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What is mobile internet?

The terms 'mobile internet', 'mobile broadband', '3G' and '4G' refer to the provision of internet connections using mobile phone networks. Generally speaking, the only other types of broadband widely available are ADSL (phone line) or cable (fibre-optic) broadband.

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Mobile broadband uses mobile phone networks as opposed to copper phone or fibre-optic cable lines, and for the most part can be accessed by any mobile device or any computer with a USB port. No routers, cables or telephone lines are needed.

In many ways, mobile internet is taking over from home broadband in much the same way as mobile phones took over from home phones in the 1990s.

Greater flexibility and mobility are the key factors fuelling the growth of mobile broadband. And with increasingly sophisticated technology, mobile broadband is on course to replace traditional, phone-line based mediums soon.

The arrival of 4G in the UK, which offers mobile internet speeds that dwarf 3G, means this is surely going to happen sooner rather than later.

Mobile internet can be accessed via:

  • Mobile phones
  • Data cards
  • Dongles (USB modems)
  • USB sticks
  • Broadband-embedded laptops
  • MiFi units

For more information on the technical workings of mobile broadband, see our mobile broadband guide page.

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mobile internet

3G and 4G mobile Internet providers include:

More questions about mobile internet?

Learn more and compare the best mobile internet packages here, or read our What is a Mobile Dongle? and What is 3G? uSwitch guides. There's also a great one for 4G.