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Free Government Smartphones In Arkansas – Buried in most smart phones is an ability that few people use but I increasingly rely on: the ability to turn mobile phones into Wi-Fi hotspots. Using my cellphone as a hotspot (also known as Wi-Fi tethering) means that every time I have several signal strength bars, I can get my tablet or laptop online – and share my internet connection with co-workers. This is my way to keep working wherever I am, allowing me to read and send emails, move data back and forth with company servers, and even feel the latest office gossip from the comfort of a full-sized device.

Mobile hotspots can be a serious collaboration tool for a group of business people who try to work together. Potential ranges from groups on the way to the airport with vans completing group presentations to accounting teams working in conference rooms with internet connections that are independent of the companies they audit.

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It functions like a special mobile hotspot, but because it is on your cellphone, there are no additional fees to fill in, carry, and try not to lose. When a cell phone is connected to a cellular data network, the cellphone can convert the data stream into a Wi-Fi signal for other devices to share. Fortunately, cellphones can still see websites on the screen, make calls, and respond to text when hosting connections.

This technique works with most current Android and iOS phones, and using your mobile as a hotspot can be safer than using public hotspots. Its use is usually included in your monthly package, but only to a certain extent for most packages. On the downside, using your cellphone as a hotspot can chew your cellphone battery very quickly.

After talking with mobile phone maker and network representatives about their products and using my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as a hotspot on several field trips, I have answered 15 main questions about hotspotting Wi-Fi to make life easier on the road.

1. What is a telephone Wi-Fi hotspot?
In essence, a hotspot is a combination of software, hardware, and network data services that combine to turn a telephone into the equivalent of a broadband modem and router. In other words, it can distribute web connections to the nearest system via Wi-Fi. This not only allows me to get my laptop and tablet online, but I can share it with colleagues, as long as they are within reach and they know the password.

Some phones also allow withdrawals via Bluetooth and USB cables, but this technique is less popular.

2. How does it work?
To use a cellphone as a hotspot, the device treats online connections to data networks as if it were a broadband data source. This then transmits this data locally like a mini Wi-Fi router using the 802.11ac protocol. The end result is that Wi-Fi devices that are within range can enter data signals as if they were old Wi-Fi networks – because they are.

3. How safe is it to use a mobile hotspot?
Using a telephone hotspot can increase your security profile by allowing you to avoid using unsafe public hotspots in coffee shops and hotels. At the end of the telephone line, it’s as safe and private as making a phone call or browsing the web with your cellphone, because LTE data traffic is generally encrypted using the Snow Stream cipher.

If that is not enough for your company’s security attitude, VPNs can build stronger walls around your communication with 256-bit AES encryption. This often comes with performance costs.

Between the telephone and the client who contacts it, the mobile hotspot uses WPA2 encryption, which requires a passcode of at least eight characters.

4. Which cellphones and networks support Wi-Fi tethering?
The good news is that almost every Android or iOS phone on the market can be converted into a Wi-Fi hotspot, but you have to make sure your mobile package supports it. Most business plans and many consumer plans from the Big Four national network include the use of hotspots in one way or another (see the next question). The bad news is that while your SMS and talk time may be theoretically unlimited, networks usually limit access to hotspots to a maximum of 10GB to 15GB a month at full speed.

5. How much does it cost to use a cellphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot?
Current hotspot usage is usually included in certain business and consumer plans rather than being offered as additional services. Although you can expect this plan to change as a network jockey for position, here is an overview of what each of the Big Four national networks currently offers.

AT & T: Both Business Unlimited Plus and Enhanced plans include 15GB of hotspot data with full LTE speed per month. After that, broadband speed dropped to 128Kbps. Prices start at $ 80 per line.

On the consumer side, Unlimited Plus Enhanced packages start at $ 80 per line and include 15GB of full speed mobile hotspot data, after which the speed drops to 128Kbps. Some of the company’s Mobile Share Flex prepaid plans and plans also include cellular hotspot capabilities with a range of pricing and data limits; see their webpage for details.

Sprint: Unlimited Business Packages are equipped with a 10GB data hotspot with full LTE speed; Prices start at $ 55 per line. After you reach the data hotspot limit, the network slows down downloads to 32Kbps, which should be minimal for e-mail.

The company’s Unlimited Consumer Package, which starts at $ 60 per line, includes 10GB of data for mobile hotspots, VPN, and P2P use. When the limit is reached, customers are charged $ 10 for an additional 10GB. The company offers other plans that include cellular hotspot capabilities too; see the site for details.

T-Mobile: The T-Mobile ONE package for business is similar to the Verizon Go Unlimited package because it allows you to use your mobile as a hotspot as long as you like, but is limited to 3G speeds. The ONE Plus package includes a 10GB data hotspot with LTE speed, then returns to 3G speed. Prices start at $ 60 per line for two lines, with ONE Plus adding $ 10 per month per line.

Likewise, the T-Mobile ONE consumer plan includes unlimited hotspotting with 3G speeds, while the ONE Plus package allows 10GB LTE data hotspots, then returns to 3G speeds. Prices start at $ 70 per line for ONE, and ONE Plus costs an additional $ 10 per line. The prepaid package and the T-Mobile family offer cellular hotspot capabilities too; see the site for details.

Verizon: These three operators’ commercial plans are slightly different from their potential hotspots. While the Business Unlimited plan includes 10GB of LTE speed hotspot data and reduced flow to 600Kbps after the threshold is reached, the Beyond Unlimited package provides 15GB before slowing it down. Conversely, if 600Kbps is enough bandwidth for your work, the Go Unlimited plan is like T-Mobile ONE by including the use of hotspots which are really not limited to that speed. Prices for this business plan start at $ 40 per line for four lines.

Verizon’s consumer choices are similar: The Beyond Unlimited package includes 15GB of mobile hotspot usage, then slows speeds up to 600Kpbs, while the Go Unlimited package provides unlimited use of cellular hotspots at 600Kbps. Prices start at $ 75 per line. The company’s $ 75 unlimited prepaid package also includes unlimited hotspot usage at 600Kbps.

6. What devices can connect to mobile hotspots?
Mobile hotspots can work with any Wi-Fi based device, including laptops, tablets, other cellphones, and even game consoles. (We don’t judge what you do outside your working hours.) Think of it as just another Wi-Fi source, only from your cellphone.

7. How many devices can be connected to a mobile hotspot?
Most Android phones can connect up to 10 users at a time. The iPhone is a little different, with the iPhone 4 model that allows three connections on the AT & T network or five on Verizon. From today’s 4S to iPhone X models, they can accommodate up to five client connections. Some cellular packages apply their own limits to the number of devices that can be connected simultaneously.

Of course, the more users share the internet throughput, the lower the speed for each client.

8. Where can I use a hotspot?
Using a hotspot is not limited to where you are, as long as your cell phone is connected to your service provider’s data network. In fact, wherever you have a signal that is strong enough to use the web on your cellphone, you can generally use it as a hotspot with favorable results. I have used telephone hotspots in my home, my office, on trains, in hotel lobbies and in coffee shops throughout the US, also in Europe and Asia.

There is also a big bonus if your office data connection goes south. When my office’s internet connection died for five hours recently, I used the capabilities of my Galaxy Note 8 hotspot to keep my office running. Not as fast as I use, but it makes email and data exchange flow. The key is to configure the hotspot with a network name and passcode.

9. Is the arrangement difficult?
Not all. Actually, this is one of the easiest configuration changes you can make. This is different for the iPhone and Android but should not be more than one or two minutes. Suggestion: For security purposes, be sure to set a network name and password.

For iPhone:

Start on the Home screen and tap the Settings icon.
Open the Private Hotspot section.
Tap the slider switch to turn on the hotspot.
The network name will be the same as the name of your device. (To change it, go to Settings> General> About> Name.) Press the Wi-Fi Password to change the password you want to use.
It’s a little tricky to give instructions for Android phones, because they vary according to cellphone manufacturers and Android versions. I have included instructions for my Galaxy Note 8 using Android 7.1.1 (Nougat), but depending on the software and network, your mobile might be a little different.

Slide the Home screen up or down to open the application and open Settings.
In my Note 8, I tap Connection, then scroll down and tap Cellular Hotspot and Tethering, then tap Cellular Hotspot to activate it. Depending on your software, your menu words might be different (such as “Wireless & network” instead of “Connection”), and you might need to tap “Other” to find withdrawal and hotspot options.
Tap the current password and network name near the top to update the network name and password.

After you activate a hotspot, it will be found by devices that search for nearby Wi-Fi networks, but only users that you share passwords can connect to. Open Wi-Fi settings for your laptop or tablet and search for your new network. After you enter the password, the system must be connected in less than one minute.

So you don’t follow the Wi-Fi signal wherever you go, it’s good to activate a tethering hotspot as soon as it’s finished. Your battery will thank you too.

10. How do you use hotspots to affect battery life?
Talking about battery life, turning on hotspot capabilities on your cellphone is like turning on a micro router, which seriously reduces battery life. For example, while the Note 8 has a 10-hour battery life expectancy, it only lasts 7 hours, 20 minutes of continuous hotspot usage with two connected devices. It is best used for short spells unless you can turn on your cellphone with an external battery or AC outlet.

11. What speed and range can I expect?
The four cellular data networks in the US use 4G LTE equipment with fiber optic data backbones. Actual results depend on many factors, including how crowded the internet is, how far you are from the nearest cell tower and how many other people use that cell site. Over the years, I have gotten everything from 20Kbps (enough for e-mail and basic use) to 80Mbps (lots of HD videos or large download downloads).

Phone hotspots cannot be compared to traditional routers in terms of coverage. However, you can expect to create a connectivity zone of 25 to 50 feet. This should be a lot for personal use or for small groups in a hotel room or clustered around a conference room table.

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