Cell Phone Hotspot or Paid 4G Rural Internet Plan?


I have a friend who literally lives in the middle of nowhere. For the longest time, he has been relying on DSL for internet access. Amazingly, we were both on DSL when we still lived in the same town and were much younger men. I have since moved on. He wants to, which is why he recently told me of his plan to start accessing the internet by using his cell phone as a hotspot.

Not being convinced this was a good idea, I did some research into hotspots and 4G rural internet service. I am convinced the latter is the better option. He still plans to use his cell phone. We will see how long he sticks with it. Meantime, I’ll explain what I learned in my research.

Cell Phones as Hotspots

Wireless hotspots existed before cell phones began offering the feature. A wireless hotspot is essentially an electronic device that combines cellular network and wi-fi router capabilities. It accesses the internet through local cell towers. By connecting another device to it, just as if it were wi-fi, that device can get online.

Major cell phone manufacturers began adding hotspot capabilities a few years ago. Just about every modern phone can now function as a hotspot. With some carriers though, you need to pay extra for the privilege.

4G Wireless internet

To be clear, 4G wireless internet works on the exact same principle as the cell phone hotspot. A company like Houston-based Blazing Hog furnishes customers with a 4G modem/router that gets online via mobile networks. It can be used anywhere a customer has a strong enough cell signal.

If they both do the same thing, why is 4G rural internet the better option? Why not just use your phone as a hotspot? We are about to find out.

Reasons to Go With 4G Rural internet

Using your cell phone as a hotspot is not a bad idea in and of itself. The ability to do so is great for emergencies, like when your broadband goes down. You can also use your phone if you want to avoid hotel wi-fi networks when you’re traveling. But as a daily means of getting online, here is why it’s not a good idea:

Expensive Data Plans

Both cell phone and 4G rural internet plans limit data. Even plans advertised as unlimited have a tendency to throttle data speeds when consumers reach a certain threshold. Here’s the thing: cell phone providers don’t want you using your phone as a hotspot on a daily basis. So their data limits tend to be lower. Their charges for exceeding those limits are also higher.

Slower Speeds

Your phone was not designed to be a router or modem. It was designed to be a phone. As a result, you will not get nearly the same speeds as you would from a purpose-built 4G internet router.

Wear and Tear

Along those same lines, forcing a ton of data through your phone by using it as a hotspot subjects it to excessive wear and tear. Your phone is likely to produce a lot of heat, which is a sure sign that you are pushing it too far. The chances are pretty good you’ll suck the life out of your phone using it as a full-time hotspot.

It goes without saying that your phone will not be good for much else whenever you’re online. That, combined with the other reasons, tells me that signing up for a 4G internet plan is probably my friend’s best choice. I wonder how long it will take him to figure it out.

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