What is Mobile Broadband?

By Emma Lewis, bOnline

The vast majority of us already have broadband at home, and mobile broadband works in a similar way. However, instead of the internet being transmitted via cables as it is at home, mobile broadband sends data through 4G or 5G mobile networks instead.

These mobile signals are turned into a unique Wi-Fi network that you then connect your other devices from. It’s a bit different to the mobile data you use on your smartphone, because your phone doesn’t automatically allow you to get mobile broadband.


Can I Just Use My Mobile Phone As A Hotspot?


You could, and this is certainly one way to get on the internet, for example so you can use a laptop when you’re out and about. However, when you’re using your mobile phone as a hotspot, you’re actually sharing your phone’s data with that other device.

Therefore you’re likely to find that your phone’s data and battery are drained really quickly. Longer term, this will also not do your battery any favours as it may not hold its charge so well. So yes, using your hotspot can work in an emergency or as a very short term solution, but for regular, more intensive use, mobile broadband is likely to be far better.


What Are The Advantages Of Mobile Broadband?


Mobile broadband is great if you need to use the internet on a device that isn’t your phone, for example a laptop or tablet, while on the move. Think about those times you’ve really wanted to set up and work from a cafe or bar, only to find they don’t have WIFI.

Even the places that do can be unreliable or take ages to get you logged in. Or perhaps you want to head out in your caravan or motorhome and need internet access to work remotely, or the kids want to access the internet on their tablets in the car. Mobile broadband is ideal for all of these scenarios as all you need to get connected to the internet is a 4G or 5G signal.


I’ve Already Got A Dongle – Is That The Same Thing As Mobile Broadband?


No, contrary to what many people think, a dongle and mobile broadband aren’t actually the same thing. A dongle is a small gadget that plugs into your computer or other electronic device, providing wireless internet access usually via cellular networks.

However, mobile broadband refers to the service itself, allowing you to connect to the internet on devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets etc. It works by using cellular networks to transmit data wirelessly. While a dongle can be used to access mobile broadband, mobile broadband as a general term is much wider.


How Do I Choose A Mobile Broadband Provider For My Small Business?


There are a few things to think about when it comes to choosing a mobile broadband provider for your small business. A good place to start is by looking at your geographical coverage area, data requirements, and your budget.

Research providers’ network speeds, reliability and customer service reputation through independent evaluations and online reviews. Make sure you also check out the contract terms, including contract length, plus data allowances, flexibility, and any perks or extra services offered. The pricing plans the provider is offering are important too, and check for any discounts for bundling services together. Lastly, prioritise providers that are giving scalable solutions as your business grows, and responsive technical support to fix any issues quickly that may arise.


Can I Get Unlimited Data With Mobile Broadband Plans?


As with your phone contract, mobile broadband plans are all different and tend to come with a range of data allowances rather than unlimited data. While some providers are likely to offer generous data allowances, they generally come with fair usage policies or speed restrictions once you’ve reached a certain threshold.

Having said that, there are some more niche providers or specific deals that advertise unlimited data, but these may come with caveats like reduced speeds when the network is congested, or at peak times. As always, check the small print of any plan you like the look of to make sure you’re getting all the data you need without any unpredicted surprises.


Is It Easy To Set Up Mobile Broadband?


You should find that setting up your mobile broadband device is pretty straightforward. Overall, while there may be some small differences depending on the provider and the specific device, it’s typically a user-friendly process.

Setting up mobile broadband usually involves inserting a SIM card provided by the broadband provider into your device. This might be a USB dongle, a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot or a built-in module in a laptop or tablet. Some providers will send you a router to plug into a normal electric wall socket instead, which already has the SIM card loaded.

You might need to activate your mobile broadband by following the instructions your provider gives you. This usually involves registering online or getting in touch with customer support.

Once it’s activated, you’ll generally need to configure the device’s settings, which might include selecting the appropriate network and entering any necessary APN (Access Point Name) settings. When these steps are complete, you should be able to connect to the internet using the mobile broadband device. 


What Are The Coverage Areas For Mobile Broadband Providers In The UK?


Mobile broadband providers typically offer coverage across urban centres and towns, but coverage is also rapidly expanding rurally. It’s facilitated by a network of cell towers and other related infrastructure.

Major cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester typically have comprehensive coverage, with high-speed connections supported by 4G and 5G networks. However, as you get further away from the big cities, coverage can be more patchy as some regions still rely on much slower 3G.

Providers tend to compete to expand coverage to more remote locations, giving them an edge in bridging the digital divide so more people can obtain faster internet access across the country. This is again why it’s well worth looking around not only for the best deals but the best coverage too, as it can vary.

Downtime can mean lost revenue after all, so it’s all about choosing the right mobile for you, especially when you run a small business.