Saturday, February 23, 2013

That Hotspot Has Become A Hot Spot

Let's address an issue that a lot of people are having. I don't want to pick on Verizon, but since they are the products that I see the most, I guess it's only right to focus on them.

 A bit of background -- From 2000 - 2006, I worked for Midwest Wireless which was a cutting edge cellphone service provider. In about 2003, they started introducing DATA plans to their services. Right now, using that mobile phone as a PHONE is the 3rd most popular uses for a smart phone. Go figure. Still, I do know a few things about this sort of stuff, so let me share some observations. Midwest Wireless sold to Alltel and Alltel sold to Verizon, so in North Iowa, I do know where their towers are located.

Anyway, as we have evolved into this information age, the big rage at one time was 3G coverage. Life was good, but there was the promise of bigger things -- 4G.

With 4G you could do a lot more in the same amount of time, and the next thing you knew they were selling mobile "Hotspot" receivers for use in the home and on the road to connect your devices to. I do see where SOME of the issues are and I blame the sales people a bit for not understanding the customer's needs.

Here are some tips for a more enjoyable Internet experience using these hotspots that are so popular.

1. Be clear with the sales person WHERE you live and WHERE you will use this product. If you don't live where there's 4G service, it will roll back to 3G service and it won't be that great. "Where's the nearest tower?" would be a good question.

2. Put the hotspot near a window, but not in direct sunlight. It NEEDS to get a good signal to the cell tower and if it gets too hot in the sun, it won't work as well either. Basically, it's a radio. You aren't going to get good radio reception in your steel sided house in the basement and you won't get a good signal if you have the same situation with a hotspot.

3. Don't think you can run your whole computer network from this little box. Sure, a computer or two and your tablet.... BUT 6 computers, Netflix, Hulu, your smart TV and your cellphone at the same time won't cut it for this device. Also, from what I have seen, you can't network your wireless printer with this either. An example -- take a shower and have someone flush the toilet -- the water pressure goes down in the shower. Same thing here, the more people on this, the slower the signal speed.

4. Data Usage -- If you have a metered plan, you'll have to either turn off the hotspot when you aren't using it or turn off the devices. Without trying, a couple of Windows updates, some Netflix, YouTube or a ton of online gaming will eat your data, so be clear with the sales person on what you have for that device. Going over is EXPENSIVE.

I'm not coming down hard on sales people, but SOMETIMES they are tempted to over sell. Go over these topics with the sales person. They should be asking these questions and helping you to have a great experience. Find out what their return policy is as well, because if it doesn't meet your needs, you will need to return it ASAP.