I currently have an old Alltel Huawei EC228 aircard that I use in a Cradlepoint CTR350 travel router which had/has access to the 3G network. This card's specs say it can have a download speed of up to 3.1 Mbps and an upload speed of up to 1.8 Mbps. At my house (where I do not currently have high speed Internet capabilities), I average a download speed of about 500 Kbps, which is well under the max spec but much better than my alternatives.
I am looking into purchasing a Verizon hotspot. In my area, the 3G network is all that is available. My question is, if I purchase a hotspot (which boasts download speeds of 5-12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2-5 Mbps, but is still only accessing the 3G network) am I going to see an increase in speed or will I still have close to a 500 Kbps download speed?
You should expect the same performance out of the new device. 3G is still 3G no matter what device is connecting to it. Any marginal increases in efficiency you find will come from eliminating the extra cradlepoint router. Depending on how far you plan to be from the hotspot the cradlepoint router may still have a purpose for you.
The hotspot may have a better reciever/hardware built in but I doubt you could make a jump from 500k to 5Mb with a simple switch. You might be mis-reading the packaging, hopefully VZW is not misleading you. A typical 3G connection in my experience is around 1Mb and I am normally at -80 dB signal strength.
With that said, a 4G connection would be a noticable difference when compared to any 3G device in terms of speed. I typically get 5+ Mb connections whenever it is within range, I've seen higher than 15 Mb around the major metro areas.
ditto the above post. my 3g speeds vary, but are usually between .5 and 1.5 mbps. once in a while i will get 2+mbps....but not often. i wouldn't expect you to get much of a difference if you will still be accessing the same 3g towers. i get 12-25mbps when i'm on LTE/4g.