When you’re at home and at work, you hopefully enjoy fast stable internet. If a problem arises, it is also something you can resolve or have resolved for you.
But when you’re traveling, your internet quality may implode – a problem made all the worse by you probably not being able to resolve connectivity problems, and being short of time and therefore needing high-speed and reliable internet even more than when in your regular office or home environment.
Maybe you’ve found yourself with the choice of several different Wi-Fi networks, none of which are great. Maybe sometimes one works, and sometimes the other does (but seldom both). Which one do you choose? How do you know when one is better than the other? Don’t you really wish that the answer to ‘which one do you choose’ is ‘both!’, and the answer to knowing which one is better is provided automatically by some clever program?
Did you know that there actually is a way you can connect to multiple internet connections simultaneously, and seamlessly join together two (or three or more) different connections, and there is a way to intelligently route your internet traffic over the best available connection on each occasion.
After having struggled with internet connectivity on my most recent two-week European journey, I researched these issues and have settled on the Connectify Dispatch product as being the best way of optimizing my internet connectivity. This product also has the benefit of being related to and optimized for the Connectify Hotspot program – an invaluable program for all people who travel with a PC and who wish to have multiple devices access hotel and other pay internet connections, be they Wi-Fi or wired type (see our review here).
What Connectify Dispatch Is and Does
Very simply, Dispatch will use all the different pathways to the internet available to your computer, simultaneously. Your computer probably has both a wired internet and a wireless Wi-Fi type connection available, but also probably only uses one of these at a time to connect to the internet. With Dispatch, you can use both, simultaneously.
But wait, there’s more. Typically, when traveling, we may have multiple possible Wi-Fi connections available to us. With Dispatch, you can connect to two or more of these at once, albeit subject to a onetime $10 caveat per connection.
This one caveat is simply that each Wi-Fi adapter in your computer can only connect to one Wi-Fi service at a time. The solution to this apparent constraint is simple and remarkably inexpensive. Simply buy one or more additional USB connection style Wi-Fi adapters.
These adapters are available on Amazon for as little as $10 each, and are tiny in size and negligible in weight – there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have two or more additional ones in your traveling bag of road-warrior goodies, and all your spare USB ports filled with them.
Choosing the Best Additional Adapters
Even the cheapest $10 adapter on Amazon will allow you to connect to a second Wi-Fi service, but you might want to spend a bit more to consider two additional features.
The first additional feature is choosing an adapter with an improved (and therefore, almost always an external) antenna – this will pull in more signals, and better quality signals. Wi-Fi connection speeds are in part dependent on signal quality/strength, so a better antenna giving you a better signal may give you faster internet right from the get-go.
The second additional feature is to choose one that supports as many different Wi-Fi bands as possible. Most Wi-Fi adapters support 802.11b and g protocols, and many will do the new n protocol too. The n protocol is great because it is longer range.
Adding the a and ac protocols gives you an entirely different frequency band (5GHz – the other protocols are on the 2.4GHz band, although some n services might be dual band) and this 5 GHz band tends to be less used, so you might see completely new Wi-Fi hotspots that are also less congested. A new ad protocol is in the final stages of development (at the time of writing, at the end of 2013) which will optionally include still another frequency band (a stunningly high 60 GHz).
Don’t be hung up on the difference between adapters claiming, eg, a 150 Mbps connection speed and those claiming perhaps 300 Mbps. This rarely if ever has any real-world impact on the connection speeds you’ll get, whereas antenna gain, multiple frequency bands, and the latest protocols supported will have a major impact.
When Will and Won’t Dispatch Help?
If you are connecting to the same Wi-Fi service twice, this might not give you a faster connection, but (perhaps surprisingly) maybe it might. If the reason for your slow connection speed is due to sharing the one line with many users, you now have two ‘rations’ of connectivity, and so can expect some speed improvement. But if you are perhaps the only end-user, and the reason for the slow connection speed is due to the speed from the Wi-Fi router and on to the internet, then adding more connections to the router will have little or no impact. To put this another way, nothing will increase the speed of the internet connection on from the router, but multiple connections to the router might give you a larger share of whatever that internet speed is.
If you are connecting to two entirely different routers with separate paths to the internet, this will likely boost your speed. It won’t necessarily double your speed, but even if it only improves it by 50%, that will probably make a tangible and positive difference to your computing experience and productivity.
Note that Dispatch does not use multiple internet connections for one single internet request/file. So if your challenge is being able to stream a high quality Netflix video in your hotel room, Dispatch might not be as helpful as you hope, but it will still provide some assistance – it will intelligently route (and continue to re-route) the Netflix stream to the fastest internet connection, and use the other connection(s) for other services that might otherwise interrupt your Netflix stream.
The software is very easy to download and install, and then runs perfectly well ‘out of the box’ with default settings and no real need for fine tuning. It just simply works, on more or less a completely ‘invisible’ basis in the background.
You have to be sure to connect up multiple internet sources to your multiple Wi-Fi and/or wired connection capabilities, of course, but that is the only real requirement on your part.
A 40% Discount Deal
Currently Connectify are offering a 40% discount on their products if you enter the discount code “Holidaydeal” when checking out (needless to say, don’t use the quotes). That makes a fairly priced product ($40 lifetime license) into a screaming deal at only $24; an even better deal if you buy both Dispatch and Hotspot at the same time ($55 reduced down to $33).
Dispatch is a very helpful way of intelligently and automatically choosing the best internet connections, and using multiple connections simultaneously to connect your PC to the internet.
It is easy to install and use, has no discernible impact on the rest of your PC’s operation, costs little, and for those of us who sometimes find ourselves constrained by unsatisfactory internet access, can be a huge boost to our connectivity and productivity.