How to Get Reliable Internet on the Job

Take a look at the best ways for construction pros to get - and stay - connected.

Shutterstock / karamysh

 

In 2019, it pays to be connected.

Most construction pros, especially those running a small business, cannot afford to be stuck in an area without access to the internet. Missing important updates and communications through email and texts is bad for business. Having access to reliable and fast internet can be the difference between securing a bid and missing out on a project.

Plus, connected jobsites are a more fun environment to work in. Being able to play music streaming services and digital radio platforms through jobsite speakers and surf the web on coffee and lunch breaks could lead to a more content and productive crew.

Of course, it’s possible there will be an existing Wi-Fi network that a construction crew can connect to when working on a job like a remodel. But unless you have a good relationship with the homeowners, asking for their Wi-Fi password could be awkward and might seem unprofessional. And on new construction projects, before the house even has insulated walls, there will not even be a network to “hack” into yet.

The good news is that there are currently several ways that pros can make sure they are always connected to the cloud without having to rely on the generosity of strangers. Below are the three best methods for bringing WiFi to the jobsite.

Turn your smartphone into a hotspot

Smartphone hotspots are the easiest and simplest way to create an accessible Wi-Fi network on the go. Most of the time they can be set up through a phone’s network settings, generating a password-protected mobile network with just a few taps on a screen.

It’s important to note, though, that smartphone hotspots work through the same data plan as your phone. If you pay out the big bucks for an unlimited data plan on your personal phone, that ultimately should not matter. But if you do not have an unlimited data plan, connecting multiple devices to a hotspot could chew through your monthly data allowance faster than normal, leaving you even more digitally stranded than before.

Upgrade to a connected vehicle

Automakers are increasingly focused on designing new vehicle models with built-in WiFi. Major vehicle manufacturers have partnered with the largest wireless providers in the country to build trucks with built-in hotspots. These hotspots have their own data plans so that you won’t be dipping into your phone’s data allowance. The cost of these plans will vary depending on the vehicle and the service provider- AT&T has unlimited data plans for vehicles starting at $20 per month.

Another plus is that the signal from these devices will, in most cases, be much stronger than that of a hotspot from a phone. AT&T claims that the signal from their truck hotspots will reach up to fifty feet away from the vehicle, which is more than enough to provide fast internet to a crew on break as long as they take their lunch somewhere near the driveway. Boost that network with a WiFi extender, and boom- you have internet access all across the worksite.

Getting WiFi in your truck is an essential part of turning your vehicle into a functioning office. For more on transforming a truck into a mobile productivity center, click here.

Invest in a mobile hotspot

Of course, if you are not currently planning on upgrading your truck, dedicated mobile hotspots can be purchased on their own. They work pretty much the same as a truck’s built-in hotspot, broadcasting a LTE signal from the satellite of a service provider.  However, these devices offer much more flexibility than a truck hotspot. They can be plugged in and set up anywhere, keeping the signal strong and consistent as you move from room to room. You’ll pay a monthly fee for a plan that could range anywhere from 500 MB’s of data to unlimited data. This NETGEAR hotspot has a screen on the front that lets you know how much of your plan’s monthly data allowance has been used up.

It’s very important to make sure that the hotspot you purchase works with networks that provide service to your area. Some devices are exclusive to specific providers, like this one from Verizon. If you buy that hotspot and Verizon doesn’t service the places where your jobsites are located you’ll be stuck back at square one, internet-less.

Get connected, stay connected

So that’s it. Getting internet on the job can be as simple as turning on a smartphone hotspot or as involved as trading in for a new truck. It all depends on your specific needs. Just do some research before you buy anything or sign a contract with a service provider to make sure that whichever solution you go with will actually work for you.

Next, check out this story on the ways that technology is impacting construction jobsites.