Mobile Hotspot – The Devices, Data Plan And Pricing Overview

What is Mobile Hotspot? A mobile hotspot is a portable mobile broadband device which allows up to five users to share high speed 3G or 4G broadband connection over a Wi-Fi network. Mobile hotspots are self-contained devices have a built-in rechargeable battery and are [gs plug-and-play]. You can just power it on, and you are going to have high speed, self powered internet access wherever you are. This is particularly useful for those traveling a lot while needing a reliable [gs wireless] internet connection on the go with your colleagues , in a car, train etc. As many hotels charge a hefty price for allowing you to access the internet via their hotspots this can be an alternative for those who want to save on their internet bills while traveling.

Mobile Hotspot With Mifi

MiFi is a line of portable wireless routers manufactured by Novatel Wireless that serves as mobile Wi-Fi hotspots just like a wireless router. The MiFi can be linked to a mobile phone and provide internet access for up to 5 devices. The MiFi works at a distance up to 10m or 30 feet and provides internet or network access to any WiFi-enabled devices.


Verizon Mifi 2200 (Image Credit: Novatel)

Each mobile [gs hotspot] device works with the network’s specific systems since US carriers use different technologies. AT&T uses HSPA+ technology and LTE for enhanced 3G speeds, Sprint uses Wimax and Verizon use 4G LTE technology, respectively.
Mobile hotspot in a 3G environment can be enjoyed in most parts of the US  while works on expanding 4G network coverage are still in progress. Many of the so-called 4G technology is currently only available in big cities and urban areas and they have so many gaping holes, particularly in the upper Midwest of the US

Mifi devices cost for around $300 yet if you sign up with a two-year contract, you can have them for less than 100 bucks. Keep in mind though, the two-year contract can add up very fast since you will incur an extra monthly phone bill of $20 up to $60 in data service.

Some carriers restrict the amount of data you can download. See the summary of mobile hotspot data plan and pricing from three major US carriers bellow.


Mobile Hotspot : Data Plan and Pricing Source: Computerworld

Update: Sprint killed unlimited mobile hotspot plan on 4G October this year, imposing a 5GB data cap, with overage fees costing 5 cents per MB.

Mobile Hotspot With Smartphones

Lots of robust and amazing features are crammed into smartphones nowadays such as dual core processors, high-definition video recording capabilities, blazing browsing capabilities and social media integration. However mobile hotspot using smartphones  is one of the areas that have not being brought to the fore. By using a mobile hotspot application you can enable a smartphone’s data connection to be shared with other wifi-enable devices including a laptop, portable media player, iPad, or digital camera. This is an alternative to mobile hotspot devices like the MiFi which requires you to carry another device while the smart phone.

In the United States, a growing number of smartphones on the Verizon Wireless and  Sprint provide hotspot capabilities. Currently the two other major US carriers -AT&T and T-Mobile -have also offered this services.

This mobile hotspot feature also enables you to transfer files between your devices by hooking them up to the Wi-Fi network with convenience and at much faster speeds. While you can do that via USB or via Bluetooth in some instances, however the first option requires that you use a USB cable, while Bluetooth is not the convenient way to tether your phones since it is quite cumbersome to setup.

Several newly-released smartphones, such as the iPhone 4, and the iPhone 3Gs that have been upgraded to the latest OS (iOS 4.3) let you tether a notebook or tablet to your smartphones using a Bluetooth or USB connection, turning it into a [gs hotspot]. Several smartphones ,when used as a Wi-Fi hotspot, prevents you from accepting calls. Other major drawback is using a phone as a mobile hotspot can drain the phone battery quite fast and, as with a MiFi, you need to spend extra bucks since carriers charge additional monthly subscription on top of the regular data plan. US carriers charge a monthly fee of between $15 and $30 for allowing you to do the [gs tethering].


Sprint HTC Evo 4G (Image credit : Sprint)

Verizon offer around seven smartphones with mobile [gs hotspot] capability which include the Motorola Droid X, Motorola Droid 2, HTC Droid Incredible, Samsung Fascinate, Palm Pre Plus, and Palm Pixi Plus. Most of the Verizon phones allow connectivity for as many as five devices at the same time. The service charges you a monthly USD 20 data plan and in case you go over the data quota, it can cost you a $10 per additional GB of data. Verizon and AT&T imposes data caps on their customers while Sprint currently offers true unlimited mobile hotspot plan for its subscribers who user the carrier’s 4G networks.

Sprint at lest offers two phones with mobile hotspot capability, the HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G and the list keeps growing. The carrier charges $30 for its mobile hotspot service, more expensive than Verizon’s, however the data use is unlimited. That is a big deal for heavy internet users. Unlike Mifi devices and other smartphones high-end HTC smartphones like HTC Evo 3D, HTC Evo 4G support up to eight clients that can connect to the mobile hotspot the devices create.