When it comes to on-the-go internet, mobile wireless routers — also known as hotspots — have been filling the gap between Wi-Fi and cellular since 2009. Instead of being tethered to a Wi-Fi connection or having to browse the internet on your smartphone, hotspots give laptop and tablet users the ability to connect to the internet whenever and wherever, as long as there is cellular coverage.
Contractors, small businesses, and traveling workers alike have gained a new sense of freedom thanks to mobile hotspots. For instance, contractors now can use tablets in the field, no matter how far they are from a Wi-Fi router; small businesses can use mobile hotspots to connect their point-of-sale (POS) to the internet and make transactions on the road or at pop-up markets; and traveling businessmen can use mobile hotspots to access the cloud on their laptops, making it easier for them to work on presentations, spreadsheets, and documents anywhere in the world.
How Mobile Hotspots Work
Mobile hotspots connect to a 3G or 4G cellular network, much like a smartphone. In fact, many smartphones can double as hotspots, although cellular providers usually charge extra for a hotspot data plan, and require at least a two-year contract.
Once connected to a cellular network, hotpots wirelessly share their data connection with nearby Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Typically, mobile hotspots can provide an internet connection to multiple devices simultaneously, sometimes even up to 20 devices at once, depending on the hotspot router and carrier signal. Hotspot connections usually have a range of about 30 feet, so any devices within close proximity to your mobile hotspot also can access the internet. Almost all portable hotspot routers include WEP and WPA encryption, which gives users control of who can use their hotspot by setting up passwords, much like your wireless router at home.
What to Look for in a Mobile Hotspot Router
Because mobile hotspots rely on cellular networks to create an internet connection, they must be outfitted with a SIM card. Some mobile hotspot devices (like your smartphone) already are equipped with a SIM card, so you may want to check whether or not the hotspot router you purchase comes with a SIM card already in place. If your mobile hotspot router does not include a SIM card, or you want to change the SIM card within the router, you must make sure that it is compatible with your SIM card’s cellular provider. Neo’s SIM cards are compatible with any AT&T-certified mobile hotspot routers.
When purchasing a mobile hotspot router, you should also consider whether it uses a 3G or 4G LTE cellular connection. 4G LTE networks have faster connection speeds than 3G networks, and most new mobile wireless routers rely on a 4G connection. Neo offers both 3G and 4G SIM cards for mobile hotspots, so if you do have an older portable hotspot router, you still can purchase a replacement SIM card from Neo.
And finally, you may want consider the battery life of your mobile hotspot router. Almost all hotspot routers rely on a rechargeable battery, although battery life varies from router to router. If you plan on using your mobile hotspot on long business trips or while on the go, you should consider a mobile hotspot router with a battery that will last a long time on a single charge.
Advantages of Using Neo SIM Cards for Your Mobile Hotspot Router
Unlike other SIM cards purchased from cellular providers, Neo does not require our SIM card users to sign an annual contract, and there are no set-up or cancellation fees. Instead, we use a pay-per-use model that goes month-to-month.
Another advantage unique to Neo SIM cards is AerPort, our connectivity management platform that lets users monitor usage trends, check which devices currently are active, and quickly diagnose any connectivity issues without having to hire a technician. AerPort’s intuitive dashboard is easy to set-up and use, and gives you the freedom to manage and troubleshoot any device that uses our SIM card.