In less than a decade, smartphones have revolutionized the ways and the reasons users today go online. The professional, practical, and social benefits of accessing the Internet from anywhere have caused a shift in consumer behavior away from prioritizing wireline (DSL, cable) access towards prioritizing wireless (mobile) access.
Mobile hotspots let travelers surf in commute on their own network
But, as fewer Millenials invest in wireline access for their first-time homes , the need to connect devices other than smartphones to the Internet persists. Creating a mobile hotspot by tethering these devices to a smartphone is probably the most popular way to turn a wireless service, like 4G, into Wi-Fi for other devices, but it is not the most efficient way. In fact, there are multiple ways to use your 4G wireless Internet service on your computer, laptop, e-reader, or tablet.
Born With It: Devices with Built-in SIM Ports
All new tablets, many e-readers, and some new laptops (excluding, conspicuously, MacBooks) have built-in SIM ports. These ports are located on the side of any tablet or compatible e-reader and usually under the battery slots of compatible laptops.
Users can purchase cellular data from any carrier and insert the SIM into their tablet, e-reader, or laptop (some devices are locked to one carrier). These data subscriptions, like phone subscriptions, are prepaid or paid monthly with a one-year or two-year contract.
Because 4G wireless Internet services no longer include unlimited data, purchasing a second plan for a secondary device is usually not a bad investment. There are, however, a few situations in which it is better to leave the SIM port empty:
If your device does not have a SIM card port, or if you choose (for one of the reasons above) to leave the SIM port empty, here are the other options for enjoying mobile Internet on your devices:
Read my report on mobile hotspots and my report on USB modems for more information about these handy devices.
Hannah Fillmore is a 2012 graduate of Colby College’s English department and a lifelong Mac user who, as a kid, wrote pretend news articles on her black and white SE/30. In her free time Hannah enjoys teaching yoga, traveling the world, and skiing the East.