WiFi LTE Phones, Laptops, and Tablets

The technology field has some interesting terms, doesn't it; LTE, WiFi to name just a couple. It can be confusing, especially if you're a cell-phone user (who isn't), or have a need for a laptop or tablet PC and need Internet connectivity through the best means possible.  You used to hear LTE associated more with mobile usage and WiFi with PC usage. With tablet PCs now a standard niche in the PC industry, many of us are hearing both terms used. Let's look at these two terms, LTE and WiFi, and break it down so it makes sense, not only from a mobile perspective but from a PC perspective as well.

LTE Cell Phone Coverage

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and is associated with the term 4G, which means 4th Generation. Prior to LTE, 4G was the cutting-edge Internet connectivity standard associated with mobile phones, enabling the user a 3 to 8 mbps speed. With 4G LTE, the fastest technology, a 5 to 12 mbps is possible. Contrast those speeds with 3G, at 800kbps to 1mbps. A substantial portion of the U.S. is still operating mobile networks with 3G, although the major mobile network carriers, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint have converted over a considerable coverage area already to 4g LTE, and continue to convert over to it regularly. Recently, carrier T-Mobile is now beginning to convert to 4G LTE networks as well.

Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint LTE Coverage

Many Internet users who travel and use a laptop on their trips need to be able to connect to the Internet. For years now, they have been able to do that through the mobile network (cell phone towers). And for several years, they have used 3G connectivity speeds until 4G came along and improved their speed. Now, the fastest of the 3 technologies, 4g LTE, is slowly becoming the new standard, although much of the U.S. is still not converted over to it.  Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint currently have LTE networks in place. As of October, Verizon has over 400 LTE markets established, AT&T has 60 markets, and Sprint has 24 markets. All 3 carriers are increasing that count regularly so if your area is not yet covered, be patient.  

Tethering

To enable Internet connectivity via the mobile network, you used to need a PC card, commonly referred to as an air-card, which was inserted into the laptop; however that setup has been for the most part, replaced. Today, the popular feature known as tethering, tethers the laptop to your cell phone. The plan pricing is based on amount of data transfer and most carriers offer it for a set monthly fee. 

Tablet Usage

LTE is now an optional model for table PCs. The Apple iPad is offered with a LTE capability, and the 4th generation iPad offers two frequency ranges, so that it can be used outside the U.S. It is not a popular option for most of the tablet industry, although with time, we should be seeing it as a viable model option with most tablet makers. 

LTE is a great feature to have if you watch a lot of streaming video, or do a lot of downloading. It will improve the performance of both of those evolutions and certainly should be a consideration if you fall into that category of user.