All the statistics and studies suggest that mobile broadband is experiencing a period of unrelenting growth. Across the UK and Europe the popularity of mobile broadband devices and the connectivity options they afford is booming and the market is expected to double by 2011, with 43 million people getting online via mobile broadband around Europe in the future. In the UK the cost of mobile broadband packages is cheaper than anywhere else, driven partly by market demand and partly by the established 3G networks.

There are obvious benefits to owning a mobile broadband device that is capable of getting online at broadband speeds wherever you are in the UK. The good news is that many more devices are coming complete with 3G network connectivity built in and there are even ways of augmenting non-3G devices with additional gadgets that can turn them into mobile broadband hubs. First let us look at the various mobile broadband devices on the market and then at how they can enhance your life thanks to the functions they offer.

Most people who have a mobile broadband contract for data alone will get online using a laptop in combination with a mobile broadband USB dongle. Since most laptops do not have 3G connectivity built in, the addition of a USB dongle containing a modem and 3G connectivity is necessary and many mobile broadband providers include USB dongles free as part of a pay monthly fixed term contract deal. Having said that, there are now laptops on the market that have 3G connectivity built in, so there is no need for a USB dongle if you want to get online whilst you are on the move. USB dongles may look similar, but their capabilities can differ. For example, some may come with built-in microSD memory card slots for portable storage, whilst others may be compatible with HSDPA networking for 7.2Mbps download speeds or more.

Most modern mobile phones also come with 3G connections for internet access. However, you will need to make sure that your network provider has a decent mobile internet data tariff on offer, otherwise you will be paying over the odds for every single megabyte of information that you download. Popular smartphones like the iPhone and the HTC Hero have large touch screens and 3G connections that make them ideal for internet browsing whilst on the go. Smartphones like those in the BlackBerry range also allow you to synchronise your contacts, calendar and documents from your home or work PC, making them accessible from your mobile. With mobile broadband on board you can also use your phone to check your email and download attachments to view when you are away from the office.

Mobile broadband devices are allowing for a far more flexible environment for working and socialising. With mobile broadband on board your laptop or smartphone, you can access your emails, download large files and add new software applications without having to wait around. Most mobile broadband deals are well equipped if this is the kind of functionality you are looking for, but because there is so much choice, it is worth using price comparison to weigh your options before you commit.

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