts earlier in Oct 2022  reference  MiFi routers by Novatel. The brand doesn't matter as much as the function.  Could someone respond with a simplified explanation which minimizes technical jargon? A link is OK, but a composed paragraph or two is better. My understanding  is vague and hazy.

  1. Does this kind of device have a good reputation?
  2. Does it provide a mini protected area in which you can connect in a sea of unsecured WiFi? If so, how does it find a network, if there are both 4 or 5G available? 
  3. Once a unit is purchased, is there a monthly fee? Do you have to sign up with a provider? Can it be used in a 400- 600 mile radius?

I started looking into this years ago, but now may be ready for a purchase. Thanks for your expertise.

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They can be obtained from an Internet Service Provider like Verizon or from 3rd party companies like TravelWiFi.

They can be rented monthly or can have a Lease agreement that can last 3 years.  The reputation would be tied to the service it is rented from.  Like a Smart Phone or Cell Phone its capability in accessing the Internet is the ability to secure access to a Cellular Tower and their so-called Network Coverage.

Yes.  These devices do provide a mini protected area in which one can connect in a sea of unsecured WiFi HotSpots.  It is Private.  It is your private network not unlike your home network behind your Router.

As noted in the thread your read from Oct 11~12 2022, A Smart Phone can also create a similar service.  The Smart Phone connects to the Cellular Network and is used to create a Private WiFi HotSpot.

EDIT:

References:

 

 

Edited by David H. Lipman
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I would have to defer to someone more familiar with cellular devices as I do not use any.

My limited knowledge presumes that the devices they talk about do not support the higher speeds of 5G but limits their access to 4G networks and associated speeds.

Edited by David H. Lipman
Edited for content, clarity, spelling and/or grammar
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Just now, David H. Lipman said:

do support the higher speeds of 5G but limits their access to 4G networks and associated speeds.

That seems strange to have that capability but then impose a limit. I'm sure there's a reason, but not necessarily "good." Thanks for getting me started.

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Similar to a 4G phone, they can't access 5G. (if it's available).

But 4G isn't going anwhere and currently most areas that have a mobile signal have 4G.
The same can't be said for 5G yet, 5G coverage is patchy once you leave the urban sprawls and get more rural.
It depends on which provider you go with, some have more 5G coverage than the others.
Here's an article with an interactive map of 4G/5G coverage in the USA: https://www.whistleout.com/CellPhones/Guides/5g-coverage-maps-compared

So even if you get a 5G capable device it will probably be using 4G most of the time, depending on where you are.
4G is fine for general use as a mobile hotspot, especially as you will usually only be connecting one device.

I occasionally use my 4G phone to create a wifi hotspot which my laptop then connects to, there's no noticible difference  in performance than connecting to my wifi at home.

Edit to add- I used to do the same with my previous 3G phone, that was fine as well. But as you are no doubt aware the 3G signal is being discontinued and, depending on your country and supplier, already has been in places.

Edited by nukecad
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Hi @nukecad, thanks for your thoughts here! I'm psyched.

2 hours ago, nukecad said:

But 4G isn't going anywhere and currently most areas that have a mobile signal have 4G.

Yes, we may want more, but what's there is adequate.

 

2 hours ago, nukecad said:

5G coverage is patchy once you leave the urban sprawls and get more rural.

Also true. I looked at providers last night along with some reviews and blogs. Consensus is rural continues to lag behind in coverage-regardless. I'm a bit rural and would travel to other rural places. The important thing is to set expectations realistically.

 

2 hours ago, nukecad said:

I occasionally use my 4G phone to create a wifi hotspot which my laptop then connects to

Nice! I never thought of that 🙄 (or why didn't I think of that?!) My phone definitely can do it, and yes, I would only connect one laptop. I used to balk at the extra charges, but hey, when you need something quick, no problem.

Last, but not least is the nice link you gave me for the coverage. Lots of good information and comparisons. Thanks for doing the work for me. 😉

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On 3/4/2023 at 4:20 PM, NewTricks said:

Nice! I never thought of that 🙄 (or why didn't I think of that?!) My phone definitely can do it, and yes, I would only connect one laptop. I used to balk at the extra charges, but hey, when you need something quick, no problem.

But remember that if you get a mobile router that's an immediate extra cost to buy one, and then you still have to pay for the data you use.
Why do that when you already have a mobile router in your pocket, and may already be paying for data that you don't use?

Most monthly phone contracts include a decent data allowance, or even unlimited data.
So if you have a monthly phone contract you are probably already paying for the data whether you use it or not.

Even on PAYG you can usually purchase data in advance which makes it cheaper.
I use PAYG 'Packs' from EE here in the UK, I'd assume that T-mobile do them in the US. (They are the same company after all).
Other providers also do similar PAYG packs.

Another tale of experience:
I connected exclusively through 3G during the UK Covid lockdowns, and by buying 30-day data packs in advance it was costing me around £18 GB a month for the data I used.
(I didn't have landline broadband at my last property, I could use the free wifi from the pub next door 24/7 and save money. But during the lockdowns pubs were shut so they turned off the wifi and I had to use 3G).

In fact when I moved here I was considering getting a new 4G phone on a monthly contract and just using that as a mobile router.
But I signed up for a triple deal with Electricity, gas, and landline broadband from the same supplier, which worked out cheaper.

Edited by nukecad
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10 hours ago, nukecad said:

Why do that when you already have a mobile router in your pocket, and may already be paying for data that you don't use?

Definitely! I'm using about 25% of my plan data. You mentioned buying a separate mobile router is an extra expense. Yes.

 

10 hours ago, nukecad said:

you can usually purchase data in advance which makes it cheaper.

That's helpful. 👍

10 hours ago, nukecad said:

I could use the free wifi from the pub next door 24/7 and save money

Yes, it is a great thing to live next to free wi-fi. I'm directly above my building's secure network.

 

10 hours ago, nukecad said:

I signed up for a triple deal

Yikes, that would never happen here, congrats on getting a little breathing room and for hanging on until life presented other choices.

Now we come to the rubber meeting the road. I don't know how to to allow my Chromebook to access that particular setting on the phone. If you could speak to that, I'd appreciate it. I'm fairly certain it's not specific to either device.

UPDATE: Success! Connected without problems to my mobile hotspot. It was not complicated. The only observation is the 8 character password from Verizon; one testing site confirms it's strong, but another says it's too short.

Edited by NewTricks
updated process
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Good to hear you are up and running.

I wouldn't worry too much about the security of your hotspot password.

Realistically what are the chances of a hacker being in range of your hotspot for long enough to try and crack any password, even the weakest?

Edited by nukecad
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  • 4 weeks later...

Steering this back to the mobile hotspot question-

I finally got into my locked cell phone account and discovered I have 94% of monthly data left; the plan renews in 4 days.. Great news for my upcoming road trip.

P.S. I DID use 724 messages, you can download them in an Excel spreadsheet. At least 1/3 are 2FA, but still a sobering number.

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  • 2 months later...

Resurrecting this for use tomorrow June 22 to confirm my logic is sound.

Planning a visit to the top floor of a 12 story high rise (in a dense urban area) to provide basic help for a resident who has internet, no router, no wireless.  The apartment next door houses digital providers hardware, (Verizon, Charter One +) Antennas on the roof, just a couple feet above complete the picture.

I'll use my Verizon Hotspot and connect my Chromebook to it. The proximity of the equipment next door and the antennas on the roof will most likely give me a strong stable connection. True or false?

Anything else I should consider?

 

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You may be drawing inferences and faux conclusions. 

There are many reasons why there are antennae on the roof and in a 13 floor high rise they may implement Verizon VDSL or other technology.

You may presume that in an urban setting and within a 13 floor high rise, and on an upper floor, that your cellular reception would be good.

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Maybe but make sure it is secured.  It could be a 2cnd choice.  If it had not been already enabled, it may be best to be disabled upon your leaving.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/use-your-windows-pc-as-a-mobile-hotspot-c89b0fad-72d5-41e8-f7ea-406ad9036b85

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Paying it Forward-final report:

Excellent strong, consistent connection via Verizon hotspot. Critical to my "help" session involving a USB card reader for an SD card containing hundreds of images. More mundane tasks included showing the location of the power button, restart, sleep choices, pinning Media Player to the taskbar, and a short tutorial about the necessity of the RIGHT-CLICK.

I was surprised to see Malwarebytes installed and even more shocked to see a log of updates and run times. This saves me campaigning for it. 💃

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