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By: Omblaoom Chelu
Introduction to special broadband

Mobile broadband is an overall term for services where you can access the web from a portable device, like a Laptop Computer. This is as in opposition to 'fixed line' broadband, which is the regular broadband delivered using a cable in your house or office: it's easiest to think of it similarly to a mobile phone versus your landline. You can get a high-speed Web connection from any location, anytime, so long as you are within range of the network. Access is by a dedicated modem stick (or 'dongle') that connects to your computer's USB ports, or via a specialised mobile phone.

Special broadband services typically aren't quite as fast as fixed line broadband, but they are catching up rapidly: the maximum speeds on many fixed line services are around 8 Throughput (Mbps), whereas most mobile ones remain 2Mbps to 3Mbps (that is plenty for many needs, see below) - although some providers now offer up to 7Mbps services. What this means is that, long-term, special broadband can offer a far more flexible Online sites, without necessarily inside your speed.

Who are main providers?

As with cell phones, providers vary by territory. In almost all areas, mobile broadband provision comes from the main cell phone providers: for instance, in the united kingdom, mobile broadband is provided by Vodafone, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Three. All of these companies operate internationally, as do others for example AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

Kinds of package

Mobile broadband packages could be broadly split into two categories: pay monthly or 'pay while you go', similarly to cell phones. 'Pay monthly' packages charge a fixed fee each month, in return for a fixed download limit (e.g. 5GB- see below). This can be a cheaper option knowing roughly how much you want to use your service every month. Alternatively, if you are merely a light user, or is only going to require the service at certain times of the season, pay as you go services permit you to buy a 'block' of usage in one go (e.g. 1GB) without having to commit to a fee every month.

Broadband speed

Although special broadband is typically slower than that offered by conventional landline broadband, services are not usually offered below 1Mbps, as well as on average is going to be around 2Mbps to 3Mbps, meaning, for example, it should take just a few seconds to download an MP3 track. Unlike fixed line services, mobile broadband operators do not usually offer different speed options inside their service. Therefore, if speed is important for you, it's important to look into the provider's quoted top download times.

Download limit

Special broadband has followed the popularity of fixed line broadband towards imposing a download limit on users. If you are on the monthly package, which means that any usage outside of your monthly limit will incur an additional fee. Payg users can also be susceptible to a download limit, because you will usually purchase your usage in 'blocks' of at least 1GB. Any more usage above this is then charged at a slightly higher rate, but is only charged per MB (1GB = 1024MB). What's promising about this is the fact that, should you choose go over your download limit, you won't also have to spend for any whole extra 'block' of usage.

Contract details

Payg offers the simplest option for people who don't want to be restricted: you simply invest in your usage prior to using it, and don't pay again until it expires. Pay monthly packages usually incorporate a contract of the fixed term, typically 12, 18 or 24 months. This means that you're contractually obliged to maintain the service for that period of time, whether you use it or otherwise: if you close your account, the network is entitled to request any fees remaining for the rest of the contact period. The advantage of pay monthly contracts is that they generally offer less expensive Internet access than payg, if you are intending to utilize it anymore than occasionally. In addition, as long as you stay within your download limit, you'll always know how much you'll be paying for your online access.

Selecting a provider

Consider what your likely download usage is going to be, how frequently you will need access, and just how fast you will need your downloads to be. If you are choosing mobile broadband for business use, it is advisable to check whether a provider includes a special rate for business users or multiple purchases. It is also important to consider network availability: it may be worth paying slightly more to use a provider that has good coverage in your area.

One more thing to bear in mind is set up costs. In exchange for committing you to definitely a contract, many providers will give you a free modem stick/dongle with pay monthly packages. Pay monthly packages, however, usually require you to purchase the modem yourself before you are able to utilize the service. A good way to compare pay monthly with payg is to calculate the total cost of the service over the time that you will need it. It might even be cheaper to select an 'expensive' package which has a higher download limit than you'll need whether it includes a free modem or free set-up. Your existing computer may be special broadband enabled, meaning you will not even need a modem stick/dongle. Better still, many providers now provide a free laptop on their more costly packages. This can often exercise less expensive than buying one separately, and offers an easy way of effectively 'spreading the cost' from the computer.

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