What is mobile broadband?
What are the benefits of mobile
What is 4G mobile broadband?
How can I get 4G mobile broadband?
Will 4G signals interfere with
What are the alternatives to 4G?
What happens to 3G mobile broadband?
List of UK 3G mobile broadband providers
What is Mi-Fi?
Can I use mobile broadband abroad?
Mobile broadband roaming charges by
How to avoid being overcharged for using
mobile broadband abroad?
What is mobile broadband?
Mobile broadband is a high speed internet connection that runs
through a mobile phone network, like EE or Three (3). It doesn't
require a landline, and can be accessed anywhere you have mobile
signal, so it's very convenient for getting online while out and
There are several ways to access mobile broadband services from
your chosen network:
- You can take out a mobile data plan that includes a data
allowance, or unlimited data. This will give you access to mobile
broadband on one enabled device with a SIM card in it, for example
a smartphone, or a 3G-capable tablet. Ask your mobile provider what
allowance, if any, is included with your current package
- You can opt for t a mobile data plan that includes
tethering. If you ask to have 'tethering' included
with your mobile data plan, you can split your mobile broadband
connection between many internet-enabled devices, for instance, you
can use your smartphone's 3G data connection to allow your laptop
to go online.
Did you know?
By splitting the connection you reduce your speeds, so this option
isn't recommended for anything other than viewing emails, checking
Facebook or browsing websites.
- You can also get a mobile broadband "dongle"This little device
comes pre-loaded with a set data allowance, that you can either top
up as required on a Pay As You Go basis, or use with a monthly
service agreement provided by your network - your data allowance
will reset every month. The dongle plugs into your laptop or PC via
a USB port, and you manage your connection via an application on
your desktop. This option only allows you to connect one device to
the internet, as opposed to several via the tethering option above.
However, as you access your mobile broadband subscription through a
"dongle" that you plug into the USB port of your laptop, it means
that you can keep the dongle with you and plug it into any laptop
or PC that may be handy at the time - so it is not tied to one
The benefits of a mobile broadband
- If you do not have a landline at home (and installing one
may cost up to £125 from BT), then mobile broadband could be
a good starting point. Mobile broadband does not
require a landline as it works via the mobile telephony 3G and 4G
- As mobile broadband is accessed via a 3G or 4G mobile network,
it also offers broadband access on the move. You will be able to
connect your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, wherever you can get a
3G or 4G internet signal - at home, or on the road.
- Mobile broadband can be very good value - from as little
as a few pounds per month with no landline rental cost.
- If you are considering the move to a mobile broadband package,
please be aware that mobile broadband packages offer slower speeds
(than the faster home broadband alternatives) and much reduced
usage limits (average monthly usage is at around 3GB cap), so if
you or your family are looking to streaming a lot of songs or
videos (e.g. BBC iPlayer) then a mobile broadband connection is
definitely not the best alternative for you. If you do go over your
usage limit on your mobile broadband service, expect a heavy bill
What is 4G?
4G is the latest version of mobile broadband, giving you faster
internet speeds on your smartphone or tablet than standard 3G or 2G
connections. It differs from the last generation, 3G, because it is
based on a newer transmission technology and spectrum band, which
gives you access to higher peak download speeds and a bigger data
capacity. This basically means 4G allows you to do more on the
internet on your smartphone, without as many annoying lags or
breaks in service.
What does 4G technology have to offer?
- 4G offers download speeds of up to 1Gbps but don't be mislead
by the "up to" as it could fall short. Speeds have reached
a peak of around 25Mbps on Verizon's 700MHz spectrum band network
in the US, with average speeds being around half that figure in
- Upload rates of over 60Mbps
- Reduced latency (the time it takes for data to travel from one
device to another) to 10m/s round-trip time between user equipment
and the base station and to less than 100 m/s transition time from
inactive to active (technical terms for static and moving)
- It can be used whilst travelling in car and trains
- Allows simultaneous multimedia to be in use
How can I get 4G mobile broadband?
The 4G revolution is now in full force in the UK, as the 800MHz
and 2.6GHz bands have been auctioned off by Ofcom and EE already
provides a variety of monthly packages for subscribers, bundled
with some of the latest smartphones.
I've heard that 4G signal might interfere with
my digital TV signal, is this true?
LTE uses the 800MHz band, which results in interference with
other signals which use this spectrum. This can include power
lines, radio stations, microwaves and especially DTT (Digital
Terrestrial TV) services such as Freeview.
The UK Government acknowledged this issue and promised to solve
it by giving away money in the form of "vouchers" to roughly
900,000 UK homes which are likely to have their DTT services
affected by the interference. These vouchers will help customers
change DTV platforms or install specialised signal filters which
will put the end to the woes once and for all.
What are the alternatives to 4G?
If 4G is not available on your mobile network, you're half way
through your existing contract, or you're put off by the higher
monthly costs associated with 4G, there are plenty of alternatives.
Traditional 3G mobile broadband connections are fast enough for
basic browsing, YouTube video loading and Facebook checking. If
you're out and about within range of a free wireless network like
those provided for free to all UK consumers by The Cloud, you can
simply link up to a Wi-Fi hotspot. If you are not a Sky customer,
you will be able to use the service as much as you want, however at
some stations such as London Brigde the connection is limited to
only 15 minutes. If you're a Sky broadband customer, you get
unlimited access to The Cloud included with your package, so that
you can always connect to the web.
I want to switch to a home broadband deal that includes free,
Getting a home broadband deal that includes access to The Cloud
in almost every UK high street, may negate the need to upgrade your
mobile broadband connection to 4G.
Is 3G mobile broadband still good?
3G is still the most popular way to access mobile broadband in
the UK. 3G mobile broadband speeds reach up to 3.6Mbps on
The quality and speed of your mobile broadband service heavily
depends on your location in the UK. If you live in a major city
like London or Liverpool you could expect to see faster mobile
broadband speeds than if you lived in a rural area such as
Cornwall. Even if your mobile broadband dongle says it's the
fastest dongle in the UK it won't get you high speed mobile
broadband in a rural area.
3G mobile broadband coverage is dependent on what is effectively
a radio signal. And being a radio signal it can deteriorate if it
has to travel through trees, mountains and tall buildings. Weather
conditions can also play havoc with the signals. The better the
quality of the mobile broadband signal, the better the mobile
broadband internet service will be. With this in mind it really is
important to check mobile broadband coverage before you part with
your hard earned cash and sign up to a mobile broadband
The current 3G mobile broadband providers in the UK
Three (3) has one of the UK's biggest 3G mobile broadband
networks, covering over 90 per cent of the UK, with speeds of up to
Virgin Media's mobile broadband covers over 85 per cent of the
UK. Along with good UK mobile broadband coverage, Virgin Media
offers surprisingly cheap mobile broadband deals. It offers a
high-speed 3G network and its flexible mobile broadband packages
will suit all surfing needs.
EE (Everything Everywhere)
EE's 3G mobile broadband covers over 90 per cent of the UK.
Better mobile broadband coverage exists in urban areas which can
provide possible speeds of up to 7.2Mbps on 3G. The supplier also
provides 4G mobile broadband which can give you access to superfast
speeds when on the go.
O2 mobile broadband currently covers over 80 per cent of the UK.
The O2 mobile broadband network gives its customers access to over
7,500 hotspots in the UK. O2 hotspots are areas such as The Cloud
and BT Openzone where you can browse the web in major airports,
train stations and even in McDonalds. These Wi-Fi-hotspots give you
access to the O2 mobile broadband network, your O2 dongle will
choose the best service available in the area you are in. The O2
mobile broadband dongle will make use of either GPRS, 3G or HSDPA
technology to get the best possible mobile broadband coverage.
Vodafone mobile broadband covers 80 per cent of the UK. Vodafone
offers the fastest mobile broadband service in the UK and if you're
in a major city like London you could get ultra-fast mobile
broadband speeds of up to 14.4Mbps, other areas could get equally
as ultra fast mobile broadband speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. Although
this will depend on your location and the quality of the mobile
What is Mi-Fi mobile internet?
Mi-Fi is a gadget which delivers wireless internet access while
you are out and about. The abbreviation stands for "my" or
"mobile" and "Wi-Fi". It is after all, your own tiny
wireless broadband hub which can be shared with friends and family
on the go.
How does Mi-Fi work?
Do not be fooled by its small size, it is actually a powerful
device. Inside it, there is a compact wireless router which is in
fact a Wi-Fi hotspot.
It then connects to a cellular data network which in turn gives
you access to Wi-Fi devices that are situated within a 10 metre
radius. What the device does is it creates a local relatively fast
Is Mi-Fi a gadget for me?
If you have a number of devices that you want to connect at the
same time, then Mi-Fi could just be the device for you.
It is worth noting that Mi-Fi is currently well established in
the US, the UK however still has some work to do for the trend to
This option can be good for those who dislike to constantly
recharge their mobile devices as Mi-Fi relies on a so-called
Why should I consider getting Mi-Fi?
- It's very quick to set up. No confusing cables to untangle
- No need to pay line rental - an instant saving of just under
£15 a month
- PAYG (pay-as-you-go) users pay only for the data they use. This
means it's a very cost effective broadband solution
Why it may not be right for me?
- If you use the web a lot, you may face charges for going over
- Mi-Fi devices are costlier than dongles (mobile broadband)
Simplifydigital's top tip: Using
the device is only as safe as you make it. If you set up a
complicated password (make sure to use numbers, symbols as well as
lengthy words or even better - sentences), no one will be able to
access your Mi-Fi network.
Where can I get it from?
In the UK mobile operator and broadband provider Three (3) is
offering the device as a pay monthly option as well as on a pay as
you go (PAYG) basis.
The Three (3) Mi-Fi Pay As You Go Plan:
- If you don't like the traditional PAYG, opt for the 3GB pre
- With the pre-loaded plan you get a 3-month data allowance of
The Three (3) Mi-Fi Pay Monthly Plan:
- Choose between these: 1 month, 18 months and 24 months;
- Usage limits? Go as high or low as you need to: 1GB, 3GB and
- You can purchase the modem and thus pay minimum monthly bills
or pay monthly for both modem and the package until the contract
You can get Three's Mi-Fi service from here.
Should I get Mi-Fi?
If you are still unsure whether Mi-Fi is a gadget that you can
benefit from, why not ask one of our friendly experts? Simply call
us on 0808 256 6606 and we will help you find,
sign up or switch to a broadband service that's right for you!
Can I use mobile broadband abroad?
Many people love the flexibility and ease of their mobile
broadband connection and could not live without the ability to be
able to access the web on the move. And for those who don't
have a landline at home it is the natural choice. On the other
hand, families who really rely on their broadband connection to run
the household and give the kids access to the internet, may well
find that a mobile broadband connection is not robust enough and
does not offer the usage limits required.
In addition signal strength may be a real issue in home,
depending on where you live and the structure of the building that
you live in. So our advice would be that if you want a cheap,
flexible and very easy to use, low usage broadband connection -
choose a mobile broadband package, but if you want a "hard
working", higher usage connection that is likely to be used by all
the family - and you don't want the risk of poor signal strength,
then definitely choose a home broadband service.
How to use mobile broadband abroad
If you are jetting off to the vacation of your dreams and are
worried about the roaming charges you are likely to face - fear no
more. Simplifydigital aims to demystify everything connected to
using mobile broadband abroad.
Depending on what device you want to use your mobile broadband
on, you have a number of options available.
If you want to connect your laptop to the internet while you're
travelling, the best thing to do is to get a dongle/modem mobile
broadband deal which is available from a range of providers like
Three (3), O2, Virgin Media, T-Mobile, Orange and
If it's just your smartphone that you need to connect, have a
look at what's available for you from the table below.
Orange decided to launch an array of bundles so that customers
could select ones that applied to them most.
With Orange bundling is optional. Those with PAYG
(pay-as-you-go) will pay 59p per 1MB, those on contract will pay
69.6p per MB.
30 Day 30MB Bundle: £15
30 day 150 MB bundle: £50
30 day 500MB bundle: £150
Pay Monthly customers can opt in for the EuroTraveller add-on
which applies only to the Euro Zone.
The add-on costs £3 per day and will allow customers to take
their current allowances such as calls, texts and mobile broadband
abroad (excludes package extras).
Going over the limit while travelling with the add-on will
result in UK price plan charges. Receiving calls and texts is
Those who are not interested in the add-on will pay 28.8p a
minute to call, 8.9p to text and 69.6p per MB.
Three - The Euro Internet Pass
Available to all operators Pay Monthly Phone customers and comes
at £5 per day.
Although Three has not called it "unlimited", the
mobile operator suggested that customers "could go wild
online" up until midnight on that day. It also said that its
roaming service was not designed for streaming and should be
primarily used for browsing.
Meanwhile Three's PAYG customers will have to pay £1.28 per MB
within the EU.
O2 - O2 Travel Package
Both contract and PAYG customers can get the O2
Travel package which comes with 25MB of data per
Day for £1.99. Calling with contracts will include a one
off 50p per call and minutes will be taken off from allowances.
PAYG customers will call for 29p per minute and spend 8p to receive
T-Mobile (EE) - Travel Booster
With Travel Booster, customers are able to get 3MB of
data for £1 when travelling in the EU. Data lasts for 30
days or until it is used up. PAYG customers will see the money
deducted from their credit while contract customers should expect a
How can I make sure I don't get overcharged
when using my mobile broadband abroad?
If you're planning a long visit to another country, it's
worthwhile considering buying a short-term mobile broadband dongle
deal from a provider at your destination as it will most probably
offer cheaper prices, faster speeds and greater quality of
Whether you want to make your current mobile broadband service
work abroad or get a brand new deal, it will most probably not
allow you great freedom in terms of data allowance or price
When it comes to mobile broadband, it is likely you will be
charged on a per MB (megabyte) basis. This means you need to be
really careful when using your mobile broadband because you may
find that checking your e-mail and browsing a couple of pages every
day can eat up a large amount of data.
According to regulations placed by the EU commission in July
2010, internet providers must disconnect their customers from their
mobile broadband if they should reach the €50 (approx. £41) cap on
their internet allowance. Providers are also obliged to inform
their subscribers via text once they've used 80 per cent of their
Simplifydigital top tips on using mobile
When roaming, it is wise to download, stream or upload content
moderately. Resist from partaking in any data-hungry activity while
you're abroad because more often than not, you will end up paying
incredible sums for the small luxury. Just stick to checking your
e-mails and browsing web pages and you should be fine.