Best Mobile Broadband
Welcome to Best Mobile Broadband UK. This site aims to be the definitive guide to mobile broadband in the UK.
Update! 4G mobile broadband is now available from EE, O2 and Vodafone.
All things considered, our opinion is that Three currently offers the best mobile broadband service. Three is very competitive on price, and is usually the cheapest mobile broadband option. This has made it extremely popular, and the network has a large number of satisfied customers. In turn this can mean certain areas experience congestion issues, so the best thing to do is try it, and make sure you quickly return it if it doesn't work well in your area. Whilst Three seems to get a large proportion of poor user reviews on this site, reviews tend to be written by those who received a poor service, i.e. the satisfied majority tends not to write reviews.
The graphics below provide quick links to all the major UK mobile broadband providers:
Table Last Updated 19 Sep 2012.
Update! Mobile WiFi Hotspots offer great convenience and are now available from three of the mobile broadband networks.
On this site you can compare mobile broadband deals, read mobile broadband reviews, find a mobile broadband FAQ and mobile broadband coverage checkers. We hope you find the site useful in selecting your new mobile broadband provider.
Compare Mobile Broadband Providers
Want a Free Netbook with your Mobile Broadband?
Netbooks for our summary of the free netbook deals available
with mobile broadband contracts.
How good is mobile broadband? The short answer is that it depends where you're using it (see coverage checkers). In a good location for a given provider, then mobile broadband performance can be good, with typical speeds ranging from 1 to 2.5Mbps. Note that the speed of 7.2Mbps often quoted is a theoretical maximum, and real world speeds are much lower. If you are used to a fast home broadband connection at 8Mbps, you will find mobile broadband noticeably slower and more "laggy". The lag-time in loading pages is likely to be related to issues with the radio signal quality, e.g. temporary interference or temporary network overload.
It's still the case that in many areas you won't be able to get a particularly fast mobile broadband connection, and in some cases you may not be able to get a usable service at all. As a radio technology, there can be great differences depending on location and provider. For good mobile broadband performance, you need to have both good 3G signal reception and network service availability (i.e. there is high bandwidth availability and there aren't too many people using inadequate network resources). Hence mobile broadband speed is highly dependent on where you are using it. You can see whether you are in a 3G signal area by checking the providers' mobile broadband coverage maps or look to see how many reception bars you get on a 3G phone. To find out what network service availability is like locally, the only way is to ask around. If there are simply too many people trying to use the service locally, then mobile broadband speed can still be poor despite reception being good. Indeed, with the success of smartphones such as the iPhone, the 3G data networks are coming under increasing load, so network congestion may become a problem in bigger cities where users have previously benefitted from being in 3G signal areas. The mobile networks will need to keep investing in network capacity to bring users the fast mobile broadband service they desire.
At its best, in a strong 3G signal area, mobile broadband works like a dream. We use Vodafone Mobile Broadband ourselves, and in good signal areas we've had no problem streaming YouTube videos or using Skype. However, if you are out of a 3G area for a given provider, mobile broadband reverts back to the GPRS standard and is slower than dial-up, and it can't really be described as broadband at all. What is for sure is that mobile broadband coverage and performance should continue to improve. We have given our current view of the mobile broadband networks on a separate page. The mobile networks all made major investments in 3G technology and are continuing to invest. 4G mobile broadband (Long Term Evolution) is set to launch in late 2013, and that brings the prospect of significant increases in speed, performance and coverage.
If you want to get mobile broadband, then we suggest reading the mobile broadband reviews available on this site, and asking anyone you know who is already using mobile broadband in your area, so you can get the best mobile broadband coverage available. Most
of the UK mobile broadband providers offer a trial period
within the contract so you can see how well mobile broadband works in your signal area before deciding to continue.
In areas of good signal quality the speed of mobile
broadband can be a viable alternative to home broadband. 3G Mobile Broadband is pretty good in most of the UK's major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. However, in much of the countryside it is still rare to be able to connect via 3G, so the mobile internet connection is much slower, and the UK is still a long way from total mobile broadband coverage at decent broadband speed.
The cost of a mobile broadband contract has now come down to compare favourably with home
broadband too. In some cases the cheapest option is now mobile
broadband. Add to that the really easy set-up, high convenience factor of being able to
use the internet whenever you are in a mobile broadband coverage area, and not having to wait for your broadband
line to be switched when you move house etc, and you can see why many
are predicting that in a few years time, mobile broadband will be the dominant broadband platform.
We hope you find the site useful, and if you are already
using mobile broadband then please help others by adding your own review
of the mobile broadband provider. For detailed information, see our mobile
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Mobile WiFi Hotspots