In the past, Wi-Fi wasn’t much different from broadband and other wired internet options. While it allowed us to explore the web wirelessly, we had to be at home or an establishment where Wi-Fi is available. As 802.11 became more prevalent, internet access became easier; however, 802.11 access points are only found for free in some restaurants, coffee bars, etc…, and it is not available everywhere or, especially, while driving. Today, wireless internet is as portable as any modern-day gadget. We can go online anywhere via 3G internet on our mobile phones.
If you happen to own a 3G-enabled smartphone, there’s a possibility you can turn it into a wireless internet hotspot. Many of today’s 3G phones have a Wi-Fi hotspot or tethering feature. You can check online to see if this feature is built into your phone or ask your local provider and service center. A number of Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Phone handsets already support this feature. What it does is turn your phone into a wireless internet router by wirelessly tethering the 3G data from your phone. Not convinced? Here are six reasons why you should turn your 3G internet phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
1. Your local provider doesn’t mind. A lot of providers are notorious for monitoring data usage. When they find out you tether data from your phone, they impose additional fees. These providers require you to pay royalties on top of your data plan for using the Wi-Fi hotspot feature. If your provider doesn’t impose penalties or charge monthly fees for tethering, consider it a sign that you’re free to do so.
2. You have an unlimited 3G data plan. Turning your 3G internet phone into a wireless hotspot can quickly double, triple, or even quadruple your data usage. If you have monthly limits in data use, this could only mean bad news. But if you have an unlimited data plan and a provider that allows tethering, you can use as much data as you want.
3. Connect two or more devices to the internet. Why settle going online with your phone when you can connect other devices to the internet through tethering? You, your friends, and your family can go online thanks to the portable Wi-Fi hotspot you make out of your phone. This is even better for you if you own iPads or Android tablets. Why pay an extra $130 for 3G access on an iPad if you already have a 3G smartphone that can be turned into an 802.11 hotspot for your tablet. This also saves the extra $10/month or so that service providers charge on data plans for iPads or Android tablets.
4. 3G internet is widespread. 4G may be the fastest route to the World Wide Web when it comes to mobile internet. But if we consider its coverage, it’s not as widespread as 3G. 4G is still premature and will take a couple of years before it reaches the extent of coverage that 3G has. Access to 3G internet is readily available to much of the UK, US, and other countries worldwide.
5. 3G is more dependable. Due to its wide coverage, 3G internet is more dependable than 4G especially in countries where the latter is still being pushed out. But with 3G, you can get a signal in most parts of your country – even in rural areas.
6. 3G internet is more affordable. In countries where both 3G and 4G are available, 3G internet plans tend to be cheaper. Also, as explained above, the more devices that you can attach to piggy back on your 3G data plan, the more you are benefiting by amortizing the cost of the 3G data plan across multiple devices viz-a-viz the Wi-Fi hotspot sharing enabled by the device.
Some tips and reminders before using your 3G phone as Wi-Fi hotspot…
- The speed, reliability, and coverage of 3G internet depends on the provider. Compare network providers in your area to determine which offers the best 3G plans for Wi-Fi tethering.
- Some providers impose penalties on users who tether 3G internet to other devices. If this is the case with all providers in your area, consider grabbing a separate tethering plan. You can dispose of your home internet to reduce your overall internet costs.
- Wi-Fi tethering can slow down the internet speed across all connected devices. Try limiting the number of devices connected to your phone to preserve speed.
- Don’t forget about security. Once you open up an 802.11 hotspot, everyone in range can see your hotspot. Make sure you have setup a password or keyed access to the hotspot to ensure others can’t take advantage of your data plan or, perhaps, steal personal information.
About the Author: Judene Macariola is an internet specialist who usually writes articles about technology and other related topics. He currently works at Broadband Expert, a company that helps home owners and businesses find cheap internet providers. Access to 3G internet is readily available to much of the UK, US, and other countries worldwide.