How to improve your mobile broadband speed

  • Why mobile broadband speeds can be slow
  • What you can do to make your speed faster
  • How to find a better broadband plan

Below we have provided some quick tips on how to get the most out of your mobile wireless broadband speed. If you have an ADSL connection, refer to this article on improving ADSL broadband speeds.

As we’ve mentioned previously, mobile broadband speed can be affected by a number of factors. However, there may be some steps you can take to get a little extra speed out of your USB device.

Change your network provider

Some networks can provide faster speeds than others. Also, you may be an area which will have better coverage with one provider than with another provider. Before you sign up to a long term plan, it’s best to speak to each provider and ensure you have sufficient coverage in your area. If your coverage is flaky, your speed will be too.

For a general summary, see our article on each of the mobile broadband provider speeds. As can be expected, Telstra’s Next G network is usually much faster than other networks; however you will be paying a higher cost each month.

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Upgrade your hardware

The modem your mobile broadband provider handed you 16 months ago may not be the fastest USB modem available now. Even if you don’t need the fastest, purchasing a new premium USB dongle isn’t terribly expensive, so sometimes it’s worth doing the upgrade. The modem you purchase should specify what maximum speed it is capable of. If you are using a wireless modem (i.e if the USB stick is plugged in to another PC and you’re connecting to it through a Wi-Fi signal), you’ll receive a faster speed if you plug the modem directly into your computer.

Move!

Physical structures which surround you can interfere with your mobile broadband signal. If it’s not entirely impractical (or impossible) for you, you could try moving to an elevated and open space. You may find the speed improve when you are situated outside rather than behind solid walls.

Boost your signal

You can purchase an antenna for your USB dongle which could help to improve your signal and boost your speed. They are available for about $50 each and you can purchase them either through mobile broadband providers or computer stores.

Avoid peak hour traffic

If you access the internet at 5am on a Sunday, you’ll probably notice it’s faster than if you were using it at 7pm on a Monday. There are other people using the same mobile network tower as you, and the more congestion there is the slower everybody’s speed will become. Unfortunately it’s not always convenient to use the internet at 5am on a Sunday, but you get the point.

Only run web applications you need

Your speed will be slower when there are more web applications running on your desktop. Some web applications run in the background, and may start automatically when you switch on your laptop or PC, so you might not even know they’re running!

Check the settings of these web applications (Windows updates, email programs, Skype, other webpages...) and make sure they don’t start automatically. These settings will also help to keep your download usage to a minimum.

Cook your dongle

Not literally. But rumour has it that if you place your USB dongle in a saucepan, you can get a better signal. This may not be a practical option when you’re on the train or in a cafe, but it’s worth a try at home.

Upgrade to ADSL

If you try these steps and you’re still frustrated by a slow mobile broadband speed, it may be time to move on. If you have ADSL or cable broadband available in your area, it may not be as expensive as you might think – it may even save you money, particularly if you’re a medium-heavy downloader. You’ll be rewarded with more reliable speeds at a cheaper cost per gigabyte.

Search the fastest ADSL2+ and cable broadband plans

You can also call Compare Broadband to find out what is available in your area on 1300 106 571.