If you're running your own business, it can be hard to get Wi-Fi everywhere you need it. Maybe you have a lot for client visits and want to get some work done while you travel. Maybe you run a home office and just want to get out of the house once in a while.
Whatever your reason, if you wish Wi-Fi was available in more of the places you want to get work done, it may be you need pocket Wi-Fi.
What is pocket Wi-Fi?
Unlike your home internet connection, pocket Wi-Fi connects you to the internet using the mobile network, which means you're only limited by whether or not you can get a good signal. Pocket Wi-Fi is extremely portable, requires zero set-up and can operate without a power source.
If you're looking for portable internet, unless you have a tablet or a dual SIM phone, your choice is essentially between getting a USB modem and a portable Wi-Fi hub.
A USB modem is exactly what it sounds like. Also known as an internet dongle, it looks exactly like a USB stick, but when you plug it into your computer – voila! Instant internet. The benefit of a USB modem is that it doesn't need to be recharged. But it can only connect one device at a time.
USB modem plans compared
If you want to connect more than one device – if you're running a meeting, for example, and need to give all parties access to the internet – you'd be better off getting a pocket Wi-Fi hub. Since the introduction of the pocket Wi-Fi hub, internet dongles are going out of fashion, and many providers don't even sell them anymore.
Pocket Wi-Fi hub plans cost the same as dongle plans and, as well as giving you portable Wi-Fi for multiple devices, many hubs also act as a portable battery pack for your phone, which could definitely come in handy. But note that unlike a USB modem, pocket Wi-Fi hubs are battery powered and will need to be recharged.
Pocket Wi-Fi plans compared
Things to consider when choosing pocket Wi-Fi for your business
- Speed – if high speed pocket Wi-Fi is important to you, it might be worth checking whether Telstra's 4GX network is available in the areas you want to get work done. If it is, it might be worth investing in a Telstra pocket Wi-Fi plan. They're pricier than the competition but 4GX will offer speeds 10x faster than the NBN and come with the Netgear Nighthawk Mobile hotspot, which Telstra claims is Australia's fastest mobile hotspot.
- BYO modem – when looking at most pocket Wi-Fi plans you'll notice that telcos allow you to BYO USB modem or pocket Wi-Fi hub. But unfortunately, getting one of these outside of a plan isn't that easy. They're only available online from stores like Kogan or eBay, sources which you may find less than worthy of your business's hard-earned cash.
- Locked modems – if you do buy a USB or pocket Wi-Fi modem from a provider, keep in mind that your modem will likely be locked to that provider, preventing you from switching networks if you're not happy with the service. So think carefully before choosing a provider to shop with.
- Contract length – if you don't want to commit to a 24 month contract, Optus, Vodafone, OVO and SpinTel all offer month to month options, but Telstra will make you sign a 24 month contract, unless you can BYO modem.
About the author:
Jacqui Dent is associate editor at Whistleout.com.au and spends all day, every day, living and breathing phone and internet plans. So far she has suffered no adverse effects.