Are Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspots A Better Deal than Internet Plans?
We break down the cost comparison between various plans.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: October 25th, 2012
For the average consumer, mobile wi-fi hotspot devices aren't nearly as cost effective as a simple plan from their local providers.
owadays, thanks to people being on the go more often, companies have taken notice of the demand for on-the-go wireless internet connections and have started offering low-cost alternatives to full-blown, non-mobile internet plans. But as these devices become more ubiquitous, we have to wonder if it's just a niche market or if they're a better option for everybody. That said, we took a look at the cost breakdown of a few companies to compare the overall cost and find out if it's worth it for the average consumer.
Unfortunately for people who are looking to save a few bucks each month on their internet services, this typically won't be the way to do so unless you're a sparse user. Most plans clock in at around $30 a month, with some as much as $75—more than you'd pay for a standard internet connection through a local provider.
If you just want the option of using a mobile wi-fi hotspot a few times a month—say, on a business trip where wi-fi isn't available—these devices are a better idea, as some companies (like AT&T and i-wireless) offer one-day rates. Still, while the one-day rates are convenient, AT&T's price isn't all that great ($15 for 24 hours).
Further adding to the cost of so-called convenience is that even with these mobile devices, you have to have either a modem, a compatible netbook, or MiFi, which is like a wi-fi router but has its own power source and is even more expensive than a modem (MiFi can range from $75 to $150 or more).
One big reason, though, that people might be willing to pay extra for mobile wi-fi devices is the security that comes with one. Whereas using a public network offers up your data to a server, when you use a mobile wi-fi device, only you have the power to give permission to devices to use the connection (usually up to five devices per mobile wi-fi connection).
In essence, if you do a lot of traveling or deal with a lot of information-sensitive documents while you're working, a mobile wi-fi set up might be a good idea for you. However, if you're an average internet user, you'll end up paying more for a connection that's likely not as fast as what your local provider could offer up.