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How to choose the right mobile hotspot

Sarah K. White | Oct. 12, 2015
Mobile hotspots can save you when you're in a pinch and need Wi-Fi, but there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to data. Here are four tips to determine what the right mobile hotspot is for your needs.

If you go with AT&T, you can get a device like the GoPhone Mobile Hotspot, which has no annual contract. Every year you can renew your service if you want, depending on your own needs. The plans are a little more expensive at $25 per month for 2GB, $50 for 5GB and $75 for 8GB of data. Sprint offers some options too, including the ZTE Pocket Wi-Fi Hotspot, which is free with a two year service agreement. Plans start at $20 for 1GB and go up from there with 2GB at $25 per month, 4GB at $40 and 8GB at $70; for the power users, you can get 60GB for $225 per month.

Get 'free' data

Some mobile hotspots offer a free option, but the amount of data you can use per month is generally really low. Freedompop is one of the more popular options, but it does come with a few draw backs. First, you'll only get 500MB of free internet per month, which might be enough for a backup device you know you won't need to use regularly. Second, if you decide to get a Freedom Pop hotpsot, you need to make sure you call the customer service line to enroll in the free plan. Otherwise, it sets you up with an account with a free trial, and you'll start being charged once the free trial runs out. Finally, once you max out your 500MB of data for the month, you'll need to pony up for any additional gigabytes. The pricing is pretty reasonable at $18 for 2GB or $29 for 4GB for the month. But if you want to rollover your data, that will be an extra $4 charge.

Pay as you go

If you think that you'll need significantly more data during certain months over others, you can opt for a pay as you go option like Karma Hotspot. It comes with 1GB of data loaded onto your account upon purchase, and once you use that up, you pay $14 for every 1GB of data after that. The hotspot costs $99, but the data doesn't have any limitations or expiration dates, so you can stretch out that 1GB for months if you want. You can sync eight devices at a time to the Karma Hotspot, and it runs on Sprint's 4G WiMax network and 3G roaming network.

There are plenty of options you can choose from when deciding on a mobile hotspot plan. The most important step is to evaluate your usage needs to make sure you find a device and plan that suits you best.

 

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