Buyers' guide: Fastest mobile broadband
If you spend a lot of time online at home, and already have a traditional broadband setup using either an ADSL landline or cable service, then you'll know what a benefit it can be having high speed mobile broadband.
Having a high speed connection to the internet allows you to do so much more with your online time, and now that a wealth of interactive content is available through this medium, it's becoming an increasingly important part of everyday life for all of us.
So with a regular home-based broadband package in place, you'll probably be thinking about mobile 3G broadband as the next logical step forward. The great thing about fast mobile broadband is that it takes the best bits of a traditional setup at home, but allows you to take it with you wherever you go.
What is the fastest mobile broadband?
Super fast mobile broadband therefore makes the perfect supplement to a home-based package, and there are now countless different deals and offers to choose from. In order to secure the fastest mobile broadband dongle for your needs, you’ll need to do the usual comparison of UK providers, including the likes of 3 Mobile, Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2 and Orange.
You’ll also want to take a look at high speed dongles, laptops and Wi-Fi options too as you compare prices and reviews inside the Broadband Genie site before you buy. Fast mobile broadband is available in a variety of different incarnations, although 3G internet is currently the fastest mobile broadband (UK - you can get 4G elsewhere).
You’ll find that there are plenty of cheap deals and offers for 3G broadband within the comparison tables that will allow you to use laptop internet as a quick and easy means of staying online while you’re out and about.
Remember though that wireless broadband and mobile internet can be subject to speed fluctuations for a variety of reasons, so even if you head past the cheapest deals and aim for an expensive option then even the fastest mobile broadband supply might suffer occasional hiccups.
Why high speed mobile broadband?
Without a doubt the biggest advantage with a high-speed mobile broadband package over that of a traditional landline or cable-based service is the convenience it offers. You'll instantly have the freedom to pack up and go wherever you like, while still being able to take the internet and your email services along for the ride.
Mobile broadband was initially thought of as a tool for professional people to stay connected to their work, but in the last few years it has become increasingly desirable for anyone who wants the convenience of being able to stay online while they’re away from home.
However, it’s probably best not to think of 3G internet as being the ideal replacement for your home-based broadband setup, but more of a supplement to it. If you’ve already got ADSL or cable in the home, then it’s a good idea to consider keeping it rather than ditching it in favour of mobile broadband.
We're not saying that high speed mobile broadband isn't any good, far from it in fact, but the thing to remember is that mobile broadband is still something of an evolving technology. Therefore, as good as it is, it's still in the process of being improved all the time.
You want fast mobile broadband?
We all want faster online services and in many ways this is happening across the board, from traditional landline-based broadband initially and now with mobile services too.
High speed mobile broadband works on the same principle as the way we use our mobile phones, so there are various networks throughout the country that are able to handle all of the mobile broadband data in much the same way as they do with mobile phone calls. These networks are being improved all the time, but as a result there can be a few issues that occasionally means mobile broadband services can be susceptible to supply fluctuations.
For example, if you can get a 3G signal, you can get fast mobile broadband - but if you slip into an area that only has 2G coverage, you can slow to a crawl. That said, you should still be able to surf the net, albeit slowly. Similarly, high speed mobile broadband is also affected by coverage in exactly the same way as mobile phones are. So take your fast mobile broadband computer with you to the middle of nowhere and you may find that you can’t access a signal for laptop internet.
Things are getting better, without doubt, but this can still be an issue, particularly for people who want to have online access but live outside the realms of the mobile networks. Help is at hand though and you can easily check an important factor like this by using the check coverage links found on the right-hand side of the page within our comparison tables like the one shown above.
Is fast mobile broadband really speedy?
Using broadband in the home or workplace can be a fantastic experience, because if you’re getting a decent connection rate then you'll find that working online is a breeze.
You can browse the web and send and receive emails at a rate of knots, while also using broadband services to access all manner of online entertainment. With movies, music and catch-up TV now a really big part of your online entertainment package, it's vital to have a decent and usable speed in order to enjoy these features.
Mobile broadband is a little bit different in that respect, with speeds far slower than the best fixed-line broadband has to offer. The mobile broadband networks aren’t always as comprehensive or bulletproof as the landline-based broadband services that we use at home or in the workplace. However, when it comes to speed of service you'll see that there are some exciting figures quoted in the comparison tables.
These tend to be supplied by the mobile providers themselves and while they do state that these are speeds that are 'up to' the specified levels, the reality of the situation is that it’s unlikely that you'll experience hitting the peaks.
That said, with the data allowances in place on mobile broadband deals, you probably won't want to be downloading large files and watching streaming TV, which are the kinds of uses that use that speed - 1Mb is fast enough for web browsing or email, no problem.
So where is the fastest mobile broadband?
When you’re considering which mobile wireless broadband package to go for then don’t spend too much time weighing up the pros and cons of the different speeds being quoted. In reality all of the networks providers do their best to offer a decent speed of service and are operating much the same technology.
No one area is better than another, as factors such as the current amount of users comes into play. Also, with technology and coverage improving all the time, a poor spot for fast mobile broadband today could be a great place for high speed mobile broadband tomorrow.
When will we be able to get 4G fast mobile broadband?
It's the million dollar question, but it's looking likely to be 2013 before we have 4G mobile broadband in the UK. Until then, the kind of fast dongle you see in the US and parts of Europe won't do you any good here - the fastest dongle will still only reach 3G speeds.
Compare high speed broadband
You should look at the bigger picture when comparing the mobile broadband deals above. Spend some time weighing up the facts and figures that relate to the whole deal, rather than getting preoccupied with speed of service or which is directly the cheapest.
For example, it’s a great idea to compare the other key points in relation to mobile broadband, and these include any pay now prices, any monthly fee involved along with any contract period and also download allowances.
If you’re a relatively lightweight user of online services, and really only surf the web sporadically and dip in and out of emails quite quickly then data allowances are likely not to bother you too much. More heavyweight users, meanwhile, will need to keep an eye on data allowances when they buy.
This is because there are limits imposed by high speed mobile broadband providers, no matter how fast the package that you've picked. You'll find that there are often incentives for signing up to a contract mobile broadband package, such as unlimited browsing and fair usage policies, but it is still possible to overstep the limits and have to pay an additional fee for extra data.
So be prepared to click through to the high speed mobile broadband providers' site and read up on what you get as part of the package. Some deals, like the basic pay-as-you-go mobile broadband packages that are available are less flexible than their contract-based cousins, although if you fall under the lightweight user category then PAYG can often be a really sensible route to take.
With the latter, you only pay for the time that you’re online, plus you’re not locked into any kind of contract either. It may not be the fastest mobile broadband package on the clock, but this is a cheap and cheerful option that can be worth its weight in gold to people who only need infrequent visits to their online interests.
Where to go for high speed mobile broadband
Look no farther than these very pages. You'll get an instant overview of what’s on offer from the comparison table above. Remember that our information gets updated all the time, so you'll see the very latest and best high-speed mobile broadband deals that are currently on offer.
Lookout for special offers because high speed mobile broadband providers are always coming up with new sales incentives, such as free 3G dongles, extra airtime or numerous other specials that you might not normally get. You can also read current 3G broadband customer reviews about their mobile internet service from different UK providers such as Vodafone, 3 Mobile, O2, T-Mobile and Orange.
Whatever fast mobile broadband option you pick, you'll certainly find that having online access whenever you travel across the country can revolutionise the way you use the internet and your email services.