Is a Broadband Dongle Right For You?by Sam Jones Content Creator and Link Builder
For those who need Internet access outside the home or office, a broadband dongle is a good option. Rather than relying on local WiFi connections, you take your Internet with you.
A dongle is essentially a USB modem. It gives you access to mobile broadband connection on your laptop or even a desktop computer and is a good, flexible alternative to fixed Internet connections. Dongles are rapidly increasing in popularity, as they can be used anywhere there is a 3G or 4G mobile broadband connection.
The Pros of Internet Dongles
It’s always a good idea to compare the good and bad sides of a purchase. Broadband is no exception. You can learn a lot by checking out the pros and cons.
Flexibility. Laptops are great for working away from home. Unfortunately, you are usually tethered to a cafe or other WiFi hotspot. This can be frustrating if you prefer to work online without having to buy tea or a biscuit every half hour. With a dongle, you can literally sit on a grassy hilltop and enjoy Internet access. Anywhere you want to get online, you can, provided it has mobile access.
Free modems. In most contracts, the modem will be free. If you choose the Pay As You Go (PAYG) option, then you can expect to pay a fee for the dongle. Contracts are usually cheaper, as well, so it may be worth it to sign on for a longer term.
Switch computers. You can use a dongle in your laptop or in a desktop computer. It can easily be switched between computers, as well, allowing for sharing Internet access. This only works with one computer at a time, however.
Battery free. These USB devices run off the battery in your laptop, which means you can use them when the electricity is out, as long as there is mobile coverage still. This makes the modems ideal for emergency use, as well.
Compact access. Ordinary modems tend to take up a bit of space. Dongles are so small it is actually fairly easy to lose them if you aren’t careful. The sleek design makes them quite portable and easy to use.
Router usage. If you plan to use your dongle as your home internet access, you can purchase routers now which use the dongle to create a small WiFi space. The dongle simply plugs into the device, which has a separate power supply. You will need a laptop with wireless abilities in order to use this method. It also allows multiple computers to use the dongle at the same time, though the speed is so slow that it rarely works well.
The Cons of Internet Dongles
Nothing is perfect and broadband dongles are no exception. These portable modems may be handy, but they do have a few downsides.
Limited speed. Most companies in the UK offer 3G only. EE offers 4G and provides some of the fastest connection speeds around. However, for the most part, you will find that 3G is all that is available. Advertised speeds may range from 7.2 Mb to 21 Mb, depending on the company, but the reality is that 1.5 Mb is fairly standard.
Prices skyrocket for speed. If you are interested in getting 4G, you will pay for it. This can be an issue if you are on a budget. Not only are you limited in the number of providers that offer 4G, they also charge a premium for the service.
Data limits. If you are accustomed to downloading as much as you like or watching videos online, the data limits on a dongle can feel stifling. However, for those who have an Internet connection at home and simply need a way to get online while out and about, this should not be an issue. Using a bandwidth counter is a good idea, to ensure that you do not go over your limit.
Single computer use. While a broadband dongle can be switched between computers, it will only provide Internet access for one at a time. This can be limiting if you are trying to use more than one computer at a time. Switching the USB device from one laptop to another becomes tedious very quickly.
As more and more companies offer broadband dongles as an alternative to the usual cable Internet, access becomes easier. You can now surf the Internet while on the train, in a car or even while hiking in the woods. Technology has come quite far and for many, this is the mobile solution they have been waiting for.
Created on Dec 31st 1969 18:00. Viewed 0 times.