Wireless internet access is the first thing many children with a smartphone look for when entering a new space, so having the best hotspots for schools is essential to keep students connected -- and engaged.
Many schools will have internet infrastructure in place, with WiFi setup to repeat through classrooms and in communal spaces. However, this can often be limited by local speeds and locked for use only by staff or specific groups that require access.
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In an age of ever-increasing reliance on digital learning, a good connection is more important than ever. This is why mobile WiFi hotspots are a great way for schools to extend connectivity while keeping costs and commitments low.
A WiFi hotspot works over a 4G LTE internet connection, meaning it can work nearly anywhere, to create a local WiFi network for devices to connect to. From a student or teacher's perspective, it's just another WiFi network to use. But for a school it means a low-cost solution that requires minimal or no commitment and can easily be moved around the building.
Crucially, a mobile hotspot can even be loaned out for students -- and even teachers -- to take home, allowing those without internet access to stay connected during periods of remote learning.
But which are the best WiFi hotspots for schools? We've found the very best, each with its own unique features, so you can decide which might be ideal for your school.
1. Jetpack 8800L: Best Overall Hotspot
The Jetpack 8800L WiFi hotspot is a wire-cutting one-stop-shop, compatible with up to five carriers, that will give students fast and reliable internet school-wide and beyond. It is a Verizon device, primarily, but can be used with other carriers if you're prepared to open a new account.
The hotspot is a powerful unit with the latest Qualcomm modem, which is LTE speed ready and will send a signal as 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, making it highly compatible. In fact, it will work across 15 devices connected at the same time – enough for most of a smaller class. Or go for a two-year Verizon contract and that $199 price drops to $99, so you could get two to cover even larger classes completely.
The Jetpack 8800L supports roaming so it can be used overseas and is even good for school trips that could use connectivity – ideal for teachers planning while away.
2. Inseego 5G MiFi M1000: Best for 5G Speeds
The Inseego 5G MiFi M1000 is a Verizon hotspot that offers WiFi backed by the latest super speeds of 5G network support. That makes for the fastest possible signal in to the device before being pushed out to devices with the latest 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi signals. With a 24-hour battery life this is a real workhorse of a hotspot that will just keep going, all day.
The ability to connect to 5G means speeds of up to 1 Gbps. The only downside is that it's available in just 35 cities currently, and you'll require a direct line of sight to a 5G tower for the best signal. That fact that this is expensive may also be an issue but as a future-proof high-speed solution, this is a very compelling device.
3. Skyroam Solis Lite: Best for Payment Freedom
The Skyroam Solis Lite is a great option for any school that doesn't want the commitment of contracts. This offers more payment freedom than some options as you can rent the device rather than buy it outright. You can then upgrade as you need without the expense of buying a new device each time.
That said, this is good for a long time thanks to its 4G LTE connectivity backed by a decent battery that will keep working for 16 hours at a time. That's good for up to 10 devices connected to this hotspot at one time and it applies globally. The Skyroam Solis Lite, as the name suggests, is good for international use with more than 130 countries supported, making it a great accompaniment to class trips overseas.
The device offers lots of plans with monthly subscriptions that offer unlimited data for $99 per month, 1GB of US and Europe use for $6, or global use for $9 per day.
4. Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot: Best AT&T Hotspot for Lots of Device Support
The Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot is a great option for those who want an AT&T device. It offers up to 4G LTE speeds in areas that the network supports. The device has an excellent battery life of 24 hours so you can get all-day use in the class without any worry of it running low.
Rather uniquely, this will offer you a wired Ethernet connection as well as wireless support with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi. There's also USB connection ports and upgradeable onboard storage of up to 512MB. The device will support an impressive 20 devices at once.
The downside is that speeds can be a little inconsistent with none greater than 40 Mbps regularly. There is also no touchscreen in favor of configuration options via a web browser. But this is easy to buy with a 30-month AT&T contract, allowing you to pay the device off at $8.34 per month.
5. MiFi 8000 Mobile Hotspot: Best Sprint Hotspot for Phone Charging
The MiFi 8000 Mobile Hotspot is an impressive device with a 2.4-inch color touchscreen to control this 4G LTE powerhouse that offers high speed WiFi. It does this using the Sprint network and promises to offer up to gigabit speeds across both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi.
This device cleverly charges in just three hours and is then good to go for an expansive 24 hours, despite weighing in at just 5.4 ounces. It also allows you to charge another device, such as a smartphone, while in use – which is great if you're on the move as a teacher between classrooms or on a school trip or working at home with limited options.