While most people can now get broadband from one of the main providers, there are some very tempting 3G internet deals out there. 3G internet now offers some very impressive speeds – not quite up there with home Wi-Fi in most cases, but still very serviceable. For some people, therefore, it may be tempting to use a 3G internet dongle for all of their connectivity needs rather than paying to have broadband at home and paying for a 3G dongle as well, so they can use their laptops when they are on the go.
Additionally, there are some circumstances when getting a broadband contract may not be ideal. You may not be planning to stay where you are living for very long, for example, or you may be in a shared house where you don’t want to share your internet access with the other residents.
So how viable is it to survive with 3G internet alone?
Will it Work for All of Your Devices?
3G internet can work very well for laptops, but because you will usually be using a USB dongle to get your internet access, you won’t be able to use it with devices that don’t have a USB port, such as an iPad. There are devices available that create a Wi-Fi hotspot via 3G, though. These can be used on similar tariffs to 3G dongles, which would then allow you to use things like tablets that don’t have USB ports. Nevertheless, in this case, you are losing the portability that the 3G dongle gives you, as you are likely to leave the Wi-Fi device in your home.
3G internet also isn’t ideal for use on things like Xbox or PlayStation consoles. If you have a lot of devices that you would like to connect to the internet, depending on 3G alone is likely to cause you problems.
How Much Data Do You Need to Download?
Most ‘unlimited’ 3G broadband deals do technically have a limit; it is just that when you reach it, rather than being denied service, you will instead be given a much slower service and you will only be able to access the internet at slow speeds. This means if you hit your limit (which will usually be around 10 MB a month, depending on the deal you get), you will only really be able to use the web for basic things like email and Facebook, as streaming video or downloading apps will not be possible.
If you don’t do a lot of downloading and prefer to stream media rather than download video files to watch later, you may well be able to live with 3G only, and you may even find the data allowance quite generous. However, if you download software or media files regularly or you stream a lot of videos, you may find you eat through your allowance very quickly. If you do decide to rely on 3G, therefore, it is often best to turn off automatic software updates. Otherwise, you may find your computer is busting through your data allowance in the background by downloading updates to things you don’t really use.
All in all, 3G can be a good solution for some people and can help you save money. However, it isn’t ideal for those with a lot of devices or high data requirements. 4G will be improving the potential of cellular connection technology but the core issues will remain.
About the Author
The author of this post, Craig, holds a great deal of interest in reviewing phones and apps. You can follow him on Twitter @craigtimmins.