Security is the most compelling issue to consider when assessing the pros and cons of WiFi versus mobile broadband. Security will (and must) take priority over all other factors, including cost: falling short is not an option. Public WiFi is under particular scrutiny on this score, thanks to some notorious examples of serious fraudulent activity.
Security measures that users should take when using public WiFi, include opting for more secure access points where available, ensuring that the PC firewall is switched on, disabling file and printer sharing, making files private (or even removing them), and encrypting data. Enterprises, by default, should ensure that employees' laptops are configured to optimise security when travelling. They should also issue staff with a check list of good practice.
Additionally, remote access vendors such as iPass protect WiFi hotspot access through a variety of security and authentication protocols, as well as helping to protect against rogue access points set up by crooks..
Mobile broadband is considered more secure than WiFi as everything is already encrypted through the mobile service provider’s network. This eliminates the need for configuring/enabling security settings on the laptop. Probably the only security issue with mobile broadband is loss or theft of the USB dongle or data card, and with it a user’s access credentials. This issue will disappear as mobile broadband is increasingly integrated into laptops.
The choice of connectivity today needs to take into account a whole range of factors, and we have tried to touch on the main ones. Some users may be served sufficiently by WiFi alone, and others by mobile broadband. Both markets are evolving, and ultimately, one may dominate the other, but for now, these should be viewed by both the user and the enterprise as complementary access options. Indeed, remote access specialists such as iPass and Fiberlink, along with traditional service providers already recognise and address this dual need.
We welcome your thoughts and experiences with wireless connectivity, along with any advice for individual users and enterprises. ®
Mobile broadband or WiFi? You betcha
3G isn't Broadband,
Even 14.4Mbps HSPA+ isn't broadband
100ms + latency common
Disconnects or not able to connect. Certainly not "Always on"
Up to 50% coverage variation when more users connect
Speeds below dialup if the sector is full.
Mobile might be an alternative to Dialup. It's MOBILE. not an alternative for WiFi or real Broadband.
It's technically Mobile Midband.
Comments on Ireland's NBS using i-HSPA from 3
Mobile (so called) "Broadband" and Mobile WiMax is incredibly over sold. It can only approach Broadband when the signal is near perfect and no-one else is using the mast. Even so the latency is terrible.
Because of how HSDPA works, at 250ms a 2Mbps Mobile connection will take longer to load a web page than 1Mbps VSAT at 790ms Latency (2 way satellite).
VOIP performance and capacity using a decent codec is laughable on HSDPA. 3G native calls are better quality and you can have about 10 to 20 for each VOIP call.
Mobile "broadband" Yeah!
I have a 3 mobile broadband account - 5GB for £7.50 per month. Bargain! But it's slow, unreliable and coverage is very patchy even in urban areas or main towns/cities. I perservere with it only because it is so cheap (special offer through Quidco, it was half the normal cost) and it does the job in an emergency, but tbh it's performance is no better than dial-up at best.
Must it be either / or?
I have a limited need for internet while on the move, but it always annoyed me that I couldn't get it on the occasions I've needed it. What I wanted was pay as you go, but all the deals that claim to be PAYG are nothing of the sort. I've ended up going with Virgin's offer - a fiver a month, albeit for only 1GB.
It remains to be seen what kind of speed I can get out of it, however. I've heard vastly varying reports, but no-one claiming it's at all consistent. If only all the wifi providers would band together and offer a "broadband anywhere" service, with wifi in conjunction with mobile broadband for ubiquitous coverage. Surely that's the way the market will go in the end?
Joikuspot + netbook?
That's what I use. Works well enough to stream Youtube. And when roaming, I don't need anything better than that.
Who are these people who NEED to download gigabytes of data in milliseconds while roaming?
Mobile Broadband Rules
Having bought an eee some time ago I decided it made sense to accompany such a portable device with an equally portable connection of some kind so I bought me a 3 (UK) PAYG dongle (Huawei E220) for a pretty reasonable 40 quid. I'd read reviews and I'd heard the service was abysmal but never one to take reviews as gospel truth I figured I'd give it a go. At £10/1GB, £15/3GB or £25/7GB it's pricey to say the least (not to mention the fact that topups expire after 30 days). However, the convenience of being able to connect pretty much anywhere made me overlook the costs because I knew I'd only use it occasionally and I wouldn't be doing anything particularly heavy with it, that's what ADSL is for.
Now I'm glad I did, but right out of the box I wasn't quite as pleased. Trying to make the dongle install properly was a right pain in the ass despite the dongle having a U3-style flash based optical drive simulator with the drivers on it. The drivers are awful, the connection to the laptop would often just flat out die or it would seem to be connected yet would not be recognised. Terrible, pathetic, nasty, cheap... just plain crap. When I eventually got the thing installed, the device itself seemed stable but the connection it provided wasn't so much.
Now I've taken the SIM from the dongle and put it into an HTC Tytn II and it's absolutely brilliant. I don't get 3G at home but why would I need to when I have ADSL already? In an emergency though I can get GPRS which makes it a nice backup even if it's not particularly quick. Out and about, however, I do get HSDPA, and when I have that HSDPA it really is like having broadband in your pocket, it far surpassed my expectations. As an added bonus, with every topup I get 90 days of Skype traffic for free outside of my regular usage.
So in summary, if you have a decent device to connect with and you have a half decent signal, HSDPA rocks. If you have a cheaply made dongle with drivers that could've easily been written by a 5 year old and a mediocre signal then you'll probably be less lucky. It's extremely convenient but it's also extremely expensive. On the other hand, WIFI is faster and more consistent if you're not going anywhere. Most access points these days seem to be secured (so no "borrowing" WIFI) and I'm not sure I'd want to pay for a connection I could only use at (for example) Starbucks which is insecure and only works in one location when I could drop the same cash on a top up for my HSDPA and go anywhere with it.
Oh yeah, one final point, make sure you bring a portable nuclear power station, those HSDPA radios suck juice like a class full of preschoolers at cookie time.