Having a dedicated vehicle Wi-Fi network in your van or fleet can boost your productivity for essential business tasks and/or working in downtime. Here are some of the ways you can set up wireless internet in your van.
There are various reasons you may want Wi-Fi connectivity in your van. Wireless internet is becoming a desirable feature for the patrons of many less-conventional van businesses like mobile food trucks and mobile libraries. You may also want a reliable connection to perform work on your laptop or tablet during downtime. Renault van cabins are already designed to offer entrepreneurs an ergonomic workspace so drivers and passengers can take their company on the road. A solid Wi-Fi signal can be the finishing touch of your mobile office. Your options include…
Using your smartphone as a hotspot
Internet access on the road can be as simple as just about anywhere else if you use your mobile phone. Of course, you will need a smartphone with hotspot capabilities and a data plan that supports it; fortunately, that is the case for the majority of modern smartphones. You should also check how much data you already go through with normal phone usage, as this solution can significantly increase your consumption.
Smartphone hotspots create an ad hoc network that other devices, like computers and tablets, can connect to through “tethering”. You’re essentially sharing the internet data connection that allows you to load webpages and the like on your mobile phone. Mobile hotspots are the easiest solutions for in-vehicle Wi-Fi, since they require no additional equipment and you can take your Wi-Fi with you when you exit the van.
Be aware that your phone uses quite a bit of energy to emit a Wi-Fi signal continuously. It’s best to keep it charging when in the vehicle, otherwise you may find yourself out of battery halfway through the day. If you intend to use this solution often, be prepared to upgrade your data plan.
Also, bear in mind that mobile phones aren’t designed to serve principally as Wi-Fi hotspots, so most have small antennas that don’t provide a very strong signal. However, it should do the job if you’re working right next to your phone.
Going online with a dedicated mobile hotspot
You can also purchase an independent device that works with the same mobile data connection as your phone but is designed to provide a stronger signal than your smartphone. This will typically require a new data plan with your provider – who, incidentally, may have bundle offers for mobile professionals that include a mobile line and an additional, separate data plan.
Dedicated mobile hotspots come in two flavours. The first, sometimes called a “dongle”, is a USB device with a built-in SIM card designed to plug into your computer and provide internet access through cellular data. Some, however, can be configured to plug into any USB power source – such as a USB port in the cabin of your Renault van – and emit a Wi-Fi signal that other devices can connect to.
Self-contained dedicated mobile hotspots are a more rugged option. These have their own built-in batteries, so you can take your hotspot outside your vehicle; you can also keep these plugged in or charge them in your car. As a result, self-contained hotspots generally fetch a higher price than their dangly counterparts but represent a more business-ready option.
Install a wireless modem and router in your car
This is the most professional option for creating a hotspot in your van (which can only be used in, and around, your van). If you don’t require something portable, this is your most reliable, business-friendly option. Needless to say, it’s also the most expensive, and requires professional installation.
Expect to pay more than you would for a normal home or office router, in addition to professional installation costs and a data plan. As far as quality and reliability are concerned, this is the best option for businesses; if you hope to share your internet connection with others around your van, as part of your business model, it’s really your only one.
These dedicated devices are constructed with large antennas to both receive and emit a much stronger signal than portable hotspots. The result is a strong wireless network, similar to what you might find in a home or office, enabling you to confidently connect multiple notebooks, tablets and phones.