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Do you know about your phone's mobile hotspot?

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Do you know about your phone's mobile hotspot?

Old 05-17-20, 11:57 AM
  #1  
Seattle Forrest
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Do you know about your phone's mobile hotspot?

There have been a few posts in various threads here that I read and thought "mobile hotspot would make this work." I'm guessing a lot of people haven't used it. Rather than derail other threads, here's a new one about this specifically.

If you have reception, your phone can create a wifi network. You can turn it on and off at will. If you have a decent phone and plan, it can be pretty fast. (Mine is fast enough to do video meetings and remote desktop.) It's not a solution, it's more like a workaround. It drains your phone's battery when in use, and your carrier only gives you so much data this way. But routes and activity recordings are small. It's the same as any other wifi network, your head unit should have no trouble with it.

I've seen posts about some head units will only do some things over wifi (update maps, download routes, update firmware, etc). I've read criticism of one head unit, saying it's bad for touring because WiFi is seldom available and BT is always there.

So, I want to make sure everybody knows this is probably already in your tool bag.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:35 PM
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Mine claims to support up to ten devices. Never tried more than two, where we had cell service but no internet. Just check your data plan before using.
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Old 05-17-20, 01:30 PM
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My network provider somehow disabled ability to use Hot Spot option.
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Old 05-17-20, 01:33 PM
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"Even though I'm on a limited data plan, I'm gonna set up my phone's mobile hot spot."

Reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live commercial spoof called "Bad Idea Jeans"





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Old 05-17-20, 05:04 PM
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Disabling the hot spot is something that some companies do because they charge extra for it. I have used it on my ATT phone when I used to drive a lot and my kids needed to do homework in the car.
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Old 05-17-20, 06:34 PM
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I use my phone's hotspot very regularly (Canada). No need to pay extra for it.
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Old 05-17-20, 07:16 PM
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That’s a good reminder! I never remember that I can do that with my phone.
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Old 05-17-20, 11:58 PM
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Again, it's not the best way to move data around, but if you drive somewhere for a ride and realize you forgot to load the route onto your Garmin or Wahoo, the mobile hotspot feature can save your bacon.
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Old 05-18-20, 08:42 AM
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Monthly fee on my plan to use a mobile hotspot, plus the chance of a data overage.

I'm old, set in my ways, and cheap, and I've never really needed to use the hotspot. YMMV.
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Old 05-18-20, 09:03 AM
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It's a good idea if it's free on your plan. I think it's just enough of a hassle I won't do it unless on a tour.
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Old 05-18-20, 09:16 AM
  #11  
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I think the points here are:
  1. It's good to know that this is possible.
  2. It's good to know what your mobile plan includes.
  3. Even a cheap mobile plan will cover a few gigabytes of data. The route file for the complete Trans Am route, with cues, clocks in at about 3 megabytes, or 0.3% of a gigabyte. Downloading a route file isn't going to put you into overages (or if it does, something else would anyhow).
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Old 05-18-20, 12:08 PM
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@adamrice summarized my intentions with this thread perfectly. I'm not telling anybody to go out and start using this, I just want to make sure people know it's an arrow in the quiver.

There was a comment in the Karoo Hammerhead thread about how the unit is wifi only, which is a deal breaker for touring - ironic because it's probably got the best map display. I wouldn't buy a head unit knowing I had to rely on mobile hotspot for it to be useful, but reading that comment made me think I should get around to starting a thread about this capability because there are other situations where you can be in a pinch and it can help you out.

I changed phone carriers because of hotspot. I use Sprint (yeah, I know) because they give me 100 GB a month of hotspot. Previous carrier gave me 20 GB a month, and that wasn't enough for work. Cycling routes are much less data than meetings, so you probably don't need much. And you probably won't need it often.
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Old 05-18-20, 12:14 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
That’s a good reminder! I never remember that I can do that with my phone.
Here's one more. My Garmin can use wifi, yours probably can too. I think wifi is required to update the maps, that's a lot of data, and I wouldn't want to do it using my hotspot.

My Garmin won't connect to the kind of wifi at coffee shops and libraries, where you have to click a button that says "I accept the terms." It only works with the kind that requires a key to connect.

If you have a Samsung phone, it has a "wifi sharing" feature. Again you use the mobile hotspot, but your phone will use the wifi network and not cellular data to feed your Garmin.
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Old 05-18-20, 02:03 PM
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As you mentioned, none of the head units (that I know of) will work with a WiFi connection that requires you to accept carrier terms and conditions of use. So a hot spot will be what you will need in order to upload your ride to Strava or other sites when away from your home network. But there's a big problem with this if you want to upload rides directly from the device. If you have your phone with you, downloading routes or upgrading the firmware isn't an issue and there is no need to use your phone's hot spot network, at least not with a Wahoo product.

The problem: when you set up your device for WiFi, you need a companion app in order to select the network's SSID (Network Name) and to enter the passphrase (password) to gain access to the network. This information is stored within the device and allows you to perform route downloads and firmware upgrades without the need for the companion app to be connected. So, unless the SSID and passphrase on your phone's hot spot network match that of your home network, your device has no way of connecting to the phone via WiFi. Since a phone can't connect to it's own hot spot, you can't use the companion app to change the SSID and passphrase within the device.

I found this out the hard way when a friend and I did a charity ride together, a year to two ago. We went to the ride in his truck and in haste, I left my phone in my van at his house. I thought I had downloaded the route for the charity ride but when I got to the ride, I found out that I didn't. I tried downloading the ride using his hot spot but the connection failed on each attempt. It took me a while before it hit me and as soon as I changed the SSID and passphrase on his phone, I was able to connect with no problem.
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Old 05-18-20, 02:10 PM
  #15  
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Another option is to use a SIM enabled bike computer and use a freedompop SIM which gives you 200mb of LTE a month for free.
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Old 05-18-20, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
Another option is to use a SIM enabled bike computer and use a freedompop SIM which gives you 200mb of LTE a month for free.
How many SIM enabled bike computers are there?

There is the Karoo.

​​​​​​
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Old 05-18-20, 03:15 PM
  #17  
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Curious about this. I’ve an iPhone and iPad. When I want to use the phones cell data connection in lieu of non existent WiFi, Apple lets my iPhone become a hotspot. There’s an On/Off switch in Settings. I have to have BlueTooth On for both the phone and tablet, the tablet then seemingly uses BT as the connection to the phone.

This is not the phone functioning as a WiFi hotspot - I.E. my laptop which is WiFi only, so no BT, cannot connect, as far as I’m aware.

Any thoughts on how this is different ?
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Old 05-18-20, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Any thoughts on how this is different ?
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204023

The phone acts as a bridge between the device and the cellular network.

You can connect to the phone using BT, WiFi, or USB. BT is should be slower.

With WiFi, the phone looks like a router. You can add the phone as a network, which makes it easy to use again.
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Old 05-18-20, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204023

The phone acts as a bridge between the device and the cellular network.

You can connect to the phone using BT, WiFi, or USB. BT is should be slower.

With WiFi, the phone looks like a router. You can add the phone as a network, which makes it easy to use again.
Thx, never seen WiFi as option, will go looking
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Old 05-18-20, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204023

The phone acts as a bridge between the device and the cellular network.

You can connect to the phone using BT, WiFi, or USB. BT is should be slower.

With WiFi, the phone looks like a router. You can add the phone as a network, which makes it easy to use again.
Well that was easy, thanks for the link NJ.
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Old 05-18-20, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Thx, never seen WiFi as option, will go looking
It sort of just happens. Look for it in the wifi list. It's useful in the way Forrest said but for more things too.

I usually have it off but, if I've connected the device, it's easy to start using it by enabling it on the phone.



​​
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Old 05-18-20, 10:00 PM
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I am amazed everyone doesn't know about this and use it. I have been using it for a number of years. You get one bill for your phone and internet. It works out cheaper than having phone and internet separately. You can even make phone calls while on the internet. Just get a plan where you get enough data.

Australians can look at the deals on Amaysim. No lock in contract.
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Old 05-19-20, 01:18 AM
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In the US practices for using cell phones as wifi hotspots vary tremendously between carriers and MVNOs. Generally it's far more expensive here than most home wifi.

A couple of years ago I was so fed up with the poor DSL speed in my neighborhood I considered switching completely to cell, using it as a hotspot for my PCs when needed. Verizon worked fine for that but was incredibly expensive -- and PCs burn through data much quicker than cell phones, even just with ordinary web browsing rather than streaming movies.

I tried an MVNO for T-Mobile that promised unlimited high speed data, including with hotspots. I think it cost $80/mo which seemed reasonable. But it was a bad joke. T-Mobile is notorious for throttling data and the CEO was quoted complaining about customers who actually had the audacity to expect the service they paid for. The only time I got high speed data was between midnight and 5 am, and that was only when using the phone. It was always throttled in hotspot mode.

So I switched to a cheap MVNO for just basic cell phone service (Mint Mobile for the past year -- it's not perfect but not bad). And I badgered AT&T about the terrible internet service in our neighborhood. We're in an old neighborhood with a declining business base, so there's no motivation for AT&T to upgrade to fiber optic. They've been promising for more than a decade. But after complaining my internet speed improved a little. On good days it'll get 10 mbps down/1 mbps up, but usually slower. I think it's $35 for 1 TB per month, which I've never come close to using.

So it just wasn't worth the expense of using any cell carrier hotspot here. It would cost me hundreds of dollars a month for comparable service.

But eventually I suspect AT&T home wifi will be completely obsolete and every one will use high speed cell data for everything. It just isn't cost effective to upgrade. Too labor intensive (lots of digging), the materials are expensive, and the community isn't growing economically so it's hard to make a case for investing in infrastructure in hopes of attracting more businesses and residents with good incomes.

I have used Mint Mobile (another MVNO of T-Mobile) for hotspot when my home wifi went out -- which included most of March this year. Fortunately due to the pandemic Mint Mobile had extended pretty much unlimited data, and it didn't appear to be throttled. So I used it a few days in March. Our wifi has been pretty much normal (normally slow) since April.
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Old 05-19-20, 01:52 AM
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I had tried a 3rd party hot-spot on my old phone. It kept knocking it off. I'd get about 30 seconds of hot spot use, then it would konk out, and I'd have to reboot the phone. But, it was just enough to download something like a Strava Route.

On the new phone, however, the hot spot seems to be stable. Unfortunately, I think I allowed the phone company to change my unlimited networking to something like 2 GB a month, so I have to play the hotspot data pretty tight.

Nonetheless, it was handy last weekend, and I'll probably make more use of it in the future.

I'm still one of the holdouts of actually having a telephone.



If I ever got my cell phone stable enough, I'd be quick to shut down the phone. Perhaps I should evaluate that again.
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Old 05-19-20, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
... PCs burn through data much quicker than cell phones, even just with ordinary web browsing rather than streaming movies.
​​​​​​Yeah. It's surprising by how much.

PC operating systems are huge, there are desktop applications that are larger than all of Android. If it's a modern computer and hasn't been online recently, there are probably several updates that will download in the background. That still chew up a lot of data. So this won't replace the ISP for most people.
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