Unlimited Broadband (12 month contract)
We’re more reliant than ever on broadband – but it’s still far less reliable than most people would like. If broadband is down it’s important to have a plan B – and wi-fi could be your answer.
While you could head out to your local coffee shop or library to enjoy some free wi-fi on the go, a far more comfortable and convenient solution that you can use in the home requires nothing more than a mobile phone. Read on to find out how these mobile wi-fi hotspots can help.
When you configure a mobile phone to work as a wi-fi hotspot, it will mimic a regular wi-fi network that you can connect to with a device such as a computer, laptop, tablet, or even another mobile phone.
To do this, the mobile phone uses its data connection to send and transmit information. For this reason it’s not ideal as a permanent solution, since this could get quite expensive. But as a temporary way to continue working more comfortably on a computer or laptop, it’s far more practical than trying to hammer out emails or do important work on a handheld.
One potentially large caveat to using your phone as a wireless network is data. You’ll ideally need a decent amount of data on your monthly bundle to avoid overpaying – without it, the costs could be significant. Below you’ll see rough approximations of how much data common tasks use up:
Amount per hour
50 emails (no attachments)
sharing two photos
One hour of web browsing
One hour of music streaming
One hour of SD video
One hour of HD video
Usage figures approximate and for illustrative purposes only
Ideally, you’ll only be using your mobile phone as a wireless hotspot in an emergency – so watching the latest episode of The Crown in HD wouldn’t usually count. As you can see, this is the sort of thing that will really hit your data limit, but stick to tasks such as emailing and browsing the internet and you should be fine.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a strong 4G signal in the home, you may not notice a difference at all between using your phone’s connection and your regular broadband. This is especially the case with activities such as sending emails, browsing the internet, and other less intensive tasks.
If there’s a ‘sweet spot’ in your home where the signal is strongest, try placing the phone there. Since your phone is acting as a wi-fi hotspot there’s no need for it to be right next to the laptop or computer you want to connect to, though being too far away, or on the other side of obstacles, such as electronic equipment, glass, solid walls or floors, could result in a slower or inconsistent connection.
Setting up your phone is far more straightforward than you might think, although it does differ, depending on whether you’re an Apple or Android user.
This will vary slightly depending on what version of Android you’re using.
This will vary slightly depending on what version of iOS you’re using.
By default, most modern mobile phones should use secure settings to protect your newly created wi-fi network from intruders. This should include encryption (most likely WPA2, the most secure available for most mobile providers at the moment), and a randomised password.
However, if you are concerned you can configure the mobile hotspot from the hotspot page. This allows you to change the default network name, choose to hide your device (this means that it will not appear to people scanning for wi-fi networks in the vicinity - you'll have to enter the network name manually on a device you're trying to connect) and the password.
Regardless, you should always remember to switch off the mobile hotspot when you are not using it - this is not a setting that's recommended to leave on all the time. Not only will it drain battery, but it also increases the chance of someone else piggybacking your network and using up precious data.