WiFi Cards, Laziness, and Being Stubborn

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I travel quite a bit for work, doing speaking engagements, and free WiFi isn’t always available (but it SHOULD be, and that’s a rant from which I will spare you) so last year I looked for a MiFi card without a contract. (I didn’t want to use my iPhone – I’m grandfathered in to the sweet $30/month unlimited data plan and am NOT giving that deal up.)

I settled on Virgin Mobile and got the MiFi 2200 hotspot device.

At first, I loved it. LOVED IT.

But then the honeymoon ended. My new WiFi hotspot wasn’t hot anymore – it was like all it wanted to do was lay on the couch and not work. It would START to work, but then like many lazy deadbeats, it would just fall asleep in the middle of the job, despite being fully charged. I mean REALLY. I would turn it on, be working away and then POOF! No more interwebs. BOOOO!

I found that the only way to have a consistent signal is to keep it PLUGGED IN. Which is insane, and not very practical. On long road trips, it’s been doable, but only because I have a power inverter for my car.

TANGENT: If you don’t have a power inverter for your car – get one. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Not every device has a car adapter available for it, and with a good inverter, you can plug multiple devices in. On our family trips from Michigan to Florida every year, it sometimes looks like that scene from Christmas Vacation where Clark is trying to figure out why his 5 million lights won’t turn on, we have car adapter that lets you plug in two USB devices and two car adapters. Then once I plug the inverter into that, I can add two more USB devices and a regular AC adapter. (For the record, I don’t actually do that…but one day? I might rabbit, I might.)

So, before I started writing this, I was in the mountains of Tennessee, and got totally fed up with having to keep the MiFi card plugged in. Both my kids have old iPhones that they use as iPods and on occasion, having internet access is handy, if for no other reason than to keep everyone happy during a 10 hour car drive. I called AT&T – yes! I called, which I never do  - to ask about turning my iPad3 into a hotspot. After discussing whether I should use my phone or iPad (logically, probably my iPhone would be a better option, since I have it with me more than the iPad), I decided to use the iPad. Why? $30 per month unlimited data plan. I’m still not giving that up!

I was already paying $25/month with the iPad for 2GB/month on the cellular plan I had, PLUS the $50/month for the Virgin Mobile. Granted, I was only paying for the Virgin Mobile access when I needed it, but that was almost every month anyway.

The AT&T rep sat on the phone with me while I changed the cellular plan on my iPad, had me turn it on and off, and then asked me to fire up my laptop to make sure it worked. She rocked. Was totally patient as the kids watched a Chowder DVD in the backseat and my 4 year old asked me for snacks. I got it connected and OH MY GOODNESS. I cannot believe the difference. The speed is insane, and so far I haven’t lost a signal ONE TIME. And it’s not even plugged in.

Why did I not do this sooner? WHY?? Answer: I can be as stubborn as that device is lazy.

Anyone want a Virgin Wireless MiFi 2200 hotspot?

Anyone?

Bueller?

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Hi Stacy. Funny and informative article, but I'm confused. Were you able to enable the hotspot option on the iPad and keep the data plan at $30 or did it increase and by how much? Thanks and c'mon who doesn't know the Bugs Bunny reference?

You can turn on wifi hot spot on most smartphones. Check PDAnet. $15 app the uses your phones data plan. No more $30-$50/month. But be forewarned. If you abuse your data your carrier can delete your account. Then you lose your cell #.