If you're considering ditching your landline and going mobile, don't be disheartened if you aren't yet in range of 4G. 3G can often achieve better speeds than a traditional landline connection in a rural area and this article will help you find the best mobile broadband provider for you.
Switching to Mobile Broadband
There are many reasons why people opt for mobile broadband. It may be that they don't have a land line phone or, they may suffer from the dreaded rural broadband 'non spot' disease. If this sounds familiar stop and think before you make the switch to mobile broadband. Don't just base your decision on the cheapest package. If your mobile broadband is going to mainly be used at home, check which mobile phone masts are nearest to your property. It's not as relevant if you live in a busy built up city centre as the chances are all of the phone operators will have wide coverage, but in the more rural areas it can make a huge difference.
No matter which company you talk to, they will probably tell you that you will receive a good signal. But, picking the provider that has a phone mast nearest to you is likely to give you the advantage - and a faster broadband speed! If you have a few mobile phone masts situated near you that doesn't necessarily mean they will all offer the same broadband speed as not all mobile phone masts offer the same service.
Search for mobile phone transmitters
By entering your postcode into the postcode search box on the Ofcom database below, you will be able to see which masts are in your area. If you have more than one mast near your property, you need to click on the blue pins to find out more information. Look for a mast that offers UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) Transmission type, rather that GSM (Global system for Mobile). The second key thing to consider is the 'Transmitter Power' - basically, the higher the better!
Once you've decided on a provider, you'll need to invest in a mobile broadband dongle or MiFi. For those of you that are new to this technology, a dongle is a USB stick that you plug into your machine and it can only be used by one device at a time. Although dongles tend to be cheaper, they are restricted to use with USB sockets - so not suitable for iPads, tablets or phones! MiFi is a gadget, roughly the size of a mobile phone that creates it's own WiFi network, so multiple users can log on simultaneously. It's network is accessible to any device capable of picking up a WiFi signal. The fact that it isn't tethered to your machine means that you can position it where the signal is strongest. There is even the option of purchasing an external aerial with some models! If you're looking to future proof your purchase, it's worth investing in a device that is capable of receiving 4G - even if it costs a little more.
Recommended Mifi - Huawei E5776
At the time of writing this article our Editor's choice of MiFi is the Huawei E5776 which offers both 3G & 4G with a top download speed of 150Mb, this little pocket sized gadget can also support up to 10 users online simultaneously. It can also accept an external antenna to maximise your signal strength. Online prices start from around £90 - £150