Broadband Guides

Facts and misconceptions of mobile broadband

Mobile broadband is of course very popular, and via smartphones is often the way many people use the internet most each day. While speeds have greatly improved due to the advent of 4G, there are still some misconceptions about how good broadband internet is for other purposes, like work and streaming. Here is a list of things to think about when evaluating mobile broadband for your consumption purposes.

1. The price of mobile broadband

To many people, the thought of mobile broadband conjures up concerns about how expensive it can be, and if they really need it. Firstly, in many areas mobile broadband can actually be a cheaper option. While downloading 5 GB films is not a great idea on mobile broadband, for many purposes the price of a monthly data plan allows plenty of leeway for the browsing and other content consumed.

Another concern is surcharges for going over your data limit. While this is not an irrelevant concern, in most cases providers will not charge extortionate amounts for data used over your plan (especially compared to previous times). A good way to completely prevent any surcharges is to use prepaid mobile data, so if you run out of data you won’t go over.

Furthermore, mobile broadband has a quick setup time and minimal entry charges. So it is easier to get going with or stop using, with less installation hassle.

There are also many horror stories about overseas charges for using data. At the moment the EU is instituting laws to prevent these charges, and most countries in the European area will also sign up to these provisions.

Another point in favour of mobile broadband is the convenience it offers in terms of contracts. 2 year contracts are very rare nowadays and furthermore there is always the option to get prepaid in which case there will hardly ever be a minimum contract period.

2. Performance and capacity (data allocation) concerns

Some consumers are justifiably concerned about the speed of mobile broadband compared to ADSL. While some areas (such as remote parts of Scotland) are indeed places where signal is quite bad, the overall penetration rate for all parts of the UK is increasing steadily and should not pose a problem for most users. Speeds with 4G rival the best speeds that were possible a few years ago, so you should not see too much difficulty for the vast majority of online tasks you need internet for.

In terms of data allocation, many providers offer very competitive amounts including some who offer unlimited plans. Gone are the days when mobile broadband users had to worry a lot about going over their low data limits. For a small amount per month most networks offer a couple of GB data which is enough for the average user.

3. Hardware concerns

To some, mobile broadband is not very interesting because of the concern that extra hardware is needed to get your laptop on the mobile network, and that it can be expensive, complicated and unwieldy. Nowadays there are many options for making your computer mobile ready. Some laptops even have mobile broadband sim-cards built in, so you can connect straight away. A more common approach is to use a mobile dongle, which is connected to the USB port of the computer and allows you to pick up 3G or 4G signal.

But many users don’t even need this, since most smartphones and networks allow the creation of a mobile hotspot that you can tether your laptop to; which basically means that you share the mobile signal going to the phone with the laptop (or any other devices within range).

This means that if you have mobile broadband signal to your phone, in most cases you can use that with your computer at any time. This can not only give extra options when commuting or outside the home, but for most users will also be a viable alternative to getting fixed line broadband at their residence. Of course, the speed will in most cases be less compared to standard broadband (especially in some areas), but the average user will have their needs met well by mobile tethering.

If you opt for mobile broadband as your home option then you can opt for tethering, but USB dongles or MiFis would be worth looking into. Especially f you use multiple devices, since MiFis can allow several phones, laptops or tablets to connects at the same time.