Loyola University Maryland

Technology Services

WiFi, 3G/4G and Mobile Hotspot

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WiFi, 3G, 4G, Hotspot, Tethering… & everything you need to know!

Summary:
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.

                Pros: Fastest possible connection to the internet in most cases

                Cons: 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.

                Pros: Widely available throughout most of the country and world

                Cons: 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.

Bottom line:

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.