Best way to get internet when there's no wifi
August 21, 2014 8:38 PM   Subscribe

My workplace doesn't have wifi, so I am not able to access the internet from my laptop, which is what I use at work (I don't have a desktop). What is my best option of getting internet at work?

I have heard of the MiFi as well as tethering my phone, which I think is equivalent to making my phone a hotspot, but I know that really eats up data and incurs charges. Then I saw someone use an air card, but she said her husband got it for her and she doesn't know much about how it works. So I'm wondering what my best option is here. My phone does have 4G, which is what I currently use to go online, and I have AT&T. Thank you.
posted by madonna of the unloved to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Your laptop should accept a wired ethernet cable just fine, though you might need an adapter for certain computers. Is that not an option?
posted by brainmouse at 8:42 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, no. I should have said that I move around to different locations daily or weekly, so the setup is different at each place. I am expected to be a self-sufficient unit.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 8:47 PM on August 21, 2014

Air cards sound like your best option. It plugs in to your USB port and connects to the cell phone network just like your phone does. You could contact your wireless carrier about pricing and plans.
posted by radioamy at 8:49 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I used the Karma for a little while as a cheap pay-as-you use wifi hotspot. Worked pretty well and I liked the clever/simple business model. It used (uses?) the Sprint network, so YMMV with regards to connectivity.
posted by homesickness at 9:12 PM on August 21, 2014

Are you going to places that have wired Ethernet that you're just not located near? Is so, then buy a travel wifi router and bring that around with you.

If there's no connectivity at all in most places, then get a hotspot device (or get a cell modem USB device) or tether your phone.

Call your cell phone provider and ask what they have available. Other options are Virgin Mobile, Clear, or perhaps FreedomPop.
posted by reddot at 10:35 PM on August 21, 2014

A laptop connected to an Aircard, USB dongle, or MiFi will use just as much data as one tethered to a phone, the difference is it'll probably be drawn from a separate pool of monthly data allowance, for which one pays another $30-$60 each month.

Tethering is a feature most carriers will sell as an add-on for less than that, sometimes that price includes an additional data allowance for tethered devices, sometimes it just uses what's included in your phone's plan. Carrier-provided/branded phones tend to disable this feature if you don't pay for it.

If you happen to have an unlocked phone, like Google's Nexus series or a Moto X, they can tether out of the box, without paying for the privilege. This works fine for getting wifi-only mobile devices online, but carriers like to block traffic from desktop/laptop apps. This can be circumvented by establishing a VPN connection on the desktop/laptop, however.

Tunnelbear is easy to use, their free offering of 500MB/day is probably more than enough for this usage scenario. This is basically the setup I use to get a laptop online in conjunction with a Moto X phone and T-Mobile's $30/5GB prepaid plan.

Bonus: most VPN providers let you choose which country you proxy through, which is useful for websites that restrict content to certain regions (ie, BBC iPlayer). Also handy for securing traffic on public wifi..
posted by unmake at 9:15 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

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