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3G Internet refers to third generation wireless network technology, provided by mobile phone companies, which subscribers can use to access data at faster speeds than previous versions. It is typically used with hardware such as mobile phones, though any 3G capable device can access such a network. While it is similar to Wifi® in some respects, users typically use it for network access at more diverse locations. Certain devices can be used to extend the networking possibilities of this standard, such as routers and other wireless hardware.
Access to 3G
To access 3G Internet, a user must have a 3G compatible device like a mobile phone or a tablet. Most service providers require a subscription to use their 3G networks. There can also be geographical limitations on service, based on the provider and their coverage area.
Both WiFi® and 3G Internet are similar; they provide users with wireless access to the Internet. The key difference lies in the fact that 3G networks also allow users to make phone calls and access other features from mobile devices, which require some sort of Internet connection to complete. The connection to the 3G network, and thus the 3G Internet, is established through the device's data card or internal software.
WiFi® is mainly for surfing the Internet and typically a user cannot make a phone call using such a connection, except through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and similar technologies. Traditional WiFi® allows users to connect to the Internet from a laptop or other device that supports wireless Internet. While the user has to pay for an Internet connection in a home, many businesses and restaurants support local WiFi® hotspots where customers can access a network for free.
Advantages of 3G
Since 3G networks are more readily available than WiFi®, travelers may opt for 3G plans. Internet speeds are often slower on a 3G network than a broadband Internet connection, but the user can access the 3G Internet almost anywhere with signal coverage. This gives it a much broader range than other networks, which may be based on hotspots or hubs in certain areas.
Those traveling for business who want to share a 3G broadband connection among a group of peers can set up a 3G network. To do so, the user needs a 3G router and modem, or a device that acts as both. The modem connects a laptop or computer to the 3G network and the router sends out a signal so others in the same room can connect wirelessly to the Internet. One drawback to this type of 3G Internet connection, however, stems from the short range it covers, typically only the size of a small room.