It doesn’t happen very often, but there are times when you can’t access the internet at home. Maybe it’s because service is out, or perhaps you moved to a new place and are waiting for the ISP to get around to installing the new service. In these instances, it’s always good to have a backup plan in mind so that you’ll still have internet access, even when your main home connection is MIA. If you’re currently looking for a backup plan, we have several suggestions to keep in mind.
If driving/commuting is an option …
If you’re able and willing to leave the house in order to get internet access, there are a bevy of options that you can take advantage of, including some of the obvious ones:
- Coffee shops
- Libraries and bookstores
- Fast food joints
- Hotel lobbies
- Your local university campus
- Gym/fitness center
Keep in mind that using public Wi-Fi at an establishment requires a certain give and take. It’s customary and a common courtesy to always purchase something when you take up space at a coffee shop or fast food joint. Better yet, if you tip well and get to know the baristas, no one will give you the stink eye when you plug your surge protector into the wall and pull out your day’s work.
Furthermore, some places that offer public Wi-Fi limit it to members only. You might have to show proof of a library card in order to use your library’s Wi-Fi, or you may have to be a member of the gym if you want to take advantage of the internet there. It’s always a good idea to call ahead and see what their policies are before you make a solid plan.
If driving/commuting isn’t an option …
If you’re stuck in a situation where you don’t have internet at home and you can’t hop in a car or on the bus, things get a bit trickier. There are still some options that you can consider, some of which require planning ahead and can’t be used at the last minute.
- Places within walking distance: This one’s pretty easy, but if there’s a coffee shop or library within a reasonable walking distance, feel free to make the trek in order to use the Wi-Fi. It’s certainly not a convenience, but you’ll be getting some healthy exercise in while you’re at it. You can also try your apartment complex’s lobby, clubhouse, or leasing office (if you live in an apartment, that is). Most of these places offer free Wi-Fi in their common areas that’s free for residents, so be sure to check and see if that’s an option.
- City Wi-Fi: Some cities also offer their own Wi-Fi within city limits that’s open and free to locals and tourists alike. Your location is also a factor in this situation, so if you don’t live within city limits, you most likely won’t get a signal.
- Tethering: If you have a smartphone, you can tether your data connection to your computer, giving you full-blown internet access through 3G/4G data. This is entirely dependent on your phone’s reception, so if you don’t get a particularly good connection in your house, then tethering probably isn’t going to do much for you. However, if it is an option, there are a few ways to go about it.
The official way to get tethering on your phone and computer is to activate the Wi-Fi hotspot feature in your phone’s settings menu. Each carrier is different when it comes to tethering, so monthly charges may vary and some carriers may include it as part of your monthly service, depending on the plan you have.
You can also get a dedicated mobile hotspot from the carrier of your choice. But if you don’t already have a daily use for a mobile hotspot, it’s probably a waste of money, since you’ll only use it if your home internet is out but still be required to pay for the monthly data plan for it. This is why just activating it on your smartphone when you need it is the best option in this case. Here are a couple of other options:
- Hotspot alternatives: If you’re looking for a mobile hotspot, but don’t like what the monthly contract plans offer, you may want to consider pay-as-you-go plans such as those offered by AT&T and StraightTalk. AT&T’s prepaid mobile hotspot plans start at $25 per month for 3GB. And since it’s prepaid and not a contract, you can just let the plan expire without renewing it, if you’re done using it. StraightTalk also offers prepaid mobile plans. Its plans start at $15 per month for 1GB.
- Asking neighbors: If you’re stuck at home with no free Wi-Fi anywhere nearby and you can’t tether, then your only option is to suck up to your neighbor and see if you can use their Wi-Fi temporarily. If you’ve never met your neighbor, be prepared for them to be a little cautious, but if you explain your situation, they’ll most likely be sympathetic and let you on, depending on how nice they are (and depending on how good the cookies are that you made to bribe them with).
Don’t sweat it too much
Depending on your situation and desperation, it might just be a good idea to embrace the fact that you temporarily don’t have internet at your house and go do something outside. Of course, some of us need internet for work or school, but if you’re just looking for an excuse to keep up with your Facebook and Twitter feeds, it might be a good time to reevaluate your internet needs and simply take time to smell the roses when the internet goes down. Go read a book, cook something, or even finish building that model rocket that you’ve been putting off for months.
In the end, there are plenty of options that you can take advantage of if you’re waiting to get internet hooked up at your house. Depending on how persistent you are, you can get Wi-Fi access if you need to, but there’s no harm in just waiting it out and doing something else in the meantime.
If you do use public Wi-Fi, make sure it’s legitimate and not a fake Wi-Fi network that’s made to steal your personal information. Even if you are on a legitimate public Wi-Fi network, it’s always a good idea to use a VPN to keep your browsing activity safe from lurking eyes.