Mobile Broadband Buying Guide

Check your e-mail, Facebook, bank account and much more -- all while on the go.

Jargon Buster

Mobile broadband

May also be referred to as "wireless broadband." Mobile broadband encompasses any services that deliver Internet access over the same cell towers used for mobile phones. Mobile broadband is much more portable than fixed wireless broadband services, which require separate towers and typically offer inferior coverage and speed.


Second-generation mobile telephony and data services. GSM refers to the mobile network that is still being used today to provide mobile phone calls and a basic data connection — either GPRS or the slightly faster EDGE — that is best suited to text-based Internet services and Multimedia Messaging (MMS). GPRS and EDGE services are also used as a fallback when mobile broadband devices lose 3G or HSPA reception.


Third-generation mobile data services, primarily designed for mobile broadband access. These services are combined under the umbrella of a UMTS network. 3G is the original form of mobile broadband, but it has since been superseded by HSPA (also referred to as 3.5G or HSDPA) services, which provide bandwidth speeds of between 3.6Mbps and 42Mbps depending on the carrier. Devices must be compatible with these networks and specified speeds in order to receive the full bandwidth.


Competing fourth-generation mobile broadband technologies. LTE, or Long Term Evolution, operates over the same cell towers used for mobile phones, though it requires compatible devices (which aren't currently available). WiMAX is similar to fixed wireless broadband: it requires separate infrastructure and only offers maximum speeds of up to 12Mbps. It is best suited to use around the home, rather than on the go.

SIM card

A small card that must be inserted in mobile phones and mobile broadband modems in order to identify you and allow the carrier to charge your account. In many cases the SIM card must be specifically enabled for data in order to facilitate mobile broadband.


The amount you are allowed to download in one billing cycle, usually a month. Once this quota has been reached, the mobile broadband carrier will either charge you for excess usage or slow your Internet access, depending on which plan you chose. Excess usage charges are often extremely high, so a plan that slows your access (otherwise known as "shaping") is preferable.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags mobile broadbandbroadband

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Hutchinson

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?