What is a Broadband Dongle?
A broadband dongle is a USB stick that you plug into your computer to give you mobile access to the Internet. The dongle contains a SIM card that gives you access to the 3G network that is currently covers over 90% of the UK.

How fast is 3G mobile broadband?
Mobile broadband speeds range from about 384kbps to about 7.2Mbps. 3G network operators are currently upgrading their base station in cities to use High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) which are sometime referred to at 3.5G and 3.75G respectively. HSDPA is technically possible of broadband speeds of up to 14.4Mbps.

How much does a Broadband Dongle cost?
The mobile broadband providers usually give the dongles away with each contract. However is you get a pay as you go mobile broadband deal you might be asked to pay between £30 and £60 for your dongle.

How much does it cost to surf the web using a broadband dongle?
There are plenty of mobile broadband deals out there at the moment. The price you pay usually depends on how long you sign a contract for and the amount of data you use. If you sign up for a 24 month contract you’ll be asked to pay less than for a 12 month contract. If you only want 1Gb of data usage a month you’ll pay less than if you want to download 15Gb of data every month.
How do I install a Broadband Dongle?
Installation is very simple. The dongles come with all the software they need to work already built into them so they are called Plug and Play devices. You just plug them into a spare USB port and in a matter of seconds you’ll connect to the Internet.

What is the coverage of 3G mobile Broadband in the UK?
The major 3G network operators claim to have 90% of the country covered by 3G signals. Coverage is much better and faster in cities and places like airports and train stations. However, if you live out in the sticks and can’t get fixed line broadband it’s worth checking to see if you can get mobile broadband. To check whether your chosen areas can get a decent 3G signal please use the links on our mobile broadband coverage checker page.

Can I use a Broadband Dongle at home?
Yes, in fact if you mainly use a mobile phone and only use your landline for Broadband access you might save a lot of money by using a mobile broadband dongle. To check whether your house can get a decent 3G signal please use the links on our mobile broadband coverage checker page.

Can I run a home wireless network using a broadband dongle?
You sure can. There and more and more devices coming onto the market that allow you to plug in your dongle and share the mobile broadband connection among multiple computers using WiFi.

Linksys 3G Boradband Wireless Router

T-Mobile Share Dock

3 Wireless Router

Draytek Wireless Router

What other options are there for mobile broadband?
Wifi: You need to be near a WiFi hotspot to use WiFi. WiFi hotspots can be found in places like airports and train stations and you might be asked to pay to use the WiFi network.
GPRS: Sometimes called 2G, most mobile phones can get a GPRS connection. The maximum speed of GPRS is 40kbps so it’s not really broadband.
3G phones: 3G phones like the iPhone use the same 3G SIMs that you’ll find in broadband dongles. Only certain websites will appear correctly on these devices properly though.
Pocket Surfer: The pocket surfer comes with a built in GPRS SIM card however it uses an ingenious technology to compress the web pages you look at to make them appear to download at broadband speeds. You cannot watch video on a Pocket Surfer – but it’s okay for general surfing, emailing and IMing.
Netbooks: Netbooks are small laptops, usually with solid state hard drives that are designed to be taken out and about. Some operators are now building these mini PCs with built in 3G SIM cards.

Can I use my mobile broadband dongle abroad?
Most broadband dongles will work in other countries. You’ll need to check with your operator to find out what countries your dongle will work in and how much will cost you to use mobile broadband abroad.
What is a usage cap?
When you sign up for mobile broadband your package will usually come with a capped amount of data that you can download. If you go above that data cap you’ll have to pay for any extra data downloaded. For example a mobile broadband package that comes with a 1Gb data usage cap will allow you to download 1 Gigabyte of data every month.

How much data is 1 Gigabyte?
1Gb of data is equivalent to :
10 hours of web surfing or
1000 sent emails or
5 four minute videos
32 four minute MP3 tracks

What computer specifications do I need to install a broadband dongle?
The first thing you’ll need is a free USB port. Then, most dongles will require your computer to have:
50MB hard disk space
Windows 2000, XP, Vista or and Mac OSX operating system

What is a netbook?
A netbook is a small laptop with a solid state hard drive (like an MP3 player has). Netbooks technically don’t have a lot of memory or storage space and are designed to do one thing really well – surf the web for long periods without needing their batteries recharging. The usually cost from £150 upwards.
Do I need a dongle with a netbook?
Some netbooks come with mobile broadband SIMs built into them. If this is the case you won’t need a dongle. If you have a standard netbook and you want to surf the web on the go, you’ll need a broadband dongle.