You can replace a household internet connection with a mobile hotspot. Whether you want to or not really depends on what you’re using the internet for, how many people are using the internet, and why you’d want to avoid household internet connection.
My name’s Aaron. I’m a technologist who’s passionate about taking technology to its limits and testing edge use cases for fun.
In this article, I’ll talk about some of the pros and cons of mobile hotspots and when you may seriously think about replacing a household internet connection with one.
Table of Contents
- Key Takeaways
- What is a Mobile Hotspot?
- Pros and Cons of a Mobile Hotspot
- So Can a Mobile Hotspot Replace Home Internet?
- A mobile hotspot is something that provides an internet connection via a cellular connection instead of broadband.
- Mobile hotspots are great in areas with good connectivity and where a stable broadband connection isn’t available.
- In urban areas, broadband is probably a better option for you.
- You need to think about your internet needs to decide between a mobile hotspot and broadband.
What is a Mobile Hotspot?
A mobile hotspot is a device–it can be your smartphone or a dedicated hotspot device–that acts as a wi-fi router and connects to the internet using a cellular connection instead of broadband to deliver internet.
For a device to act as a mobile hotspot, it needs two things.
First, it must be capable of acting as a hotspot. Not every smart device or cell phone can act as a hotspot. You should consult the product specifications of your device to determine whether or not it is hotspot capable. Many Android phones, iPhones, and iPads with cellular connections can act as mobile hotspots.
You should also consult your device’s product specifications to see how many devices can connect simultaneously to the mobile hotspot. That may also be limited by your carrier’s hotspot software.
Second, it needs a data-enabled connection. Mobile phone carriers used to sell phone, internet, and hotspot data plans separately. Now they are typically bundled together.
Some plans offer unlimited mobile hotspot data, while others will sell a specific amount of data and charge for overages. Some plans will provide unlimited data, but slow (or throttle) the connection specifically after a certain amount of data is used.
You should consult your plan’s specific details before trying to enable your mobile hotspot.
Pros and Cons of a Mobile Hotspot
The main pro of a mobile hotspot is its portability. You can provide an internet connection to your devices wherever you have cellular reception. Many of those devices wouldn’t be able to connect otherwise. It helps you work and stay connected in a place where you couldn’t without the hotspot.
The main pro also highlights the primary con: you need good cellular connection. The speed of the internet connection depends on the strength of the hotspot’s cellular connection. It also depends on the availability of a 4G or 5G network, where the latter is faster. While carrier availability of coverage is largely ubiquitous, the surrounding geography and terrain or the building you’re in may impact connectivity.
Depending on where you live, for example in a rural area, a mobile hotspot may be cheaper and faster than a broadband connection. A broadband connection may not even be available. On the flip side, if you live in an urban area, a broadband connection will likely be cheaper and faster.
So Can a Mobile Hotspot Replace Home Internet?
A mobile hotspot can replace a home internet connection. It may even be cheaper and faster in certain circumstances. If you decide that you want to replace your home internet connection with a mobile hotspot, you should think about a few things.
Do you get a cell signal in your building? Are you connecting to a 4G or 5G network?
Is the mobile hotspot connection faster? Does it matter? If you’re playing competitive online games, then it might. If you’re just browsing the news, then it might not. Only you can decide what’s fast enough to support your use. Also, consider whether your connection will be throttled or not.
Note: broadband connections can also be throttled by providers.
Is the mobile hotspot plan more or less expensive than broadband? Make sure you evaluate the cost on a per-megabit basis for an apples-to-apples comparison. Also, make sure you don’t have a data cap with extra charges once you go over.
4. Device Use
Is the hotspot a phone or tablet that is going to travel outside the house? Will it leave devices in the house that need an internet connection without an internet connection?
Really, the question you should be asking yourself isn’t: can a mobile hotspot replace home internet? The answer’s absolutely, yes. The question you should be asking yourself is: should a mobile hotspot replace home internet?
That’s a question that only you can answer based on your needs and use.
Let’s address some questions you may have about mobile hotspots and your internet needs.
Can a Mobile Hotspot Replace a Router?
A mobile hotspot is a router. A router is a piece of network equipment that provides routing: it takes a connection, creates a downstream network from that connection, and parses the connection to devices on the network. It can replace a broadband router, which is the typical internet connection you see in homes today.
Is it Better to Get a Mobile Hotspot or Wi-Fi?
That really depends on your needs. A wi-fi connection downstream of a broadband connection can be faster and more cost-effective. It may not be. It may meet all of your needs or not. You really need to evaluate your internet needs and priorities and decide based on that. I can’t answer that for you, unfortunately. I did outline the considerations above, though.
How do I Use a Mobile Hotspot Without Using Data?
You don’t. Some phones come with a wi-fi hotspot option, which just turns the device into a wireless router to pass-through another wi-fi connection.
Maybe I’m a luddite when it comes to that kind of device marketing, but I just don’t get it. It seems to me like a solution asking for a problem.
What’s the Difference Between a Mobile Hotspot and a Wi-Fi Hotspot?
A mobile hotspot is when a device creates a wi-fi router for devices to connect to the internet via a cellular connection.
Wi-fi hotspots can be a few things. One, as outlined in the immediately preceding question, is where a phone, tablet, or hotspot acts as a wireless router for devices to connect to the internet via a wi-fi broadband connection. Another is a marketing term for a traditional broadband router with a wireless access point built-in or a standalone wireless access point.
You can replace home internet with a mobile hotspot. Before you do so, ask yourself whether or not you should. There are numerous pros and cons to replacing your home internet with a mobile hotspot. Only you can decide whether it’s a good idea for your internet usage needs.
Have you ditched home internet to use a mobile hotspot? Do you travel with a mobile hotspot? Let us know about your experiences in the comments!