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What is Mobile Broadband?

What is Mobile Broadband?

Category: Utilities
Author: Tim Leonard
Updated: 30/03/2017

Untitled Document

Mobile broadband allows you to get onto the internet through your laptop, PC, tablet or phone without the need for a fixed landline (and the rental cost that comes with it) – plus you have the added benefit of being able to use it on the move. This is done through a Wi-Fi hotspot or a dongle.

How does mobile broadband work?

Mobile broadband is provided to customers through a 3G (and in some areas 4G) mobile phone signal. However, the quality of the connection is determined by the strength of that signal.

How do I get it?

You can get mobile broadband through a pay-as-you-go deal, a rolling one-month contract, or longer plans and packages; they all vary as to their gigabyte (GB) allowance.

To give you a rough idea of what this means, 3GB should allow you to send 3,000 basic emails, surf the web for 30 hours or download 15 four-minute videos or 96 four-minute music tracks.

Advantages of mobile broadband

  • It's very easy to use, convenient and suitable for people on the move who want to have online access wherever they are.
  • It's convenient to use on the bus or train and in the park or coffee shop.
  • It's perfect for those technophobes who aren't on the best of terms with technology, as you just plug in the dongle and you're online.

Disadvantages of mobile broadband

  • You have to rely on a mobile signal which can be hit and miss in some areas.
  • You are likely to have a limited monthly download allowance.
  • It runs at a much slower speed than your standard fixed line broadband packages and is unsuitable for heavy use such as streaming TV or films.
  • It can be a lot less cost-effective if you are anything other than an extremely light user (a bit of surfing, sending a few emails, online banking etc).

4G offers a more genuine alternative to the landline, with speeds rivalling those you can get at home. However, the 4G range is still extremely limited, so most of us will be unable to get it. It is also very expensive, as there are only a handful of suppliers on the market at the moment, so there is limited competition to drive prices down.

Top tip before choosing a provider

Each mobile broadband company has masts located all over the UK, so it's important that whichever company you choose, you know that it is going to offer you a good reception in the areas where you would want to use it. Make sure to run a postcode check at your chosen provider's website to check the coverage where you live, where you go out and socialise and even on your daily commute into work.

What Next?

Compare broadband, phone & TV deals in your area

Looking for more information on mobile broadband? - Check out our Utilities guides

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.