What is 3G Mobile Broadband?

Alexis W.

Internet service that allows fast Internet access via mobile phone networks is called 3G mobile broadband. It typically provides mobile users the convenience of fast browsing even when they are away from the home or office. 3G mobile broadband service claims to make working, communicating, and downloading quick, easy, and mobile.

A tablet PC using 3G technology.
A tablet PC using 3G technology.

The term 3G means third generation and refers to a more advanced generation of mobile technology than previous wireless networks. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) defined 3G according to mobile telephony standards as a network designed to promote the advancement and growth of mobile technology. The 3G mobile network claims to have expanded the features provided by previous networks by providing higher bandwidth and a wider variety of mobile applications. For instance, 3G can deliver packet-switched data with more efficiency at higher speed than 2G networks.

A HSDPA modem and USB cord for 3G mobile broadband.
A HSDPA modem and USB cord for 3G mobile broadband.

Japan was the first country to launch 3G service. By 2005, almost 40 percent of mobile phone users used the 3G network, making 2G technology obsolete. In 2008 3G providers started offering the 3G mobile broadband service all over the world in response to the consumer demands for better mobile technology.

When a customer signs up for a 3G mobile broadband deal, a subscriber identity module (SIM) card or a universal serial bus (USB) dongle usually is provided. A dongle is the term given to the USB modem that resembles a USB thumb drive that plugs into a laptop. Once plugged in, the dongle automatically allows its user to get connected to the mobile broadband service and surf the Internet.

Installation is generally very simple. There is no need for complicated settings such as Internet service provider (ISP) settings, security settings, or user names and passwords. All a customer should need is the USB dongle. Since the USB dongle is portable and easily plugs into any laptop, users can take it anywhere and even lend it to a colleague or friend.

Depending on the company, the 3G mobile broadband service should still be available for use even when overseas. Usage costs will vary. Before traveling, it is generally recommended that customers check with their provider regarding rates and usage. For frequent travelers, many wireless companies offer packages tailored for jet-setters.

To use 3G mobile service, customers must subscribe to a package with their chosen mobile phone company. Rates for mobile broadband vary. Customers can sign up for either prepaid or post-paid mobile broadband service plans. For most companies, the USB dongles are given out for free but they usually have a lock-in period of 12 months to a year.

Phones designed to work with 3G can also be used to browse the internet and download data files.
Phones designed to work with 3G can also be used to browse the internet and download data files.

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