How Do Mobile Hotspots Work?
May 10, 2015
Did you know that you could bring reliable Internet access with you around the world? Hotspots no longer need to remain stationary. The widespread use of 3G and 4G networks has made it possible to bring your own personal router with you, but how do they work?
Mobile hotspots tap into existing cellular networks already run by carriers who own part of the infrastructure. In particular, they can only tap into 3G and 4G networks. Those stand for 'third and fourth generation' mobile networks, which engineers designed for streaming large amounts of data from the outset.
The mobile hotspot sends radio signals to the towers, which relay them back to exchange data, and then the hotspot sends it to one of the wireless devices in the vicinity. Most mobile hotspots have a range of up to 30 feet, although you'll probably stay closer to your electronic gadgets while away from home. The range makes them perfect for use in hotel rooms, airports, bus terminals, train stations, and even during road trips.
Why do they only work with 3G and 4G networks? 1G networks could only handle one-on-one calls on a large scale, and 2G networks only dabbled in data plans. You may recall that mobile phones from the early and middle 2000s struggled to access anything related to the Internet. Nor could they browse or stream content at any acceptable level of efficiency.
Developers designed 3G and 4G networks to stream data from the ground-up. 3G succeeded 2G to let people use Internet calls more frequently, send photos over SMS (text messaging), and answer emails on the fly. Some phones still operate efficiently on 3G networks today because their owners don't try to stream too much bandwidth-heavy content.
4G networks expanded on the core purpose of the 3G networks by offering greater bandwidth on a massive scale. People stream high-definition video through YouTube and Netflix, and they stream music through Songza and Spotify. They work on their laptops, socialize with content on their phones, and use 'Wi-Fi only' tablets at home for quick and easy access to the Internet.
Mobile hotspots have become more popular in the era of 3G and 4G networks. People consume too much data on a daily basis in order to do everything related to the Internet at home. Additionally, most advanced devices require an Internet connection to provide the most value for the buyer. Even the phones that do come equipped with built-in hotspots can't handle the high amount of bandwidth that dedicated mobile hotspots provide.
Are they secure? Yes. Mobile hotspots emulate wireless routers that you likely already use at home. They relay a network signal to your devices, and you can access the network through your mobile device by providing the right password. Sometimes it's called an encryption key. Enter the password to use data on the go without sharing it!
That's how mobile hotspots work. They tap into existing cellular networks to emulate an Internet signal for your wireless devices, and they provide the same security features that we all expect from our home routers. You can check out our mobile hotspot device here, if you'd like to see a real one.