When you get pay-as-you-go mobile broadband you need to look at how you set up the connection.  There are a number of things that can go wrong when you do this.  If the set up is done incorrectly then you will not be able to get online and you could have problems re-installing.  It is best to see what you need to do for the three different ways that you can use mobile broadband.

Pay-As-You-Go Mobile Broadband Dongle Set Up

The mobile dongle is a piece of equipment that you will receive no matter which provider you are using.  This dongle may be free with your contract or you may have had to pay for it.  Regardless of the method you used to get it, the steps for setting up the dongle are essentially the same - and easy as well.  The reason for this is that the device was created as a ‘plug in and go’ device.  The popularity of the dongle also means that it has to be consumer-friendly otherwise people will hesitate to get mobile broadband.

You may notice that your dongle does not come with an installation CD.  The reason for this is that the installation software is stored on the dongle itself.  Once you plug the dongle into your computer the set up wizard software should start automatically.  Of course, there is a step you have to take before you plug the dongle in to your computer.

You should have received a sim card with your dongle.  This sim card must be inserted into the dongle before you do anything else.  The way that the sim card is inserted will vary depending on the dongle.  Some devices have a slot on the side that you insert the sim card into.  Other devices have to be opened like a mobile phone and the sim card placed in the correct slot.  Once the sim card is securely in the dongle you can continue with the set up.

Once you plug your dongle in to your computer the installation wizard will start.  You generally do not have to do much while the wizard runs.  You will be asked to accept terms and conditions as well as set the location of the software download.  The rest of the set up runs automatically and could take several minutes.  You need to be patient with the installation and never take the dongle out of the USB port while the installation program is running. 

With pay-as-you-go mobile broadband you will be sent to your provider’s webpage to activate your account.  You may also have to top up your dongle at this point.

Built-in Broadband Modems

There are a number of laptops and computers that have built-in mobile broadband modems.  All these devices need is the sim card for the connection.  You will not have to get a dongle for these computers as the computer works as the dongle.

There are a number of computer manufacturers that have deals with mobile broadband providers.  What this means for you is that your computer may be locked to a certain mobile broadband provider.  You should check if this is the case before you get mobile broadband from any provider.  If you do not want to use the provider your computer is locked to you have two options:

  • You could use a dongle to connect to a different service provider.  This should work but there is the chance that your computer will not allow the connection.  You would have to look into this further from a technical perspective.
  • You could look into getting your computer unlocked.  This is something that may not be possible, depending on the computer you have and whether you are comfortable with the repercussions.  If you unlock your computer modem then you could be voiding your computer’s warranty, and if anything goes wrong with the device you will not be eligible for support.  This is something you have to seriously consider before you do this.

Once you have found out which providers you can use you should get a sim-card-only mobile broadband deal.  Once you have the sim card you should insert it into the sim card slot in your computer.  Your computer should start the set-up process for connection to the network automatically.  You may find that you have to install new software or update the software you have. 

If you are using a PAYG sim-card-only deal then you will be prompted to register your account and top up.

Mobile Broadband Routers

As more people are looking to use mobile broadband as a home broadband alternative, routers for this connection have become available.  You may be able to get one of these routers from your broadband provider but you may not always be able to.  This will depend solely on the provider you are using.  If you cannot get the router from the broadband provider there are a number of third-party manufacturers happy to do business with you. 

There are a number of benefits when you get when you purchase a generic router.  The most important is that it will not be locked to a single provider.  This is a problem you will have if you get the router directly from the broadband provider. 

To set up this connection you will have to have a router, broadband sim card and dongle.  You need to insert the sim card into the dongle.  There are not many mobile broadband routers that have a slot of the sim card on them.  The router invariably needs a dongle as the router itself does not have modem functionality.  This means that the router is purely a way of getting a wireless connection from your broadband. 

Once the dongle is set up you have to connect it to your computer.  You have to go through the dongle set-up process on the computer before you touch the router.  After you have completed the set-up for the dongle, you can then plug the dongle into the router.

The next steps are the setting up procedures for the router.  This is done in the same way as any wireless router.  Of course, you need to remember to set up a password for the router otherwise anyone can use your broadband connection without your knowledge – and you will end up paying for it.