Updated August 09, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

The 9 Best Global Wi-Fi Hotspots

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As our lifestyles become ever-increasingly digital, internet access has come to be a necessity at all times, regardless of where we are in the world. International travel, in particular, can pose some serious obstacles to staying online, but global wi-fi hotspots are a solution you can depend on in a pinch. Pick up one of our top choices to ensure connectivity wherever you may find yourself. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best global wi-fi hotspot on Amazon.

9. BlueCosmo Iridium Go!

8. Jetpack AC791L

7. MiFi Liberate

6. Inmarsat iSavi IsatHub

5. Skyroam Mobile

4. Keepgo Global

3. Netgear Unite Explore

2. Huawei Mobile WiFi Pro

1. GLocalMe G3

Freedom And Liberty

It's true that nearly every aspect of life has been integrated with the internet, in some shape or form.

In the beginning of the 21st century, the United Nations declared internet access a human right, and resolved that no country should unreasonably restrict an individual's ability to connect to the World Wide Web. It's actually considered a violation of international policy to completely close someone off from connectivity. In light of the wealth of utility, expression, and knowledge contained on this impressive, unprecedented network, it's easy to see why it's that big of a deal.

It's true that nearly every aspect of life has been integrated with the internet, in some shape or form. We have the most obvious players, like social media, streaming sites, and news resources. There's a nearly endless field of how-to and self-help videos, blogs, and bulletin boards. Many love to build community online with fellow readers, writers, or professionals. The meteoric rise of online shopping may have increased some frivolous spending, but it's also decreased the money we've wasted on low-quality products, thanks to high-quality, in-depth product reviews. Plus, thanks to Amazon, the average American practically never has to physically go the store again. Furthermore, there's mind-blowing artistic collaboration, and efficient corporate organization, but you get the idea — this internet thing is pretty cool. In fact, it looks a lot like it's here to stay. But how it works and how we use it are a little bit more complicated than pressing a button and typing in a password.

What Is The Internet?

For starters, it's not actually one single thing, but a massive conglomerate of countless nodes around the world called servers. These are repositories of data, organized into websites, file libraries, and the server's own operating instructions. They're generally very large, as public servers must be able to handle a lot of users at once, although many people use private servers for high-security purposes. These hosts are connected to the internet via service providers, the largest of which are the highest-level of the hierarchy, and the current gatekeepers of the digital realm. The vast majority of personal computers and servers are designed to access the internet and surf the World Wide Web, using the HTTP language.

Ultimately, the signal reaches the target computer, which gives the user's PC access to the page and any files, resources, or other local pages therein referenced.

The most-used addresses for pages are called URLs, and underlying each one is an IP address that contains information crucial to finding the site in question. When a PC wants to talk to a site, it pings the nearest router with the address, which ships the request off to the next-closest router en route to the destination. Ultimately, the signal reaches the target computer, which gives the user's PC access to the page and any files, resources, or other local pages therein referenced.

Just over two decades ago, the only way to connect to the then-innovative internet was by plugging a beeping and buzzing dial-up modem into a telephone jack. In the beginning, this resulted in blazing-fast speeds of as high as a few kilobytes per second. in 1997, the 802.11 standard was developed, paving the way for the now-ubiquitous Wi-Fi that unifies entire homes at the touch of a button. It's true that there's not much like that old-fashioned, plugged-in feeling when it comes to ultra-low latency and consistently high speeds. Nowadays, most home networks use either DSL or cable technology, which operate on standard phone lines, or a coaxial cable connection, respectively. Fiber internet is also emerging, and it promises to increase throughput to unheard-of levels. But the truth is, the Web is at its best when the user is completely un-tethered, free to roam the earth while surfing the 'net at the same time — without roaming fees.

Navigating The Sea Of Servers

During the development of Wi-Fi, engineers were also hard at work perfecting mobile communications. The first digital mobile networks, in the 2G family, were developed in 1991 and slowly gained traction. 2001 saw the release of 3G, and 10 years later we received 4G, whose latest incarnation, LTE, brought streaming video to more mobile handsets than ever.

Make sure to select a hotspot that's reliable and suited to your itinerary, and you're sure to keep browsing, even in the middle of nowhere.

This late in the game, almost every populated region in the world has cell service. If you can get a couple bars in any remote region, then you can still receive data, although it might not come in as quickly as it would were you in a city center. On the other hand, many powerful, portable Wi-Fi hotspots use the most sensitive antennas available, and they're tuned to pick up data feeds as consistently as possible, especially at long range. These 4G LTE-based hotspots most often utilize a Mini or Micro SIM card to identify the user, then connect to the ISP, exactly like the common smartphone —aside from the lack of standard voice communication. What these 4G LTE units do have is bandwidth every bit as fast as a modern smartphone, which in some places can be quite fast.

Some of the most expensive options are mated to particular networks of transmission-ready satellites. These are intended for people who regularly spend time far away from society or in areas with severely inhibited communications networks. To name just a few, this includes the military, scientific researchers, incredibly dedicated travelers, and workers in isolated fields such as logging and fishing. As you might expect, signals beamed to and from orbiting satellites have more latency and lower overall speed than high-frequency, cell-switching local networks. But let's be honest: in the middle of the ocean, or a remote indigenous village, even 3G bandwidth is a blessing.

Options like 3G vs. 4G support, a physical USB connector, and a variety of payment plans differentiate the various models. They'll all function as a standalone network access point for your mobile device, though they may vary in the 802.11 protocol used. Also, you might have to pick up a local SIM card when traveling to a new country, but these devices are built to make such adjustments easy. Make sure to select a hotspot that's reliable and suited to your itinerary, and you're sure to keep browsing, even in the middle of nowhere.

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Ezra Glenn
Last updated on August 09, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label operator from New York City. He has traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again. Ezra holds a bachelor's from Bard College, and is currently enrolled in the MBA program at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. His professional experience includes a stint at the Brooklyn-based website “Rap Genius,” and he has run his own artist management and development agency. For the Wiki, he has developed expertise in the areas of travel, exercise, and home goods, and has researched extensively in the areas of electronics, furniture, and pet care.

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