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What Is Portable WiFi and Why You Need It

Portable WiFi, sometimes also called mobile WiFi, is a term that’s used to refer to WiFi networks created by portable WiFi routers.
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Have you noticed how many electronic devices depend on internet access to work as intended? Without the internet, smartphones are barely any more useful than cell phones from the 90s, and many apps won’t even launch.

Of course, you can always purchase a data plan for your smartphone, but what about your other gadgets, such as your smartwatch, your tablet, or your laptop? That’s where portable WiFi comes in to save the day.

What Is Portable WiFi?


You probably have a traditional router at home with at least two cables attached to it: one cable to connect the router to the internet and one cable to supply power to the router.

Well, portable WiFi routers are just like the router you have at home expect they are completely wireless. They connect to the internet via 2G/3G/5G networks (just like your smartphone does) and are powered by batteries.

The portable WiFi hotspots created by smartphone

In practice, the WiFi networks created by portable WiFi routers are no different from the portable WiFi hotspots created by modern smartphones. Why should you then purchase a portable WiFi router when your smartphone can do the same? Because portable WiFi routers are far more convenient to use, provide stronger coverage, and last a lot longer on a single charge.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Portable WiFi?


Portable WiFi Networks Are Safer

We are surrounded by public WiFi hotspots, but relying on them to accomplish anything besides checking the weather and reading online articles can easily turn out to be fatal. Not all public WiFi hotspots are legitimate, and distinguishing those that are from those that have been set up by cybercriminals looking to steal your personal information is not easy.

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When you create your own portable WiFi network and use strong encryption, you know that you can trust it with your personal information and do everything from online banking to online shopping.

Public WiFi hotspot

Next time you find yourself in need of internet access, stop yourself before you connect to a public WiFi hotspot and consider whether it wouldn’t be safer to purchase a portable WiFi router instead — it most certainly would!

Portable WiFi Routers Don’t Drain Your Battery

Your smartphone can probably create a portable WiFi hotspot with just a couple of taps on the screen. But if you’ve ever used your smartphone to create portable WiFi for laptops or other devices, you probably know how quickly it can drain the battery. Considering that modern smartphones don’t last that long on a charge to begin with, it’s less than ideal to decrease their battery life even further by using them as portable WiFi hotspots.

On the other hand, portable WiFi routers have their own source of power, and they can typically last a lot longer than most smartphones. An emergency situation may happen at any moment, and portable WiFi router can help you save enough battery to make an emergency phone call.

Portable WiFi Is Cheaper

Depending on where you live, mobile data may be outrageously expensive even with a good data plan. The situation is even worse when traveling abroad and dealing with roaming charges. If you’ve ever received a phone bill that was so high that you refused to believe it when you first saw it, you know what we’re talking about.

Thankfully, there are no outrageous bills to worry about with portable WiFi. For example, Verizon portable WiFi starts at just $19 for the Verizon Ellipsis Jetpack with a 2-year contract.

Verizon Ellipsis Jetpack

The Ellipsis Jetpack is a well-designed portable WiFi box that you can easily fit in your pocket and use it to simultaneously connect up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices to the internet.

Create Your Own WiFi

If you pay for mobile data, it’s a good idea to create your own encrypted mobile hotspot and use it to access the internet from other devices. When you’re in charge of your own security, you can use the latest WiFi encryption standard and establish any password policy you want.

One More Device to Worry About

The only real disadvantage of portable WiFi is that you have one more device to worry about. But is one more electronic device to carry even a good reason for concern in this day and age, especially one that takes almost no space, requires no attention, and can work for over a day without charging? We don’t think so.

How to Select a Portable WiFi Device?


To get the best portable WiFi experience you can, you need to carefully select the right portable WiFi device for your needs. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Data plans: Some portable WiFi devices are unlocked for use with data plans from various internet service providers, while others can only be used with data plans from a single provider, usually the manufacturer of the device. The ability to change your internet service provider at any time is certainly useful, but don’t get hung up on it too much. Portable WiFi routers are not too expensive, and internet service providers often offer them at a huge discount if you agree to sign a contract.

  • Simultaneous connections: Count how many devices you would like to connect to your portable WiFi network and make sure to purchase a portable WiFi router that supports at least a few more simultaneous connections than what you really need. You never know when a friend might join you on your adventures.

Devices you connect to your portable WiFi network
  • WiFi speed: The crucial things to keep in mind when buying a portable WiFi router is how fast it is. Ideally, you want a portable WiFi router that can connect to 4G networks and that supports data transfer rates of up to 300 Mbps.

  • Setup: Most portable WiFi routers are very easy to set up: you simply insert your SIM card, go through a few setup screens, and that’s it. However, some portable WiFi routers make setup and configuration even easier by providing their users with a companion smartphone app. The most important thing when setting up a portable WiFi is to select the right WiFi channel, which is something NetSpot, a WiFi analysis app for Windows and macOS, can help you with.

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Conclusion

These days, we expect to have reliable internet access everywhere we go. But relying on public WiFi hotspots or expensive mobile data plans is far from ideal. A much better way how to enjoy internet access on the go is portable WiFi, which is very easy to set up and is available in many different form-factors.

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If you want to dive deeper into this Wi-Fi thing, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi security, the best apps for wireless networking, best WiFi routers, etc.

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