Are you confused between 3G, 4G and wifi? So is most of the population.


This is the system that most home networks run on.

You have a hard-wired router connected to a cable or DSL line into your home or office.  The router has sockets that you can plug network cables into for a faster Internet connection, but it also has one or two small aerials that it uses to transmit the Internet signal up to twenty metres.

If you have a computer that has a wireless card inside then you can pick up this signal and access the Internet over it. There is no limit to the number of devices that can use the wi-fi signal from the router, though all devices will have a slower Internet experience as more devices try to send and receive data simultaneously.

The cost of your wi-fi is zero, except for the electricity used by the router and the monthly paynment made to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

You can use smart phones and tablet computers (including iPads) on your home wifi system. You just have to input the wifi password and you can then use apps to send free texts and make VOIP calls using your phone without paying your phone provider and data charges. Your phone becomes just another wirelessly connected computer on your home network, allowing full Internet access within the phone’s capabilities.

Sometimes as you walk down the high street you will pick up wifi networks from the retail outlets that you pass. If these are not security protected then you can use them to access email, Facebook or to download music. If they are not security protected though, it means that anyone else on that network can see every single thing you do, they can see your passwords and see every key-press you make.

Cafes often offer a free wi-fi hotspot as an incentive to stay longer. Internet access over the free wi-fi is free but is not secure.

If you buy a basic iPad the only way you can connect to the Internet is via a wi-fi network.


3G is the term used to describe a mobile phone network that can deliver an Internet connection to smart phones.

Smart phones have been designed to make use of this 3G signal. The network sends Internet pages to and from your phone or tablet as data and there are charges to pay.

Any 3G device needs a sim card registered to one or other mobile phone network. You can buy sim cards that are pre-loaded with a set data allowance or you can take out a monthly data-only plan with the network of your choice. The more data/Internet use you need the more your phone company will demand in monthly payments. You can find plans that say they include unlimited data, but when you examine the small print you always find that there are limits under so-called “fair use” clauses.

A 3G enabled iPad includes the facility to access the Internet using your chosen phone network, but it only works when you buy a data package from that network.


4G will be a faster version of 3G when it arrives. Rural areas are never likely to get a 4G network and service will be concentrated in major cities initially. Many rural areas will never get a 3G network signal either.

Which Should You Use?

Wi-Fi is free and if you have access to a secured network then this is undoubtedly your best option. You can visit a site where you can do a check broadband speed test and see just how fast your connection is; visit the same site using a 3G connection and you will see that your 3G connection is much slower.

If your choice is between 3G and an unsecured wi-fi hot spot then the 3G connection is safer but more expensive.