One difficulty of online teaching is needing to have a reliable internet connection when it is class time. It’s not like other professions where if you don’t have internet you can get to it later.
No, if you don’t have internet access and end up missing class because of it, you’re going to face financial penalties if you’re working with an online teaching company. In general, most companies deduct from your pay for missed class to some degree.
On top of that, if you miss enough classes you could even be terminated all together. In short, you don’t want to miss class simply because you did not have internet.
Have Backup internet ready
The solution to this is to always have some sort of backup internet ready in the form of a mobile hotspot. Maybe there is a snow storm and your internet goes out for a few hours or maybe they are doing work on the line. Anything could happen, it’s still your responsibility to have internet and teach class.
For this, you’re going to want some type of device you can switch on quickly to act as a mobile hotspot. For a lot of instances your phone works well for surprise, last minute outages of internet. We do have a dedicated guide to using your phone as a mobile hotspot, but that begs the question – why get a dedicated portable hotspot if you can just use your phone?
Your phone is a last minute solution if you need to teach for an hour or so. With using your phone you run the risk of burning through your data plan and hitting the tethering limit. In short, using a phone for a mobile hotspot is fine for a 30 minutes up to an hour, but your pushing your proverbial luck beyond that.
What is a hotspot?
When connecting to the internet in your home, you’re typically connecting to your own router via a wired or wireless connection. That router is then connect to an internet service provider (ISP).
If these is some issue with this connection, you won’t have internet access and you’ll need an alternate connection which is what a hotspot can provide as it’s using a different bandwidth and tower.
Best portable hotspots for online teaching
Let’s cover your best options you have as a professional online ESL teacher. If you’re US based it’s a good idea to get a second line with your current carrier instead of creating a completely new account. If you’re abroad you can connect to a local provider or use one of our suggested international portable hotspots.
- Skyroam Solis
- Net Gear Nighthawk M1
- RAV Power File Hub
- Verizon Jetpack
- Go Local Me
- Teppy WIFI
Skyroam Solis – On the Go Data for teachers abroad
The Skyroam Solis is ideal for travelers and expat English teachers working online. We like this option because of their affordable pay as you go plans that are managed via a convenient app on your phone.
The Solis provides internet coverage in over 130 countries and makes for the perfect backup internet if wherever you are happens to lose internet or has slow internet for some reason.
For most online teachers, you’ll want to use the global day pass which costs just 9$ and provides reliable all day internet wherever you are. Perfect if you’re teaching while traveling and need reliable internet.
- Pay as you go internet.
- Day pass plans are perfect for when you’re somewhere with no internet or weak internet.
- Ideal if you know you will need a few hours of quality internet for teaching.
- Can setup a VPN and use this as a powerbank.
- Not ideal for last minute use, as you need to sign into the app and purchase a day pass.
Net Gear Night Hawk M1 – Works with any sim
We like the unlocked version of the Net Gear Night Hawk. It works with any sim card but was specifically designed to be used with AT&T 5G network. Great if you’re based in the US or abroad.
Up to 20 devices can connect to this at once, can power other devices like a power bank and has a large LCD screen for control. Last, it’s unlocked so you can put in any sim you want. If you’re abroad, just get a low cost local sim for this device and one for your phone.
When you know you’re going to be going somewhere that may require you to have own internet simply take your Night Hawk with you. What our community manager Brad does is that when he travels to more rural areas of Vietnam he pays for a 1 month package for the dedicated local sim inside his Net Gear Night hawk. That way, he knows he has wifi wherever he goes.
- Unlocked and works with any sim.
- Can work internationally too.
- Flexible as outside of the US it’s easy to get local sim cards for one month of service at a low price.
- A bit expensive compared to other options on this list.
- In the US will need to pay for a monthly plan.
RAV Power File Hub – The all in one option
The RAV Power File Hub does a lot of things for one device. First, it’s a wifi range extender. Maybe the spot that’s perfect for teaching is a bit far away from the router, this device can help improve connection speeds.
Next, it’s a power bank and is ideal for topping up devices with regards to power in last minute situations. Maybe you have class, no internet and your phone is at 8% charge. The Power File Hub can help power your phone in this instance.
In addition, it makes a wired ether net connection turn into a wifi connection. Imagine your somewhere where there is only an ethernet cable. This device can turn that wired connection into a private wifi connection multiple devices can use.
Last, it’s a file hub. That means you can transfer files via bluetooth with ease. Want to store files from your iPad and Windows laptop? Now you can.
- It’s an external hard drive, range extender, power bank, wifi enhancer in one device.
- You can not put a sim card in this. Ideal for extending a weak wifi signal and turning a wired connection into a wireless connection but it cannot have it’s own sim and own data plan.
Verizon Jetpack – Best for US based teachers
If you are going to be US based and want 5G wifi, this is your hotspot. While it is designed for Verizon, the Qualcomm modem inside is compatible with various carriers.
It also works fine with a broad range of LTE bands and allows for multiple devices to connect to it with ease. It’s good for international travel as you can use a local sim card but know you’ll incur roaming charges if you decided to get this device on contract in the US.
- 5G hotspot that works with various carriers and multiple LTE bands.
- Get a great signal no matter where you are in the US.
- Can be used internationally with local sim cards.
- For US use, you’ll need to sign a data plan contract.
Glocal Me – The Budget Option for International Use
Want a simple device to act as a personal wifi hotspot using a local sim card? Look no further than the Glocal Me. We like this device because it’s designed to do one thing, be a mobile hotspot.
It only has one sim card slot and it can’t charge your phone. But if you just need a long lasting mobile hotspot it’s good choice. If you’re going to be using it in the US you’ll need to sign up for a dedicated data plan which we don’t like.
Where this device really shines is when traveling abroad and wanting to use a local sim card for wifi data. For that, this is perfect.
- Excellent option for use with local sim cards abroad.
- Perfect combination with the one sim card.
- Can use local sim cards or a data plan.
- We wish it was dual sim.
Travel Wifi – Best for World Travelers
Travel WIFI (originally called Teppy) is a mobile hotspot service for world travelers. You simply select the region of the world you’re going to be traveling in and then pay for a monthly data plan. Perfect if you’re going to be visiting Africa, Europe or South America for a few weeks.
Travel Wifi made the list because of how it can provide reliable internet anywhere in the world but it its truly ideal only if you intend on traveling. Otherwise, if you’re going to be living abroad or in the US we suggest passing on Travel Wifi.
- The internet solution for frequent international travelers.
- Get reliable internet anywhere in the world.
- Expensive and not ideal for expat teachers. Only get this if you think you’re going to be spending a few month traveling to multiple countries.
Best Portable Hotspots for Teachers Conclusion
So hopefully you have a good idea as to what to get with regards to backup internet. In a lot of instances, just using your phone may be good enough if it provides LTE speeds.
But again, you need to first check with your plan to see how much data you can share with your phone. A lot of US carriers limit you to 1GB a day which may not be enough if your internet goes out and you need data for few hours to work.
If you’re going international and will be living abroad as an expat you have two main options. Get a Go Local Me and toss in a local sim card or an international sim card. Plans in other countries are much cheaper and you can get a few GB of data per day for an affordable rate.
You can also use the Skyroam Solis. Just get everything setup and when you need day pass, log in using their mobile app whenever you need it and you’re all set.