Good internet access is an important factor in running a high quality chess tournament. While it is possible either to use a smart phone directly or to set it up to tether to a computer, this can be awkward and expensive. The option of using the WiFi from the tournament facility is also problematic. Hotels want to charge hundreds of dollars per day to provide WiFi in their meeting rooms, and school WiFi is rarely open or has large parts of the internet blocked.
The cleanest and lowest cost solution is to get a prepaid cellular WiFi hot spot from a major carrier. At the Maryland Chess Association, we have been using Verizon hot spots for several years.
Prepaid is a much better way to go when you only need the access when running tournaments. That way you can have periods of time when you are not paying anything. For example, you can buy the hot spot shown below, the Ellipsis Jetpack MHS900L, for a one-time cost of $50. Then you can buy 1 GB of data that is available for a month for only $20. That is more than enough to run a tournament. This way, you can have WiFi at a tournament for each event for only the $20.
Another issue is that the WiFi signal is often not as good as you want it to be. We use a more complicated approach at our events to allow all of the TD Assistant tablets and phones to get a good signal over the entire playing area. I'll be talking about that setup in a future post.