Understand the baffling technology words and phrases you hear every day.

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Now that you've read the short, plain English explanation, are you ready to go deeper?

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What is a Hotspot?

A hotspot is a physical location where you can connect your mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to the internet. This is done using wi-fi over a wireless local area network (WLAN) with a router connected to an internet service provider.

A hotspot can be public, like your favorite coffee shop or airpost, or a private location. You will often hear a hotspot referred to as a wi-fi connection or wi-fi hotspot.

What is a Mobile Hotspot?

Although this term is often used interchangeably with hotspot, there is a difference. A mobile hotspot is not a physical location. Instead an internet connection is created through your mobile phone.

Using your phone's data connection instead of wi-fi, you can access the internet from your laptop. This is called tethering. Setting us this connection varies among phones and your internet service provider. Following the instructions on your phone --- or a quick Google search --- will guide you through the steps.

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-fi is the technology that allows your desktop, laptop, mobile devices, printers, video cameras, and other equipment to connect to the internet through a wireless connection. This eliminates the need for a physical, wired connection for each device.

How Does Wi-Fi Work?

Wi-fi sends radio signals to a wireless router on a local area network (WLAN). The router translates the signals into meaningful data to your desktop, laptop, or other internet-enabled device.

What Does Wi-Fi Stand For?

Are you prepared to be surprised? In a baffling tech world where everything is a shortened version of something long and confusing, wi-fi stands for --- absolutely nothing. It's a made up word by some clever marketing people that just stuck.

Security and Hotspots

It's important to remember that convenience comes with risks. Internet access has become such a way of everyday life that it's easy to leave the door open to hackers. Before you hop on a convenient wi-fi connection, always practice these security habits ---

  • Always create a strong password for a mobile hotspot. Without one, everyone within range of your hotspot will have access to your devices and internet connections.
  • Always use a unique password for your mobile hotspot. Never use a password that is used on any other account.
  • Never conduct any confidential transactions or communication over a public wi-fi connection. Hackers have become so sophisticated that you never know who is on the connection with you.
  • Always disable file sharing on your devices.
  • If your wi-fi is always on, your devices and location are continuously being tracked. Have you ever wondered why that ad or notification suddenly pops up on your phone?
  • Never use a file sharing program such as Dropbox on a public wi-fi connection.
  • Consider a trusted paid --- never free --- VPN service to provide encrypted internet traffic.

  • Keep Learning

    What is Encryption?
    What is End-to-End Encryption?
    How Does a VPN Protect You Online?

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