You realize just how dependent the world is on the Internet when you don’t have it.
Without the Internet, you can’t look for a job, you can’t remotely access your bank, you can’t invoice your clients, you can’t market, and you can’t communicate. Sure, there is a device called a telephone, but seriously, most people never answer a call and businesses tend to point you towards their online services.
Contrary to what you might think, there are a lot of people without access to Internet
Because many people have lost their jobs and struggled over the past number of years, the one thing they need desperately, but cannot afford is the Internet. Cable companies charge outrageous rates to access it, despite that the Canadian government has now called, it a right.
When I spent time in Phoenix a couple of years ago, it was easier to access your device to wifi hotspots all over city if you didn’t have a smartphone plan. Sure, this kind of connection is unsecure and leaves a person open to be hacked, but even something is better than nothing.
In Canada, Alberta specifically, the availability to hook into wifi is slim and none. Most companies who provide it have made it secure and inaccessible to both customers and passersby. There is a hotspot that keeps popping up on your device from the largest cable company, but it is only accessible if you have an Internet account with them.
Internet you can carry with you
Lately, I’ve been checking out what you might call Internet on the go devices. Not a lot of companies offer it in Canada. Your selection is much greater in the United States, as are the data packages. Canada is already known to have the most expensive cellphone and data prices in the world. That truth is compounded with a portable mobile hub.
So if you have no credit or really shitty credit, you can still solve your Internet problem, however, you will pay through the nose for the data you use.
Unlike some other companies, with Fido, you can access a real live person online and on the telephone. They may not always know their products, but eventually you will get the information you need.
Fido carries one Mobile Hotspot: the MF970 or the ZTE. It fits into the palm of your hand and connects up to 15 devices. Just what I needed. With secure Internet in your pocket, you don’t need no stinking cell phone.
In looking at the ZTE, if you purchase the device ($200), the data package is much more reasonable (and the best of ALL the plans I found available in Canada). It is not for unlimited, 24/7 use or you will be bankrupt at the end of the week.
What I like to call the shitty plan, the one where you get the device with zero money down and a two-year contract, begins at $22 for 250 or so megabytes. Yea, that is terrible. If you purchase the device, it’s $15 for one gigabyte, $25 for two gigabytes, $35 for five gigabytes, then $10 per gigabye thereafter. If you’re a heavy user, it will quickly teach you to plan your Internet time in advance and shut it down when you’re done.
What I love about the ZTE is that the wifi signal is actually better than any router or wifi experience I’ve ever had with one of those expensive unlimited Internet cable packages. Every corner of the house is as strong as if you are right beside the device. Even the basement only loses a bar.
If you’re a Canadian and need something short-term or to fill in when you’re not near an unlimited wifi account, I do recommend the Fido.
The U.S. experience
I would love to know what the best recommendations are for American mobile hotspot devices. When I crossed the border, I purchased a flip phone at Target for $19.99 and hooked it into Verizon for $50 a month. But that was a phone, and to tell you the truth, I rarely used it, so I kept the service for two months.
Shoot me a message or comment on this post if you have some suggestions.
If you really need a phone but can’t afford the data packages or just don’t use the phone enough to warrant the cost
A Skype phone number costs $22 USD for three months. That translates to $7.33 a month. Purchase the minimum credits to make phone calls to any phone in the world. What you will use in Skype credits is so minimum, it’s probably less than your phone company will charge you.
I spent over an hour on the phone to New York City from Alberta, Canada and maybe used just over one Skype credit. It costs nothing if someone calls you on your Skype phone line. The only downside is that you need an Internet connection in order to use it.
If the Internet is a right …
Anyone who doesn’t have access to unlimited or home Internet will tell you that making the Internet a right is a false prophesy. Everyone, whether you can afford it or not, is beholden to the cable and data companies who hold the keys. They determine your worthiness of having access.
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Debbie Elicksen is a digital publicist, writer, and marketing and transmedia strategist. She helps companies and entrepreneurs learn how to reinvent, promote, and grow their business using the free tools readily available. She has over 20 years of direct media experience: TV, print, radio, and Internet; is a former sportswriter; and has written and published 14 books. She is an author with @SelfCounsel and blogs: movie reviews, business cyberbullying, and transmedia.