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Clip Antenna As with mobile phone reception, different 3g broadband providers can achieve different levels of signal strength in the same area. 3G Mobile Broadband works in a similar fashion to a mobile phone, communicating through the most readily available phone mast on the network. So the broadband coverage all depends on what your provider’s network capability is in your areas. For example, you may find in a rural area that you can access 02 but not Vodafone.

If you live in a remote area and are considering mobile broadband, it is important to check and compare the mobile broadband coverage maps published by the different mobile broadband providers:

Virtual Networks

These links provide access to the mobile broadband coverage maps for the main mobile phone operators. There are also several virtual who use the infrastructure of the big players. The main players in the virtual network market are as follows:

Provider Provider
Virgin Mobile Uses T-Mobile
Tesco Mobile Uses 02
Blyk Uses Orange
Vectone Uses T-Mobile
LycaMobile Uses Orange and 02, depending on certain factors
Fresh Mobile, Mobileworld and Talkmobile (The Carphone Warehouse) Uses T-Mobile
BT Mobile Uses Vodafone
ASDA Mobile Uses Vodafone
abica Uses 3, Orange, and T-Mobile
Giff Gaff Uses 02
Family Mobile (IKEA) Uses T-Mobile

Although providers will try to make their coverage maps as accurate as possible, the map should not be used as a ‘guarantee of service’. The map might show that you are in a strong reception area but if you happen to live in a hollow then you might be disappointed.

Ofcom published a document showing the broadband coverage maps for all providers as of January 2009 (a long time ago in the world of 3G). To download a pdf version of the ofcom report click here

All 3G provider networks should be strong in high-population density areas such as the big towns and cities – it is only really when you get out into ‘the sticks’ that the coverage level will vary by network provider. Having said that, each different provider offers different speeds and usage limits, generally speeds are in the region of 1.8Mb to 3.6Mb, although some providers are now claiming to offer up to 7.2Mb. Usage limits are typically around the 1-3Gb mark although one or two do offer greater than a 5Gb download allowance.

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What is Mobile Broadband?

Mobile Broadband gives you internet access, without wires, over the air. You do not need a telephone line, or to be in a Wi-Fi area to get mobile broadband - using only a USB Modem with your Laptop or PC you can have access to fast broadband.