If you’re looking for mobile hotspot plans and devices that will suit your PC tablet or iPhone iPod Touch, here the breakdowns of the plans and devices, we’ve also added some tips to save you money!
Comparing Mobile Broadband Plans
Three of the major carriers such as Sprint, AT&T and Verizon all have hotspot plans available. Listed below are the various carriers that can offer hotspot plans, their pricing, features and the devices available:
Verizon Mobile Hotspot
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- Sprint Mobile Hotspot
- Verizon Jetpack™ 4620L Mobile Hotspot ($49 with two-year commitment)
- Verizon Jetpack™ 4510L Mobile Hotspot (FREE with two-year commitment)
- Verizon Fivespot ™ Global Ready™ Hotspot ($79 with two-year commitment)
- Connect up to ten users at once.
- Interactive OLED display for easy use.
- Global ready – use it internationally.
- 4G networks that are ten times faster than 3G.
- $50 per 5G; $80 per 10GB. $10/GB overage charges.
AT&T Mobile Hotspot
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- USBConnect Momentum 4G ($29.99 with two-year contract)
- [easyazon-link asin=”B006FOAV1I” locale=”us”]Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G[/easyazon-link] ($69.99 with two-year contract)
- Elevate 4G ($0.01 with two-year contract)
- Apple iPhone 4S
- 4G LTE speeds that is ten times faster than 3G networks.
- High-class LCD screen smaller than 2 inches. Quick and easy setup information.
- Connect up to five users simultaneously.
- Able to stay connected globally.
- $35 to $60 per month with their stand-alone USB device.
Sprint Mobile Hotspot
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- [easyazon-link asin=”B004OOOQTE” locale=”us”]Sierra Wireless Overdrive[/easyazon-link] ($49 with two-year contract)
- MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot ($0 with two-year contract)
- Express Mobile Hotspot ($29 with two-year contract)
- International Mobile Hotspot by ZTE ($49 with two-year contract)
- Samsung Epic 4G (smartphone)
- Connect up to five users simultaneously.
- GPS navigation capabilities.
- $30 to $90 per month on the 4G network. 3GB limit on 3G is $34 per month; 5GB limit on 3G is $59; 12GB on 3G is $79 per month. All plans have unlimited 4G use. $0.25/MB overage charges.
T-Mobile Mobile Hotspot
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- [easyazon-link asin=”B006C29NZI” locale=”us”]T-Mobile Sonic 4G Hotspot[/easyazon-link] (FREE with two-year contract)
- T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot (FREE with two-year contract)
- 4G network ready.
- Wi-Fi sharing up to five users simultaneously.
- $39 to $79 per month. $39 per month for 2GB. $49 for 5GB. $79 for 10GB.
- No annual contracts are available. $10 for 100MB for 7 days. $30 for 1GB for 30 days. $50 for 3GB for 30 days.
One the most important features that you should look at when considering a hotspot are the download speeds. These are the speeds that you’re going to receive when you’re connected to your hotspot device. Based on some speed studies across the web from publications such as Computer World, listed below are the average download and upload speeds for most devices:
- Verizon – 9 to 11 Mbps
- T-Mobile – 5 to 8 Mbps
- Sprint – 1.5 to 3 Mbps
- AT&T – 1 to 2.5 Mbps
- Verizon – 2.5 to 3 Mbps
- T-Mobile – 1 to 1.7 Mbps
- Sprint – 0.22 to 0.40 Mbps
- AT&T – 0.56 to 0.70 Mbps
NOTE: These speeds are going to vary depending on the network that you’re connected to and your geographical locations. Take these as an average as to what you should expect when connecting to each individual network.
Taking an average battery life from a variety of devices that the carriers had to offer, noted below are the average lifespan that you should expect:
- Verizon – 3 to 3.5 hours
- Sprint – 3.5 to 4 hours
- AT&T – 3.5 to 4 hours
- T-Mobile – 3.5 to 4 hours
Another aspect to take into consideration is how far your signal will travel. Again, these are averages conducted by many various publications across the web. This is an average number:
- Verizon – 90 to 100 feet
- Sprint – 65 to 75 feet
- AT&T – 85 to 95 feet
- T-Mobile – 75 to 85 feet
Those that don’t want to purchase a hotspot stand-alone device to serve as a wireless Internet hub can consider using their smartphone. You’ll find that newer phones such as the iPhone 4S offer a built-in hotspot application that instantly turns your phone into a hotspot device. All smartphones don’t offer this capability. Keep in mind that tethering does cost more if you choose this option with your carrier.
- Verizon – $20 extra per month on top of your data plan. This provides 2GB extra.
- Sprint – $30 on top of your monthly bill. This won’t provide any extra data.
- T-Mobile – $15 per month. No extra data available.
- AT&T – $45 per month for a 4G tethering plan.
Please note that if you do go over your data, each carrier will charge an additional fee for each GB downloaded for that billing period. Carriers are also known to bring your data to a slower rate. The great thing about tethering is that there is no annual commitment involved and the user can cancel at any time.
How to Tether for Free
Many users don’t like the idea of paying an additional fee to their carrier. If you don’t mind risking your data, you can consider jailbreaking your iPhone or rooting your android device, then you can download tethering apps that will tether the phone for you for free. Keep in mind that if you go over your data limit or raise red flags, your carrier can slow your speed speeds or even shut down your service. With that being said, proceed at your own risk.
Apps For Free Tethering
- MyWi for the iPhone
- Android WiFi Tether
- JokuSpot Light WiFit Hotspot
Each of these apps is going to turn your phone into a WiFi hotspot. This will help you bypass the subscription fees. Again, if going this route, try to limit your use on these apps. Don’t play videos, stream music or surf 24 hours a day. If you view a few websites here and there, you will find that there shouldn’t be a problem.
Phones that Allow Tethering
If you’re unsure if your phone offers any sort of WiFi tethering, listed below are the current phones that allow this function:
- Atrix 4G
- BlackBerry Torch
- BlackBerry Torch 9810
- Infuse 4G
- Inspire 4G
- Veer 4G
- Epic 4G
- EVO 4G
- EVO Design 4G
- EVO Shift 4G
- Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
- Nexus S 4G
- Optimus S
- Photon 4G
- Transform Ultra
- Amaze 4G
- CLIQ 2
- Exhibit II 4G
- Galaxy S 4G
- Galaxy S II
- Gravity Smart
- myTouch 4G Slide
- myTouch Q
- Optimus T
- Radar 4G
- Sensation 4G
- Sidekick 4G
- Wildfire S
- Droid 3
- Droid Bionic
- Droid Charge
- Droid Incredible 2
- Droid Pro
- Droid RAZR
- Droid X2
- G’zOne Commando
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
- Pre 2
- Xperia Play
How to Save Money
The problem with most carriers out there is that they will require that you sign some sort of two-year commitment. If you want to get around this, consider purchasing a refurbished device on the Internet through auction websites such as eBay. Many carriers also offer refurbished devices as well. This way, you don’t have to sign the deal in the first place.
Another option to consider is by looking at prepaid plans. Carriers such as T-Mobile and Verizon both offer prepaid plans where you can purchase data ahead of time and use them as you go. This is a great way to use your hotspot for a day, week or month. Once your time limit expires, you’ll just have to renew with a card again.