7. Getting on the Internet
Mobile Broadband devices plug into your PC or Mac and connect to the Internet via the cell phone system. They can be a cheap way of connecting (about £10 per month) if you don’t have a landline and want to avoid the cost.
But, the service is variable. The speed is usually too slow for such things as streaming video or video calls. Sometimes it is very slow and you may suffer frequent disconnections.
The service can vary greatly between one location and another within a quite small area. Height above ground can also have a marked effect.
The best thing is to ask of those who live near you. Each Service Provider (e.g., 3G, T-Mobile, Virgin etc) having a different track record by location.
So far I have found T-Mobile the best in E3. It can be little more expensive but has day and week tariffs which can be useful. No guarantees though. Everybody’s experience is different.
These are pay-as-you-go devices. You can top-up using a voucher from a pay-point shop or by debt/credit card online. Remember if you don’t use up the download limit within the permitted time period (usually 30 days) then it expires.
If you just want e-mail, information and simple use of the Internet and you have patience then Mobile Broadband will just about do.
Tip: If it start to go slow on you and persists then use the software utility to disconnect and then reconnect. This will provide a different pathway and usually improves the speed. You will then need to use your Internet Browser’s refresh button to continue.
If you are already paying to rent a landline and you can afford a little more then Broadband by landline is much better. There are a lot of deals available each with their pros and cons.
Shop around carefully. Make sure you know what it will cost after the introductory offer expires. Some deals only have a low long term cost if you live in a specific area. Usually, in or near a city. Therefore, read the small print and find out what it means.
Again, actual service can vary from place to place. Ask friends and neighbours to recount their experience.
At present, whilst not the fastest, Plusnet seems to provide good value for money. But, this only applies long term if you live in certain places. Check out the eventual cost to you by examining the conditions on their website.
Determining what will suite you best can be a rather tedious pursuit but you will be stuck with a contract for a year, so it is worth the effort.
Don’t be put off though. If you persist you will get there eventually and it will be worth the effort.
Once you have decided upon you ISP (Internet Service Provider) and placed your order, you will either get a visit to install a landline (if needed) or be sent a kit and some instructions. Just follow the instructions, it is quite simple.
Your PC or Mac should have an Internet Browser. For a PC it will probably be Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. For an Apple Mac it will be Safari.
A Browser provides access to the Internet. Others are such as Firefox and Google Chrome.
Generally I’d stick with what you have and not be tempted to download a new Browser unless there is a reson for doing so.
Using a Search Engine (e.g. Google or Bing) will help. Type one or the other into your Browser’s search box. You can make one of them your Browser’s start (home) page by clicking on “Tools” then “Internet Options”.
Make the most of it. Check out our “Why?/Why be Online” and “Fun/With a Computer” pages from our Menu bar. Our Menu bar also has a “Useful Links” entry.
What’s next? Apart from all the online services there is a whole world of knowledge and connections. When put together that is empowerment and as much involvement as you choose.