Mobile Broadband Guide

Mobile broadband is a technology that lets you access the Internet on your laptop wherever you are able to get a mobile signal. This means that you can go out and about with your laptop and surf the web or check your emails completely wirelessly.

The wireless connection is made through a USB dongle also known as a USB modem or USB stick, a WiFi modem or a MiFi modem which connects to the mobile broadband providers 3G network thus enabling your broadband connection. Basically you are able to connect to the Internet in much the same way as you would using your home broadband modem, but with mobile broadband you use a small USB dongle (no larger than a cigarette lighter) which plugs into the USB port on your computer and gives you wireless broadband access on the move.

All of the major mobile phone networks offer mobile broadband products.

Mobile Broadband Providers in the UK:

3 mobile broadband
Vodafone mobile broadband
T-Mobile mobile broadband
O2 mobile broadband
Orange mobile broadband

Different Types of Mobile Broadband

As well as being able to select your mobile broadband package based on provider, you also have the choice of whether to opt for one of the large selection of contract mobile broadband deals or choose from one of the many pay as you go (PAYG) mobile broadband deals on offer.

Contract Mobile Broadband

If you will need to connect to the Internet regularly, the best value deal would be a monthly mobile broadband contract which range from 30 day rolling contracts, to 12 months, 18 months and 24 month contracts. See a selection of mobile contracts for under £15 per month or pick from our best buy mobile broadband contract comparison table. With contract mobile broadband deals you will often get a USB mobile broadband dongle free of charge.

Pay As You Go (PAYG) Mobile Broadband

Pay as you go mobile broadband is an excellent option if you believe that you will be an occasional or light broadband user. By taking out a PAYG deal you won’t be tied into a monthly contract and you will have the flexibility of only paying for broadband access when you need it. With pay as you go deals you will have to buy the USB dongle outright which can range from £5 to £30+ but once the dongle has been bought, you simply need to pay for additional data access in the same way that you would pay for call time on a PAYG mobile phone. See our best buy PAYG mobile broadband comparison table for the very best deals on the market at the moment.

How Mobile Broadband Works

Mobile broadband works through the use of HSDPA and HSUPA which are the underlying protocols behind 3G services. A USB dongle or modem which contains a mobile broadband network SIM card within is plugged into your laptop and the two combine to find the mobile broadband signal wirelessly on the 3G network and provide you with web access. Theoretically, providers claim that their networks are capable of download speeds of 7.2Mb but this is a very best case scenario, with many users seeing significantly slower speeds than that. Higher speeds are generally found in large cities (particularly London).