I have to provide wifi. Tonight!
February 19, 2013 10:02 AM   Subscribe

I set up an event tonight where we need wifi. I thought there was wifi but turns out there isn't. How can I get 5-7 people's laptops connected to the internet without spending too much cash? Is this even possible on short notice? I know you can turn smart phones into hotspots but mine is a dumb sprint phone. Changing the venue is possible, but I want to avoid it. Halp!
posted by hot_monster to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Where is the venue located?

Is there wired internet access?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2013

Best answer: Ask if any of the people have mifi cards, you would likely need 1 mifi card per 4-5 people
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:08 AM on February 19, 2013

A mobile hotspot would be one way to go.

Some caveats:

1. I suppose it depends on what you mean by "without spending too much cash." It's going to need to have a data plan of some sort. That could run into money. Prepaid options may exist (most places would hit you with early termination fees if you canceled after a day, so a long-term data plan would be a bad idea). I'm not sure what "too much" would be, for your budget.

2. If it's tonight, your options will be limited to anything that's local and brick-and-mortar. Verizon does offer prepaid mobile hotspots. If there's a Verizon store nearby, stop by and give them a rundown of what you're looking for and what your budget is.

3. Mobile hotspots will get the job done, but they're not super-speedy, so it depends on what you want to do. If all 5-7 computers need to be online and doing things at the same time, you may see slowdown; streaming would be very difficult indeed.

Nonsteroidal's answer is a good one, though: If there's wired internet access, then you're going to have a much easier time of it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:11 AM on February 19, 2013

Go to a Verizon store. You can get a prepaid mobile MiFi hotspot for $129 plus the data package.
posted by inturnaround at 10:12 AM on February 19, 2013

If there is wired access, you could A) bring your own wireless router if you have one, or B) use a laptop to share the wired connection using a program like Virtual Router. A quick read of their website suggests that it is limited to Windows 7/8 machines.
posted by BorgesianSisyphus at 10:12 AM on February 19, 2013

If the venue is a hotel, it's likely that wifi access will be available but you will pay dearly for it. A prepaid hotspot as mentioned by inturnaround above is a good way around that, provided there's no more than a handful of folks on it.
posted by jquinby at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2013

If there is wired internet, and any of the attendees uses a Mac, internet sharing can be turned on really easily. May need to leave it an unsecured network for some Windows devices to connect. (We have two Win7 systems in our lab that refuse to connect to a Mac Mini's shared WiFi connection unless security is disabled. No idea why.)

If no Mac, you need a router. If no wired internet, you need a MiFi. If no cell signal, you need to change locations.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:52 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

May need to leave it an unsecured network for some Windows devices to connect.

The best encryption you can do with this is WEP (which is probably why your Windows devices balk), which is apparently close to useless. May as well leave it unsecured.
posted by pompomtom at 7:12 PM on February 19, 2013

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