Mobile Broadband

What is Mobile Broadband?

The word “Mobile Broadband” itself explains that it’s a broadband connection with greater mobility. It’s an integration of the mobile phone technology in a broadband connection. It uses a USB modem which connects to a mobile network and provides internet access at a speed equivalent to a broadband connection. It’s completely wireless and does not require any external power source. It can be used anywhere within the coverage of the network provider. It is capable of accessing different networks and uses different technologies based on the speed required by the user. It is expected to dominate the future broadband market where instant access from anywhere to the internet with speeds up to 100Mbps would become essential.

How Mobile Broadband works?

“Broadband allows data to travel in a wider bandwidth which provides increase in speed and reliability.”

“Mobile Phone can access the nearest mobile tower and helps us to make or receive calls.”

The above mentioned statements explain the working of a broadband connection and mobile phone respectively. Now let’s integrate these two ideas, where a broadband connection can be accessed using any nearest mobile tower without a cables or wire. For achieving this, we use a USB dongle otherwise known as mobile broadband modem.

This modem looks similar to a USB flash drive or a card reader which can be connected to the USB port of a computer. It does not require any external power source; instead it gets power from the computer itself. It has a slot to insert a SIM card from the respective broadband provider. Once the connection is activated, the modem will be able to access the nearest mobile tower using the SIM card.

Connection to the internet is managed by pre-loaded software available in the modem. Data travels from the modem to the nearest mobile tower wirelessly. This transmission can happen in different modes. Modes are nothing but the path in which the data can travel. Some of the technologies include 2G, 2.5G, 3G and 4G. All these technologies vary with their maximum offered speed limit and the security involved. 2G and 2.5G are considered to be older technologies that offer a speed less than 1Mbps. Most of the rural areas still use these modes. 3G is the latest technology that is being implemented by every internet service provider in UK, which can offer a speed of up to 14.4Mbps. Almost all the urban areas in UK have been upgraded to 3G service. 4G is a technology that is supposed to be launched in the future and the expected maximum speed of the connection would be more than 100Mbps.

How to setup a Mobile Broadband?

Setting up a Mobile Broadband is very simple!

  1. Insert the SIM card of the network provider in the mobile broadband dongle.
  2. Plug in the mobile broadband modem in to the USB port of the computer.
  3. A blinking light will be indicated after the computer is turned on.
  4. The solid light glowing on the modem indicates the identification of the mobile signal.
  5. The modem will then install the connection software automatically in the computer.
  6. The software will indicate the signal strength of the network and the different modes available.
  7. A 3G connection should be available in most of the areas, but if it’s unavailable then users can choose a different mode. But remember choosing a different mode will provide a slower speed.
  8. The connection should be activated for the first time which can be done using the instruction manual.
  9. Once activated, the user can start accessing the internet.

Mobile Broadband Modems

Mobile Broadband or a 3G broadband can be accessed in many ways. The requirement is very simple, a user mode device, a modem and SIM card. Every provider offer this service in different styles and packages to serve the use of different customers.

1. Mobile Broadband USB modem:
It looks similar to a USB flash drive and fits to any USB 2.0 port. Mostly used in laptops and notebook computers.

2. Mobile Broadband USB Dongle:
It looks like an external modem, some what bigger than the USB modem. Mostly used as a modem for home use and is connected using a USB cable.

3. Mobile Broadband Data cards:
This type of cards are available only with certain providers. These cards will work only with laptops that have the provision of inserting a data card.

4. Mi-Fi router:
This is one of the futuristic design and multi purpose modem that can act as a wifi router providing wireless access to multiple computers at the same time. Mi-Fi modem can also be used as a card reader and at present it is offered only by 3 mobiles.

5. Laptops with Mobile Broadband built in:
Mobile Broadband modems are also offered as a built in feature with some of the branded laptops. This will be more helpful for frequent travellers.

Types of Mobile Broadband

Mobile Broadband is available in two types. It can be subscriber either as Pay Monthly contract or a PAYG service.

  1. In a monthly contract customers can subscribe from 12 to 24 months contract and get the mobile broadband dongle for free. Instead they pay a regular monthly bill.
  2. In a PAYG service customers have to pay for the mobile broadband dongle initially and then top up to access the internet.

Advantages of Mobile Broadband

  1. Mobile Broadband is one of the updated and recent technologies used in the broadband market.
  2. The modem is very compact, does not require many wires or any external power source.
  3. It offers more mobility by providing access to the internet on the go using a laptop.
  4. Its available both as pay monthly and PAYG service.
  5. It does not require any installation or expert assistance.
  6. It provides more online privacy and security.
  7. Even though it has not yet offered the speed of a cable broadband, it seems to be the best value for money.

Disadvantages of Mobile Broadband

There isn’t any disadvantage in using a mobile broadband. It’s a growing technology which is almost in the end of the development phase. Mobile Broadband has raised the hopes of users in areas where they do not receive a cable broadband or any other source of internet. Since mobile networks are accessible in almost all the parts of the country, mobile broadband has not been an issue. Almost 90% of the country receives a guaranteed service, while the remaining 10% is worked out by different providers.

Of course there are a few concerns raised by the users like the coverage and the speed of the connection. But those issues can be resolved by understanding few basic concepts.

It’s a known fact that wireless signals are vulnerable to physical barriers like trees, thick walls etc. Even we have these issues with mobile phones. Network coverage is the distance traveled by a certain signal or frequency. 3G coverage is offered to almost 90% of UK. The speed and signal strength rely upon the coverage of a network but cannot be guaranteed based on them. There are few factors that can be avoided to receive a better signal.

Tips to increase mobile broadband speed and signal strength

  1. Subscribe for a mobile broadband provider who offers a better coverage in your area.
  2. Decide the plan based on the number of users or computers that will access the internet at a time.
  3. The mobile broadband dongle works like a radio antenna which can work better in a more transparent location. The thicker the walls of the room are; the less will be the signal strength.
  4. The mobile broadband device used in upstairs and open space work better.
  5. Using a USB extension cable (available with every mobile broadband kit) to connect the USB modem can improve signal strength.
  6. Wireless routers that can absorb better signals can be used in areas or houses that have very weak signals.

Future of Mobile Broadband

Mobile Broadband is at the completion of its development cycle. It’s definitely a needed innovation of the broadband sector. Not just UK almost all the countries in Europe and rest of the world are in the expansion of the mobile broadband coverage. The implementation of the 4G technology will create a revolution in the access of the internet. Mobile broadband with 4G enabled devices can access the web at a speed that we cannot imagine and will be offered from any part of the country. This exists in some of the countries like Japan and South Korea for years. The government of UK and the broadband providers are in a race with the rest of the world and has invested in millions to meet the demands of this technology. This would be one of the key factor in increasing the availability of broadband to all parts of UK without any exception.