Articles

3 Ways to Get Internet During a Power Outage

Jul 13, 2022

It’s stressful: when you’re on your home internet wrapping up a work project or typing a critical email, and your power goes out. Because your internet drops, too.

Power outages happen for four main reasons

  • There’s a distribution failure caused by a storm or traffic affecting the power lines. This is the most common issue.

  • There’s a transmission failure caused by bad weather or equipment issues.

  • There’s a supply shortage, which is, luckily, rare.

  • There’s a planned outage or public safety shutoff to support maintenance needs.

But when outages happen at home and threaten your internet connection (and your ability to finish your work), the only thing that matters to you in that moment is how to get internet during that power outage. Here are 3 ways:

(1) Get fiber internet.

Fiber internet, which works off of digital signals that travel over fiber-optic, is arguably the best access method for broadband. One of the main benefits of these fiber cables is that they are less likely to be affected by outages caused by weather; only physical damage to the cable would bring on an outage. And because fiber cables don’t rely on energized lines, an intact cable can continue delivering internet connection even when home power goes down.

There’s an important caveat, though – your modem or router still needs to be connected to a power source, since these devices function as the gateways for your Wi-Fi connection. Consider an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which offers a backup power supply for small electronics, like a modem or router, during a blackout. 

Wirecutter testing shows that certain UPS options can keep modems and routers running for up to four hours, or they can keep a combination of modem, router, PC and external hard drive running for up to 17 minutes. This can buy you some internet connectivity time to wrap up and save any tasks.

(2) Fall back on your cellular data.

If you have a data plan to support it, you can simply turn on your personal hotspot on your cell phone, so your desktop can rely on it for temporary Wi-Fi connectivity. While this option does burn data, the good news is that internet browsing or sending emails generally uses up only 60MB per hour. Other activities like downloading songs and video streaming require more data. Make sure your hotspot is password protected so you know you’re the only one using up your data allowance.

You also have the option of just using your phone for an online connection, thanks to that cellular data. Without Wi-Fi access, you can usually still tap into your installed apps like Zoom, Google Classroom and Chrome on your mobile device.

(3) Get a mobile broadband device.

This option is similar to tethering with your cell phone, but it doesn’t require you to use your phone. Instead, you use a specific device, like a portable modem, that offers a connection using a mobile signal, which you can then tap into using your desktop. Popular wireless services offer this capability. 

Stay connected at all times.

With the average person spending close to seven hours online each day, losing internet connectivity can stop us in our tracks, especially those who don’t know how to get internet back during power outages. Whether we’re working or learning, this connectivity is such an integral part of the way we access information, communicate with others and execute our work. In the event of a power outage, plan to default to your phone’s capabilities, or get ahead by making a few forward-thinking purchases.

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