Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Shannen D. If you would like to contribute too, please contact me.
There is no doubt we have all become hooked on the internet. Smartphones, 3G and Wi-Fi are all common terms that no one thinks twice about. In fact, with greater and greater connectivity through the mobile network more and more people are switching to mobile broadband through dongles, or their phones, for their primary access to the online world.
However, the problem with this sea change is the limitation of a 3G mobile broadband connection to one device. Not everyone is a broadband expert and can often be defeated by the technical intricacies when they want to connect more than one piece of kit, be it a games console, laptop, or PC to mobile broadband.
The truth is, though, there are a few simple steps to take that will make this transition an easy one. It is worth mentioning that this may not be the perfect solution for everyone.
Mobile connections offer a limited data allowance when compared to home broadband so take care not to scoff down your allowance through multiple devices. Heavy usage from a number of different machines might result in some pretty unpleasant bills. That said, for checking Facebook, emails, or other light usage this could be the perfect solution.
There are a number of options from mobile network providers, which will enable you to share your connection with other devices or other people in a shared house. This will mean dipping in to your wallet, but may well pay off in the long run.
Some companies, such as 3 mobile, provide widgets, which set up an ad-hoc Wi-Fi hotspot from your 3G connection and allow you to connect as many as five separate devices. This ‘Mi-Fi’ unit works through a broadband SIM and will work on anything from your iPad to your Nintendo DS and everything in between. Vodafone offer a similar device called a Wi-Fi Cradle that you simply plug your dongle into.
2. 3G Wireless Router
On the other hand, 3G wireless routers are also available for under £50. Essentially, these behave just like a home broadband router. One of the best value systems is the TP-Link TL-MR3420 300MBPS Wireless N 3G Router
, which you can pick up for less than £35.
After the initial outlay this couldn’t be easier and you don’t have to be a broadband expert to start using it. Your SIM from a regular mobile network or dongle will plug right into it. These nifty routers will simply connect to 3G and just sit there. When you turn your laptop on, it will find the router as a Wi-Fi connection and will join up.
The sheer usefulness of these items has been made apparent for many travellers and businesspeople, who worked out that it was cheaper to carry one of these around than pay the (often extortionate) Wi-Fi charges in hotels.
3. Internet Sharing Connection
There are ways and means of setting up Internet Sharing Connection (ICS) through Windows. The ICS means that you can connect other systems through one home PC. This method is a bit more convoluted. Firstly, you will need to find a way to connect your PCs, maybe through a crossover cable and secondly, you have to remember that if the main PC (the one with the dongle) is switched off, then so is the whole network.
Although this option is free it does require a little bit of technical knowledge and a familiarity with Windows. If you are undaunted by this, there are some guides available online that will walk you through.
The variety of methods discussed shows that sharing 3G Mobile networks on a wireless LAN is not as complicated as it first appears. Many of the mobile providers have got the market in their sights and have produced ‘plug and play’ devices, whilst a small familiarity with Windows and a free afternoon could be your ticket to a free system.
Guest post: The above article is composed and edited by Shannen D. She is associated with many technology and designing communities including Broadband Expert as their freelance writer and adviser. In her free time she writes articles related to technology, mobile applications, etc.