4G Hotspot and USB Modem Roundup: Notebook & Laptop 4G Connections
If you want to connect your notebook to the 4G networks of Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile you have a collection of new options to get your laptop, notebook or MacBook connected on the go. Many of these solutions will also allow you to connect your WiFi devices like the iPad 2 or a Nintendo DS to the superfast 4G networks.
What is 4G?
While we may go back and forth about the definition of 4G, and the speeds vary from carrier to carrier, there is one thing e can agree on — 4G is fast. We ran a speedtest on the HTC Thunderbolt which uses Verizon’s 4G network and were able to clock the following speeds. Yes, these speeds may slow some when the more users get on the network, but you should still expect around 12MB per second downloading and 5MB per second uploading. Keep reading to see how the 4G speeds compare across networks.
Types of 4G Notebook Connections
There are three main ways of connecting your notebook or WiFi gadgets to the high speed 4G network – USB Modem, Mobile Hotspot and Tethering with a 4G smartphone. All of these solutions have strengths and weaknesses, but whichever way you decide to connect you’ll be able to get connected faster than you thought possible.
4G USB Modem – Small and plugs into your notebook. Pro: No battery Con: Won’t work with more than 1 device or the iPad 2
4G Mobile Hotspot – Small, portable with ability to connect multiple devices over WiFi. Pro: WiFi anywhere you are. Con: Bring a cord because the battery may run out fast.
4G Smartphone Tethering/Personal Hotspot – No need for another device, tap to start your hotspot. Pro: Built into many phones, cheaper than standalone plans. Con: Burns through battery life fast.
4G USB Modems (By Carrier)
Sprint 4G USB Modems:
- Sprint 3G/4G USB U600 - Free with 2 Year Contract
Verizon 4G USB Modems:
- Verizon 4G LTE USB Modem USB55IL - $99 after $50 MIR w/ 2 year contract
- LG 4G LTE USB Modem VL600 - $99 after $50 MIR w/ 2 year contract
- Pantech 4G USB Modem UML290 - $49 after $50 MIR w/ 2 year contract
T-Mobile 4G USB Modem:
- T-Mobile Jet 2.0 – Free after $50 MIR w/ 2 Year Contract
4G Mobile Hotspots (By Carrier)
Sprint 4G Mobile Hotspots:
- Overdrive™ 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot by Sierra Wireless – $49 w/ 2 year contract
- Sprint MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot - $79 w/ 2 year contract
Verizon 4G Mobile Hotspots:
- Verizon 4G MiFi 4510L – $99 after $50 MIR w/ 2 year contract
- Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11 – $99 after $50 MIR w/ 2 year contract
T-Mobile 4G Hotspots:
- T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot - $79 w/ 2 year contract
4G Smartphones with Hotspot
Sprint 4G Smartphones with Mobile Hotspot:
- HTC EVo 4G - $199.99 with 2 year contract
- HTC EVO Shift 4G – $149.99 with 2 year contract
- Samsung Epic 4G – $149.99 with 2 year contract
Verizon 4G Smartphones with Mobile Hotspot:
- HTC Thunderbolt – $249.99 w/ 2 year contract
T-Mobile 4G Smartphones with Mobile Hotspot:
- T-Mobile® G2x™ with Google - $199.99 after $50 MIR with 2 year contract
- T-Mobile® G2™ with Google - $199.99 after $50 MIR with 2 year contract
- Samsung Galaxy S™ 4G - $199.99 after $50 MIR with 2 year contract
4G Hotspot, Modem and Smartphone Tethering prices
Sprint 4G Data Plan Pricing:
- MiFi and USB Modem – $59.99 for 4G Unlimited and 3G 5GB/month
- Personal Hotspot (in addition to data plan) – $29.99
Verizon 4G Data Plan Pricing:
- MiFi and USB Modem - 5GB for $50/month, 10GB for $80/month
- Personal Hotspot (in addition to data plan) - $14.99
T-Mobile 4G Data Plan Pricing:
- MiFi and USB Modem – 5GB for $50/month, 10GB for $85/month
- Personal Hotspot (in addition to data plan) – $14.99
4G Speeds (By Carrier)
The 4G network speeds vary from carrier to carrier and often from place to place within the city, but we have collected the claimed speeds from Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile below. In some cases we have been able to achieve faster speeds depending on the location.
If you want to know how coverage and speeds are in your area, the best bet may be to ask around amongst your friends and coworkers to see how their 4G speeds are.
Claimed 4G Speeds: Actual Speeds may be higher or lower in practice.
Sprint 4G Speed – 3-6MBps download/1MBps upload
Verizon 4G Speed – 5-12MBps download/2-5MBps upload
T-Mobile 4G – Speed - 5-8MBs download/ not stated
4G Coverage Areas
4G coverage is limited to major cities and airports right now, but most major carriers are working on a fast and massive 4G rollout. Verizon, for example, is on an ambitious push to cover a large number of metropolitan areas by the end of 2011. We have heard from several sources who have told us that the 4G rollout should happen much faster than the initial 3G rollout.
Sprint 4G Coverage:
Check Sprint 4G coverage in more detail.
Verizon 4G Coverage:
Check Verizon 4G coverage in more detail.
T-Mobile 4G Coverage:
Check T-Mobile 4G coverage in more detail.