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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Can You Watch Streaming TV Using A Mobile Hotspot??


    A few weeks ago, Amazon had a killer deal on the 2nd Generation Fire TV Stick. Only $19.99. Since I already have a couple and they work great on home-based WiFi, I figured I could get one to experiment with on the road. Would I be able to watch ANYTHING at all while connected to the internet via my cell phone's hot-spot? It would be way cool, especially if the satellite dish is blocked by some trees or something. For 20 bucks, I figured it was worth a try. Besides, I could always put a TV in the garage... you know? Here's what I found out.

Unlike traditional analog signals that we used to use a regular antenna to receive, digital ANYTHING is all or nothing. Either you have a usable signal or you don't. Over The Air (OTA) digital signals work that way. Sometimes I get lots of great channels, sometimes not a single one. WiFi streaming TV/video works a bit differently. More like a laptop or tablet on your home WiFi. The worse the signal (up to a point) the slower the transfer rates. When it gets low enough, you will get the dreaded "buffering" and your video will stop until the data "catches up."

My New Phone!
Mobile hot-spots and cell phones typically have a minimum of 3G service. Most are 4G or even faster 4G LTE. That's a lot of letters! Really all it means is that a good 4G signal can be very close to your home WiFi router and LTE even faster. 3G is OK, but will limit what you can do. So, does it work for streaming movies and TV shows through a streaming device? Yes. Well, sort of. When I have a good signal and am using LTE it works great! I can watch HD quality without a hiccup. At "only" 4G speeds HD works most of the time, but can stutter once in a while as signal (bars) go up and down. At 3G speeds HD is mostly unusable, but SD (Standard Definition) is fine. When I can't get a better signal, I can still watch older TV shows in SD and that's fine too.

Be aware that you will be using a lot of data! If you have an unlimited plan, it's not a big deal. However, if your phone/hot-spot plan limits your data to a set number, you can easily go over your allotment and begin getting charged for additional data. Video uses a large amount. HD Video, even more! Figure a Full HD movie will use up to 3 Gb per hour! Don't over-use if you have a limited plan. The overage cost can be enormous!

So, the bottom line...it works! I plan on using my new streaming device to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime video and a few other online networks. Since I have a cable TV account I can watch networks and some pay channels for free, but that's another article!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

6 comments:

  1. We have what Verizon calls "Beyond Unlimited" data with a mobile hot spot. This means we have up to 20 Gigs at 4G LTE (if available). Then, if we're in a busy area (like when we're at home) and go over the 20 Gigs, we 'may' be throttled down to 3G speed. This has worked fairly well on the road, but not so much at home. Our home cell and web access is horrible. We get 10x better service down in Quartzsite - ha.

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    Replies
    1. MrTommy,
      Me too! Better Cell phone coverage when I am not at home... hmmm maybe that's the universe telling me to travel in the RV more?

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  2. We have been using our cell phones for hot spots for our Roku for three years. It wasn't until T-Mobile came out with the Military benefit package and our selection of the best they could offer data package that it is been "unlimited". With this package Netflix is included. For the most part we have been surprised at how many out of the way places have had coverage. There are plenty that don't, that's why we bring DVDs too.

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    Replies
    1. Kenrup,
      There are many "so called" unlimited plans that simply aren't. I'm glad it's been working for you! I am also pleasantly surprised at some of the out of the way locations i still have access without resorting to the satellite dish...

      Thanks!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  3. Got the Verizon unlimited MiFi through FMCA 1 penny for the device and $49.99/mo for the service. Haven't had a chance to use it yet the place I stayed after getting it had NO service except at the clubhouse.

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    Replies
    1. Vanessa,
      That's why it's nice to have multiple ways of receiving entertainment content. Some time in the future, I will be looking into cell phone frequency boosters. Right now, they are a bit pricey for me.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

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