If you are looking for easy and convenient internet access, then mobile broadband is well worth considering. Available from all main mobile phone providers, you should be able to find a deal that is suitable to both your surfing requirements and budget. With the introduction of 4G into the UK, the quality of mobile internet access looks set to improve even more over the next few years.
What is mobile broadband?
Mobile broadband allows you to connect to the internet via the mobile phone network as opposed to a fixed land line. This is usually achieved through a USB dongle which plugs into your laptop or PC, allowing you to connect wherever there is coverage.
The mobile networks usually use 3G technology, but this year has also seen the introduction of 4G in the UK, offering even faster connections. Typical speeds are roughly 2Mbs to 6Mbs for 3G connections and 6Mbs to 20Mbs for 4G connections, depending on coverage.
3G broadband is currently available through the 3G mobile phone network, operated by main mobile providers such as Orange, T-Mobile, Three and O2. 3G stands for ‘Third Generation’ and is the standard for mobile broadband in this country. 4G (Fourth Generation) is a new type of coverage, offering speeds that are up to five times faster than 3G.
Ofcom say that 73% of premises and 13% of the UK’s landmass can receive a signal outdoors from all five 3G networks, with lower coverage in less densely populated areas. The highlands of Scotland and Mid-Wales are the areas of lowest 3G geographic coverage. Both areas are sparsely populated and feature hilly terrain.
What are its advantages?
The big advantage of this type of broadband is that you can access everything on the move. You can get a good quality internet connection wherever there is a mobile signal, without being stuck at a PC workstation.
Mobile broadband is ideal for students, business people and travellers, amongst others. The sheer portability of mobile access means that business people can prepare presentations and check emails while travelling to work or an important meeting. Students can use it to access study resources in lectures or to work while travelling home. People travelling from one country to another can keep in touch with their nearest and dearest no matter how far away they are.
The broadband packages for 3G are quite flexible, with all the main players offering contracts, SIM-only rolling short term contracts and pay-as-you-go. 4G packages are currently offered by EE and have an increasing number of deals.
What are the downsides?
Mobile internet access is currently more restricted than that of a fixed line connection. Unlimited download deals are rare with capped download packages being the most common. If you are online gamer or stream movies often, then you may be better off with an unlimited broadband deal.
The differences between 3G and 4G coverage also has it’s problems. Despite being much faster than 3G, 4G is much more expensive and is currently only available in large towns and cities. 3G is offered by multiple companies with wide coverage, whereas 4G is only available through EE, limiting your choice of pricing plans and download limits.