What Is Mobile Broadband?

Tyler Abbott
Staff Writer, Mobile & Wireless
Read More
February 08, 2022
1 min read

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Mobile broadband refers to wireless internet access you can get by using your phone as a modem.

It happens when cellular towers transmit internet access and your phone picks up the signal. Your mobile broadband connection happens behind the scenes, and it’s why you can scroll through Facebook and Instagram even when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi.

Your mobile broadband connection will either be a 3G, a 4G, or eventually a 5G connection.

What’s the difference between 3G, 4G, and 5G?

Here’s something you probably never knew—the “G” stands for generation. (So simple, yet so profound.) The more G’s you have, the faster your internet speed will be. Here’s a breakdown of what speeds to expect with each generation:

Mobile broadband speed comparison
Generation
Top download speed
Average download speed

2G

0.3 Mbps

0.1 Mbps

3G

42 Mbps

8 Mbps

4G

1 Gbps

50 Mbps

5G

10 Gbps

TBD

The older the network, the more it will struggle meeting the demands of our internet use. It’d be like trying to play Fortnite on a Windows XP operating system. (Your poor computer.)

But what if you don’t want to part with your beloved oldschool iPhone that runs on a 3G network? It might still meet your needs now, but it won’t soon. Take a look at the latency you can expect with older mobile broadband connections:

Mobile broadband network latency comparison
Network
Latency (milliseconds)

2G

300–1000ms

3G

100–500ms

4G

50–100ms

5G

1–10ms

Yes, we are dealing with milliseconds here, but we both know how annoying it can get waiting for the internet to load. How many of us have been in the awkward situation of showing someone a video and the connection craps out on us? Filling that silence is always uncomfortable.

(Not to mention how much harder it’ll be to check email and social media.)

Bandwidth vs. latency

Bandwidth refers to how much data your internet connection can upload or download at one time. Latency is a measure of time delay and refers to how much time it takes your computer to send and receive signals. 

Tyler Abbott
Written by
Tyler Abbott
Tyler has been obsessed with watching sports as efficiently as possible since the creation of the DVR. He is always on the lookout for the best tech in TV and wireless so he can watch all the sports and still have enough time to hang out with his baby. He has written about streaming, wireless, and TV for over three years. He hopes the Lakers will eventually get better.

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