Choosing to go without wifi at home?
November 26, 2021 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I have so had it with the one and only internet provider available at my address. I would like to get rid of wifi and just use my phone hotspot (which I know is adequate because of outage periods in the past). The one thing I'm not sure of is how to easily print wirelessly and if it's even possible. Any advice on this or if there's anything else I'm missing?

This is in Brooklyn, NY. Only Cablevision/Optimum serves my building, and I don't even have a phone jack in my apartment.

Thank you!
posted by Salamandrous to Technology (13 answers total)
Do you own a wifi router? I think you should be able to connect to the printer over wifi even if the wifi isn't connected to the internet, but it might be kind of inconvenient to switch back and forth between your phone hotspot and your wifi network, so it would kind of depend on how often/how much you're printing.

Also do you want to keep the printer you have (and if so what kind of printer is it) or would you be willing to buy a new printer? (There are bluetooth printers, e.g., no idea if they're any good though.)
posted by mskyle at 8:56 AM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

You can probably buy an LTE hotspot from your mobile provider, which will give you a standard WiFi LAN that's running off of cellular data.
posted by sagc at 9:03 AM on November 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

You should compare your typical usage (you can probably get past months' data transfer totals from your current ISP) to the data cap on your phone tethering plan or LTE hotspot plan, and make sure you can logistically accomplish what you want (especially if you're working from home)! My father lives in an area without hard-line internet available, aside from dial-up. He and my stepmother used a parade of LTE hotspots, starting with a "JetPack" (Verizon's term for a mobile hotspot) and ending with a wired-in fixed LTE modem. They never had enough data and would always have to ration streaming video to leave data for my stepmother to talk to her grandkids, etc. He switched to a WISP (wireless ISP) using line-of-sight microwave when it became available in his area about a year ago, and even though it's slower (50mbps vs. much faster for LTE, I forget the exact numbers), they're MUCH happier with the essentially unlimited usage.
posted by Alterscape at 9:14 AM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Look into Bluetooth printers. They won’t need a Wi-Fi network.
posted by michaelh at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2021

Response by poster: Ah - I don't currently own a wifi router (it's rented from Cablevision) but I could get one.

My hotspot/phone has unlimited data and I've never run into an issue with it, though I suppose I could. I think an LTE hotspot would require its own line and probably be capped, but I will look into it.

I have relatively newish HP printers, and M402DW and a M252DW. I never figured out how to print with them before when WIFI was done but maybe it's possible.

Thank you!
posted by Salamandrous at 9:52 AM on November 26, 2021

I have the HP M255DW and I can print to it wirelessly from my phone and laptops using my wifi router when there is no internet. It could also use a LTE wifi hotpsot, also probably the phone-as-hotspot, as long as it's providing wifi that looks like normal wifi from the outside.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:08 AM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Sometimes, it is hard to print from a phone providing the hotspot to a printer connected to one, but otherwise a wireless printer and computer connected to a hotspot will act exactly the same as if they were connected to the wireless router from your cable company.

You can test your theory by just not using your cable modem for a month starting at the next phone billing cycle. If you get through a month it will probably be fine?
posted by flimflam at 12:12 PM on November 26, 2021

Of course, you can have wifi without internet service. As suggested, buy a wifi router and setup your own household net. You'll still have to switch between internet data via the phone and wifi data for the printer.
(and if you ever go back to cablevision, buy your own cable router and stop paying rental fees.)
posted by TDIpod at 12:39 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Some "unlimited" data plans have hidden caps or throttle your bandwidth to the point of uselessness once you hit a certain threshold.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2021 [6 favorites]

Can you connect the printer with a cable?
posted by Comet Bug at 3:25 PM on November 26, 2021

My family wanted to do this but found out there is actually a hidden cap on tethering even if you have unlimited data. After a certain point they throttle the speed to unusable. I don’t think there are any phone plans with truly unlimited hotspotting.
posted by brook horse at 3:49 PM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

If you use an Android phone, both of the printers you mentioned support a feature called Wi-Fi Direct, which allows you to connect your phone to the printer wirelessly without a wireless router or additional hardware to print directly. Information on setting this up is on page 46 of the M402DW manual.
posted by eschatfische at 4:24 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

The printer may have the ability to set up an ad hoc network you can print to. Check the documentation if that isn’t too painful.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 2:58 PM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

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