Is it possible to continue as normal when the internet goes down using your smartphone?

Just a few days ago my ISP went down and they gave a forecast for return of service as from 48 hours to 96 hours or more.  Gladly it was much shorter.

The trouble was, I had eBay products that had to ship and because I don’t have airprint I rely on an app on my iMac to allow my iPhone and iPad to print,  this post is essentially centric to iPhones and Mac’s,  I don’t know if the Google print mechanism for Chrome would do the same with Android that I could do with my Apple devices so I cannot make an assumption on those.

I contemplated going and standing in line for 2 hours in the sun because our post office is not big enough for the City and without fail, thanks to a 9.30am opening time there is a line going out the door, down the road an round the block.

I didn’t want to phone the ISP, I was hoping the issue would resolve itself while I was out and about on other errands and before the mail delivery person came round.  Came home 3 hours later, no such luck.

I can live without watching streamed TV and other such tasks and because my Cellphone service, regardless of who the company has been, is less than stellar and the current one refused to let me pay for “hotspot” unless I upped my data package — I normally only use 200-300 MB of data each month so I really didn’t want to pay extra for that package and then pay even more so that I can use the hotspot function which would only be used for a very short time.  When I used T-Mobile and hotspot was free I used it once a year, maybe once every second year for a few minutes so I wasn’t going to pay for the feature.

I contacted the customer using my iPhone and alerted them that we may not manage to ship out immediately as we normally do.  I had it packaged but couldn’t print the packing slip and could not print label.

So I was sitting listing to an audible audio book and casually checking to see if I could get online using the WiFi and then thought about testing to see if I could “trick” or fudge things to access the internet through the cellphone and print through it by switching between the LTE/3G internet and the WiFi network.  Yes, I was going to toggle WiFi on and off as I worked so that I could use services that operated only within the home network while access the internet through the cellphone and try and do everything with my cellphone.

Sure I can do it when I have internet service through my ISP but had never tried doing it without the internet being available.

I knew that I could create the shipping label using the eBay app, all I had to do was create a packing slip using the eBay website so I turned off WiFi.  Accessed my eBay account and brought up the print page for a packing slip.

As soon as the print page came up I toggled on WiFi and connected and up popped my laser printer.  I selected and was wholly satisfied to find that even with no internet service I could still print using the iMac as a server for the my iPhone.

Now, it was a little more tricky making the label,  I used a dedicated label printer for shipping labels and on previous occasions it has gone crazy when trying to print from the iPhone or iPad,  it would print a label but would lead in with a foot or so of expensive label paper then follow on with another foot or so of label paper.  I didn’t have a choice,  I checked on the mac that it was set correct and then back to using Cellular internet and selected to print the shipping label.  As soon as the print dialog appeared I just switched back on WiFi, closed my eyes for a second, selected the label printer and then selected to print.

What d’ya know it actually printed the label and did it correct, if there is a God or Gods out there they had to be smiling down on me, or at least pitying me.  I got the perfect label,  4 x 6 with no wasted label paper and got that sucker out.

I’m sure that I could have used the iPhone to write listings for eBay products but I didn’t want to waste data uploading photographs on my phone’s data plan and nothing is really urgent.  I could do other tasks to keep things going but at least I could get the all important package out in a timely manner.

As for the bookkeeping and ledger work,  I managed do sit and do that from my iPhone without a problem.  I use my own ledger system that collates all my data and gets it ready for the various tax returns as I go through the year and month etc and I keep the files on iCloud and use “Numbers” so that it sync’s between all devices normally so everything was perfect there too.

All in all, while it’s not perfect and not easy when you lose your internet service, it is possible and viable to work from your iPhone.   In hindsight though when purchasing I would make sure my next printer is airprint and I would get data capable tablet.   Even better though would be to have a low cost hotspot device to use in emergency’s such as this or when traveling, especially if it had at least one connection connector for adding a cat 5 cable and allow it to connect to a home router and provide temporary internet service in a crisis.

The biggest lesson I learned was that the ISP I use, Frontier, is awful, they were making up reasons for the service being down, I was told it was my hardware that was at fault, another person was told the connection to the whole valley was down because of a fire.  They gave so many reasons while I was pretty sure that it was their server’s that were down because they managed to reset my device remote while ‘troubleshooting’.  Did explain to the person that was told that the lines had been cut by a fire that it had to be a lie because  they had remotely accessed both my Optical Network Terminal and forced a reset on my router which they could not do if the line coming into the valley was cut.

Furthermore, unless there is something desperately important then take the time to do something non-internet based.  Go for a walk, read a book, do some cooking — I baked bread –, vacuumed the floors and then did some tasks around the yard and workshop.

The internet service came back online later in the afternoon.  I had given up and resigned myself for a long wait when suddenly I heard mail notifications from the iMac.  Too late for the mail man, though the package did get collected thanks to my work-around.