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Mobile Broadband FAQs

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Best Buy > Mobile Phones > Mobile Broadband > Mobile Broadband Basics

See how easy it is to access the Internet
practically anywhere:

  • Add a mobile broadband USB device to your laptop or netbook
  • Get an embedded laptop with mobile broadband built in
  • Use a mobile hotspot to share a broadband connection with up to 5 other devices
  • Choose from a variety of carriers and monthly cost options

What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband technology delivers high-speed Internet wirelessly to your laptop via a portable modem, hotspot-enabled phone or other device.

What are the advantages of mobile broadband?

With a mobile broadband connection and device you'll be able to get high-speed Internet in areas where there are no standard broadband connections. You can use it on the move, and access the Internet virtually anywhere without having to worry about finding — or paying for — a Wi-Fi connection. (Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed Internet and network connections to Wi-Fi enabled devices.)

You may want to use mobile broadband in your home as well, eliminating the need for more traditional service via cable Internet or DSL (which requires a landline from your telephone company). It can also save you money.

How are mobile broadband and wireless networking different?

Mobile broadband uses a carrier network (typically a cellular carrier like Sprint, Verizon or AT&T) to deliver a high-speed Internet connection almost anywhere you can make a mobile phone call.

Wireless networks use a combination of a high-speed Internet connection (usually delivered by physical cable for cable Internet, or telephone wire for DSL) and a wireless router to broadcast a signal throughout your home. This wireless signal can be picked up by a Wi-Fi- enabled device like a laptop, iPod Touch or gaming system. Wi-Fi is very frequently offered in coffee shops, hotels and airports, but sometimes you must pay a fee to access the network.

What are my mobile broadband device options?

Mobile broadband USB adapter

Mobile broadband devicesThis device plugs into your laptop or netbook's USB port to receive a carrier's 3G or 4G signal, providing instant access to the Internet. If you have a laptop or netbook with embedded mobile technology, you do not need to purchase an adapter to receive this signal.

Embedded laptops or netbooks

Embedded mobile broadbandThese computers have mobile broadband built in so there's no need to add an external device. They receive wireless broadband signals automatically, delivering an always-on connection that works within a provider's coverage area.

Mobile hotspot

Mobile hotspotsA mobile hotspot picks up a carrier's 3G or 4G network signal and broadcasts it to up to 5 other Wi-Fi-capable devices. It's ideal for a business that requires you and co-workers to connect while away from the office. Many people use mobile hotspots in areas with without Wi-Fi connections or in areas that charge for connecting to a Wi-Fi network. Some mobile phones also act as hotspots.

How much mobile broadband do I need?

The amount — megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB) — of mobile broadband data you will need on a monthly basis depends on what kind of data you will download. If you plan to download music, photos and other data files or watch streaming video, then you need to purchase a greater amount. There are many mobile broadband plans available.

See chart for details on recommended usage plans.

How can I check coverage availability?

3G mobile broadband technology is available in much of the country. Faster 4G technology is new and is slowly rolling out to parts of the nation, initially to major metropolitan areas. Select the carrier coverage map links below to see what mobile broadband technology is available in your area.

Verizon Wireless AT&T Sprint T-Mobile
View Map View Map View Map View Map

What are the steps to take to get mobile broadband?

Best Buy stores and have a variety of mobile broadband devices and carriers to choose from.

1Choose your device

Choose from a wide selection of products: mobile phones, broadband devices, mobile hotspots or laptops and netbooks with embedded mobile broadband. Consider your carrier preference when choosing a device since most are carrier-specific.

2Pick your plan

Choose from plans offered by all the major carriers: either contract or no-contract. (Embedded mobile plans are currently not offered online.)

3Verify coverage

Enter a ZIP code to verify coverage in the area where you'll connect your device.

4Fill out the application

Complete the mobile broadband carrier application for service, which includes a credit check.

5Check out

Complete your online checkout. Before you know it, your mobile phone, hotspot or mobile broadband device will be at your door, already activated and ready for you to use. Once you have all the components, setting up your new mobile broadband connection is a snap. Most USB modem adapters and embedded laptops either come with pre-installed software or can be downloaded from your provider.

Embedded laptops and netbooks must be purchased and activated in Best Buy stores.

Get Started Now

Have other questions? Get them answered here.


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