As more people work and attend class at their dining room tables, the demand for fast, reliable service is louder than it has ever been.
In previous blog posts, we’ve compared the various types of high speed home Internet, from DSL to broadband to fiber. But now comes another challenger in this space – mobile hotspots, otherwise known as tethering, which is basically using your cell phone to connect devices to the Internet.
Mobile hotspots are far from a new idea, but the concept has generally been thought of as a far cry from home Wi-Fi and wired options that have become commonplace in today’s busy households. In fact, if you’ve ever used one, it’s probably only been in the case of emergencies when other connectivity options were unavailable.
But with improved data speeds, more sophisticated phones and the promise of 5G headed our way in the next few years, more consumers are wondering if mobile hotspots are the way to go as a first option for going online.
It’s understandable why people would think that way, but as a day-in, day-out tool for connecting a whole house, the mobile hotspot leaves a lot to be desired, especially compared to gig fiber.
Here are three reasons why:
According to whistleout.com, fast home internet DSL speeds clock in between 90 and 100 megabits per second (Mbps). The latest 4G LTW mobile hotspot comes in at about 30 percent of that on the low end and just 60 percent of the top-end speed. And the mobile option doesn’t begin to touch fiber, which generally starts at 1,000 Gigabits per second and only goes up from there.
Wireless plans limit the amount of full-speed data that can be used per line per month, after which point speeds are slowed to a crawl. Kinetic’s home internet plans, on the other hand, comes with unlimited internet. So, unless you’re into tracking your data usage and willing to make a choice between online gaming and getting your term paper done, there really isn’t an argument to be made for a mobile hotspot.
While improved, portable Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t entirely safe, largely due to network spaces that are open access by default. According to the Jakarta Post, when creating a hotspot on an Android smartphone, Android doesn’t create a password to the hotspot, allowing anyone to connect to the network at will. That means someone from across the coffee shop or in a neighboring apartment can just log into your bandwidth and siphon off your mobile Internet.
“That is not all,” writes Andin Bicknell in the 2019 Post article. “A password-less mobile hotspot is bread and butter for hackers and data thieves. You never really know who is snooping on you in public places. So, apart from worrying about exceeding your data plan due to unauthorized access to your Wi-Fi, you have data thieves to worry about as well.”
The bottom line? Most experts agree that mobile hotspots, while handy in a pinch, have yet to develop into a viable alternative to a dedicated home broadband connection, especially fiber, for high-speed Internet.