Mobile Broadband - take your Wi-Fi with you
What is mobile broadband?
A mobile broadband device lets you create your own personal internet connection – and access it on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. It works by sending and receiving data over mobile phone networks.
The main types are:
- Mi-Fi (Mobile Wi-Fi) – a small wireless device that creates a secure Wi-Fi hotspot. You can connect several gadgets to it at once
- USB dongle – plugs straight into your device’s USB port and allows you to access the internet on the go. A good choice for connecting your laptop
- SIM cards – buy a SIM only internet plan and insert it into your device’s SIM card slot. Ideal for tablets
Do I need 3G or 4G?
There are two main types of mobile broadband – 3G and 4G.
3G has been around for a while and is good for general internet use, like checking your emails or catching up on Facebook. 4G is much faster. It’s best for downloading music and apps, streaming videos or playing games online. The speed of your connection will depend on the device and the service where you are.
Will this cost a lot?
Buying a mobile broadband device shouldn’t be too expensive – but you do need to bear in mind you’ll also have to pay for the internet data you use.
This works in a similar way to mobile phones. You can choose from a variety of tariffs and payment plans, including pay-as-you-go and pay monthly options.
You may also find the mobile broadband device you choose comes pre-loaded with a set amount of data, so you only need to pay for any internet usage on top of this. There are also flexible pay monthly options, which operate on a monthly rolling basis. This gives you the data allowance of a contract without the long-term commitment.
What if I only want to connect one device?
If there's a USB port on the device you want to connect to the internet, it's worth looking at a USB dongle. These are ideal for just one device and are normally slightly cheaper than a full mobile wireless hub.
Some devices, such as tablets, allow you to insert SIM cards and have built-in 3G or 4G compatibility. In this case, you may be able to get a data-only SIM with a pay-as-you-go or pay monthly plan. This often works out as the cheapest option for this sort of device.
What if I want to connect lots of devices?
Mi-Fi devices allow you to create your own private wireless network when you're out and about.
A major advantage is that you can connect multiple devices to the same network. This varies by product, but it can be as many as 10. You can get 3G or 4G versions – although if you want to connect several devices 4G will be much faster.
What if I'm going abroad?
It's important to check with your mobile broadband service provider about using your device abroad. Many offer special rates and some don't charge extra for international usage. This will vary depending on service provider and your destination.
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