25 September 2008

Mobile Broadband

I was quite skeptical when I was asked to investigate the possibilities of mobile broadband use for work. Where I work we cover a mainly rural area in East Sussex of almost 200 square miles.

We wanted to take a coach fitted out with PCs across the Rother district to enable members of the public to see what we can offer via our website and also deal with customers enquiries live whilst they drop-in. To do this we needed an internet connection but as a backup we still wanted an offline copy of our website.

We had a look at the mobile broadband providers and their coverage maps. Although 3 Mobile had the best coverage, high speed broadband wasn't available in all the locations we wanted to visit. We ordered the broadband modem from 3 and when it arrived we took a laptop to the locations to try out the speeds. Some of the locations we tested had good broadband speeds but sadly others had dial-up speeds or none at all. We had expected this from looking at the coverage maps so prepared ourselves with an up to date offline copy of our website.

At the start of the week I was a bit nervous about the mobile broadband as whatever connection speeds we got would have to be shared via up to nine networked PCs. The first location proved to be no problem at all. The slowest speed recorded was in Sedlescombe with HSDPA (108kb/s). The fastest was in Bexhill with HSDPA (1,311kbs). The only place that had no coverage was the village of Fairlight. Lucky for us though, the local church shared its Wi-Fi connection with us.

All in all, the broadband coverage was surprising and the event was a success. Mobile broadband really can be a viable alternative to Wi-Fi hot spots or for those that don't have a land line. Thumbs up for 3 mobile broadband!

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