The next mobile internet revolution has started, but that doesn’t mean every person should buy into every aspect of it right away.
You see, wireless 5G internet is slowly spreading across the United States, and with it comes the promise of unspeakably fast internet speeds. In fact, 5G internet is so fast that devices will need to come with support built right into the hardware to support it at all. Most mobile devices don’t have this yet, but a growing number are getting it.
These include 5G hotspots, which are internet hubs that can convert a 5G connection into an ultra-quick wi-fi signal for your phone, laptop, or anything else that needs it. Companies such as Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T have officially sanctioned 5G hotspots either on the market or on the way.
5G hotspots definitely look like nifty little pieces of tech, but are they worth it this early in the game? Here are some of the pros and cons to early adoption of 5G hotspots.
A reason you should: You have fortunate geography
The biggest obstacle to 5G adoption by consumers right now is a simple one the large majority of people can do nothing about: where they happen to live.
It’s simply not possible to get consistent 5G service in most cities in the U.S. right now, no matter how much you want it. The list of cities with 5G support just isn’t expansive enough yet for most people to justify buying into the ecosystem with expensive hardware.
That said, if you’re fortunate enough to live in a city with 5G support, subscribe to a carrier that offers it in that city, and spend time in a neighborhood that gets it, a hotspot could be a savvy purchase. Just look at the kinds of speeds you can get on a 5G connection.
A reason you shouldn’t: It’ll cost you
As is the case with any early adoption of revolutionary technology, you’ll need to empty your wallet to get a 5G hotspot. The worst part is that the cost of the device isn’t the only thing that’ll drain your bank account; you’ll need to upgrade your data plan from your carrier of choice, too.
For example, Verizon’s newly announced 5G M1000 hotspot is a whopping $650 at retail. On top of that, a hotspot-only data plan that’s necessary to even use it is $85 per month. That’s…a lot. AT&T’s alternative, the Netgear Nighthawk, is also an expensive device at $500, with an additional $70 per month for a data plan.
Tech is expensive, and tech companies need to get as much as they can out of early adopters as possible to justify their investments. That doesn’t make it any less difficult to accept the exorbitant cost of getting a 5G hotspot in 2019.
A reason you should: You like to be on the bleeding edge
Still, plenty of people are going to accept the cost because they want to ride the technological wave whenever possible. That’s totally understandable. The fact is that, if a 5G network is available to you and these hotspots actually work as intended, they could be pretty cool little devices to have.
After all, who doesn’t like having the newest and shiniest toys to mess around with? It could be a ton of fun to have a portable box with the power to supply supersonic wi-fi to any compatible device.
Plus, it’s future-proof. The availability of 5G networks and compatible devices is only going to grow from here. However, about those devices…
A reason you shouldn’t: The networks might not even be useful yet
Forget the fact that most of the country doesn’t have access to 5G networks yet. Even if you have access to a 5G network courtesy of your carrier in a supported city, there are still data considerations at play here.
Recent analysis from PCMag found that the existing 5G plans in the U.S. might not offer enough data for an average month’s network usage. A perfectly reasonable amount of video streaming would use up more data in a month than any of the available plans offer, which is especially frustrating given that 5G plans in other countries offer much more data per month.
Maybe that will change as 5G adoption and availability rises, but right now, the usefulness of a 5G hotspot outside of occasional novelty use seems fairly slim in this country.