By Rob Clymo, who writes on behalf of broadbandgenie.co.uk, the independent comparison website for broadband and mobile broadband.
If you run a small business, or are thinking of launching a new venture, then the ability to communicate quickly and efficiently with your colleagues, clients and networking contacts is vital.
Broadband has transformed the way we do our work, and as a result it has made us much more able to meet the demands of a fast-moving market place, no matter what the business. Most people who run a fairly small operation use traditional ADSL or cable broadband because it's quick and easy to set up and will do the job reasonably enough.
However, some small business owners are starting to see the potential of using mobile broadband as an alternative to the fixed-line route. If you're a business owner who needs to be out and about, selling, meeting clients or simply touting for new business, then mobile broadband puts you at an immediate advantage.
Mobile broadband allows you to access the internet and your email from a laptop or netbook computer pretty much anywhere you can get access to a signal.
It offers the same degree of functionality that home or business broadband offers, but the added bonus is the mobility factor. It works along the same lines as a mobile phone, and in most cases, the network you are using is essentially the same.
Considering that it can revolutionise the way you work, and will certainly increase productivity, there's very little involved in getting set up and running. All you need to do is to pick a deal from one of the many providers, many of which are mobile phone companies along with traditional broadband ISPs.
Choose from a contract or Pay-As-You-Go option, both of which are suitable depending on frequency of use.
There's very little in the way of kit needed to enjoy mobile broadband. Most modern computers, laptops and netbooks are all ready to accept a 'dongle' that'll allow you to receive the mobile broadband signal.
A dongle is a small plastic receiver device that holds a SIM card just like a mobile phone has. Some computers have the same technology built inside them. Configuration takes mere minutes and from there on in you are ready to enjoy high-speed internet access on the go.
All of the major telecoms companies have a presence in the world of mobile broadband, including the likes of 3, BT, o2, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin Media and Vodafone. Most of these companies have countless packages tailored to suit all kinds of needs, from personal through to business deals.
There are always limited period offers available too, although if you're tantalized by these just be sure to check the small print as special terms and conditions normally apply.
Spend time reading up on the deals you're interested in. It's a good idea to lookout for hardware considerations, such as checking that the service is compatible with your computer equipment.
Some deals offer a free dongle and others a laptop for nothing, while some will give you both but this will often mean that you'll need to repay their generosity by being locked into a lengthier contract.
These contracts can cover all sorts of terms, but 12 and 24 months are often common.
The beauty of PAYG is that you have no contract at all, so if you only need to dip into mobile broadband sporadically then this can be a good way to try it out before committing too heavily.
If you're a new business then price is going to mean everything. Check out a price comparison website like Broadband Genie to view the many and varied deals on offer.
Setup costs are often free or negligable, but it's worth checking these too, and find out if you'll need to pay extra for any additional kit because it may be that the dongle is not part of the standard package.
While there are numerous pros for using mobile broadband it's also worth noting that there can be a few cons too. The most notable downside to using mobile broadband on the go is that, just like mobile phones, the signal supply can be susceptible to fluctuations in both speed and service.
Some geographical locations can offer little or no coverage, although this can be easily checked online. Broadband Genie also offers up a host of tools for comparing speeds and availability of services, and what's more, it costs nothing to do this little bit of homework, before you sign on the dotted line.
Speeds are often much slower than those advertised too, and this can often be because of a limited signal or lots of other people using the network at the same time.
There can also be rules and regulations on usage limits, often referred to as capping, so watch out that you don't get in trouble for uploading or downloading vast amounts of data if your package doesn't allow it.
If you're business traveler who needs to work overseas and mobile broadband seems the ideal solution then also be aware that some packages simply don't work, while others can be prohibitively expensive. You may need to shop around a bit longer to pinpoint a more flexible option on that front.
Nevertheless, there's no doubt that investing in a mobile broadband package can certainly improve not only efficiency but also productivity in a business world where more and more of us are constantly on the move.
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