walker on mountain using a laptop

What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband uses a portable device like a dongle to get you online almost anywhere via 3G and 4G networks.

You can use mobile broadband in the same way you would use internet at home, but with the added bonus of not needing any cables or landline connections. As long as you’re in an area that has coverage, you can get online easily when you’re on the move.

How does mobile broadband work?

Mobile broadband connections use 3G and 4G mobile networks, but without the calls/texts part of that technology, to deliver broadband services across the air. This has the distinct advantage against what are generally called “fixed line” services in that they’re truly mobile; as long as you have your connection device, whether that’s a dongle, Wi-Fi hotspot device or even a smartphone acting as a hotspot, you should generally be able to connect to a mobile broadband network for data access on the go.

If you’re always on the move, because of work or just because you get itchy feet, mobile broadband could be a game changer. Having a mobile broadband connection allows you to use your laptop or tablet online on a train, in a car, at the top of a mountain… anywhere you can get signal basically!

If you live in an area which fibre cables haven’t reached yet, but which gets great 4G signal, mobile broadband could improve your online experience. It may cost you more, however, and may have data caps, so it’s worth comparing the features of the tariffs available.

EE Mobile Broadband

EE Mobile Broadband

EE boasts 4G in more places than any other UK network. The stylish 4GEE WiFi from EE provides 4G+ speeds of up to 90 Mbps. Brilliant for enjoying vivid content on the move.

  • Wide range of data plans and contract lengths available
  • Connect up to ten devices
  • Set up your EE device for roaming abroad
  • 4G+ speeds of up to 90 Mbps

    How fast is Mobile broadband?

    The speed of mobile broadband is highly relative, because it’s both a shared spectrum – which means that your actual speed experience will depend a great deal on what others in the same mobile mast location radius are actually doing online as well – and one that’s dependent upon both the technology in the device you’re connecting to the network and the network itself.

    What’s the difference between 3G and 4G?

    The simple difference between 3G and 4G is that 4G is much faster. This allows you to load web pages almost immediately, and download speeds are up to 5 times quicker.

    In the context of mobile data, the ‘G‘ stands for ‘Generation’. ‘1G’ was used to describe the earliest mobile technologies. In the 1990s, 2G allowed mobiles to incorporate now standard features such as SMS Text Messaging (that’s ‘Short Message Service’ Messaging – which allowed people to send 160 characters to another device).

    3G technology revolutionised our phones, giving everyone high speed data in their pockets. People could suddenly access emails and surf the internet on the go.

    How can I compare mobile broadband plans?

    • Speed.
      If there are some particular places where you want to be able to use your mobile broadband connection, it’s worth checking out your preferred provider’s coverage there. Most providers have a coverage checker on their website, where you can enter a postcode. Bear in mind that speeds will fluctuate depending on usage levels though.
    • Data.
      It’s pretty rare for providers to offer data without restrictions on mobile broadband, but the allowance can be as good as 30GB. Use the handy tool below to get an idea of the data allowance you’re likely to need.
    • Number of devices.
      Consider whether you just want to connect one device – say, your iPad – or to have a mobile Wi-Fi network that perhaps all your family can connect to. If you’re leaning more towards the second of those, then bear in mind again that data limits will be a consideration.
    • Cost.
      As well as your monthly charge, be sure to check out rates for exceeding data limits.
    • Length of contract.
      Many tariffs are available on a “Pay-as-you-go” basis. Estimate how much data you’re likely to burn through and see if you’d be better off with a fixed monthly payment or a flexible fee.
    • Bundling discounts.
      Most mobile broadband services sit within the general mobile category of each provider. If you have multiple services with the same provider, check for discounts.

    How much data do I need?

    It’s a good idea to make sure that the deal you select gives you enough monthly data. Most providers charge over the odds for data usage beyond this agreed limit. The tool below is designed to give you a rough idea of the data allowance you should be looking for, based on your normal online activity.

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