Temporary WIFI solution if you don’t have a mobile hotspot?
May 4, 2021 9:58 AM   Subscribe

We just moved and our AT&T WIFI appointment went sideways. Rescheduled for later this week. Is there a way to get WIFI at home until then?

Someone mentioned something to us about a prepaid modem, but I don’t really know much about that. My main concern is being able to WFH this week rather than burning vacation waiting for AT&T to get their act together.

I can’t use my phone as a mobile hotspot, as mentioned, due to our phone plan, but what’s the best way to get a decent short term internet connection? (I didn’t even know there was such a thing until a friend mentioned it so ELI5, please!)

posted by stoneandstar to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ask a next door neighbor to borrow their WiFi for a few days?
posted by rockindata at 10:00 AM on May 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You may be able to temporarily change your plan to allow tethering and then downgrade it later.

I don't know exactly what your friend may have been talking about but a "temporary modem" to me implies basically getting a hotspot for a short time, e ither a dedicated hotspot device or tethering off your phone. They're not exactly the same but for most people they're basically identical solutions. I regularly work with my phone tethered, which is the same as being a mobile hot spot except it goes from the phone to the laptop via a USB cable (standard USB, nothing special) which helps with battery life and overheating.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:05 AM on May 4, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Prepaid mobile hotspots seem to be a thing, depending on what you're willing to pay and your tolerance for all of the contract craziness.
posted by jquinby at 10:07 AM on May 4, 2021

Best answer: Att postpaid unlimited elite and extra include 30/15gb hotspot access. Temporarily changing your plan for a month or two might be an option.

Otherwise you'd have to buy/rent a hotspot device and pay for a month of data, which is probably going to cost more.
posted by TheAdamist at 10:08 AM on May 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Just to clarify one thing that might be adding a little confusion here:

AT&T is (probably) installing a connection to the Internet to your home, *and* setting up a router-modem device to provide wifi so you can access that connection wirelessly. The distinction between wifi and "internet access" is usually not an i mportant one in 2021 because so many devices are wifi-only, but it does start to matter for situations like this. When I'm working remotely with a tethered phone, I'm not using wifi (the cell phone directly connects to my laptop via USB, no wifi involved) but I do have internet access.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:10 AM on May 4, 2021

Best answer: I use a Verizon prepaid (and just don't pay the months I don't need it) mobile hotspot. When I got mine, the lowest-priced model was the Jetpack, but it looks like the newer Jetpacks are fancier and spendier and the cheapest is the Orbic hotspot. You can likely get one at a Verizon storefront today.

Sprint/tmobile also have a much cheaper one, and it looks like Target carries them as well but there's nothing about them on the terrible tmobile website. (I guess Metro is their brand for this - that one's $29.)
posted by Lyn Never at 10:13 AM on May 4, 2021

Response by poster: Just to clarify because I wrote my Ask in a rush and thought I said this but didn’t: I’m on a weird grandfathered cell plan with like 100 other people so unfortunately I don’t think I can do any upgrading/downgrading. I know it’s dumb, sorry.

I don’t mind wasting some money (at least, I mind it less than wasting vacation).
posted by stoneandstar at 10:13 AM on May 4, 2021

Best answer: Check your local library- they may have mobile hotspots that you can check out!
posted by damayanti at 10:14 AM on May 4, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: If you have a laptop and a car and the weather is such that you could sit in it comfortably, you can drive to someplace where you can use an Xfinity open hotspot. (They’re free for everyone for awhile—not the ones that piggyback off of people’s home connections but the ones associated with businesses.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:12 AM on May 4, 2021

Best answer: You can get a Verizon hotspot for $80, and a plan for 30G costs $70. I'd pay $150 to save a week of vacation, and it should be as easy as walking into a store. Then cancel after the week is up and before you're charged for the 2nd month.
posted by Metasyntactic at 12:12 PM on May 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

If your weird plan has a fixed data cap, you can use the hotspot feature on your phone or use it as a USB network adapter. I often do this when Comcast is having issues in my area.
posted by wierdo at 3:06 PM on May 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wonder, if you were nice, if AT&T would put a promo mobile hotspot on your plan for a few days in exchange for horking up your previous plan. Explain to them that you needed the Wifi for work, and since you don't have it because of their snafu, a week of hotspot access would make you feel better about the situation. Might not work but can't hurt to try.

Edit: Wifey pointed out this would obviously only work if your cell service is AT&T. She's smarter than me.
posted by SquidLips at 5:16 PM on May 4, 2021

Seconding “check your local library”
posted by armoir from antproof case at 9:21 PM on May 4, 2021

Your work IT department might have loaner mobile hotspots you can borrow for a few days. Try checking with them.
posted by reptile at 3:47 AM on May 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

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