How To Pick The Best Mobile Broadband Provider

mobile-broadband-providers-3[4]

Picking the best mobile broadband provider is like shopping for a new car

While they’re a lot of great choices out there, what you get boils down to unique blend of
practicality and style best suited for you.

So how do you choose?


You cut through the marketing hype and fine print gotcha statements by evaluating the best mobile broadband providers based on 4 factors:

1. Plans & Prices
2. Speed
3. Coverage
4. Devices

While there are other criteria like style and pizazz that we’ll touch on, these are the most important.

By covering these areas, you’ll get the best mobile broadband tailored specifically to increase your productivity, connect in multiple places, download your stuff fast using a cool device all while staying within your budget.

If you don’t take the time to go through each section carefully, then you run the risk of overpaying for sub-par speeds with spotty coverage using an outdated device that carriers may stop providing support for shortly.

In other words, read on.

 

How To Pick The Best Mobile Broadband Plan

broken-glasses[4]

Trying to find the best mobile broadband plan can be like finding your glasses without having them on. It’s all a blur and everything looks the same. This section will give you the focus to find what you need and ignore the unimportant.

Deciding on the best mobile broadband plan can be like trying to find your glasses without having them on. Everything’s a blur.

Picking one of the best mobile broadband plans can determine your speed, coverage and money left in your bank account.

Not only is it crucial when using it for yourself but especially so if you have others you need to share it with. Having the wrong plan could cost you big time. Don’t be a $19,370 horror story (The poor kid incurred roaming international roaming charges and wasn’t aware of the specifics of his plan).

Let’s avoid that.

First decide how you’ll be using mobile broadband.

Get A Plan Based on How You’ll Use It

Knowing how you’ll use mobile broadband will give you the laser-like focus you need to cut through the wide selections available.

Not figuring it out can easily leave you studying the unnecessary details of plans for hours.

Thankfully, most people will fall into 4 kinds of scenarios:

1. Day-To-Day Use & Want Great Coverage

2. Day-To-Day Use but Coverage Isn’t So Important

3. Emergencies Only

4. Very Sparingly Used

Day-To-Day Use & Want Great Coverage

If you plan to use mobile broadband on a day-to-day basis, then post-paid plans make sense. You’ll get the most bang for your buck alongside deep discounts on equipment. You’ll want to keep your eyes on Verizon or Sprint plans for the best mash up of price, coverage, speed and great 3G/4G devices to choose from.

At the end of this series I’ll show you how to get practically every mobile broadband device for free if you go this route.

Day-To-Day Use, Coverage Not So Important

In this scenario, you might want mobile broadband on a regular basis but don’t have a big need to travel around a lot. This actually works out to your benefit since they’re a bunch of ‘regional’ mobile broadband carriers that have less restrictions at cheaper pricing. Keep your eyes on Cricket Prepaid Mobile Broadband, Clear’s 4G WiMAX Mobile Broadband plans. If you can get one of these 2 providers, you’ll be in the sweet spot of a good price with decent enough coverage alongside speed and good devices to choose from.

Emergencies Only

As the name suggests, you’ll only need mobile broadband as a secondary backup or emergency connection in addition to a primary connection you’ve got. In that case, ‘occasional use’ prepaid mobile broadband plans available from Virgin Mobile and others will most likely be your best bet. While the ‘top-up’ cards do expire, they only expire after you activate them. It’s like having canned goods for a bad storm. They’ll hold out for a long time but once you open up the can you gotta eat the whole thing.

Very Sparingly Used

This is like renting a car. You still want to get around but you don’t want to lease or buy the equipment.

Here’s the scenario. You might be going out of town on a business trip, a conference, or traveling to the United States for a short space of time. In this case, rent mobile broadband. It’ll be cheaper and a whole lot less hassle than signing any contract or having to own equipment you’ll never use again. Keep your eyes peeled for Verizon’s Daypass and Virgin Mobile Broadband. When it comes to short-term use, these are the best.

Now that you’ve got an idea of how you’ll use mobile broadband, it’ll be easier to navigate through the kinds of mobile broadband plans available.

 

There are 3 Kinds of Mobile Broadband Plans

While a few hybrids are out there, each of these have a set of distinct features.

1. Postpaid plans
2. Prepaid plans
3. Rental plans

 

Postpaid Mobile Broadband Plans

house[4]

Getting a postpaid plan is like owning a home.

The equipment is yours and if you plan to keep it for a good amount of time, it’s cheaper.

As the most popular kind of plan, they are usually 2 year (or 1 year) contracts like your cell phone. Provided by a bevy of carriers, they also tend to have the best combination of speed and coverage.

 

Postpaid Mobile Broadband Comparison

Provider
Plans & Prices
Recommended Use
Comments
Plan Review
Plan Rating
us-cellular-logo
$49.95 | 5 GB
Day To Day Use, Coverage Not So Important
If you exceed 5 GB, there’s a $0.49 per MB overage charge. That works out to be a potential $501.76 per GB

C

att-logo

$60 | 5 GB

$40 | 200 MB

Day To Day Use, Coverage Not So Important
If you exceed 5 GB, there’s a $0.49 per MB overage charge. That works out to be a potential $503.31 per GB

C+

sprint-logo

$70 | Unlimited 4G w/ 5 GB of 3G

$59.99 | 5 GB of 3G

Day To Day Use & Want Great Coverage
It’s unlimited within select 4G areas. When outside those areas, there’s a $0.05 per MB overage charge in 3G areas if you go over 5GB. That works out to be a potential $52.20 per GB

A

t-mobile-logo

$49.99 | 5 GB

$29.99 | 200 MB

Day To Day Use, Coverage Not So Important
If you exceed 5 GB, there’s a $0.20 per MB overage charge. That works out to be a potential $204.80 per GB

C

verizon

$59.99 | 5 GB

$39.99 | 250 MB

Day To Day Use & Want Great Coverage
If you exceed 5 GB, there’s a $0.05 per MB overage charge. That works out to be a potential $52.20 per GB

B+

clear-logo

$70 | Unlimited in 4G areas. 5 GB in 3G areas.

19 other types of plans

Day To Day Use & Want Great Coverage
It’s unlimited within select 4G areas. When outside those areas, there’s a $0.05 per MB overage charge in 3G areas if you go over 5GB. That works out to be a potential $52.20 per GB

A

 

Adapted from the Wireless Broadband Comparison

As you’ve probably noticed, every postpaid plan has an overage charge in some way, shape or form. You might naturally ask the question, how much is 5 GB or 250 MB or whatever the case may be so I don’t go over and get charged ridiculous fees. More importantly, how do I know if these data amounts are enough for me to get stuff done every month?

Stick around, it’s already an entire lesson in the "Mobile Broadband Buyer’s Guide" E-Course that you’re reading right now. If you happened to stumble across this page, you’ll want to subscribe so you don’t miss that important lesson.

You don’t have to get your mobile broadband plans from your current cell phone provider.

Since mobile broadband connections are treated as an independent lines from a carrier’s standpoint, you can easily have your cell phone with T-Mobile while mobile broadband with Verizon. While you may get a slight discount depending on the carrier, it’s usually not that much.

Bottom-line: Choose your carrier based on your mobile broadband needs, not who you’ve got a cell phone with".

 

Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plans

apartment

Having a prepaid plan is like renting an apartment

You’ve got more freedom to move around.

These plans are marked by their ‘no credit check, no deposit, no contract’ offers. In some cases, they can actually work out to be cheaper than postpaid providers.

In addition to being cheaper, many prepaid providers also have ‘seasonal’ plans that allow you to use the service intermittently (similar to rental plans). The common disadvantage most share is a lack of nationwide coverage.

Here’s a handy comparison:

Prepaid Mobile Broadband Comparison

Provider
Plans & Prices
Recommended Use
Comments
Plan Review
Plan Rating
cricket_thumb2[4]
$40 – Unlimited mobile broadband
Good for daily use
If you exceed 5GB of their ‘unlimited coverage’ your speed may be limited
A
readybroadband_thumb2
100 MB for $25 |
200 MB for $45 |
500 MB for $75
Occasional use only
Airtime is purchased as needed through ‘top-up’ cards like a prepaid cell phone

Ready
Broadband Plans Review

B
slingshot_thumb2
100 MB for $24.95 |
250 MB for $34.95 |
500 MB for  49.95 |
‘Unlimited’ for $59.95
Good for daily use or occasional use
If you exceed 5 GB of their unlimited plan your speed may be limited. Also, they can’t sell anything due to a current lawsuit with Sprint
C-
verizon7_thumb2
24 hours consecutive use for $15
Occasional use only
Only carrier with an option to use built-in mobile broadband for laptops.
B
virgin-mobile-broadband_thumb2
100 MB for $10 | 250 MB for $20 | 600 MB for $40 |
1 GB for $60
Occasional use only
Airtime is purchased as needed through ‘top-up’ cards like a prepaid cell phone. Each card has an expiration date depending on the dollar amount.
B+

– Adapted from the 2009 Prepaid Mobile Broadband Comparison

 

Mobile Broadband Rental Plans

hotel

Mobile broadband rental plans are like hotel rooms.

In much the same way staying in a hotel for a month would be much more expensive than an apartment or house, it’s the same for mobile broadband rental plans.

Like the name suggests, they’re intended to be used sparingly or even just once. However, if you just need mobile broadband for a really short space of time, it can save you money by not having to purchase equipment outright.

Mobile Broadband Rental Comparison

Provider
Plans & Prices
Shipping
Notes
Plan Review
Plan Rating

 

aircardrental_thumb2

About $10/day.

On the 7th day, an unpredictable discount kicks in.

$10.95
Advertised rate of $5.66 only kicks in after 30 days.

AirCardRental Plans Review

C
cellhire_thumb2
About $17/day for weekly rentals.

$12.33/day for monthly rentals

$19.99
Rentals are weekly and monthly. Info somewhat lacking
B
eventradiorentals_thumb2
Request a quote for pricing.
Request a quote for pricing.
User friendly. Price quotations may turn some away
B-
rovair_thumb2
Weeks 1-2:
$8 – $12 /day.

Weeks 3-4: $6.50 – $8.50 /day

Regular – $14.95
Rush Delivery- $19.95
Advertised rate of $5.95 kicks in after 30 days.
A
wifirents_thumb2
Weeks 1-2:
$11 – $14/day.

Weeks 3-4:
$6.75 – $8.50/day

Free
Has 3G routers but the rental price is about the cost of buying one
B

– Adapted from the 2009 Mobile Broadband Rental Comparison

 

Great!

I’ve Got A Mobile Broadband Plan. What Next?

You could have an great plan & price but if the speed sucks you’ll be paying a bunch of money every month for the headache of getting nothing done. Madness I say. So, as I mentioned above there’s 2 things you could do right now:

I Know What I Want. Lemme Get Some Mobile Broadband Not sure if I know enough yet. Lemme keep reading
get-mobile-broadband[4]

Next up:

Picking The Best Mobile Broadband Provider Based on Speed

(Page 1 of 4) >

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2 Comments

  1. Tom says:


    Thanks for all your info. I need 2 months of laptop connectivity this summer(schools out-yea) for RV fun and travel, assuming I can afford the gas. I felt info overloaded, but went thru all your e-mails, thanks. After visiting BestBuy(more confusion), I stopped at a T-Mobile store since a nearby Clear store was closed. Think I found my solution. T-Mobile offers a 5gb data plan on their 4G network(very good Great Lakes coverage for my travels) for $50/mo($80 for 10gb) with NO contract. Their USB Rocket 2.0 card is $65, or $50 ordered at their web site. I think I believe all I read, but any ideas or comments?


  2. Kim says:


    Very good information! You’ve done all the homework for me. I am going to be needing to make a change in Oct of this year from hughesnet. I thought I was getting a super fast connection for my internet, but signed up for a 2 yr. contract for $78 mthly, and it’s slower than dial up. What a dissappointment!! Very expensive too! Wish I had done more research before I got pinched into that deal. Thank you for your help! Kim


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