Of all the types of broadband connections that are available to internet users, Mobile broadband is undoubtedly the most convenient. It may not be the most economical way to connect to the internet, but as far as convenience and ease of use is concerned, mobile broadband simply cannot be beat. This is one of the main reasons why mobile broadband is becoming increasingly popular in Australia.
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There are several ways in which consumers can connect to mobile broadband. Some of the more common methods of accessing broadband on the move are with the help of mobile broadband
dongles, internet data cards, Wi-Fi signals at hotspots, or with the help of a cell phone that doubles up as a mobile broadband modem. The focus of this article is mobile broadband dongle, which is one of the most popular methods of accessing mobile broadband.
About mobile broadband dongles
If you have ever had occasion to use, or perhaps seen someone using a USB stick to connect their laptop to the internet, you have already experienced what a mobile broadband dongle is. These USB sticks, or USB modems as they are commonly referred to, are also known as mobile dongles. A mobile dongle is typically provided by an internet service provider (ISP) to customers who wish to browse the internet when they are on the go. This small stick device basically functions as a portable modem and uses 3G mobile services in order to connect to the internet.
How do mobile broadband dongles work?
A mobile broadband dongle has to be connected to an internet capable device in order to work. These devices are typically a laptop or a computer. The mobile broadband dongle has to be plugged into the USB port, which is present on computers as well as laptops. Once it is plugged in, the dongle will search for the strongest mobile signal and connect to it in order to provide internet access.Mobile broadband dongles use the existing cell phone network to create a wireless connection
between your laptop and the internet. Hence, these dongles will only work in locations where a mobile signal exists. The speed and strength of the mobile internet connection will depend on the strength of the mobile signal in that particular location.
Advantages of mobile broadband dongles
The various advantages associated with mobile broadband dongles are:
- Free dongles: Consumers who opt for a contract based plan for mobile broadband have the benefit of a free mobile dongle to connect to the internet. However, these contracts usually have to be more than a year in duration. For shorter term contracts, consumers may have to pay an upfront fee or a monthly rental for the mobile dongle.
- Convenience: The biggest advantage of mobile broadband dongles is the huge convenience that they provide. Regardless of where you are and what time you want to browse the web, mobile broadband dongles make it possible. In fact, these dongles can also be used when travelling overseas, thereby allowing travellers and business users to stay connected to their home base 24/7.
- Aesthetics: The design and size of a typical mobile broadband dongle has improved over the years and these are now available with very pleasing and aesthetic looks.
- No charging: Since a mobile broadband dongle has to be plugged into your laptop or computer in order to work, it uses the battery or power source of these devices. Hence, the dongle itself never has to be charged, which means you will never be stuck without access to mobile broadband simply because you forgot to charge your mobile dongle.
Disadvantages of mobile broadband dongles
Some of the disadvantages associated with a mobile broadband dongle are:
- Coverage: Mobile broadband dongles will not work in an area that does not have mobile phone reception. Hence, if you have any blackout spots in your house or in your apartment building where your mobile phone never works, the dongles will not be usable in such areas either.
- Speeds: Although the speeds offered with mobile broadband dongles have increased over the past few years, the typical speeds are still quite slow. Therefore, consumers who are used to the extremely high speeds of their fixed line broadband connection may not be satisfied with the limited speed offered by mobile dongles.
- Network locking: Even though ISPs do allow their mobile dongles to be used when travelling overseas, the charges for such services are exorbitantly high. Also, most mobile broadband dongles are network locked. Hence, these USB sticks can only be used with the same ISP’s network that has provided the dongle to you. Therefore, if the matching network is not available where you are travelling (which may be a likelihood in foreign locations), then you will be unable to use your mobile dongles in such locations.
In spite of these disadvantages, mobile broadband dongles are extremely useful devices as they ensure that you never have to be without an internet connection at your disposal.