How fast is wireless mobile broadband?

At Compare Broadband, we get this question a lot. The problem is it can be difficult to answer. There are a number of factors which can affect the speed of your mobile broadband service.

If you are after a consistent super fast speed, you may be better to have a look at the ADSL plans.

Coverage

Your coverage will depend on where you are using the service, as well as which provider you sign up with. Different providers use different networks, so you’ll need to confirm you have sufficient coverage in your area.

Many providers including iPrimus, Optus, Virgin, Dodo and iiNet use the Optus network to provide a mobile broadband service. 3 Mobile and Vodafone each have their own 3G networks, while Telstra uses its own Next G network. The Next G network has the widest coverage and offers the fastest speed. However, you’ll be paying a premium price for the premium service.

Below are the theoretical maximum speeds offered by each of the main providers, but remember these are theoretical maximum speeds only, and it is unlikely that your service will ever reach the maximum, even in metropolitan areas.

Telstra’s Next G network – Telstra Bigpond advertises speeds between 550kbps-8mbps.

The Optus dual band mobile network – With the Optus premium modem (E1762), the theoretical maximum speed is 7.2mbps, however customers can expect speeds between 512kbps and 3mbps.

Vodafone
Vodafone speeds vary from 300kbps-3mbps. In regional areas, customers can expect speeds from 300kbps-1.5mbps.

Again, you may not reach the specified minimum speeds noted above due to a number of other factors which are mentioned below. Your coverage will also depend on how far away you are from your selected network’s mobile tower.

General internet traffic

The number of people in your area who are using the same mobile tower as you will also affect your mobile broadband speed. You may notice your mobile broadband speed decrease significantly during specific times. This will often occur from about 5pm-9pm on weekdays and during the weekends. Unfortunately it is often the case that the time you regularly access the internet is the same time that other people do too.

Where you use your mobile broadband service

The buildings which surround you may interfere with your mobile broadband signal, and therefore they may slow down your speed.

Your USB modem


There are a number of different USB mobile broadband modems which are available on the market. The general rule of thumb is, the more you pay for it, the faster speeds it will be capable of. If your computer connects to the USB modem through a Wi-Fi signal (these modems are usually used to connect more than one computer at a time), then this will affect your speed as well.