Choosing the right mobile broadband

Life is fast paced, with seemingly no time to wait when it comes to the internet – your Facebook page just has to be updated with amusing pictures, and all your followers’ on Twitter need to know immediately that you’ve seen a cat who looks like Peter Andre.

Joking aside, having access to the net almost all the time is something a large proportion of the population is getting used to. For many business sectors, this is becoming a crucial part of working life, especially for people who travel a lot for their job – mobile broadband can make previously wasted journeys an opportunity to do some work.

Mobile broadband can be accessed via a Smartphone and on a laptop, using an external USB (dongle) or on-board modem. The internet is provided via the mobile phone network, so is not reliant on Wi-Fi service and should be available wherever you get a phone signal. All the big providers offer mobile broadband: O2, 3, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Virgin, with a range of deals to cater for different usage requirements.

To get this constant connectivity, you need to choose a provider and appropriate gadget, but where to start? Know your options before you take the plunge. Independent price comparison sites, such as broadband genie, are a great place to get impartial advice, with all tariffs and providers available in one place.

As a starting point, here are the basics to consider before you take the mobile broadband plunge:

Speed: Still in its infancy, mobile broadband connection speeds are nothing like fixed-line – up to 50Mb at home, compared with just 7.2 for internet access on the move.

The speed quoted is only an estimate, as this can never be an exact science – your access will be affected by how busy the network is and how far you are from the nearest tower.

Check provider coverage in your area. Depending where you are in the country, some mobile networks will be better than others.

Contract type: Phones and increasingly free laptops are available with mobile broadband, with a monthly fee to cover your usage.

For just checking emails and viewing websites, you won’t need access to a huge amount of data, however if films are what you’re after then it’s worth looking for a contract that allows you to download greater amounts – this might seem expensive, but will be more cost-effective in the long run than exceeding the limits on a cheaper monthly payment plan. There can be penalties for over-use, so check the small print.

While many of the contracts include free technology, in some cases you will be tied in for long periods of time, up to 24 months. If you don’t want to pay a contract, pay as you go options are available and maybe a better choice for light usage.

Broadband on the move can be a wonderful thing, just choose wisely and make sure you’re getting the best possible deal to suit your needs.

About the author: Jessica Lowe writes on behalf of, the independent comparison website for broadband and mobile broadband.

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