All the major mobile broadband providers advertise differing coverage levels and network speeds, which can be confusing when trying to choose which deal to go with. For instance, Vodafone advertise the fastest speeds in the industry at up to 14.4mbps, but these are available only in big cities like London and Birmingham, with the practical maximum speed likely to be in the region of 1 to 4mbps. So it is vital to get a clear idea of coverage and network speed before buying. Why not run a postcode check to find out which provider will give you the best coverage in your area:
They all work in a similar fashion. You simply enter your postcode and click a button to check mobile broadband coverage in your area. Most of the sites will then show you results in a simple, easy to understand format, such as colour coding for strength of signal, or showing you signal bars like a mobile phone. Some of the coverage checkers, if 3G is poor in your area, will simply say ‘limited’ or suitable outdoor use only. It is worth bearing in mind that even if you have a mobile phone with a good signal, the 3G signal with the same provider may be poor, as it does not penetrate fixed objects as easily as a 2G (voice) signal.
You may have found a great deal on mobile broadband, but it won’t count for much if you are left with a creakingly slow, broken connection. Even using the mobile broadband coverage checkers and finding a provider with good 3G coverage will not guarantee a smooth browsing experience. For example, if you live in an older house with thick walls, or in a rural area surrounded by trees, you may get a less reliable signal. How close you are to a window will also have an effect, as 3G travels much more easily through thin material like glass. For further information on the various factors you should consider when checking mobile broadband coverage, read our guide about what factors affect mobile broadband coverage.
If you are just getting started there is a lot to think about. Questions such as what coverage is like where you live, what data allowance you need, whether you are looking for a laptop or Tablet deal along with your broadband contract, and so on. We have written a guide to mobile broadband which may help answer some of your questions.