Mobile Broadband – An Introduction

Does special broadband work nicely and how fast is it?

At its best, it really works very well, and may do almost everything that home broadband can, e.g. streaming videos from YouTube. However, to handle this you will have to be in a powerful 3G signal area for the company, and there must also be adequate network resources for the number of people trying to use the service. I use Vodafone Special broadband, as well as on a current trip to London’s Docklands found that special broadband worked well for general surfing and making up ground on e-mails. However, whilst you usually can get 3G coverage in large cities, if you are out in the countryside then often 3G won’t be available, whereby your special broadband service will revert to GPRS, and this is extremely slow, much slower than old dial-up and not much of a surfing experience.

Mobile broadband speeds quoted in advertising would be the maximum speeds theoretically possible. So, when you may hear speeds of seven.2 Mbps quoted, the industry similar speed to home broadband, the truth is that the actual maximum speed you will manage will be a lot lower, say around 2.5 Mbps, and typical speeds will be even less than that. If you decide to get special broadband then have realistic expectations about the speeds you will obtain. When in a 3G area it will usually be fast enough for general surfing and checking your e-mail, but more intensive tasks such as video streaming or VOIP may not always be possible. Special broadband also has a slower response time than fixed line broadband, which means that the ping (time taken for data to visit out of your computer, to the server, and to your pc) is longer. This is particularly noticeable for on the internet, which means playing demanding action-intensive games might not be feasible with your mobile broadband, although adventure games such as World of Warcraft would still be viable.

How Do You Get Special broadband on Your Laptop?

From a technical perspective, enabling your overall laptop for special broadband is comparatively easy when compared to installing home broadband. All the major UK providers, i.e. Vodafone, 3 Mobile, T-Mobile, O2, Orange and Virgin Mobile provide USB modem sticks in most cases it’s just a case of plugging within the USB stick to your laptop and the necessary connection software installs itself. Many of these USB modems are suitable for both PCs and Macs. Just like having a cell phone, the modem holds a Sim which identifies yourself on the mobile network. If you are in the market for a new laptop, then you can now buy new laptops with integrated special broadband. Dell is leading the way for the manufacturers, having partnered with Vodafone.

Providing you have been in a 3G area then mobile broadband often provides the easiest way of obtaining a fast web connection because unlike home broadband you don’t have to hold back until you have a fixed phone line installed after which wait again for that line to be activated for broadband.

How can you decide on a mobile broadband provider?

Firstly, find out if the provider has won any industry awards. For instance, Vodafone was voted Best Wireless ISP in the UK in the 2008 ISPAs, an award voted on by industry peers. Secondly, check expected signal coverage in your area by using the special broadband coverage maps offered at the providers’ websites. Thirdly, you will get an indication of 3G signal strength on up to date mobile phone handsets, so check on yours or your friends’ to obtain an idea of signal strength in the region you will be using special broadband probably the most. Lastly, ask around your pals in the area for his or her experiences because some special broadband networks can be subject to capacity problems, and therefore your connection can be unsatisfactory through so many people attempting to use inadequate network resources even though the signal strength is good.

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