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Hotspots! I know zip about them, can you help?

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jztemple2
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Hotspots! I know zip about them, can you help?

Post by jztemple2 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:08 am

Long story short, I'm the technology coordinator for our local free tax assistance program, part of a big nationwide organization. We have been told that we can no longer connect our laptops directly to the internet at our public libraries, which is what we used to do. We do the tax preparation assistance via a browser based system, so continuous internet access is required.

Our local libraries will not allow the use of routers, which is national's solution. We can get Verizon Hotspots from the national organization, but they cost national a lot (they use thousands of them across the country). We suggested that we (my wife and I) would reimburse the national organization out of our own pocket, but apparently that's not allowed.

So my wife's solution is to go to Verizon and get a couple of them ourselves. Now I know zip about hotspots, contracts and data plans; we use prepaid flip phones ourselves and have never had a smart phone or a contract either. I went to the Verizon website and saw bunches of horror story reviews of the hotspot hardware devices, I didn't even look at contract plans.

So, can anyone provide enlightenment? Basically each site will have a half dozen computers doing or reviewing tax preparation, all pretty much data usage I imagine. Is there some way to convert this into a data plan I might need?

Shit, I really don't know zip about this, do I? :doh:
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gilraen
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Re: Hotspots! I know zip about them, can you help?

Post by gilraen » Sat Dec 01, 2018 1:34 am

I haven't used a hotspot device in at least 6 years, used to have one from Sprint. These days I just use my smartphone as a hotspot device - I have an unlimited plan from T-Mobile, and the "hotspot" function is like an app on the phone that I just turn on, and it's start transmitting like a wi-fi router.

The problem that I always had with my Sprint Mi-Fi hotspot is that there was very little I could do to troubleshoot it whenever there was a problem. I mean, it's basically a black box, you power it on and if it's not connecting or not transmitting, or whatever, it's quite obnoxious trying to figure out what's wrong.

It also seems more cost-efficient to have a unlimited data plan for your phone - if you look at "connected devices plan", you're paying for a limited amount of data, plus additional fee for the hotspot, plus additional fee per device. With the phone providing the wi-fi tethering, you aren't getting nickel-and-dimed for every device you want to connect: you just turn on the hotspot function and you're ready to go.

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em2nought
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Re: Hotspots! I know zip about them, can you help?

Post by em2nought » Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:34 am

I would think that a cell plan with data would work for tax preparation. It's not like you'll be transmitting huge amounts of data. I've used my phone's hotspot previously for general surfing and to take a payment or two one or two day's a week when I was in Sarasota without internet. Worked pretty well, I could almost get by with just that.
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Freyland
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Re: Hotspots! I know zip about them, can you help?

Post by Freyland » Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:02 pm

We sometimes will use our phone hotspots for online gaming, fwiw.

You *just* missed a good deal at Verizon. For black Friday, they were selling "Jetpacks", which are a 4glte hotspot device with decent range. At the time they were just 50 cents, free activation, and for my plan at least, were $20 a month. No idea for a start-up plan, and might be less if not using unlimited data.
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Kasey Chang
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Re: Hotspots! I know zip about them, can you help?

Post by Kasey Chang » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:38 pm

If you have a smartphone, turn on its hotspot feature provided you paid your carrier and all that. It's come out of your data quota.

Buying a separate hotspot... If you need multiple users off the same line, then yes, buy a Verizon Jetpack MiFi. $99 in store, but shop about. Expect to pay about $5-10 per gigabyte. As long as you don't watch Netflix on it (i.e. hide your password well, let no one else use it) I doubt your software will eat up too much data. AT&T has the Nighthawk router/hotspot, and that's kinda expensive, but nice.

Check your carrier, they should be able to offer a discount if you add it to your existing plan. Else, go with smaller MVNO's like Freedompop. They have a free plan... You buy the hotspot, they throw in 500MB of data a month for free, more gigabytes cost more money, of course.
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em2nought
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Re: Hotspots! I know zip about them, can you help?

Post by em2nought » Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:30 pm

Freyland wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:02 pm
We sometimes will use our phone hotspots for online gaming, fwiw.

You *just* missed a good deal at Verizon. For black Friday, they were selling "Jetpacks", which are a 4glte hotspot device with decent range. At the time they were just 50 cents, free activation, and for my plan at least, were $20 a month. No idea for a start-up plan, and might be less if not using unlimited data.
Man, I'd have liked to try replacing our $135 a month craptastic Century Link for business with that, at that price point, since my other business uses Verizon cell phones.
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Kasey Chang
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Re: Hotspots! I know zip about them, can you help?

Post by Kasey Chang » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:18 am

There are talks that when Verizon offers 5G they may offer "home modems" with that. But so far it's just talk.
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