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Last updated: 10 February 2022
Do you need internet access for your laptop, but can’t find a wireless network nearby? Mobile broadband gives you wireless internet access by using a mobile phone network via 3G, 4G, and soon 5G. As long as you are in an area with mobile signal then mobile broadband can give you easy online access whilst you’re on-the-go or at home.
What is mobile internet?
Mobile broadband works by connecting your device to the internet through mobile data networks, using 3G, 4G, and 5G technology.
You can use mobile broadband whether you are at home or on-the-go. This gives you flexibility and can be useful for people who need constant internet access, wherever they are.
It may also be a good option for those who don’t want to get a long-term fixed line broadband deal or those that don’t want to pay for calls and texts as part of their mobile deal.
When you get a mobile broadband deal, you will be sent a mobile broadband SIM and there are a number of ways in which you can use it:
- Mobile Wi-Fi hotspots or Mi-Fi: If you want to access mobile broadband services on multiple devices you can get a Mi-Fi router which works just like a standard Wi-Fi router. You insert your mobile broadband SIM and it will disperse the signal throughout your home. Your mobile network carrier may also support Personal Hotspot which will allow you to create a Wi-Fi network directly from your mobile device.
- USB dongles: Your device may not have a slot for the mobile broadband SIM card, in which case you can opt for a dongle that will have a slot for the SIM. This then plugs into a USB port in your device and provides internet to that device.
- Inbuilt data SIMS: If you have a newer device then you may have a slot for your mobile broadband SIM. It works in the same way as a mobile phone SIM except it only provides you with internet data and doesn’t provide you with calls or texts.
How does mobile internet work?
Mobile broadband provides you with wireless internet access by running off the same signals that serve mobile phone networks.
It sends and receives information via the 3G and 4G, and now 5G, networks of the UK’s four largest mobile operators (O2, Vodafone, EE and Three).
It differs from regular broadband in a number of ways. The main difference is that the speed of your broadband will depend entirely upon your location as it is governed by the mobile coverage in that area.
If you are covered by a 4G network, then your mobile broadband speeds could be as fast or faster than regular Wi-Fi. However, they will be much slower if you are only covered by a 3G network.
Many parts of the UK now have access to 5G wireless connections, which offer much faster speeds than 4G.