Hotspot on fire

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q. My tablet PC works great when I am in range of a Wi-Fi router, but it’s almost worthless when no internet connection is available. My mobile phone provider says I can solve this problem by subscribing to its mobile hotspot for $50 a month, but this option is just too expensive. Is there a less expensive alternative for solving this problem?

A. FreedomPop ( is a relatively new company that offers free high-speed mobile broadband internet; you just need to purchase one of its hotspot devices (prices starting at $19.99). Thereafter, the free broadband internet service (which is available in 4G cellular areas) includes 500 megabytes of free data each month with a 2-cent charge for each additional MB. Additional service plans are available ranging from $3.99 to $19.99; these plans include 3G access, up to 2 gigabytes of free data, and 1.5 cents per MB thereafter.

Other organizations claiming to provide free wireless internet access include (initially offering free internet access in Africa and India); Juno ( (first 10 hours each month are free); and NetZero ( (first 200 MBs of data are free; hotspot devices from NetZero are priced starting at $49.95).

J. Carlton Collins ( is a technology consultant, CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

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