4G connectivity is rolling around the UK. So far, it has hit Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between T-Mobile and Orange. However, O2, Vodafone and 3 Mobile will soon be rolling out their 4G connections and bring superfast broadband to the mobile world.
How fast is 4G ?
4G connectivity has theoretical top speeds of around 100Mbps. In the future, this may be even faster. With the speeds on offer, the connectivity is comparable to fibre optic broadband. So far, we've only seen the network rolled out by Everything Everywhere and we seem to be getting average speeds of around 8 to 12 Mbps. This is comparable with the average connection speed in the UK and is plenty for streaming, video chat, and most of the other activities that we could want to do.
Data allowances on mobile broadband tend to top out at around 20GB per month. This is about half the heavy packages that you see on ADSL and fibre optic broadband and much less than the top packages which are truly unlimited. You won't see a truly unlimited mobile broadband contract yet although we may see it in the future.
The cost of a mobile broadband contract will vary from provider to provider and again you should consider the fact that it’s only Everything Everywhere that currently offers 4G connectivity. This limited choice and limited competition surely is keeping the prices up for now and we may well see decreases in the future.
On our smartphones, a £71 contract on Samsung Galaxy S4 with unlimited minutes and unlimited calls comes with about 20GB of data. As time goes by, this price will come down and you can actually get better offerings on the mobile broadband-only offerings.
Devices for Mobile Broadband
The devices for mobile broadband are becoming better as well. Nowadays, we can get Wi-Fi hotspots so that we can connect multiple devices to the same internet connection. This provides the opportunity for more homes to use the connection but also for work groups or for people out on the go to be able to get online and do what they need to do.
When we compared broadband in the past, it was not possible to factor in mobile broadband as a home broadband solution, but with the new speeds and new technology it is becoming increasingly possible.
Better Inside Connectivity
A new part of the spectrum for 4G enables better inside connectivity. Indeed, there are different parts of the spectrum that are tailored for connections that are inside and those that are outside. There shouldn’t be the situation where people are sat on the window ledge anymore looking for the best connection as we should be able to get better connections anywhere in our homes.
The Coverage of Mobile Broadband
3G connectivity has reached around 99% of the UK population through the various providers. Everything Everywhere has around 97% coverage. With 4G rolling you should expect to see similar coverage rates for the different mobile operators and this will make it comparable with ADSL broadband in terms of the availability of connections.
With mobile broadband, it’s possible to get far more flexibility of contracts than you can on ADSL and fibre optic broadband. When you compare broadband deals, this may be an important factor. If you’re out of the country a lot, you may not want to commit to a 24month contract and have to pay monthly for a service that you’re not using. Mobile broadband enables you to pay monthly in advance, pay-as-you-go or pay a fixed term contract.
If you are looking for a deal where you can jump in and jump out then mobile broadband is probably the way forward. There are some ADSL and fibre optic broadband packages that are supposed to be rolling monthly but with many of these, you have to stay with the contract for a set period of time or pay additional fees such as installation or router costs.
It’s important to make sure that you compare broadband like for like and mobile broadband truly is the most flexible option out there at the moment.
Their Data Costs
As we've seen the data cost on mobile broadband is much more expensive than on most of the fixed line providers. It’s perhaps only satellite broadband that can compare in cost. Indeed, it’s important to ensure that you are getting a package that fits your budget as well as your usage requirements. If you are a heavy consumer, you probably won’t want to be going for mobile broadband as it will cost an awful lot every month to service your requirements.
It’s well worth using a broadband usage calculator in order to assess the amount of data that you need to see whether broadband is a viable option. These calculators will ask you to put in the number of hours you do certain activities and the number of times you do others in order to get a guesstimate of the amount of data you will consume in gigabytes monthly. Once you have this assessment, you’ll be in a better position to judge whether mobile broadband is a viable solution for your home and your lifestyle.
When you're comparing broadband, make sure that you go on to a coverage checker on mobile broadband websites to ensure that you can get a decent level of service. On most mobile operator websites, you can do a postcode search and have a look at a hit map of where you can get decent 2G, 3G, and 4G connectivity. It’s probably the case that if you can’t get decent 4G connectivity, you should not be going for mobile broadband, however, if you are very light consumer and can deal with a connection of 0.5Mbps then 3G may well suffice.