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Friday, March 30, 2018

Hotspot Usage

A dedicated hotspot is a fairly expensive way to get connected to the Internet. This trip I've been using a Straight Talk Hotspot. It can be a bit convoluted to set up, but if you follow the instructions it gets done. It's worth getting their phone app as it's free and recently improved. It had been nearly useless.

So what has it cost me in real world usage? Between $120 and $150 month. That allows me to keep in touch using e-mail and Facebook. My blog gets posted most days. Bills get paid on-line. We do a lot of campground research and trip planning using the various campground booking sites. I check the weather and news.

What we don't do is watch very many YouTube videos. I miss them. Netflix is right out of the question.

In addition to using a hotspot, we sometimes connect using campground wifi. Other times we'll connect at a McDonald's or a Panera Bread. While the wifi might be free, we end up buying meals there. One time we had excellent wifi service at a laundromat, of all places.

My lovely wife suggested before we left that maybe we could get by without a hotspot this year. She thought that we could connect at libraries, restaurants and other places often enough to get by. It is possible to connect through my phone, but my phone plan has very limited data.

Even though it's been fairly expensive, I'm glad we got the hotspot. We've often camped way out in the woods. Right now it's about 7 miles to a library that has Internet access. Campgrounds with free Internet sometimes have terrible service or service limited to a tiny area. Often I do my computer stuff in the evening, when libraries are closed. A lot of time and fuel is saved by not driving all over the place looking for an open wifi connection.

Then there is the convenience factor. It's nice to be able to do things right from the comfort of the van.

The most surprsing thing about the Straight Talk Hotspot is how well it works. We've gotten service in the wilds of the Ocala and rural East Texas. There have been times when my phone had no connection but the hotspot did. My phone can make calls using wifi, so we were able to stay in touch. Where we are right now at Juniper Springs, a lot of people have no cell connection, but the hotspot does just fine.

I guess I can accept the cost because it has allowed us to stay connected and do business. When we get home we'll go back to our normal Internet provider. The hotspot will get tossed in a drawer until the next time we travel.



  1. Everyday I hook a usb cable up to my laptop and to my Android phone. I have the unlimited plan from Sprint and connect to the net using an app called PDANet+. There is a box to check to hide tether usage but I rarely check it. My d/l speed right now sitting in a fast joint is 20.23 Mbps. The only issue to me is that Sprint doesn't have as big a rural presence as Verizon or AT&T.

    1. Would not work where I live. At least I have good fiber optic Internet at hom.

    2. I thought you had wireless at home? You have fiber now, that’s fantastic.
      You might check into T-mobile senior plan. Their coverage is improving with new 700Mhz and 600Mhz bands.

  2. With the way your lines get blown down at home it could be of use their to.

    1. Except I'm on the wrong side of the mountain for cell service. Oh well.

  3. Life sure was simpler when we were sailing.
    Our hot spot consisted of one prepaid phone card and finding a payphone.
    Later on it was a trac phone...
    Weather reports via SSB shortwave.

    The electronics have improved maybe, but Floriduh sure was much more boater friendly in the nineties. Quickly degenerating in the ought years tho.
    Now days, I'd only have a trailer sailer !