Sunday, April 20, 2014
WiFi, cellular wireless, and access abroad -- a changing picture
We sometimes use the terms broadband and wifi interchangebably, and that confuses the discussion.
Generally “WiFi” comes from a wireless signal emitted by a router which is itself connected to a broadband hardwired source (although that will become less important with time). Many of us get “WiFi” from a router connected to cable (like Comcast Xfinity) or FIOS.
“Cellular wireless”, now up to 4G, is a totally wireless service from a wireless carrier. Generally, it has been as good for watching video, but it is quite adequate for most ordinary browsing, email, blogging, FTP, and the like. (Actually, the old 56K modems 15 years ago weren’t that bad.) OK, it’s not quite good enough for high-speed securities trading, perhaps. Cellular is typically available in most reasonably populated areas in western countries from at least one carrier.
Some cellular plans don’t connect to everything. For some reason, my Kindle no longer connects to my Verizon iPad, but it does to my home Comcast router. My iPhne expects me to use true WiFi to update to near versions.
There’s an article in the Washington Post Saturday by Christopher Elliot, “Ready to connect home while traveling abroad? Don’t count on finding WiFi” link here.
I’ll have to dig into this one. I thought broadband, and therefore WiFi, in many countries (like South Korea) was much better than in the US. The article reports broadband in many hotels in Europe as expensive and unreliable, which surprises me.
I’m just starting to look at the issue of cell service and hot spot access overseas (or WiFi) if I go abroad later this year, as with this New York Times link here.
This seems to be a rapidly changing area.