Pros and cons of mobile broadband
If you don't want a fixed line internet connection or you can't get one, mobile broadband could be a great option for you.
Why would you get mobile broadband?
There are a few key reasons why you'd consider signing up for a mobile broadband connection.
- If you can't get a fixed line connection where you live, mobile broadband can be a great solution. Mobile broadband uses the mobile phone networks so there's no physical wires between your place and the internet to hold you back. As such, you don't have to deal with the hassle of an extended installation period.
- You're a student and you need broadband throughout the day.
- Mobile broadband is useful as a backup plan for when you have trouble with your home internet or during a blackout. Most mobile broadband modems are battery powered, so they'll keep on kicking even when the lights are out.
- It's a good option when you travel around Australia.
What's good about mobile broadband?
Mobile broadband doesn't require installation; your connection will be up and running the same day that your account is activated. If you move house, you don't need to do anything. You just take your modem to your new place, plug it in, and you're back online.
Since mobile broadband operates on the 4G networks, it's often faster than an ADSL2+ connection. In most cities, you should comfortably achieve speeds of 20Mbps to 50Mbps on 4G. By comparison, ADSL2+ connections max out at 24Mbps, but most of us get less than 10Mbps.
While you can buy a new USB dongle or a portable wireless hotspot, you can also just use your existing smartphone as a portable modem, cutting out the cost the extra cost. Most have hotspot features, allowing you to share your mobile data with your laptop or tablet.
What's not so good about mobile broadband?
Mobile broadband plans often have smaller data allowances compared with fixed-line internet. While you can get around 25GB of 4G data for $50, fixed line connections often include ten times as much for around the same price. As such, mobile broadband connections aren't ideal for data hungry users, especially if you're hoping to stream video through the likes of Netflix and Stan or download new release Xbox One or PlayStation 4 games.
That being said, Optus does have fixed home wireless plans with bigger data allowances, and there are more on the way. You do lose some flexibility though (the modem has to be plugged into a wall).
If you have trouble getting a mobile signal at home, mobile broadband isn't a great option either. Speed and reliability depend on the strength of your mobile signal.
In some cases, it's might be better to increase your phone's data allowance, and use it smartphone as a hotspot. However, this isn't ideal if more than one person is relying on your mobile broadband connection, and tethering is one of the more battery demanding tasks you can do on a smartphone.
Pocket Wi-Fi image from ShutterStock.