WiFi, 3G, 4G, Hotspot, Tethering… & everything you need to know!
What is WiFi? WiFi is a standard for connecting devices to wireless networks. Pretty much every device coming out these days has WiFi capabilities of some kind. WiFi on Loyola’s campus is known as HoundNet.
: Fastest possible connection to the internet in most cases
: Not as widely available
What is 3G, or cellular, data? 3G (3rd Generation mobile telecommunications) is also a standard for connecting devices to wireless networks, but in a much wider area. 3G, and other cellular data services, are managed by wireless companies such as Verizon or AT&T. Chances are, if you have cell-phone reception, you have 3G services available. 3G services are required to have a minimum of 144 Kbps consistent Internet speeds, but many have faster connections than that. All smartphones (iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, etc) have 3G or 4G capabilities.
: Widely available throughout most of the country and world
: Slower connection, data caps, speed caps and a monthly fee
What is 4G? 4G is simply the next generation cellular network. There are no required speeds for a network to be considered 4G and they include HSPA+ 21/42, WiMAX, and LTE.
For a good explanation of the differences between 3G and 4G, please read this article
WiFi will keep you connected just fine if you frequently use internet access at Loyola, home, or in your local coffee shop. If you travel a great deal and are often in non-WiFi-covered areas, a 3G device/plan might be better for you.
Pricing and options
Pricing for 3G (or 4G) service will vary on the carrier and device. Up-to-date pricing can best be found on a carrier’s website.
Smartphone Tethering / Hotspot
The process of sharing your phone’s data connection with another device is known as tethering or a WiFi hotspot. For a monthly fee, this service can be turned on in many smartphones, such as iPhones and Androids. Other devices, such as a laptops or iPads, can see your smartphone as a WiFi network, and can connect to the internet using the phone’s connection. Keep in-mind that any device connecting to your smartphone is sharing your data connection, and both will suffer from slower speeds.
MiFi and 3G Modems
Standalone devices also exist which also function as hotspots. Devices such as a MiFi or USB modems can create a wireless network for your devices to connect to using a cellular data connection. These require a monthly fee, but can be very useful if you have the need to connect many devices to the internet in a non-WiFi-covered area.