Mobile wireless broadband works through mobile phone towers, and generally is accessed via a small USB modem with a SIM card inside.
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Working much like a mobile phone does, this type of broadband has nothing to do with your landline telephone line like ADSL broadband.
However, you cannot assume you’ll have good mobile wireless broadband coverage in your area just because the same provider’s mobile phone works well there. Mobile phones and mobile wireless broadband work on different frequencies.
Telstra or Optus generally own the majority of mobile phone towers in Australia. However, Three Mobile has its own towers in major metropolitan cities, while Vodafone has its own network in regional locations.
Optus Mobile Phone Tower Coverage
The majority of Australian mobile wireless broadband providers rent the Optus towers, so if you are interested in plans from Optus, Exetel, Virgin, iiNet, iPrimus, Dodo, Westnet, Vodafone (in metro areas), or numerous other providers, your first port of call will be to see if you have good Optus coverage in the locations you intend on using the service.
Call Optus on 1300 137 897, and don’t forget to enquire about their plans as you never know when they will have special deals. Optus are renowned for having cheap plans for light users. If you do have good Optus coverage, you will then have access to all the various providers who use their towers.
However, you should always be aware there could be ‘black spots’ where the service still doesn’t work, because of geographical formations impeding the signal. Mobile Wireless broadband connections can also have ‘drop outs’, like a sudden disconnection on your mobile phone, and for these reasons you should always consider going for ADSL broadband via your telephone landline.
Virgin Mobile Wireless (1300 106 571) has very good deals for heavy internet users, while iPrimus (1300 137 794) has plans with no excess data charges, simply slowing down your broadband speed when you reach your monthly limit. Both of these providers use the Optus mobile phone towers to offer their service.
Vodafone Mobile Phone Tower Coverage
Vodafone uses Optus mobile phone towers in major cities, but uses its own network in regional locations. If you are outside a metropolitan area, call Vodafone (1300 250 177) to see if it has mobile wireless broadband coverage in your area.
Three’s Mobile Phone Tower Coverage
Three Mobile uses its own mobile towers in major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, the Gold Coast, Wollongong, Geelong and Frankston. However, if you leave these Three 3G-covered locations, your service will be diverted to roam on Telstra’s NextG network, which can be expensive, especially in the case of internet data. If you do decide to go with Three Mobile, make sure you know the exact boundaries of where you will be covered by its own towers.
Telstra Mobile Phone Tower Coverage
If you don’t have mobile wireless coverage from Optus, Vodafone, or Three Mobile, your best bet will be to try Telstra/Bigpond. Telstra’s NextG network is Australia’s largest and fastest, covering more area than any other provider. Telstra pretty much has a monopoly over its phone towers (except for the partnership deal with Three Mobile). As the level of coverage and speed is quite high, Bigpond generally charges more for its services.
If ADSL and other mobile wireless broadband services aren’t available in your location, Bigpond Mobile Wireless will be your best bet. Otherwise, you’ll have to consider satellite broadband with someone like Westnet (1300 768 134).