Use a 4g Hotspot for Internet in Your Home or Mobile Network
Save Money, Go Wireless
Maybe you’ve been looking for a way to reduce your internet costs. Or, maybe you have a 4g hotspot and want to use it while you are on the road or while you are at home. In any event, with the 4g networks that may be available in your area, you can use a hotspot in your home network instead of using a cable or DSL modem.
Why Use a 4g Hotspot with my Network?
With a 4g hotspot, if you have multiple computers hooked up directly to it, all of your traffic goes through the hotspot. If you use it only for internet traffic, like you would use a cable or DSL modem, then you can take advantage of your network’s faster speeds for sharing files and data between computers in your network. Additionally, if you do not have an unlimited data plan (which may require a contract), then you can only incur data costs when you are retrieving data from the internet.
Wireless Ethernet Bridge
Some Quick Networking Tips
I will assume that you already have your home or mobile network set up with a router and switches (and understand the basic mechanics on setting it up). But, I’ll still give you some information on how you can create a network for your home. In my home network, I have computers all over the house (but I don’t have Ethernet wiring all over the house). We also have smart phones that hook up to the network.
For desktop computers that are not close to the router, I use XE-102 Netgear Wall-Plugged Bridges (you need one where the router is and one where you want the traffic to go) to send the router traffic through the home’s electrical wiring to a switch in the room where the other computers are. The data is limited to 5MB per second but this is fast enough for our needs. The switch is needed to hook up more than one computer (we have a printer and Wii along with the computers). Laptops and smart phones can hook up wirelessly to the network.
If you have a lone desktop computer, like in a bedroom, you can use a USB Wireless Adapter to hook it up to the network. If you have a lone Smart TV, then you can use a wireless Ethernet bridge and hook up the TV wirelessly to the network using its Ethernet port.
Mobile Hotspot Connected to Network
What Do I Need to Add a 4g Hotspot to my Network?
What is less known is that you can also use a wireless Ethernet bridge to use a 4g Hotspot instead of a cable or DSL modem. You might have to modify the directions a bit to use it since the instructions for my WNCE2001 Netgear Universal WiFi Internet Adapter (aka wireless Ethernet bridge) assumed I was hooking it up to a Smart TV or a Blue Ray DVD player. You can get an adapter for under $50.
What you have to do first is to set up the adapter so that it can talk to your 4g Hotspot. I used a desktop computer that was not hooked up to my home network and then plugged in the Ethernet cable and power cable for the adapter. Then I added the password information for the 4g Hotspot after it found it through its wireless search of the devices I had turned on in the house. After concluding the setup, all three lights on the adapter were lit which meant it was now communicating to the 4g Hotspot.
Next, I removed the adapter from the desktop computer and used the Ethernet cable to plug it into the Internet port on the router. The router then treated it like any modem and then all of the computers/devices hooked up to the main network could use it to access the internet. Now I was cooking with gas.
Yes, But How Fast Is It?
The 4g network you use will determine your upload/download speeds but some networks routinely deliver over 10MB per second for download which will allow you to do almost anything (like stream videos/shows). Make sure that you can access the 4g network before you take the plunge. With my network provider, I typically get speeds about 4.5MB per second which is slower than cable but faster than regular 3MB per second DSL.
What 4g options Do I Have?
There are lots of options. Even Walmart sells mobile hot spots and has plans you can sign up for. You can try your local wireless providers to see what they have to offer or go to their website and look at their coverage maps. Some providers are buying bandwith on wireless provider networks so make sure you check the provider they use to see if you have 4g available. I have only tried out T-Mobile and we are satisfied with the service we are getting. Additionally, we are saving money over what we used to pay for cable – that was our primary objective.
How Do I Keep My 4g Hotspot Network Going?
I’ve learned a couple of things that may be helpful. Your mobile hotspot may be designed to go to sleep when it’s not being used. As long as my adapter is powered on, it keeps the hotspot awake. This was a problem when we testing it out and hooking up our devices directly to the hotspot (instead of through the network).
If a problem does occur, the Netgear router has Barbara Eden or something called a Genie. By clicking on the “Fix” function on the Genie, it restores the internet connection.
Your network users may be tempted to try to fix the problem themselves using the Windows troubleshooter for example. Discourage them from doing so otherwise the settings might be inadvertently changed on the adapter (yes, that’s happened). As long as they are connected locally, then the problem is probably not between them and the router. So, the Genie should be used to talk to adapter in this case. If it’s not hooked up to the network locally then check your Ethernet connections or see if your wireless network connection needs to be reconnected.
Other things to check are to make sure your hotspot didn’t go to sleep and is still getting its 4g signal. You can hook a laptop or smartphone directly to the hotspot to see if you can get internet directly. Then you know where the problem isn’t.
Another tried and true admin trick is to unplug everything electrically and try again. The hotspot should be plugged in first until it’s showing it’s connected to your wireless provider. Then the adapter is plugged in. It should indicate that it has power and Internet (my indicator is WLAN). Then, plug in the router and the LAN indicator should come light up on the adapter again and you are good to go.
Enjoy! Let me know if you take the plunge too!