Do I Need 3g or 4g Mobile Internet?

Mobile internet is a necessity for a lot of us. Using a smart phone to access the internet means that you can check your email, get directions, even shop online. But what kind of internet do you need? And what kind of data plan? Today we’re talking about mobile internet and plans, so that you can choose the best options for you. So, if you want a great mobile data service, read on to find out your options.

3g Internet Connections…

3g phones are the standard. All modern smart phones are capable of connecting to the internet via a 3g network from a mobile operator. There are many advantages to 3g. The biggest advantage is that nearly the entire country has 3g coverage. That means that wherever you live, except in the most isolated areas, the chances are that you can connect to the internet over 3g with at least one mobile operator. 3g is reliable, there are plenty of networks, and you don’t need a special, expensive phone to connect. But there are down sides too. The main problem is that 3g internet speeds are pretty slow. They’re much slower than your home broadband speeds, for example. Whilst 3g phones are fine for casual web browsing, checking your email and accessing apps like Facebook, they’re not much good for anything more than that. Plus, with so many people using 3g, the networks get crowded, and data speeds get even slower.

4g Internet Connections…

4g is the newest technology in mobile internet. Connecting to 4g means that you get much faster internet speeds, pretty close to what you get through your home broadband (sometimes faster), and around ten times faster than with 3g. That means that you can use your mobile for smooth video streaming, fast downloading, and even high end online gaming. Fast internet speeds are good, but there are problems with 4g. In order to connect to a 4g network, you’ll need to have a 4g data plan. If you don’t have one, your phone will connect to a 3g network by default. You’ll also need a 4g capable phone, not all phones have 4g, and the ones that do tend to be more expensive. Not all mobile operators have 4g networks, and even most of the ones that do don’t get great 4g speeds yet. Even if your operator has a 4g plan, there’s no guarantee that you can connect, since coverage isn’t great and there are many areas of the UK that don’t have 4g access at the moment. 4G data plans are expensive, much more so than regular 3g data plans. Finally, there is a possible future problem: Networks are like roads, and the more traffic that’s on them, the slower the traffic moves. Right now, so few people are using 4g networks that the roads are empty and speeds are fast. But there is the possibility that as more people get 4g, average speeds will start to slow down.

Mobile Data Plans…

You can’t just connect to a network, either 3g or 4g, you’ll need to go through a mobile operator. You can get a pay as you go phone, which will give you a SIM card that you need to load with credit so that you can use your phone. This will let you connect to 3g internet, but prices are pretty high and mobile internet use will use up your credit pretty fast. For this reason, many people instead decide to sign a contract with a mobile operator for a calling plan. This calling plan will give you a set amount of calling minutes, text messages and mobile data that you can use each month for a fixed fee. Calling plans are for 3g data, unless you get a specific 4g data plan.

Data Plans for 3g Phones…

Even on a contract mobile data can get expensive, and data is much more expensive than calling or texting. The operator that currently offers the cheapest data rates is Three. You need to be particularly careful when using data. If you go over the monthly data limit in your contract then you can get expensive extra fees for using more data, or the company will slow or stop your internet connection. For this reason, many people choose to get unlimited data. However, even this isn’t as simple as it sounds. Many operators have fair usage policies meaning that if the operator thinks that you’re using too much mobile data they reserve the right to slow your speeds down, even if you have an unlimited plan. You need to look for a “truly unlimited” data plan to avoid this. All of Three’s unlimited plans are truly unlimited, which is another reason to choose them as your operator.

Data Plans for 4g Phones…

To use 4g you will need a specific 4g data plan. Not all operators have these, and many of the ones that do don’t get good speeds. The only operator that gets real 4g speeds at the moment is EE. Their 4g data plans are expensive, around three times what you’d pay for a normal data plan, but they do also come with unlimited calling minutes and text messages. They do not come with unlimited mobile data, however. There is no unlimited 4g mobile data plan at the moment. This is a little risky, since 4g speeds are so fast that you can rapidly eat up your monthly limit. EE does not have 4g coverage in all of the UK. To find out if you can connect to the 4g network with EE visit their web page and check out their coverage map. You can get a 4g data plan with other operators, generally cheaper than you will find them with EE. However, these operators will offer you speeds only slightly better than those on 3g, so these plans may not be worth paying for. If you want real 4g, you’re going to have to spend the money and go with EE. Or you’re going to have to wait until there’s a little more competition on the market and prices fall.

 Sam Jones‘s son asked him how he could get great deals for 3G phones.  They searched online with sites like uSwitch and everything they needed to know was right there.

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