Gwen from Nebraska writes:
What options are there for Internet on Android tablets when you don’t have WiFi?
Gwen, tablets and WiFi are kind of made for each other. Tablets are designed to be portable, but the many multi-media functions they perform can also use a whole lot of bandwidth. If you have a tablet, it is probably worth the expense to purchase a router to link with your existing Internet service. If you already have high-speed Internet at home, you could add a router for home WiFi with no additional cost beyond the purchase of the router. So that’s usually a much better deal than other paid alternatives.
Other options are to use free Wi-Fi hotspots available at many businesses, libraries, parks and other public spaces. WiFi Free Spot offers a listing of locations with free WFi in the the USA state-by-state and also listings for Europe and other regions of the world. Restaurant chains like Starbucks, McDonald’s, Panera as well as many local places offer the service.
An app like WiFi Finder can help you locate free and paid Wifi wherever you are.
And even give you directions on how to find it. Depending on where you live, you might be able to find enough free WiFi signals to get by without paying for your own service. A ward of warning though, don’t hop on other people’s WiFi signals just because they happen to be unsecured. That’s like walking into a stranger’s house because they left the door open or borrowing their car because they left the keys in the ignition.
Some, but not all, tablets offer you the ability to connect via 3G or 4 G connections, just like a smartphone. The cost of that would depend on your service provider. You may be able to add it on to your existing phone data plan. Tablets use a lot of bandwidth, so it could really gobble up your data minutes.
You could also purchase a mobile hot spot or some phones can be turned into a mobile hotspot. Mobile hotspots devices can run between $60 and $200 depending on the provider.
The monthly cost of a mobile hotspot will vary depending on your provider. Virgin Mobile sells a Wireless Hotspot for $119 and you can purchase 200MB of prepaid 3G access for $5 per day or 5GB for $55 a month.
If you aren’t planning on using your tablet with WiFi, make sure you purchase a model that offers 3G or 4G connectivity and be prepared to pay for some type of hotspot device and a data plan.
I would suggest using a WiFi connection if at all possible.