Mobile and Wireless: 4G Hotspot Summer Takeaway: Options for Staying Wirelessly Connected

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-06-01 Print this article Print
Sprint Tri-Fi Hotspot

Sprint Tri-Fi Hotspot

Sprint sells the Tri-Fi, which can connect to 3G, LTE and WiMax, for $100 after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a two-year service agreement. Data plans start at $35 for 3GB of 3G/4G data and climb to an $80 option. In keeping with Sprint's "green" initiatives, it comes in a box that's made of 30 percent recycled paper, is printed in soy ink and has a glue-less construction.
Sprint began selling the Sierra Wireless 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot May 18. A first, the Tri-Fi can link users to three connectivity options: 3G, Long-Term Evolution and WiMax. Where there isn't a WiFi connection, devices like the Tri-Fi offer users a way not only to hop online but to connect multiple devices: It's becoming not unusual to see support offered for up to 10 devices. With all major carriers investing in 4G LTE rollouts to support increasing data demands, Verizon Wireless and AT&T have already announced they'll soon be offering data-sharing plans, and that the industry is moving toward a new sort of metric, where revenue is tallied not by the user but by account. The thinking is that each account will be tied to multiple devices, all sipping at a single, set allotment of data. An account could be held by a single user, a family or even a small business. With shared plans, users wouldn't need separate data plans for tablets—which would encourage more people to connect them using more than just WiFi, to the carriers' delight—or for hotspots. Inspired by the Tri-Fi, eWEEK rounded up a few of its competitors to take a look at what the options are, as more people get away from their desks and head outdoors this summer.
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

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