Terri from WV writes “I would like to know how to get Internet on the go.  I have it at my home, but visit my Mom several times a year and stay for 2 weeks. I would like to have internet, but she doesn’t have any nor does she need access year round.  Is there a solution for this?  Anything like pay as you go Tracfones?”

Hi, Terri.  Thanks for the great question!

Well, the good news is that you now have many options for internet on the go.  Of course, it all depends on one thing… your ability to receive it at your mom’s house. 

Let’s start with your basic pay-as-you-go internet hotspots.  The one pictured here is the Internet To Go unit from Walmart and TruConnect.  The plans for this are $10, $25 and $45 for 500 megs, 1.5 gigs and 3 gigs respectively.  Since this has just been announced, there is no pricing on the Internet to Go unit itself.  It is important to note that this device, like Walmart’s Straight Talk WiFi hotspot top out at 3G.  Not bad, but two generations old.  It has been supplanted first by 4G and then 4G LTE. 

NetZero also offers a hotspot device with plans that range from free for 200 MB to $50 for 4 GB.  The devices themselves are $50 for the NetZero “Stick” for USB-capable devices or $100 for the NetZero hotspot device for tablets or for multiple users.  Not a bad deal, but be sure to check coverage area before you sign up.  NetZero is basically available in and around big cities and ranges from spotty to nonexistent outside of those areas.

Your cell provider may also offer an option with one of these “MiFi” personal hotspot devices. 

This is the Sonic 2.0 hotspot device from T-mobile for around $100 refurbished, not including service.  Service cost will vary depending on what your carrier offers.  Which leads me to my next point…

You may be able to use your mobile phone as a hotspot device.  For example, if you have AT&T service with one of their mobile share value plans then you will be able to activate your smartphone as a mobile hotspot to draw from whatever the shared data bucket is. 

The biggest thing to remember about using your device as a hotspot (and this goes for the other options too, to a greater or lesser degree) is that the speed is going to vary depending on your location.  For example, you see that the Sonic device from T-Mobile is tagged as being 4G LTE, but if you are not in a 4G LTE coverage area, you will not get 4G LTE speed.  So I stress again, as you’re looking at your options, CHECK THE COVERAGE MAP!  Not only that, but zoom in on your mom’s address.  You may have coverage all around her place, but she may be in a dead zone, so tune in on that location as best as you can before spending your money.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer