Mobile Broadband Plans

Mobile broadband, also known as wireless broadband or 3G, is a broadband connection over the mobile phone towers. This type of broadband can be taken anywhere there is a signal, and is not restricted to one place like ADSL or cable broadband. Mobile broadband is different to a home Wi-Fi connection, which is a wireless network in the home.

Mobile broadband is suitable for light users who need to take their internet connection outside the home, or for customers who cannot access ADSL2+, ADSL1, or cable broadband. Mobile broadband plans range from less than 1GB to around 16GB a month. Heavy users should consider using a fixed-line connection such as ADSL2+ for most of their downloading, keeping their mobile broadband plan for light browsing when out and about.

As mobile broadband relies on the mobile phone towers instead of a fixed line for a connection, speed can be an issue for users. Mobile broadband providers cannot give users an estimation of the speed they can expect because there are so many variables. Speeds of around 1,500kbps would be considered good for mobile broadband, however, speed will vary throughout the day and depending on your location. For this reason downloading video or making calls over VoIP can be frustrating on a mobile broadband connection. Mobile broadband is best suited to light browsing, such as checking email, using online banking, or reading an online newspaper.

When shopping around for a mobile broadband plan, call a provider to check the service is good in your area before signing up. Each provider has a coverage map showing signal strength across Australia. Factors that may affect signal strength include hills, trees and buildings. Mobile broadband is also affected by congestion and may become slower at certain times of the day. You will need to decide whether you want a pre-paid or contract plan. Pre-paid is ideal for temporary use, but for longer-term a month-to-month plan offers better value.

Mobile broadband users require a modem and a SIM card to access their connection. Most mobile broadband providers offer a USB modem with a SIM already installed, also known as a dongle, which can be connected to a computer via a USB port. Some devices, such as an iPad, have a built in modem and all you need is the SIM card (or in the case of an iPad, a microSIM).