All You Need to Know About Mobile Broadband


Mobile broadband is designed to power internet connections in Wi-Fi-enabled devices anywhere, anytime  src

The use of mobile broadband continues to rise

High-speed internet connectivity has become widely available, thanks to mobile broadband. Mobile broadband is designed to help you tap into high-speed networks similar to those of fixed-line broadband, but without wires and complex installations.

With mobile broadband, you can easily access your social media accounts, check up your email, and binge-watch movies and shows on any internet-enabled device anytime, and in some cases, anywhere. It’s basically a plug-and-play set up that allows you to access the internet on any device with just a click of a few buttons. You can also use mobile broadband to backup your fixed-line broadband in your home or office, given its immense advantages.

These advantages come mostly as a result of the flexibility that mobile broadband offers. Not only is it a portable connectivity, it also allows you to easily switch between different carriers to take advantage of better data offers, or to go around temporary network outages on a particular network.

Read on to find out how mobile broadband works, and get a broader picture of how best you can use it.

The underlining mechanics of mobile broadband

Mobile broadband is a composition of hardware and software that manipulates radio waves and frequencies similar to those used by cell phones. While cell phones exchange packs of digital voice information with cell-phone radio towers, a mobile broadband exchanges packs of various forms of digital data ranging from web pages to e-mails, music files, and video files.

Mobile broadband is mainly supported by the two main cellular technologies: Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), which is mostly used in the U.S., and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), which is more popular in other parts of the worlds. Both systems differ mostly in the algorithms they deploy to share the same radio frequency between multiple users for different purposes.

Many mobile broadband providers use a packet-switching technology that divides the cellular network into two channels – one for voice packets and the other for data packets. The voice packet exchange is charged based on the amount of time spent per call, while the data packet exchange is charged by the amount of data downloaded (measured in bytes).

Advancements in packet-switching technology have led to the development of High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), 4G, and 5G. These developments not only allow cell phones to switch between receiving voice and data packets more quickly, but to also exchange data with cell phone towers at much greater speeds.

Types of mobile broadband

Types of mobile broadband devices. src

  • SIM-Only mobile broadband:
    This is the most commonly-used type of mobile brand. SIM-Only mobile broadband plans provide internet connectivity for smartphones through a SIM card. You can get SIM-only mobile broadband through contract and pre-paid deals. Contracted deals often come with advantages like greater data-to-dollar ratios.
  • Pocket WiFi mobile broadband:
    Pocket Wi-Fi devices distribute mobile broadband connectivity to multiple devices simultaneously. Some devices can connect as many as 10 different devices at a go. Most telcos offer separate plans for pocket Wi-Fi, and these plans are usually a 24-month contract deals. The data inclusions are usually much larger (from 50GB up to 500GB).
  • USB modem mobile broadband (Dongles):
    USB mode mobile broadband (dongles) is geared towards laptops, computers, and other USB-enabled devices. Unlike pocket Wi-Fi, USB mobile broadband can only power internet connections in one device per time. As such, USB modem plans are an intermediary between SIM-only and pocket Wi-Fi plans, and they’re mostly available on a contractual basis.
  • Fixed home wireless mobile broadband:
    This is the least-portable mobile broadband option. It needs to be plugged in a fixed spot (power outlet) at home at all times. However, it can connect as many devices simultaneously.

Final words – The difference between mobile broadband and fixed-line NBN

Both connectivity options function using cellular networks. Depending on the network provider, your mobile broadband or fixed line NBN connection can use either 3G, 4G, or 5G networks.

However, you’re more likely to get lower latency rates and higher download speeds with fixed-line NBN, especially because mobile broadband distributes connections to several users simultaneously through Wi-Fi.

On the other hand, fixed-line NBN doesn’t provide you with the flexibility and portability of mobile broadband which gives you the freedom to take your connection anywhere outside the home or office.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.