Being a writer these days usually means living and working online. What if your home Internet goes down? You could always go off to a coffee shop or Starbucks. But that is not always convenient, especially if you also use a desktop computer.

There are multiple ways to have a backup Internet, such as turning your smart phone into a hotspot — if technically possible with the blessing of your carrier.

Other options are to use accessible wifi signals in your neighborhood. Let’s say you live within range of a public library hotspot and you have legitimate access through your library card. That might mean getting on your porch with your laptop computer a usable signal. That is not always convenient if using a desktop computer.

I solved this problem by getting an outdoor device that will connect to the remote wifi hotspot. I run an ethernet cable from the device into the house and plug into the computer (or switch, which the computer plugs into). In essence, I have an outdoor antenna — similar to an outdoor TV antenna — for best reception (and transmission). Power to the device is delivered through the ethernet cable, so there is no additional wire to run outside. (This is known as POE — power over ethernet.)

The device I use is a SunRise Waterproof Wireless Outdoor CPE (customer provided equipment; Amazon ASIN #B00KVWAAIY
). This device has several modes. It could be used as an access point if you wanted outdoor wifi. For backup, I’m using the device’s “Wireless ISP” mode. In this mode, the device works as a wifi client (for sending and receiving) and as a router.

A page that shows signal strength helps you aim the device for best signal strength and quality.

In my case, I’ve made arrangements with a neighbor who has a different Internet source than mine. (I provide some tech support in exchange for access into his protected wifi.) If my Internet goes down, hopefully his has not and I can still do critical tasks.

I consider this method an extension of what I’ve written about extensively in my e-book MobileWriter: Working from Anywhere I focus a lot on infrastructure and power.

— Bruce Miller