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June 6, 2008

The Rise of the Mobile Internet

by Brian Turner

Working online is great - it allowed me to more or less choose where to live in the UK - just so long as I was somewhere with broadband.

I only need a normal broadband solution - no need for bonded ADSL or other high end broadband requirements.

The trouble is, while I’m well-connected at home with my wireless network, as soon as I travel I’m lost.

Sure, there are wireless hotspots I can use on business trips, but let’s face it - the fees can seem extortionate.

Even worse for business time management, having a young family means responsibilities that can take me from home and away from work: for example, taking the kids to ballet class. Swimming lessons. Gymnastics.

While it’s great to help my children grow and develop and take up extra-curricular activities, it can get frustrating if I’ve got loads of work to keep up with, yet I’m losing a lot of time travelling around with them.

For example, ballet lessons are 45 minutes long. It takes 15 minutes to drive there. And 15 minutes back.

Do the math - if I time it right I have 15 minutes in the middle of that to get something done - though unlikely something critical.

Now I can just stay at the ballet/swimming/gynastics lessons and sit around connected online, and keep up with my workload.

I got sent a dongle and connection for review by 3 Mobile for their mobile broadband service.

Simply put, it’s a modified USB stick you just plug and play, and then you’ve got mobile broadband.

Of course, I’ve been aware of mobile broadband for laptops for a while - and this week we reported on Techwatch on how Ofcom guidelines for mobile broadband gained a mixed reception.

However, I’d never actually tried it out - until now.

Set up with the 3 Mobile broadband was truly plug’n'play - the only technical challenge was getting the SIM card the right way round in the USB stick.

While there were no connection problems, I’ve got to admit I found the broadband speed slow - certainly by comparison to home use.

However, the sheer accessibility and flexibility of mobile broadband is wonderful, and I can see wifi hotspots quickly going into decline unless they re-evaluate their pricing models.

Simply put, I can now be connected wherever I am, so long as I’m reasonably close to civilisation.

Even better, 3 Mobile broadband can be used in a range of countries overseas as well - so no messing about with internet cafes with potential security issues.

While there are obviously a range of USB gadgets available, I think for business purposes USB mobile broadband is going to become increasingly essential.

While 3 Mobile may have sent me a dongle just to review the service, with multiple conferences and a family holiday abroad later this year, I’m absolutely signing up to this - and at just £10/month it’s an absolute steal.

In the meantime, the weather’s been great up in the Scottish Highlands despite England getting rain. So I thought I’d post a pic - of me writing this review on the beach, and posting it using my new mobile interest. :)

Story link: The Rise of the Mobile Internet

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