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A New Internet Connection Strategy November 21, 2011

Posted by Peter Varhol in Software platforms, Technology and Culture.
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Three weeks ago New England was hit by a very early winter snowstorm.  I estimated a foot of snow in my neighborhood, and totals were much higher elsewhere.  Power went out early, and didn’t come back on again for five full days.  I have a generator, which made life tolerable, but the real loss was broadband Internet, which came on only a few hours before electricity (if broadband is working, I can power the cable modem and wireless router with the generator).

Because I work primarily from home, the loss of broadband Internet was potentially a catastrophe.  I used to maintain a dial-up account as a backup (the power in the phone lines never goes down), but my ISP went out of business earlier this year.  Besides, I was paying too much for what was really an inadequate backup.

A couple of months ago I bought a new Android phone.  Among its features was the ability to turn it into a wireless hotspot.  Simply turn on this feature, access the hotspot with your computer, and you have your onramp to the Internet.

Of course, I’m using data, which is a costly commodity.  For most phones today, the calls are cheap, but the surfing is expensive.  My plan limits me to 1GB of data a month, but I usually don’t use a lot of data.  My bill for the days in question just arrived, and I incurred no additional data expense.

My reception isn’t good in my home, which is why I still have two landlines.  I was concerned about my ability to do just about anything on the Internet through my phone, but it performed like a champ.  In fact, I successfully conducted a webinar using the phone as my data connection to my slides.

Working this way on an ongoing basis would get expensive.  But it’s nice to know that phone-based wifi hotspots can fill in when you need them, even if you need them for several days.

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