May 22, 2021 at 11:46AM


Wi-Fi Hotspot Rental - Live Streaming and Remote Shoots

Hey all! Alex here from Hudson Radios!

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted our way of life in filmmaking. Just a year ago, production was a tight-quartered operation, but we have adapted rather quickly to the strict social distancing and safety mandates to help curb the spread of the virus. As a result of the increased scrutiny placed on safety, we have seen a huge uptick in location shooting, remote shoots, and live streaming of events and concerts. This leads us to our topic of choice, live streaming/remote shoots, and specifically how we employ portable WiFi hotspots for these types of projects.
There are numerous names for mobile internet hotspots, some of them are brand names, others a shortened description of their function (i.e. internet hotspot), and some are just slang that have stuck through the years (see junction box). So what are these devices? Are there different types? And what are their uses?
Let's start with some backstory and a real-world example. You are hired to shoot a talking head interview for a client that is based in Los Angeles but the subject of the interview is in New York. Due to COVID, you want to ensure a safe experience for your talent and are planning an outdoor shoot. Adding another piece to the puzzle, your client is looking to interview the talent live, personally asking the questions from their home in Los Angeles. Now keep in mind, we're outside and will likely not have access to a wired internet connection to feed the video streams. This is where portable wifi can help you avoid a plethora of headaches.
Here are some types of devices that we will discuss in the next paragraph:
These 4G/5G devices harness the same cellular network that our phones use but prioritize data. The hotspots have a range of features and specifications for different uses, but the two most common are your basic MiFi hotspot (small, battery-powered, and ideal for emailing and browsing) and the Cradlepoint/Pepwave class (capable of handling more connections, feature ethernet ports, great for live streams and drop kits).
Both of these types of hotspots offer network security, a benefit for multiple reasons. When you use a public, in-house WiFi or wired network, you may be sharing it with other clients and potentially hundreds of other devices. This can expose your data streams and devices to everyone else that is connected. Another risk you face with a public network is not knowing how many people are actively using it, nor what bandwidth it is capable of supporting. The risk of dropping frames or experiencing packet loss is much greater when you are not able to monitor who is connected!
Generally speaking, if you are looking to rent a MiFi, Jetpack, or portable hotspot, a battery-powered unit that is small, very lightweight, and designed for basic emailing and browsing will serve you well.
Junction Boxes, mobile routers, or wifi hotspot routers are common terms for the larger, more advanced WiFi units. Cradlepoint and Peplink are two of the most common brands. These will be able to support more users, offer ethernet ports, and will have a stronger WiFi network. These are the recommended hotspots for live streaming, drop kits, remote shoots, events, concerts, and the likes.
For rentals of either type of device, be aware of the data costs! Live streams can easily burn through multiple gigabytes of data, leading to a hefty rental bill. (The same goes for having multiple people connected for a full day on-set.) While most rental houses charge on a per-gigabyte rate, look for unlimited data whenever possible. This will keep your producer happy!
If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to reach out to us at

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