A road trip in a rental car is a great way to spend time with friends, especially if you are a young adventurer. For example, imagine renting a car in Las Vegas under 25 and expecting an exciting journey. Sounds tempting? Yes, driving your rental car through the dramatic landscapes of Arizona promises a lot of experience and fantastic photos to share on social media. However, you need high-quality Internet access for this.
While newer cars come connected and provide a Wi-Fi hotspot by default, older cars don’t. So, how to get in-car Internet access if your car is not connected? Fortunately, there are several ways to fix this, and get wireless internet in any car!
Use the 4G internet on your smartphone/tablet
If you have a smartphone, the connection will be cheap, since you don’t need to buy a gadget to provide Internet access. Let’s figure out how to set up the Internet in the car via the phone.
Modern smartphones have a hotspot option. Regardless of the operating system, you can enable the access point in the settings but the power button looks different. After that, you can connect all the devices to the created Wi-Fi hotspot.
However, keep in mind that phones/tablets have limitations on the number of simultaneously served devices. Usually, the maximum number of connected devices is not more than 5, which sometimes may not be enough.
A smartphone that works in a hotspot mode runs out of battery incredibly quickly. Therefore, it’s worth taking care to connect it to a charger. Each gadget connected to the access point will consume a lot of traffic, so you need a suitable Internet plan, with unlimited Gigabytes.
Another disadvantage of this way of Internet access is smartphone antennas. Not every phone can boast of consistently good signal reception. And being outside the city, such smartphones can lose the signal at all.
Use a USB Modem
Another way of creating a wireless hotspot in the car is to use a special USB modem. Such devices can connect to mobile networks of the same communication standards as smartphones. But these devices are highly specialized, and their main task is to provide an Internet access point. Some of them have an internal battery, while others only work from the USB port.
Universal USB modem makes it easy to change mobile network operators if needed. You just need to replace the SIM card. Please note that some providers offer their own USB modems, which don’t work with other suppliers. Therefore, it may simply give an error when trying to use another SIM card.
Most often, such devices look like flash drives – they are compact and easy to use. But don’t confuse them with those used only with a laptop or computer, as they require configuration through the operating system and don’t work in a car.
Unfortunately, USB modems and smartphones have a similar disadvantage: few connected devices and a weak mobile/Wi-Fi signal. However, you can solve the second problem by installing an external antenna, which usually comes with portable modems. Some devices also have the ability to connect two antennas – the first amplifies the signal from the mobile operator while the second improves the wireless connection speed in the car.
Use an OBD-II connector
All modern cars have an OBD-II connector onboard. Usually, car service workers use it to diagnose a vehicle by attaching a special device to it. As a rule, such a device communicates via Wi-Fi with an application on a smartphone. However, a secondary feature of this device is the provision of a wireless network.
Since some have a SIM card slot, this turns them into wireless modems. This solution will provide several benefits at once. You can diagnose your car from your smartphone while having Internet access.
But the main advantage of such devices is not the very first thing that hijackers notice in a car. Some manufacturers of such devices, for example, Delphi Connect, allow not only accessing to diagnostic information but also tracking the vehicle’s location.
Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot
A portable hotspot is not the cheapest but the best way to get a high-speed in-car Wi-Fi Internet Access. These car wireless routers are generally much more expensive than portable USB modems. But the good news is that they are quite mobile and look like a radar detector.
The main advantage of this type of device is powerful cellular radio communication. It’s much higher than what you can usually experience in smartphones and USB modems with Wi-Fi function. At the same time, the wireless signal itself may also be stronger.
Another benefit of portable Wi-Fi hotspots is that they often include USB ports for local connectivity. This provides the ability to connect, for example, a laptop or phone, which simply doesn’t have a wireless module.
As you can see, there are still some ways to get Wi-Fi access in the car, even if it’s quite old and doesn’t have such an option by default. So, choose the one that suits you best and use it on your upcoming trip. Of course, don’t forget to purchase an unlimited internet plan from your mobile network provider!