Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Mobile broadband; setup

One technological advance that's been at least partly responsible for the huge numbers of home businesses in the UK is broadband Internet connections.

Because I travel about a fair bit on business, I finally took the plunge yesterday and signed up for a mobile broadband connection, because my battered old laptop refuses to connect to any WiFi (even though it is wireless-enabled).

I chose a deal that gave me a free netbook, one that would be light enough to carry easily on the train, that I could just pop into an ordinary bag (sadly important for security, given I'll be travelling alone), and that could be used for web browsing and working on documents in Google.

No bells and whistles are needed, and I'm not planning to load any more programs than anti-virus software and my preferred browser (Firefox), so I opted for a straightforward Dell Inspiron.

The very helpful guys at the Carphone Warehouse in Carlisle checked my home postcode and said that the only network that offered any sort of mobile broadband coverage there was 3, which has the best overall coverage in the UK.

3's a new one for me. My personal mobile phone is with O2 and my business mobile phone is on what my brother calls "Skodafone". But apparently standard mobile phone coverage won't give you enough capacity for mobile broadband. It needs to be better than that. And 3 is the only network giving enough cover in my neck of the woods.

So I duly signed up to 3.

When I got my new netbook home and began setting it up, I discovered that there are two possible broadband speeds depending on the coverage in your area - fast or slow.

Guess what. In my area I get the slow one.

Which, speed-wise, is comparable to dial-up. Chug chug chug.

So the anti-virus software took till 8pm to download. Ow.

By which time I was fed up with the slow connection. So I unplugged the mobile broadband dongle and hooked up the netbook to my trusty landline broadband from BT.

Anti-virus update then downloaded in 5 minutes instead of 5 hours. And Firefox downloaded before I could say "Mozilla".

So my netbook is now all ready for taking on the train - and here's hoping that in the areas I go to, I'll be able to get the faster 3 speed.

But at least it means I can work on the train, even if I can't get the faster speed. I must just remember to do any downloads and updating here at home using the landline connection.

Moral; if you're off the beaten track, mobile broadband may be best for travelling and emergencies only.

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