• Your guide to mobile broadband

  • What is mobile broadband?

    Mobile broadband (sometimes called mobile wireless) uses the 3G, 4G and 5G mobile network to connect your mobile device (mobile phone, tablet/iPad, or portable SIM-based modem) to the internet. It is different to a Fixed Wireless connection.

  • Let’s start with the basics

    • 1 What is mobile broadband and how does it work?
      • Mobile broadband uses Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone’s network towers to grant internet access via 3G, 4G, and 5G networks. It can also be used to make voice calls (learn more about maximising your mobile phone connection).

        Just like your TV or radio needs a signal to work, mobile broadband relies on good reception. A signal is sent to your device’s SIM card from a nearby tower. Other providers can offer these networks’ services, but their coverage may not be suitable. It’s a good idea to check their coverage before signing up.

    • 2 How do I know if I have a good mobile broadband connection?
      • In the past, phone signal bars were a reliable way to check your reception. However, they no longer accurately represent service quality because devices display these bars differently.

        For example, having fewer bars doesn’t always mean a weaker signal. Your device may show four bars of 3G, three bars of 4G, and two bars of 5G, but those two bars of 5G could actually provide better coverage. Furthermore, if you use a device to boost your service, your phone’s bars will always show full reception, reflecting the technology in the area.

        A better measure of service quality is your ability to use data and make calls. Due to tower congestion and poor coverage, mobile broadband may not always be the most stable choice for long-term home or business internet use.

    • 3 How can I improve my mobile broadband signal?
      • A mobile broadband signal and quality can sometimes be improved using appropriate equipment. If you live in rural Australia or a spot where the signal is weak or blocked, you can try using an external antenna. Basically, the antenna takes the signal from a mobile tower, makes it stronger, and sends it to you, making your mobile broadband connection better.

    • 4 How do I connect to mobile broadband?
      • 01
        Check Coverage Area

        Before choosing a mobile broadband provider, consider where you’ll use your connection most – home, work, or travelling. Check each company’s coverage in these areas. Keep in mind any local geography issues that might block signals or create “black spots”, like hills, dense trees or even buildings in some areas.

        Check coverage here:

        Always have a discussion with your chosen mobile broadband provider regarding the level of coverage you can get at your location before entering a contract, and read the details regarding ensuring you have service within your contract. You can also do a test of the service at your location by purchasing a prepaid mobile SIM card from your preferred RSP service (for around $2 with a small amount of credit). Load this SIM into your mobile and test it in the areas you are wanting to use that service. This will give you an understanding of the level of service and any possible congestion issues prior to signing up.

        Check coverage

      • 02
        Compare Plans and Choose a Provider

        Individual internet service providers supply mobile broadband plans. Remember, mobile phone voice plans and mobile broadband plans offer different services. Voice plans may only have a small amount of data, while mobile broadband plans may offer larger data allowances, but no voice options. A number of mobile broadband plans also have restrictions on where you can use the service or what devices you can use to access your network. For example, you can get a fixed mobile broadband service for your home location only, which does have a larger data offering.

        To learn more about internet speeds for your area and choosing an internet plan, visit this guide or use these comparison tools:

        Comparing Plans

      • 03
        Set Up Your Mobile Broadband Equipment

        Take your mobile broadband modem out of the box, add the new SIM card, and connect your laptop to your new Wi-Fi connection. Most current mobile broadband modems also have built-in antennas and routers to share the connection among many devices. Some of these modems also come with ethernet ports so you can connect your computers or other devices that lack wireless connectivity.

        • SIM-enabled devices: simply put in a data-SIM and then use it as a Wi-Fi hotspot to share its connection with another device.
        • USB modem: a great portable mobile broadband solution, provided you only need to use one device online at a time. While you don’t need to recharge the battery, it does need to be plugged directly into the device you want connected to the internet.
        • Portable Wireless Hotspot: shares a mobile broadband connection with several devices simultaneously. These are typically battery-powered and recharged by plugging into a standard powerpoint. They operate as a small modem and router in one.
        • Fixed Home Wireless Modem: needs to be plugged into a power outlet to work. These are best for those needing to use mobile broadband in the one location, such as at home.

        Setup Modem

      • 04
        Extend and Improve Your Connection

        You can purchase routers and antennas which work in different ways to improve or extend your signal throughout your property and enable more devices to connect. Due to the 3G shutdown, remember to ensure your equipment is at least 4G-compatible before purchasing.

        If you’re currently using the 3G network, switching to at least 4G-capable devices is essential before 3G is turned off for good. This includes phones, tablets, and devices that enhance mobile reception, like antennas. Check out each network’s timeframes and what you need to do here.

        Cel-Fi Pro

  • Check out more useful resources here

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    Still not sure what is the right option for you?

    Chat to one of our team members and let’s get the conversation started. If we don’t answer, we’ll get back to you in no time at all. Or, request a free and independent connectivity report outlining your options.