Top Five Non-Travel Uses For Wi-Fi Hotspots

I'm a big fan of using a mobile hotspot for connectivity on the go, and they're a great thing to take on holidays. But hotspots don't have to be limited to only when you're on a long-distance trip for work or pleasure, as this top five shows.

Picture by Ed Yourdon

1. Students

I would have killed for a portable hotspot back when I was in university. Sadly, no such things existed at the time. If I ever go back to studying, I'll definitely keep one. The appeal of having your own portable wireless cloud that can travel with you, whether you're tapping notes away in a lecture theatre, working in the library or just lounging around in your room, is undeniable, even with campus-wide Wi-Fi in some locations.

2. Commuters

OK, this one does involve travelling -- of a sort. But for most of us, the daily commute isn't over a great distance; it's a fixed trip every day. A portable hotspot makes it easy to use everything from a smartphone to a tablet and up to a laptop on the go. Now all you have to do is get yourself a seat on the bus or train.

3. Office work

The office might not seem like the most obvious place for a wireless hotspot, but there's a lot of utility in having one tucked away in a drawer. For a start, they're an excellent insurance policy if your office fixed-line connection goes down and you've got urgent work to do. Equally, if you spend your life in meeting rooms with limited Ethernet connectivity, a wireless hotspot will keep you physically untethered but still active online.

4. Renters

Rental properties come with many interesting quirks, not the least of which is sorting out the incoming communications. In a shared house, sorting out the phone and internet bill can be a challenging task, and a personal hotspot has obvious utility. Even those who live alone can benefit, as you don't need to worry about paying for new ADSL/cable/NBN connections every time you move.

5. Escaping app limitations

Many applications simply won't work -- or won't update -- over a mobile connection. Apple recently upped its limit from 20MB to 50MB, but the issue remains. If you're in desperate need of an app (or a function only available in its update), then a hotspot can provide you with the wireless connection needed to make it a reality.

Got other key scenarios where you find hotspots useful? Tell us in the comments.



    I'm a student and I don't see any need for one. Like you say "campus wide Wi-Fi". That works just fine for lecture notes, for library use etc. And I've got Wi-Fi at home which works just find when I'm "lounging around in my room". I very rarely need internet other places. If I do mobile safari will usually do, and if not then in these once-every-second-month-situations I can still tether my iPhone. Even if I didn't have an iPhone, I wouldn't pay the fees when I'd barely ever use it.

      +1 to student. I use at home as a secondary connection. Our router is set up in such a way that unfortunately Im the furthest possible from it, so wifi connection is variable and can get weak (and hence useless for mobiles, although the laptop can use it). I use the hotspot if I wanna do things like wifi syncing with my laptop, or if I need a stable internet connection for downloading something (ironic I know, but the telstra 3g connection is much more stable than the wifi signal I get)

    Top reason to not have a wi-fi hotspot: If you have a smartphone with large data allowance that can be tethered.

    We're just about to hotspot our car. Is it a waste of money? I don't think so... For 70c a day we will have access to a superior solution to hotspotting the iphones. Now we will have peace of mind that we can access info anywhere - afterall we are still with Vodafail for mobiles... If the car is out of range when were out of it we can bring it with us, but otherwise it will stay in the car. Car=access to the net. When the car is still near we will have access at cafes, at the park, at friends houses, kids sport training etc.
    The break down to get the 70 cents a day on a reliable network is - the Bigpond dongle for $99 (including 60 days of access/5GB) and then a $150 (365 day/10GB). Total cos $249 over 425 days = 70.3 cents / day.

      I take it you don't remember the Gizmodo Ruckus?

    It could be used in a temporary office after a school fire. It takes time to have Telstra recreate all the phone lines.

    In my office the Optus 3G is faster than Telstra adsl, so that is handy when i actually need to do some work. I have a NetBook with a built in 3G modem, not a wifi device though. I also use it on the train, but some trains now have free wifi too!

    Oh and my uni got campus wifi when I had a p166 laptop, back about 2000. I would download off at over 300KB/s which would freeze the browser until it was finished. That was insanely fast back then: share house had 512kbps adsl so 50KB/s was more common (or dialup 10x slower again)

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