“Can I connect to your WiFi?”
It’s probably the first thing you ask when you visit a friend or decide to camp out at a coffee shop for the afternoon. Whether you’re on a laptop, or a mobile device, having connectivity is rapidly becoming a basic necessity.
This is why many new homeowners prioritize setting up their internet service when they first move in. But are internet and WiFi the same thing? Can you have WiFi without an expensive contract with an internet provider?
What is Wifi?
If you’re like me, you’re old enough to remember when you bought a router and a 30-foot CAT-5 cable to run the length of the house. If you had more than one computer, you needed more than one cable running from the router. Through this tangle of cables, you would network your computers together. This would allow you to share files or play multiplayer games with friends on your network.
Of course, running cables everywhere was the most practical solution. It was ugly and a tripping hazard.
WiFi gives us this same networking ability, but it uses radio waves instead of physical cables to connect devices. So, WiFi is not an internet connection. It can help transmit an internet connection to your computer, but without a modem supplying that connection, WiFi is just a network between devices.
For devices to connect to the WiFi network, they need to be WiFi-enabled.
What can you do on WiFi without the Internet?
WiFi is just a way to network devices. To provide internet connectivity, you will need a modem and an internet service provider. But there are things you can do with a WiFi network without an internet connection!
With digital storage getting cheaper, storing music, TV, and even movies on an external hard drive is a convenient way to create your digital library. Modern storage devices will connect to your network. Once these devices are connected, you should be able to use any computer, smart TV, or even mobile devices that are on the same network to stream this content.
Everything is a smart device these days. My washer and dryer, my coffee maker, even my lightbulbs. To get the full functionality from these devices, they must be connected to my network. While many will also require an internet connection, some devices, like your printer, just require the network connection in order to be used.
Ways To Get Internet Without a Contract?
You probably want WiFi with an internet connection. Internet connections are usually sold from Cable companies or telecom companies. Each one offers different types of internet connections. Often times, they will want to include the connection as part of a larger package that includes other services. However, there are ways to get an internet connection without doing business with an internet service provider.
Make Your Phone A HotSpot
One of the easiest ways to get an internet connection is to turn your cell phone into a hotspot. Doing this turns your phone into both a modem and a router, allowing you to connect devices to the network and use your phone’s data plan.
As a word of caution, this will use a lot of data. If you have an unlimited plan for your cell phone, then this shouldn’t be a big deal. However, if you pay for data by the gig, then you might get a very expensive bill at the end of the month. Make sure you check your cell phone plan before you explore this route.
Freedom Pop is a company that will send you a free hotspot device and gives you 500MB a month of data. This hotspot device connects you to a cellular network (giving you internet) and acts as a WiFi router, allowing you to wireless connect to the internet.
500MB is likely not enough data to get you through the month, but it can give you immediate access if you have just moved into a home and are waiting for your connection to be set up. If you go over your 500MB allocation, then you will be billed.
Do You Need WiFi To Have the Internet?
No! To have an internet connection in your home, you just need a modem and a contract with an internet provider. That said, the only devices that will be able to use the internet are ones that are hardwired into the modem. To share the connection with other devices, you will need a router of some sort. The router could be old-school and require cables to connect devices, or it could be a more modern router and provide wireless connectivity (WiFi).
Get Internet Without Cable or Telephone
One of the great things about having a great internet connection is that you can stream content and make internet calls. With good enough internet, you likely don’t need the services ISPs will try to upsell you on. Often, these packages are only year-long promotions, after which the price increases.
We can help you find the best internet deals in your neighborhood.