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Mobile Broadband: Tablets, Dongles & Mobile Wi-Fi

Mobile broadband offers great flexibility when compared to other types of broadband, you can use it anywhere anytime depending on the quality of your connection.

In this guide we talk you through mobile broadband and offer advice on how to choose the package that’s right for you.

What it is

Despite what many may think mobile broadband doesn’t mean accessing the interent via mobile phone, instead it is the ability to connect to the interent using a device such as a tablet, laptop smartphone or notebook using mobile signals. Not all of these devices have a mobile ready connection built in so they require a USB dongle which plugs into your computer. These are available from all the major mobile broadband providers and will work anywhere you can pick up a mobile signal.

Advantages

There are several advantages to mobile broadband, they include:

Price: Prices for mobile broadband packages start from less than £10 a month for 3G, and although it will cost you more for 4G it will still be cheaper than standard home broadband.

Convenience: You can surf the interent anywhere you want provided you can pick up a mobile broadband signal, whether that’s on the train ride home from work or sat in the park.

Less Hassle: Many devices are mobile broadband ready so won’t require the purchase of a dongle, and even if you do need a dongle it’s a portable modem that doesn’t need to be plugged into a power source.

Disadvantages:

Like all forms of broadband; mobile broadband does have its downsides, some include:

Speed: While the gap between the speeds offered by mobile broadband and home broadband is closing; mobile broadband still has some way to go catch up.

Download allowance: This is arguably the biggest drawback of mobile broadband. There are very few providers offering unlimited mobile broadband packages so for the most part there will be big restrictions on how much you can download and charges for breaching the limits. Standard broadband packages tend to come with 1-5GB of allowance.

Access: Although mobile broadband offers the potential of connecting to the interent anytime anywhere, it is dependent on the signal you can get. The strength and stability of the signal also determines the quality of your connection. This can be a particular problem if you’re using the internet on the move (e.g. on the train); you could be moving between areas with varying signal strength and find you’re access interrupted at anytime.

Using mobile broadband abroad

Some mobile broadband deals prevent the user from accessing the interent aboard (typically those on pay as you go deals), but if there aren’t any restrictions you can use mobile broadband in any country your providers has an agreement with. However using mobile broadband abroad can be very expensive so you should always check the costs with your provider before hand, otherwise you could get back home a find a thousand pound bill waiting for you.

Providers

Naturally it’s the big names in the mobile phone market who offer the best mobile broadband deals (EE, Three, O2, Vodafone etc.). Choosing the best deal for you will be dependent on how you plan to use mobile broadband and you’ll need to decide on what speed you’ll need, how much data you think you’ll need, price per month and length of contract. To best do this a visit to a comparison website is advised. However, visit more than one as these sites don’t always list all the latest offers so you could be missing out.

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