Aug 20 2013

Is A MiFi Device And Mobile Broadband Right For Me?

When we’re looking at getting broadband, mobile broadband will often cross our minds.  However, we are often scared off by the previous experiences we’ve had with mobile broadband, perhaps the connections were not fast or they were intermittent or coverage was sparse.

If you haven’t jumped in to the mobile broadband arena for some years you may get a shock to find out how good the service can be.  In this article, we’ll look at the emergence of 4G connectivity, the usage profile of typical mobile broadband users, and help you understand whether you are a prime candidate to choose mobile broadband as your primary or secondary broadband connection.

The Emergence of 4G Connectivity

4G connectivity has vastly improved the performance capacity of mobile broadband.  3G connectivity runs at around 1.4Mbps and is still available to around 99% of the UK.  However, indoor performance on 3G is notably bad and the connections are not always that strong.  With the emergence of 4G we now have a connection speed that is ten times faster with speeds of 14.4Mbps.  Theoretically it is possible to achieve over 100Mbps on a mobile broadband connection through 4G,

The Long Term Evolution (LTE) of mobile broadband as 4G is termed is a massive leap forward in connectivity.  We have a different part of the spectrum that is available for indoor connections and therefore we’re going to expect indoor performance than ever before.  There’ll be no more need to perch on the window sill holding your computer at right angles trying to get connection on your dongle.

Everything Everywhere

Everything Everywhere are the only provider currently offering 4G connectivity but Vodafone, O2, and 3 Mobile have bought their portion of the spectrum through the 4G Ofcom auction and are therefore rolling out as we speak.  Everything Everywhere already had the capacity to deliver the technology and so they came to a bargain with Ofcom where they sold off a portion of their spectrum to 3 Mobile and were allowed to roll out their 4G service.  Many of the providers were quite unhappy with this because it does represent a distinct advantage for Everything Everywhere.

Everything Everywhere is the partnership between T-Mobile and Orange Mobile and as a combination the company is one of the biggest providers in the market place in the UK.

MiFi Devices Better than Dongles

To correspond with the emergence of 4G we’ve seen MiFi devices emerge as a main connectivity option on mobile broadband.  MiFi devices offer the opportunity for five consumers or five devices to jump on to the same internet connection simultaneously.  This makes the mobile broadband options today far more suitable for a home broadband connection.  Indeed, we can jump our smartphones, laptops, and tablets on the same mobile broadband connection and several users can use the same connection at the same time.

With the speeds available at around 8 to 12Mbps on average through Everything Everywhere, you have a service that is comparable to ADSL broadband but it is mobile and portable to be taken with you whenever you want it.

Usage Profiles of Mobile Broadband Users

Typically, the mobile broadband user will not be a heavy consumer of internet if they are using this type of connection as their main broadband option.  The allowances of data on mobile broadband tend to be fairly low with the top levels around 15 or 20GB per month.  This is classified as light or medium usage and if you’re downloading or streaming high definition movies, playing multiplayer games or even just working with standard definition movies, you will probably use this limit up within two weeks no matter four weeks.

It’s therefore important to understand your usage profile before you opt for mobile broadband and a good way to do so is to use a broadband usage calculator that you can find online.  Type in broadband usage calculator into Google and you will be taken to a number of services where you can pop the details of your average consumption per week and be provided with a guesstimate of the amount of data you would consume on a typical month.

Make sure that you get a package with a buffer so that you don’t use all of your data before the end of the month and end up having to buy an expensive add-on of data.  If you are a truly heavy consumer, then mobile broadband will only realistically be a secondary connection for you and you should have a fixed broadband package in the form of a decent ADSL connection or fibre optic broadband package.

People on the Move

Mobile broadband is an excellent option for those that are frequently on the go.  If you like to travel around the country for leisure or need to for business, a mobile broadband contract now provides an excellent opportunity to get online in hotels on your commute and also in your business meetings.

It really is an excellent option to take with you and a MiFi device is only about the size of a credit card and so is totally portable.  Even mobile broadband dongles only weigh around 30 or 50 grams and therefore are much lighter than a mobile phone.

Couples, Singles, and Small Families

A mobile broadband MiFi device is an ideal solution for couples, singles, and small families.  Indeed, if there are only one or two main consumers of broadband in the household, mobile broadband may well be the way forward.  You don’t have to pay for a landline and therefore save yourself £15 per month or so on landline rental.  This is a significant saving and reduces the frustration of having to pay for a landline when you don’t really use it for calls at all.

If you currently use your smartphone for your mobile broadband, then it may be time to start considering a mobile broadband solution such as a MiFi device or a dongle as an alternative, cheaper way to get online when you’re at home without having to restrict your access to the internet too much.

Sam Jones wanted to know more about MiFi.  His first port of call was sites like uSwitch where there was plenty of information.

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