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Backup for loss of internet - personal hotspot?
Thread poster: Susan Welsh

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:47
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Jan 13, 2013

A few weeks ago I had a 6-day loss of service on my FIOS phone/Internet service, which made my life a temporary disaster (traveling back and forth across town with a thumb drive to another computer, etc.). I am looking for some emergency backup system that will allow me to access my email and send and receive client documents in case this happens again. My phone company tech support agent didn't know of anything, but they don't deal with the wireless side of things.

It seems that maybe what I need is a personal "hotspot" device, but there are many on the Net, at quite varied prices, and I have no idea which, if any, will really help me, because they seem to provide minimal information.
Any ideas?

Thanks


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:47
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
PS - desktop Jan 13, 2013

I need this for a desktop computer, not a laptop (I don't have a laptop). I also do not have a smart phone, although if I had to purchase one to solve the problem, I would probably do so.

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Steven Segaert  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 20:47
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
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3G, 4G or the likes Jan 13, 2013

You might want to check with cell phone providers if you can get a 3G (or 4G, or whatever is available where you live) subscription with a USB modem. This is basically the same as you could get with a smart phone, but you would connect to it using a USB antenna which contains a SIM card. They usually sell these for laptops, but there is no reason why they wouldn't work with a desktop.

Alternatively (and probably a more economical way to do it), get a smart phone and a subscription that allow "tethering". In that scenario, your phone would connect to the internet using 3G (or whatever), and you could use that connection by hooking the phone up to your computer. It is basically the same as the first option, but here you would use a phone instead of a special device.

I would use the smart phone option because it offers other advantages, such as the possibility to check mail on the go.


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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:47
German to English
3g should do it.. Jan 13, 2013

I have a plug-in USB mobile broadband dongle (about £12 off Ebay) with a 3g pay as you go Sim card installed. If my broadband goes down, I simply plug it in and off I go, albeit at reduced speed. Good thing is that even if your credit has expired, you can still log on to the site with it, whip out your credit card for a £10 top up and Bob's your auntie's husband.

Steve K.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:47
Member (2008)
Russian to English
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Bob's your auntie's husband Jan 13, 2013

Thank you both! Not only did I learn some possible solutions, but I've learned a new British idiom. After failing to solve half a dozen annoying computer problems, I was about ready to conclude that today was a bust, but maybe not so!

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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:47
Hebrew to English
MiFi also a possibility Jan 13, 2013

Slightly more expensive than dongles initially (PAYG credit is the same) but I find it more reliable than a dongle personally. You can also connect multiple devices to a MiFi simultaneously unlike a dongle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MiFi


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:47
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
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Smartphone plus Tether Jan 14, 2013

If my internet goes down (or while traveling), I "tether" (www tehter dot com, free trial available) my Blackberry to my computer, thus turning my smartphone into a wireless modem, and use my phone's data plan.

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Rolf Keller
Germany
Local time: 19:47
English to German
Location??? Jan 14, 2013

Steven Segaert wrote:

You might want to check with cell phone providers
atever is available where you live).

That's the only useful hint, because countries or regions may be totally different in respect to this.

Actually one can even use a 10 year old old "standard" cell phone with 2G. This is fast enough for email and small docs. It all depends on what is available at the location in question.

Here in Germany many colleagues have a split line, i. e. phone and broadband Internet on the same line. 95 % of all breakdowns do not affect both functions, so in case of emergency one can phone via Internet or email via modem.


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Derrio  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends on your internet provider... Jan 14, 2013

.. but where I live (Spain) my internet provider (the same as my telephone provider) provides me with a USB dongle containing a SIM card. If I lose internet and it is down to them, I simply plug it in for internet access which is free until the fault is resolved. I can also use it (if I want) for mobile internet at something like €2 per day. It might be worth you shopping around to see if anyone offers this where you are.

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Octavio Armendariz  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:47
Member (2012)
French to English
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3G or 4G wireless modem Jan 14, 2013

I have found that one of these USB wireless modems works well. I have Verizon, but I pay steep price for it. I find that it is worth it as I don't risk losing clients when my broadband is down. It's about USD 60 per month.

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Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
T-Mobile prepaid Jan 14, 2013

Get a T-mobile prepaid USB-modem. Easy to activate when needed and no monthly fees. I have used it when TWC has done maintenance or when travelling. But if T-mobile has bad reception in your area, I'm sure you can find something from Verizon or ATT also.

Tip: If you use Opera for browsing, turn on Opera Turbo when on a slower network (like all those wireless solutions are), so all the web pages you visit are sent to your browser re-compressed to speed up browsing.

T-mobile link http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/phones/prepaid.aspx?shape=laptop

[Edited at 2013-01-14 15:07 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yay, dongles Jan 14, 2013

Steve Kerry wrote:

I have a plug-in USB mobile broadband dongle (about £12 off Ebay) with a 3g pay as you go Sim card installed. If my broadband goes down, I simply plug it in and off I go, albeit at reduced speed. Good thing is that even if your credit has expired, you can still log on to the site with it, whip out your credit card for a £10 top up and Bob's your auntie's husband.

Steve K.



Yep, dongles are really useful, although a bit sluggish - I had to get one a Xmas as the family no longer has internet at home.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:47
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Still struggling Jan 18, 2013

Despite all the great suggestions, I have not yet solved the problem.
It seems that several of the suggestions require a laptop, but I don't have a laptop, only a desktop computer.
It seems like the dongle option is the way to go for me, for once-in-a-blue-moon emergency backup. I found plenty of dongles online, but they require a SIM card from ... where?
I called T-Mobile and their offshore help people said "Go to the store." I looked for nearby stores, and the site sent me to ... WalMart, Costco, and Radio Shack, all of which I visited. WalMart, of course, has nobody who knows anything; Costco doesn't sell accessories, only telephones; and the guy at Radio Shack said they don't sell T-Mobile and anyway what I'm trying to do is impossible. I would have to buy a contract with one of the networks, pay-as-you-go not an option.

So I'm back where I started, unless I decide to pay a lot more money.

Any further help would be appreciated!


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:47
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
My 2 c Jan 18, 2013

Susan Welsh wrote:

Despite all the great suggestions, I have not yet solved the problem.
It seems that several of the suggestions require a laptop, but I don't have a laptop, only a desktop computer.
It seems like the dongle option is the way to go for me, for once-in-a-blue-moon emergency backup. I found plenty of dongles online, but they require a SIM card from ... where?


You get the sim card from the wireless provider's brick and mortar or online store. There are a lot of different solutions and indeed it can get confusing - and expensive, especially just for an emergency solution. The process is generally the same as for buying a phone. You need a sim card (pre-paid or monthly) - this you buy from T-mobile, AT&T wireless, or other provider, and needs to be activated by them with a data plan. Then you need a "USB stick" - the sim card goes into this, and the stick into your computer, now acting a a wireless modem. You can buy the stick used on eBay etc., but if it's branded, it will be "locked" and only work on that provider's network, but generally any appropriately activated SIM card from that provider will be OK. The problem here is that the SIM card/USB stick variant generally requires its own plan and number, which can be expensive, especially if you use it rarely.

A more cost-effective option if you just need a back-up is to bite the bullet and get a smartphone and ask your provider to activate a "tethering option" along with your data plan, which allows you to connect the phone to your computer via USB and use it as a modem to access the internet. I think t-mobile charges about $15 per month on top of the data plan for tethering, though you can just buy third-party tethering software for about $25 (one-time) and have the same functionality. I do this and it works like a charm. Smartphone data plans are about $25-30 a month, and plans with a separate USB stick run at that least much (plus the stick), so you might as well just have a smartphone instead.

Any of these solutions should work easily on a desktop, as long as you have normal cell phone reception in the desktop's location. The desktop wouldn't even need its own wireless modem.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:47
Member (2008)
Russian to English
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@Rudolf Jan 19, 2013

Thanks for the specific information, Rudolf. I am looking into it all.

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