Have you been looking for tips to help you select the right mobile broadband device for you? Do you need to get connected to mobile broadband at home or on the go? Then this guide is for you.
There are now a multitude of options for those looking to get internet access with 3G and the one you choose has consequences in terms of price and ease as well as the for the eventual speed of your connection.
Using Simple SIM For 3G Connection
The first option is simple: if your device is a 3G enabled mobile phone, smartphone, tablet or netbook then you can probably just stick in a SIM and get going.
A SIM card has the lowest upfront cost of any of these ways to get online – it’s usually free, in fact – and ongoing costs tend to be low too, particularly if you get data as part of a contract.
Whether you go for PAYG or pay monthly it’s also one of the most efficient ways to get online since there’s no device to fiddle about with. SIM is no good if you want to connect multiple devices all at once, though. For that, see the MiFi section below.
The other downside is that larger, older computers and laptops tend not to be 3G-enabled. However, if you have a mobile phone that is, tethering means you can connect them remotely by SIM (see last section) or, particularly if you want to use more data, there’s always a USB device.
Is USB Good For 3G Connectivity?
USB modems are the traditional way to connect a computer to 3G mobile broadband.
The downside is that there is usually a small upfront fee for the device but the upside is that this (and connecting via MiFi, below) is the cheapest way to get online with a fairly large data allowance.
Allowances tend to go up to 15GB a month, as much as many home broadband connections, while SIM contracts usually only offer a few GB, rarely more than 3.
Is An External 3G Modem [MiFi] Good Enough?
A MiFi device or external 3G modem as it’s sometimes called does one job: it picks up 3G signal and converts it to a WiFi signal. That means, just like using a wireless router at home, MiFi users can connect multiple devices all at once.
But there are two problems:
The first is that mobile wireless broadband offer a fairly slow connection and converting that signal into an even more inefficient signal makes it slower still.
The second is that there’s a much higher cost for MiFi than with any other way to get online using mobile broadband. If you go PAYG expect to pay at least three times what you would for a USB and when signing up for a contract bear in mind that the price of the ‘free’ device is built into the monthly cost.
Tethering Your iPhone 3G As a Wireless Modem
Finally, here’s another sneaky way to connect a few devices.You might already have heard ways to tether your iPhone 3G to your laptop or tips to use your iPhone 3G as a wireless modem. Using a 3G-enabled mobile phone to connect a computer to mobile broadband via WiFi or USB is known as tethering. However, note that some mobile carriers have rules against tethering so check before you connect.