What is mobile broadband?
Quite simply, mobile broadband packages offer internet connectivity through the use of a 3G or 4G mobile network, rather than through a cable or phone line. Connecting to mobile broadband is done a variety of ways, depending on the package you get. Often, you will have an internet enabled USB dongle that you can plug into any device with a USB port, and then connect to the internet whenever you are in range of 3G or 4G signal. Other packages may come with a MiFi unit (effectively a portable wireless router) or simply using a SIM card.
What are the benefits of mobile broadband?
There are two main benefits to mobile broadband - portability and cost.
Firstly, you don't need to be at your home, within range of a router (let alone wired up to that router using an ethernet cable). You can use your mobile broadband connection anywhere that you can get the relevant mobile signal (some will be 3G & 4G enabled, some just 3G). As such, these plans are perfect for commuters, for example. However, the reliance on available mobile signal can be a blessing and a curse.
Secondly, mobile plans tend to be cheaper than conventional broadband plans. If you've got readily accessible 4G connectivity, then you can enjoy speeds comparable to most home internet connections at a reduced price.
How much does mobile broadband cost?
As mentioned above, mobile broadband packages are, on the whole, cheaper than their house-bound counterparts. However, depending on what you use your internet for, the savings you make could prove false economy. While 4G speeds are comparable to many home connections, you're much more likely to enjoy consistently fast internet with the latter, particularly if you can get fibre optic broadband in your area. Mobile plans are also more likely to have stricter usage and download limits, so if you're streaming or downloading a lot of films, games or music, you're much better off using a home internet connection.
How does mobile broadband compare to conventional broadband?
Mobile broadband serves a purpose - largely due to its portability. But generally speaking, it shouldn't really be considered as an alternative. If you travel a lot - perhaps you have a long commute to work, or maybre you're a student and spend your week spread out over different parts of a campus - then a mobile plan could be a good thing to invest in. But if you're looking for an internet connection to use at home, it's best to stick to a conventional home broadband package
Which devices can I connect to the internet?
Mobile broadband packages work with a variety of devices, generally dependent on the bit of kit you're using to actually connect. With a SIM card, you can use your phone or tablet. With a USB dongle, you obviously won't be able to use your phone, but can use your laptop. The MiFi packages will be the most versatile, as any device with WiFi capability can connect.
Where can I get mobile broadband from?
The main mobile broadband providers are mobile phone network providers like Three, O2, Vodafone and EE.