Mobile broadband is the communication of internet data between devices and the mobile telecoms network. This uses low frequency parts of the radio spectrum, and is therefore able to work almost anywhere. Normally, consumers will access the technology through their smartphones, through tablets, or through a mobile dongle. There are new devices coming all the time, it used to be the case that the PCMCIA card was used a lot, but these are now rare.

Mobile services cover a wide range of frequency bands. It tends to be the case that lower frequencies operate with a larger the range outdoors than higher end of the spectrum.

The speeds of mobile broadband

Currently, speeds vary between around 384 kilobytes per second all the way up to 14 megabytes per second and more. In the future LTE will enable 100 megabyte per second plus connections in the best conditions and locations. 

The communications standards and speeds:


* Basic GSM (2G) – 14.4Kbps

* GPRS (2G) - 48Kbps

* EDGE (2G) - 236Kbps

* UMTS (3G / IMT-2000) - 384Kbps

* HSPA (3G / IMT-2000) - 14.4Mbps

* HSPA+ (3G / IMT-2000) - 84Mbps

*WiMAX 802.16e (3G / IMT-2000) - 128Mbps Download

* LTE (3G / IMT-2000) - 100Mbps Download

* WiMAX2 802.16m (4G / IMT-Advanced) - 1Gbps

* LTE-Advanced (4G / IMT-Advanced) - 1Gbps Download

G = Generation of mobile technology (e.g. 2nd Gen = 2G).


The reality of mobile connectivity

Most connections are between 1 and 2 megabytes per second on mobile broadband. This can mean high latency times and slow speeds cause problems with multiplayer gaming, video chat, and streaming movies.

Movie and online TV

Providers normally say you need 2 or 3 megabytes per second to have a seamless performance. Sometimes, you require a contract to get the best services, but often you are able to jump on pay-as-you-go and not get tied into a contract on mobile broadband. By getting a contract of 18 or 24 months, you are often able to get a free laptop or tablet, as well as affordable data.

Advantages of mobile broadband

The hardware and services are relatively cheap for mobile broadband, and you can get excellent usage allowances. The coverage around the UK is particularly good, and so mobile broadband enables you to roam around with internet. Mobile broadband in London will be extremely fast, because the operators will have plenty of coverage in most places you go in the capital.

Disadvantages of mobile broadband

The upload speeds are not fantastic and sometimes downloads can be unreliable depending on where you are. There is the tendency for slow or even unstable latency which can cause problems with VOIP and gaming. Indeed, some mobile broadband operators even block people from using VoIP services. It is not uncommon to find connections disconnected especially when moving around, and this can be very frustrating.


Overall, mobile broadband is excellent technology and is developing faster and faster. When 100 megabyte per second broadband gets here through LTE technology, and is widely available, it will be a massive boost for smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices, and many people will find themselves wondering why they need to get a fixed broadband line at all.

It seems with fiber optic cables and mobile broadband development, the future of broadband is unlimited.