How To Setup an Office Hotspot

8 People viewed from overhead working in an office

Setting up a mobile hotspot is easier than you might think. It doesn’t require anything above basic computer and keyboard skills. While setting up zones and other filters on a Wi-Fi router that acts as the entry point for an internet connection can be complex even for experienced users. Setting up mobile hotspot either uses a built in touchscreen or a simple web browser interface on a PC or Mac. Here’s the guide on how to setup an office hotspot.

It might raise the question “Why bother?” when you already have a network running through the router. Yet the answer is important. As well as the setting up of guest access being above the capabilities for many, giving out your company router password to everyone is a very dangerous and insecure thing to do.

Before You Start

There’s not actually a lot to be done. All you need is a mobile hotspot device (of course). As well as what will almost certainly be very brief setup instructions based on the device you choose.

There are ways to link the mobile hotspot device directly to your main router, in order to utilize the existing Wi-Fi. But we’ll save that for another time just so we can keep this as simple as possible. Here, we’ll look at setting up a hotspot as it is intended, by using relatively cheap data plans.

Which Data Plan?

Mr Aberthon sitting at desk with hotspot and laptopAll major US carriers have a wide choice of data plans. Some are quite reasonably priced, others are expensive to the point that you have to wonder if they actually sell any of them, or if they even want to!

A little bit of searching though, brings a whole swathe of monthly plans offering unlimited data for as little as $60 a month. Although that may sound hefty for individual users, as a business expense it really isn’t very much at all. It is probably the cheapest benefit-in-kind that you could offer employees. As well as the benefit in goodwill it can bring from customers and visitors.

There is a slight warning about some all-you-can-eat data plans. Most will cap unlimited speeds at 8 or 10GB, and throttle (deliberately slow down) the access speeds after that. But without cutting off the data connection completely. For a few dollars more, you can pick up genuine all-you-can-eat data that isn’t throttled in any way. To put the cost in perspective, 3 or 4 large pizzas bought as a treat for staff will start to get up to the same cost as a SIM card.

Setting Up The Hotspot

Most mobile hotspots come with setup being accessed in one of two ways, either by a touchscreen on the device itself, or via any web browser. Whichever hotspot you choose, unless you decide to change them at a later date, all devices are truly set-and-forget. Run the setup once, and you don’t have to worry about it from that point on. Our advice would be to change the password regularly for any mobile hotspot used in a business environment. That is in order to stop ex-employees or other previous users loitering outside in the car park and using your connection for free!

In its simplest form, setup can consist of just giving your new network a name and password. Yes, really, it’s that simple.

Of course, it’s likely you’ll need more than that. For example, you might want to separate staff and visitor access. This can be done by activating not just the main access settings, but also a Guest network access login. Both sides of the network can be individually setup to provide restrictions as you see fit in terms of access times and other aspects.

Unlocked HotspotsSome Setup Quirks

You may need to use a browser to setup your mobile hotspot. Then you will need to connect via the manufacturer’s website in order to harness the full power of the device. It still isn’t complicated, and the instructions are available for the manufacturers’ website. But this does mean that you need an internet connection to do the initial setup or to make changes later.

Depending on the manufacturer, you may also need the APN (Access Point Name) for your chosen SIM provider. Again, these are readily available from the carrier website, and often simply by Googling  “[carrier name] APN”. The APN is usually no more than an address similar to a normal website address. So it really is nothing complicated.

Other than that, there’s little to do. Even if you do wish to get your hands dirty with the deeper nuts and bolts of the setup, the process has been designed to be done quickly and simply. That is true whether through a browser or on the device itself. If your hotspot does have a touchscreen, the benefit of its compact size means that each screen is well thought out. It will guide you as well through each stage easily.

To Summarize

The setup of any mobile hotspot device is as simple or as not-really-very-complicated as you make it. Even at it’s most complex, it still doesn’t go beyond a few easy steps. It really shouldn’t take even the biggest technophobe more than 5 minutes to do.

Once setup is complete, users can simply login in the same way they would to their home network. They do so by using the details provided by you. Carrier network speeds allowing, your hotspot will work effortlessly alongside your main office network. It will likely pay for itself every month in goodwill alone.

For a few dollars (and it is a few, in the bigger scheme of office life), your visitors and customers will thank you, and your employees will love you. At the push of a button, a hotspot can even double up as a backup external WAN access point. This way your office can keep running in the event of technical failure somewhere in your main network. Where else could you get even the most basic connection backup for such a small outlay?