To provide access to the internet, mobile broadband makes use of similar technology as the one found in mobile phones. 4G mobile broadband is the current standard from the former 3G network. 4G is designed to be much faster and can provide internet access to laptops, smartphones, and other personal mobile devices.
If you are thinking of picking up a mobile broadband dongle soon, then read on first and learn about its pros and cons.
- Mobility. This is the selling point of mobile broadband connection. You can use it to get access to the internet as long as you have 3G or 4G reception. The stronger the reception, the better your browsing experience.
- Plug and play. Just plug your USB modem or dongle into your laptop, and the software you need to connect to the internet is installed automatically. There’s no need to go through any tedious installation process while talking to a technical support representative on the phone.
- Convenient. There’s no clunky Ethernet cabling involved. You only tote a small USB modem, plug it to your laptop, and get internet connection.
- No landline bills. If you only keep your landline to maintain a high-speed internet connection, then you can cancel your landline subscription and save money.
- Pay as you go. You have the option to prepay or to sign up for a mobile broadband subscription package. If you only need to go online occasionally, then a prepaid option can save you money.
- Coverage. If you live in a remote area, you may not get reception to your provider’s 3G or 4G network. That’s why it is wise to sign up with a major ISP for your mobile broadband access. A major ISP has more infrastructures in place to cover a wider area.
- Usage limit. To prevent the network from being overwhelmed, your mobile broadband plan comes with a capped data usage. Thus, you need to learn ways to conserve your bandwidth to avoid getting charged for exceeding your download limit. Install a free program (like BitMeter, NET Traffic Meter, or TrafficStatistic) to monitor your data usage. Then enable the pop-up blocker, uninstall unneeded plugins, and tweak some of the settings in your browser. You need to research on ways to save bandwidth by changing the settings of your browser.
- High price. Compared with conventional residential high-speed internet packages, mobile broadband services can be quite expensive.
- Speed and performance issues. Mobile broadband is not suitable for heavy downloading, streaming HD movies, and online gaming. Mobile broadband speeds average around 1 Mbps, while the average speed offered in residential broadband services is at 3 Mbps. The connection speeds in mobile data can also fluctuate throughout the day, depending on your location and the number of people connecting to the network at a given time.
- Locked dongle. Your mobile broadband dongle is locked to only one operator, so if you plan to switch to another provider, you need to buy a new USB modem.
The author of this article K Ong often does a broadband speed test to see how it is performing.