**Wi-Fi is one of the most uttered phrases in modern social engagements, since few people can be without this form of internet connectivity for extended periods **.
We have become accustomed to being able to check email, browser sites, download apps and communicate with friends thanks to the ubiquity of Wi-Fi. In fact many people seek it out even if they have a 3G phone with a generous data allowance, because you can get reliably faster speeds from Wi-Fi.
But 4G is here and promises make high speed network access possible even when you are on the move. Many 4G smartphones offer a tethering capability, which means you can share your connection with other devices by turning your handset into its own hotspot or using your phone as a modem.
So when considering 4G tethering vs Wi-Fi, which solution is going to offer you the best experience in terms of speed and consistency?
In addition, do any network providers currently support 4G tethering? How much does tethering cost? Read on to find out more.
When talking about the capabilities of 4G tethering and Wi-Fi it is necessary to appreciate that a huge number of variables will be involved in dictating the real world speeds you experience when using wireless connectivity solutions. Wi-Fi speed will vary depending on the type of fixed line connection that a router is attached to, as well as the number of users who are trying to access it simultaneously and your position relative to the router.
4G is similar, but on a much larger scale, since a single 4G mast might be serving thousands of users and broadcasting over a significant radius within a town or city.
Wi-Fi speeds can theoretically reach several hundred megabits a second using the latest standards, particularly when paired with a fast fibre connection at home. But since we are talking about tethering, it is safe to assume that you will be more concerned about how this service fares in public. Publicly accessible Wi-Fi hotspots can be found all over the place: during busy periods you will be lucky to achieve 10Mbps download speeds. This should give 4G the advantage, because average speeds currently advertised by EE are 8 to 10Mbps, with even faster connectivity available in ideal circumstances.
Ultimately, while there are lots of obstacles getting in the way of making it easy to compare Wi-Fi to 4G in terms of speed, the two technologies can be considered to be relatively equal for the purposes of this discussion.
Of course if you want to use your phone as a modem rather than seeking out a Wi-Fi hotspot, you will be wondering about what kind of price you will need to pay.
So how much does tethering cost? EE is the only UK network provider currently offering 4G and the good news is that tethering is included in the price of all 4G tariffs. This means you can share your connection with other devices without having to pay a premium for the privilege. It is worth pointing out that EE’s 4G tariffs are a little more expensive than comparable 3G deals at the moment, although this should change in the coming months once other providers have entered the fray.
You can get unlimited data tethering on O2, for example, but you will only be able to harness 3G while the operator finalises the rollout of its 4G infrastructure.
If you are going to get a 4G phone and regularly use tethering on your current 3G handset, then it makes sense to seek out a tariff that comes with unlimited 4G tethering. This will not only be convenient, but could help you to save cash.