When it comes to 4G Tablets – Speed Kill$

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

According to analysts, the rush to 4G connection speeds may be advantageous for a smartphone, but not necessarily for a tablet, leading some to wonder if 4G/LTE is more marketing than it is an actual speed spec.

“In the future, the share of cellular-enabled tablets will be determined by three factors: the availability and attractiveness of multi-device tariffs from mobile operators; the availability of public Wi-Fi networks; and the difference between the retail prices of cellular and Wi-Fi-only tablets.” – CCS Insight

The problem isn’t that a 4G network isn’t much faster than 3G, far from it.  It’s blazing fast.  But with file sizes and bandwidth caps, and wireless companies engaging in throttling such activity as video streaming, the speed benefit of 4G/LTE begins to dissipate quite rapidly.  This seems to be the ongoing conclusion from market research firm CCS Insight, which has found that sales of cellular enabled tablet computers have actually plummeted, while WiFI enabled models have risen.

Almost nine out of ten tablets being sold are WiFi.  And the reason couldn’t be clearer … users don’t want to pay for yet a third data plan when more and more coffee shops, restaurants, and even department stores are offering free WiFi for their clients.  The advantage of a WiFi only enabled tablet is that they’re simply cheaper.  And major tablet makers are taking notice. Google just released their Nexus 7 tablet as WiFi only.  Amazon’s current Kindle Fire is WiFi only.  By issuing a WiFi only they can keep the price down by almost $140, plus the data plan costs.

Both AT&T and Verizon recently began to offer so-called “family plans,” which enables users of multiple devices to share bandwidth.  But even though they offer more in terms of cap space, they also charge more for it.  AT&T wants $70 a month for an additional 4GB of data (up to $200 for 20GB), plus $10 for each tablet ($40 for each smartphone).  Meanwhile Verizon’s share everything plan charges $10 per device and then up to $100 for an additional 10GB.  And if you’ve been grandfathered into an unlimited data plan, you’d have to give it up, if you haven’t already.  And it’s likely that should you be jonsin‘ for that new iPhone 5 this fall, that both providers will force you to give up your old data plans in order to get it.

And if you’re a heavy data user in the family, it may be worth it.  But tablet wise, it just isn’t.  Especially when smartphones have the ability to add hotspot connectivity (especially on a 4G/LTE), it’s actually cheaper to pay the additional freight there, and route your traffic through your iPhone or Android, than pay for that additional data plan on your tablet.  The downside though, is that damn bandwidth cap.

And the beauty of WiFi is, there’s no cap.  You can stream pretty much as long as you want when you’re “borrowing a cup of WiFi at Starbucks.”  At home, though, it’s another matter since most have caps that are around 250-300GB per month.  Once you go over that, you pay an additional $10 a gig, and there’s a chance they’ll suspend your service if you habitually do it (like, with a Netflix subscription?).

So at the end of the day, people are seeing little benefit of having a WiFi enabled tablet.  My Verizon iPad hasn’t been connected to 3G in nearly a year, and frankly, I don’t miss it, especially on my bill.

Source – BGR

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.