Having the ability to connect securely to the Internet anywhere is, in my world, a necessity. Technically, it may not be possible yet, however, we’re getting there. Several years ago, I signed up for Clear’s HotSpot, which offered unlimited 4G data for around $50/month. (Actually in the very beginning, it was cheaper than that). However, as of yesterday, November 6th, 2015, Clear has shut down all HotSpot devices, and refers you to Sprint. Unfortunately, from what I can see on Sprint’s website, not only are they sold out of their on-the-go WiFi devices at the moment, but there is no unlimited data.
Personally, I am connected to the Internet so much, I very much dislike having data limits to worry about. After doing some research online, I discovered Karma which offers you options; pay as you go or unlimited data. There are no contracts and, if you choose the “Neverstop subscription”, no data limits.
Karma uses 3G and 4G, (Sprint’s LTE network, including Sprint Spark), depending upon your location, which is an improvement over what Clear offered. Clear had great 4G speed, however, the areas where 4G was available were limited. You can check here to find out if the area you’re in or planning to travel to, is covered by Karma.
Karma uses “open WiFi”, which I’m not crazy about. This is how Karma defines it:
Karma Go uses open WiFi, which means anyone around you can connect and get online. If you’re on Refuel, you get 100MB free for each new person that connects to your Karma Go. If you’re subscribed to Neverstop, you get $1 in credits added to your account. Each person connecting only uses your Karma Go to get internet from us, not from you. Their connection is isolated from yours and they use their own data only.
Personally, I think Karma wins the prize for the worst answer ever in regards to the following:
Q.Is it safe to share my connection with others?
A. In short: so you can earn free data of course.
I’m not an English teacher, or a rocket scientist, and, if I were an attorney, I would call their answer, “non-responsive”. If you are concerned about privacy, I highly recommend, (as does Karma), using a VPN. Karma recommends “Spotflux” or “Cloak“. As I have not used either one of these companies, I cannot make any comment from personal experience.
Understand, this still means that you’re on open WiFi; translation,–it is not secure. This is the one thing that I really dislike about Karma. Karma says you are allowed to create your own SSID, however, because this is open WiFi, you’re limited to creating an SSID that contains the company name, “Karma”, in it. As of right now, these are the three SSID’s you can create:
- Free Karma by (Your Name)
- (Your Name’s) Karma
- Free Wi-Fi by Karma
So, technically, no, you really cannot create your own SSID. More correctly, you can “select” an SSID. It’s a trade-off; unlimited or pay-as-you-go, (Refuel), Internet service almost anywhere, for advertising Karma everywhere.
Karma offers you free data if someone shares or uses your Karma connection and you have subscribed to their pay-as-you-go plan; Refuel. If you have signed up for the Neverstop plan, (unlimited data), you are rewarded with a $1.00 credit.
I’m excited about the fact that there is an unlimited data hotspot available. I’m not excited it isn’t secure and that I have to wait anywhere from 2-4 weeks before it ships out.
I have sent in a support ticket to inquire as to whether or not I can hide my SSID,–however, as it can’t really be changed, I seriously doubt that the capability for hiding the network is available. Maybe, as time goes on, and Karma responds more to the requests of their clients, they will change this. In the meantime, they’re marketing and building their client base on the culture of “almost free”, and/or collaboration. Either way, it is most likely a smart move initially. In time, I believe they will become more enamored with the privacy/security concept, especially as they acquire more feedback.
If you’re reading this post and you already have Karma, please share your experiences!