Wireless Broadband Internet
Wireless broadband delivers high-speed Internet access across large areas. Also known as mobile broadband, wireless broadband can come in the form of Wi-Fi hotspots (often found in coffee shops and bookstores), or in the form of WiMAX or LTE (where speeds can accessed across entire cities). WiMAX and LTE are two of the leading wireless broadband services to launch in recent years. Both technologies let users connect to the Internet via wireless signals from cellular towers. Laptops and smartphones are two devices most frequently used to get a wireless broadband connection.
Leading Wireless Broadband Providers:
All of the high-speed Internet providers listed below deliver mobile broadband using similar devices. The service often comes in the form of USB modems, smartphones, PC cards or wireless-ready laptops and netbooks. However, the mobile broadband speeds you’ll get from each Internet provider will differ. Where you live also plays a major role, because the strength of a coverage area will determine the wireless speeds you are able to access.
Verizon – Currently offers 3G but is expected to rollout LTE devices in 2011
Sprint – Uses WiMAX technology and offers several 3G and 4G-ready devices
AT&T – Currently offers 3G but is expected to rollout LTE devices in 2011
CLEAR – Uses WiMAX technology and even launched the network
Wi-Fi vs. WiMAX and LTE
While Wi-Fi hotspots, WiMAX and LTE all let you connect to the Internet across your city, WiMAX and LTE have some added benefits that you won’t get with a standard Wi-Fi connection. The first is security. Most WiMAX providers, including Sprint and CLEAR, run on extremely secure network. This will prevent others from accessing the information you send over the Internet. If a Wi-Fi hotspot is not password protected, you should be cautious before transmitting any personal information over the Internet.
WiMAX and LTE also fit the “high-speed Internet” description more accurately than many shared Wi-Fi hotspots. Internet users can expect the same speeds while traveling in a car that they would get with a home broadband connection. But the biggest differentiator is range of service. WiMAX and LTE will let you access the Internet across entire cities, while Wi-Fi can limit you to a couple hundred feet. Be sure to ask your Internet provider which wireless broadband technology they use. It’s important to know the size and strength of the coverage area, along with the download speeds you can expect.