Can Mobile Networks replace Broadband

Mobile Networks are improving all the time and they are fast reaching the point where you can reasonably have faith that you can get a fast stable connection from the majority of locations, but are mobile connections at a point where they can replace traditional fixed line broadband?

On a recent trip I decided to put my mobile connection to the test, whilst my location did have an Internet connection available it had a limited download limit so I took the opportunity to test the wifi hotspot functionality on my iPhone 6S to see how well it could become my primary Internet connection. Before I get into my experiences it’s important to look at my requirements and expectations.
My primary device is a Nexus 7 (wifi only version), I also have an iPad 1 for watching media, my wife also has a Windows 7 PC but for the majority of the week this device was connected to the existing broadband connection.
My main online uses of the devices are Email, Social Media, online media (eg TV Catchup, NOW TV, iPlayer), web browsing, blogging and occasional online gaming, I’m also reasonably technically minded so I don’t mind having to work to get things working.

So how did it go?
The first thing I did was a speed comparison between the existing broadband connection and my mobile connection. The results are shown below with the mobile connection on the left of the screen and the fixed line broadband on the right.

As you can see the results are comparable with each other, but how does that relate to real world performance? During my testing I experienced no issues with network performance.

Web browsing and social media apps obviously worked without difficulty but video would be more of a benchmark.
I watched 2 films on NOW TV running on my iPad without any buffering, and the image quality was very good, BBC iPlayer programs and YouTube videos worked perfectly.
Even online multiplayer gaming through the impressive SG: Dead Zone app on my Nexus 7 worked well without any lag.

Was it all positive?

I did experience some technical difficulties during my testing, my iPhone 4s worked extremely well when a single device was connected to it, but when multiple devices were connected to the handset it caused it to crash and require a reboot, this may be just an issue with the iPhone but you may want to be aware of this.

Before you attempt to use you mobile device as a long term internet connection you need to understand the mobile tariff on your contract.
During my weeks testing I used 4.5Gb of data through a tethered connection.
Different network providers have different options for data allowances and rules on tethering.

Also see: How to switch from iPhone to Android phone

This is important as going over your data allowances may prove costly, for this experiment I used a device on The One Plan from Three which offers unlimited data usage and no tethering limitations, but as long as you work within your contractual limitations then this will work on any provider.

Although the network speed in your location will dictate the results you experience.

Final Thoughts
I wanted to see if a mobile connection can replace a traditional broadband connection, and ultimately yes you can, as long as you don’t mind a slightly less seamless experience, have the right mobile contract, don’t want to connect many devices and can tolerate occasional frustrations.

If you want a consistent process then you may wish to remain on a static broadband connection.


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