Best hotspot plans in 2021
You don't always have access to Wi-Fi when you need it.
There are times you may need to log on for work, send a few emails, or access something online while out and about. A mobile hotspot plan makes doing so a breeze.
With a simple pocket-sized device and an affordable mobile data plan you can hop on the internet on your computer, tablet, or any other connectable device no matter where you are.
Mobile hotspot plan comparison
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Prepaid mobile hotspot plan benefits
One way to get a great deal is to go with a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), also known as alternative carriers. These companies sell service on the big four networks at better prices.
- Bring your own device
- No contracts
- Customize your data plan
- Great customer service support
Best AT&T mobile hotspot plan
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Best Verizon mobile hotspot plan
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Best T-Mobile mobile hotspot plan
See more T-Mobile hotspot plans
Best Sprint mobile hotspot plan
See more Sprint hotspot plans
Best unlimited mobile hotspot plan
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Key considerations when choosing a hotspot plan
In addition to price, the right mobile hotspot data plan for you depends on several factors:
1. Coverage - Mobile coverage used to be a big deal. Now, all of the major mobile networks boast very similar coverage areas. When you're shopping for a data only plan for your internet capable devices, you'll want to look at the LTE coverage in the locations where you spend the most time. If you travel and need mobile data usage during those times check those zip codes as well.
2. Speed - You're probably wondering just how fast your data only plan will be. The good news is that most carriers deliver a 4G LTE high-speed internet connection to enabled devices. This means that if your hotspot device or smartphone is capable of handling LTE speeds then you will have a high-speed connection. Of course as with your smartphone, your speeds will depend upon signal strength.
The caveat (sorry, sometimes there is one!) - read the fine print. Particularly with unlimited mobile hotspot plans, if you exceed your data allowance you may be throttled to 3G. As with any mobile monthly plan, whether for your cell phone or another device, know exactly what you're getting before you buy.
3. Data Allowance - Your mobile hotspot usage will inform your decision as to what data allowance you need to buy. Packages are available in various sizes to meet all data usage needs, from 500 MB to unlimited. Of course the smaller the data bucket the less you'll pay, and you can always add more data if necessary.
Mobile Hotspot vs. Tethering
It's easy to confuse the two functions, but there is a difference:
- Connects to a cellular network to provide internet access to Wi-Fi compatible devices.
- Can be a separate device with its own SIM card or activated through a smartphone.
- Provides internet to multiple devices - phones, tablets, computers, etc.
- Includes its own separate data allowance.
- Connects one computer or other devices to the internet via a USB cable to your smartphone.
- Does not support multiple connections.
- May count against your cell phone data allowance.
Note that whether you're tethering your phone or using it as a hotspot, the battery will drain more quickly than usual so be sure to bring a charger along.
The takeaway from all of this information is that MVNOs are changing the mobile data landscape. You have more options than ever for cheap plans that meet your needs.
If you prefer to consolidate all of your data needs into one package rather than purchasing separately, consider building your own cell phone plan.