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Analytics firm Strategy Analytics predicts that this year, there will be more than 7 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices in use worldwide. That number has steadily increased over the past few years as the global population becomes more mobile, but maintains a need to stay constantly connected.

Internet connections are easy enough to come by in homes and apartments, but they are becoming just as common in public places thanks to Wi-Fi hotspots. Here’s what you need to know about staying connected and staying mobile.

1. What is a Wi-Fi hotspot?

A Wi-Fi hot spot is both a place and a thing. The term is used interchangeably to describe a public place where a user can connect to the internet and the device itself used to make the connection. Much like your router that allows you to access the internet wirelessly in your home, a hotspot allows an individual to access the internet, so long as they have the password. They are most often available in coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and other public places. As long as your device is in range and you have the correct password, connecting to a hotspot should be simple.

Public hotspots vs. private hotspots
The average person is most familiar with public hotspots. Some places will offer access to the internet via Wi-Fi for free, others keep the password hidden behind the register to encourage paying customers, and others still will require you to agree to their terms of use. All are perfectly common scenarios in any public hotspot.

Private hotspots are typically used by a single individual between their own devices. The most common example of a private hotspot is using one device, like a cell phone with a data plan, to gain access to the internet on another device, like a tablet or laptop.

2. Who uses Wi-Fi hotspots?

Nearly everyone with a Wi-Fi enabled device will find themselves in need of a hotspot at some point in their lives. For college students, that can be during finals week when they hit the nearest coffee shop for a change of scenery while studying. Business professionals that travel often take comfort in the both the abundance of public Wi-Fi hotspots> and the security of private hotspots. Even the average person will take advantage of free Wi-Fi hotspots to reduce the data usage on their cell phone plan.

3. Should I be concerned about security?

As with any device accessed by multiple people, there are potential security and privacy threats associated with public hotspots. The connection between users and the access point (hotspot) is not always encrypted. This allows malicious users the opportunity to stage attacks or gain access to any data that may be transmitted between the hotspot and the user’s device.

Private hotspots offer more security. The private or portable hotspot owner has the ability to upgrade the encryption, change the network name, create complicated passwords, and, most of all, control who can connect to the hotspot. As many professionals take business outside of the office to public places, a portable, private hotspot could be well worth the investment.

4. What features does a hotspot typically have?

Most hotspot devices come with the same standard features. The most basic hotspot will allow multiple devices to connect to the internet and provide at least a basic level of security. More advanced devices will work internationally and provide unlimited data. There are a variety of options to meet an individual’s needs and security requirements.

Mobile hotspots will continue to rise in popularity as mobile carriers cap data plans. Our current shift to an on-demand population requires it. From entertainment to business, our need for constant connectivity is influencing the devices we carry on a daily basis.

NUU Mobile manufactures budget-friendly, unlocked smartphones and mobile technologies. The NUU Konnect i1 is a 4G LTE global hotspot that works more than 100 countries. International travelers can stay safely connected without locking into a contract or accruing fees. Learn more about the NUU Konnect i1 here.