Everything You Need To Know Before, During & After Buying Mobile Broadband
Whether you’re completely new to this area of tech or create educational programs for NASA (like one particular reader), there’s information in here that’ll help you make decisions and take actions.
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Mobile Broadband 101
Freshmen Start Here
WiFi, a type of wireless broadband, is like a cordless phone. It’s good around the house. Mobile broadband, however is like your cell phone but only for the internet. It’s good almost anywhere…
There are 4 types of broadband cards. Pick the right to avoid a 2-ton brick sticking outside your laptop.
Quick Answer: The hottest broadband card on the market right now isn’t even a ‘card’ per se. While it’s the size of a credit card, it connects to your laptop (or PC) via WiFi. Cleverly enough, it’s been named the MiFi and is available from Sprint and Verizon.
At $200, 3G netbook is ridiculously convenient unless you’ve got bad reception. However, a broadband card (mostly free) has options for getting better signal.
Quick Answer: If you don’t want to spend any money out of pocket, go for a broadband card. Not only will it be free, some will put up to $100 in your pocket (affiliate link). Also, if you live in a fringe area, broadband cards have options for external antennas to boost their signal. On the other hand, 3G netbooks are about convenience. They don’t have coverage improvement options but are mini-computers with a lot more functionality than a broadband card.
There’s nothing wrong with a USB broadband card… until you’re working on your bed one day and forget you have it plugged into the back of your laptop. Learn from my mistake.
Quick Answer: If you’re clumsy or super active, pick a broadband card that fits your lifestyle (i.e. you won’t break it).
Mobile Broadband 202 (Not So Light Reading)
Time To Get Detailed
To pick the best provider, first you find the plan, then you check speed, coverage and lastly, a device. Here are the detailed steps on how to do each.
Quick Answer: There is no quick answer to this one. This is a mega-detailed 4 part lesson that covers every single type of mobile broadband you could ever dream up.
When AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile & Verizon say you can use 5 GB (gigabytes) of data each month, it’s like telling someone they can have 95,236 calories for the month. What the heck is that? Here we break down the techno-talk into information you can really use.
Quick Answer: 5 GB can be enough if you don’t download movies and music. Here’s a real world example of how it could work.
3G coverage is the spine of mobile broadband. Without it, 3G speeds drop to a lethargic dialup level service (aka EDGE, GPRS or 1xRTT speeds). As it stands, you can’t have mobile broadband without it. Naturally, that begets the question: Who’s got the best 3G coverage?
Quick Answer: It really depends on which city you’re in. Hop to the pictures that show the best in each city. There are also links to check out the specifics of each city.
3G Speeds were tested across 17 cities to find the fastest provider. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint & T-Mobile took the crown at least once. The big question is how did your city do?
Quick Answer: AT&T has the fastest 3G network but their coverage leaves much to be desired. Verizon follows closely (and actually has the top speed in a number of cities). Sprint’s speed is consistent but doesn’t beat Verizon and AT&T most of the time. T-Mobile brings up the rear but has a surprise upset where they beat everyone in a single city.
Learn how I only used 2 of the 5 steps to get out of my contract in 13 minutes and 55 seconds.
Quick Answer: The easiest way is to get out of a contract is when a provider makes a change to your contract.
Quick Answer: Mobile broadband security uses the same level of internet encryption offered by the government, banking sector and the military.
Estimates show the average household will use 200 GB by 2012. A 5 GB cap is obviously not going to cut it.
Specific Solutions For Specific Mobile Broadband Problems
Find The Answer To Your Most Pressing Mobile Broadband Question
Figure out if you’ll have the coverage, speed, and data capacity to get the job done when in the field with clients.
Quick Answer: If you’re a mobile office professionals you can most likely use mobile broadband if you don’t do heavy bandwidth activities (i.e. streaming/downloading video). The productivity gained also stands to put substantial profit in your pocket.
There are 3 crucial steps to getting mobile broadband with no contract. Choosing a provider, reviewing that provider, and finally getting prepaid mobile broadband. Here’s the best way to do each step.
Quick Answer: Getting prepaid mobile broadband boils down to having 3G coverage in your area and seeing if it’s affordable for the length of time you plan to use it. Who you get will be determined by whether you need it long-term or short-term.
Learn how mobile broadband can free you from overpaying for snail’s pace dialup.
Quick Answer: There are 5 steps you’ll need to take. Check if it’s available in your area, improve coverage (if necessary), find out if 5 GB is enough, have an exit strategy and finally, get the darn thing. They begin about half-way down the page.
Learn how 3G service can free you from the tyranny of tall trees, evil clouds and expensive unreliable satellite broadband.
Quick Answer: Like Dial Up users, satellite broadband users must go through the same 5 steps. In addition to this, there’s a step-by-step comparison table of mobile broadband vs. satellite broadband that’s a must read.
How To Share Mobile Broadband With Any Computer (Screenshot Tutorial)
Step-by-step screenshot tutorial to share mobile broadband with any computer running XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Mac OS X.
Quick Answer: You’ll need a laptop with WiFi or a Ethernet cable, a broadband card and some time to configure a few settings on your computer.
How To Share Mobile Broadband With Your Xbox 360 (Video & Screenshots)
Step-by-step screenshot & video tutorial to share mobile broadband with your Xbox 360. Works with XP, Vista, 7 & Mac OS X.
Quick Answer: You’ll need a laptop/PC with an Ethernet cable, a broadband card and some time to configure a few settings on your Xbox 360.
Sharing Mobile Broadband With Your PlayStation 3 (Screenshot Tutorial)
Step-by-step screenshot tutorial for sharing mobile broadband with your PS3. Works with XP, Vista, 7 & Mac OS X.
Quick Answer: You’ll need a laptop/PC with an Ethernet cable, a broadband card and some time to configure a few settings on your PlayStation 3.
What if you live by yourself but have multiple devices that need to connect to the internet at the same time? How exactly would you do that?
Quick Answer: You’ll need a 3G/4G router.
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How To Keep The Buyer’s Guide Free
It’s really simple actually. The Buyer’s Guide is supported by advertisements and affiliate links.
Anytime you buy through the affiliate links at the end of each article, a portion of the sale comes my way and I get to shop for groceries (yum!).
So if you’re thinking about a getting mobile broadband, don’t forget to get it through a link on the site that looks like this one:
If you decide to get mobile broadband through one of the links below, I do make some money. Just some full disclosure. Besides, every broadband card is free or puts money in your pocket. Talk about win-win.