Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mobile Hot Spot Saves the Day

Time was when a vacation meant severing connections with the work a day world for a week or two. Going to the beach or to the mountains was a chance to get away for a time without many of the modern conveniences that both make our life easier and more connected. For many, vacations have turned into a time when we are prone to multitask even more than we regularly do. We are on vacation. We enjoy the beach and fresh air. We change our daily schedule. But many of us also stay connected to our “day job” using mobile phones and laptops.

When searching for a vacation spot, albeit a campground or a five star hotel, the availability of high speed Internet access is often as important as a great view or proximity to attractions. My wife and I have been taking a week each year to join friends on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The seashore there is outstanding and the weather, other than for the occasional September hurricane, is beautiful.

For the past few years we have enjoyed having high speed Internet access where we were staying. I was able to keep up with office emails and appointments and still enjoy time in the sun. This year, partially because of the recent hurricane that hit portions of the islands, we stayed at a place that did not have a working Internet connection.

This would have put a real crimp in my plans for the week but my smart phone came to the rescue. My phone, like several other phones from various vendors and carriers, can be used as a Mobile Hot Spot. This feature makes my phone a wifi hub and connects any computer device with wifi capability to the Internet using the phone’s 3G or 4G mobile connection. In other words the phone works just like the wifi hub in your house or office, but instead of connecting to the Internet via an Internet Service Provider like RoadRunner or Fuse, it uses the mobile phone network, in my case Verizon.

The connection, dubbed by some providers as “myfi,” is not as fast as a regular wifi/broadband connection but the speed is more than adequate to access email and my office network. You sign on to the hot spot the same way you sign on to any wifi service at home or at the local coffee shop. You can password protect the access if you wish.

When using “myfi” you will notice that the mobile phone’s battery will only provide about one hour of service. It is a good idea to keep the battery charger connected to the phone when using the hot spot feature for longer than a few minutes. Also, some plans charge a premium for hot spot technology. You may want to ask your provider if it is included in your plan.

If you do a lot of traveling and need Internet connection, the mobile hot spot feature on your phone may be just the ticket.

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