Today’s Mobile Broadband Provider

Nevertheless, it’s a question that pops up a lot. Mobile broadband is becoming increasingly popular for several reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason is cost and convenience. For not much more than the cost of Cable or DSL, just about anyone could have a broadband card that sticks into their laptop. And just like that, they get broadband speeds anywhere they travel. It’s excellent, especially if you’re out working more.

Then you are at your house; it just makes sense. There’s not much that can be said about convenience. What more can you say than being able to connect anytime and anywhere? I wonder if a WiFi hotspot costs money or even becomes a thing of the past. Did the power go out? No problem. How about MapQuest, the nearest restaurant in this new city? The possibilities are endless. Oh, and you can check your email, too.

Mobile Broadband

But you already knew that.

You’re here to find out who’s the best amongst the plethora of available options. You might have heard of satellite broadband, mobile broadband, and even WiMAX, and I’ll help you set the record straight with some easy but detailed guidelines on how to pick the best mobile broadband provider.

Should I go Prepaid or Contract?

It all depends on two years. Essentially, there are two kinds of prepaid mobile broadband plans:

1. Plans designed for long-term use
2. Plans designed for intermittent short-term use

It’s important to mention the notable differences between prepaid mobile broadband and ‘contracted’ mobile broadband. While we compare prepaid to contract mobile broadband, bear in mind that we’re reaching the plans designed for long-term use (by Cricket).

Why? To cut a long story short, Cricket is the best for long-term prepaid mobile broadband. For the full story, check out the 2009 Prepaid Mobile Broadband Comparison. To keep the length of this lesson down, we summarize the differences below:

Prepaid vs. Contract Mobile Broadband

  • Prepaid
  • No contract
  • No credit check
  • No Early Termination Fee
  • Limited Broadband Card Selection
  • Pay anywhere from $50 – $200 for equipment + setup
  • Plans can be cheaper ($40 – $60)
  • Variety of plans – Short-term and long-term plans
  • A mixture of average and fast speeds. Coverage can be limited
  • Cont2-year
  • contracts normal credit check
  • Early Termination Fee up to $200
  • Wide Range of Broadband Cards
  • Deeply discounted cards (free & sometimes make $100)
  • Plans usually ($60)
  • Long Term plans

Faster Speeds, Better Reliability, and Expansive Coverage

If you want to cut costs, prepaid may be the way to go. However, they may or may not have coverage where you need it. For a more stable, faster, and reliable connection, contracted mobile broadband will have your back for a higher cost.

What To Look For In A Provider

While tempting, it’s normally not a good idea to choose a provider based on how much they cost. While price is important, no one wants a car that breaks down the day after buying it.

In no particular order, there are about five major things to look for in a provider:

* Cost
* Speed
* Coverage
* Reliability
* Customer Service


Most mobile broadband providers have settled around $60 for 5 Gigabytes per month. While this changes as Sprint and Clearwire roll out WiMAX, it’s still the norm. The only exception to this unwritten rule is Alltel (and a few prepaid mobile broadband carriers). T-Mobile’s Wireless Internet is unlimited and runs about $50 per month. The catch is that their 3G network is still expanding. While this is slowly changing with the FCC clearing their first broadband card, it’s not something to lose sleep over.

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and most recently, T-Mobile all cap their mobile broadband plans at 5 Gigabytes per month. Naturally, the next question one might ask is, how much can 5 GB get me? Great question. We cover that in the next lesson. In addition to implementing caps, they’ve also got overage charges. While none are good, some will perform a bloody massacre on your bank account if you’re not careful. For instance, a poor kid went to Canada and didn’t get the memo. AT&T charged his family $19,370. Now you might wonder, did they ever resolve it? I don’t know. I do know this, however: