With many of us currently feeling the financial pinch, it's more important than ever to save money wherever possible. One place you can start is in the area of mobile broadband, simply because it's such a competitive marketplace.
There are endless deals and offers available all the time for anyone who wants to have a connection to the internet with them wherever they go. Mobile broadband products and services are now widespread and when it comes to choice, you've got a dazzling array of options to choose from.
Where to look
To get started with mobile broadband itís a great idea to use the services of a free comparison website like Broadband Genie. This is a place that will give you an overview of all the deals currently available, including mobile broadband, smartphones and SIM card options.
You'll need to have an idea of what you want to use your mobile broadband for and if youíre a fairly lightweight user then a simple pay-as-you-go option can be a good way to get started. PAYG can be used with most mobile broadband services, including laptops, smartphones and the Apple iPad.
The great thing about going down this route is that you only pay for the time that youíre actually connected to the internet, and there is also no contract to worry about. You'll probably have to buy the device you want to use mobile broadband on though, so remember to factor this into the total amount you want to spend.
The other route you can take is that of the contract. You'll need to sign up for a fixed-term deal, with contracts ranging from a one month rolling concept right up to 24 months. The upside to deals like this is that packages are often a little more generous in what you can do with the mobile broadband services. You might also get a freebie along the way too.
For example, lookout for free laptop deals, which many mobile operators will hand over to you in return for signing up to a longer contract, like two years or so. Ultimately, the laptop will be paid for by higher monthly charges over that duration, but it is a great way of getting connected with a brand new bit of kit and itís all yours at the end of it.
Access to mobile internet using smartphones is also hugely popular and while the handsets themselves can cost a small fortune SIM free, the other way to get one is to sign up to a contract. Spend some time looking at the deals and the chances are you'll soon find a phone and a deal that fits your needs while the smartphone itself might be yours for nothing.
The Apple iPad
An increasingly popular option for mobile broadband access is the Apple iPad. This is a slick and stylish tablet device that lets you do lots of things you'd do on a normal computer but in a portable fashion. Thereís a virtual keyboard and excellent screen, although if youíre buying one then spend a little more and go for the version that has both 3G and Wi-Fi.
Having a 3G model means that you'll be able to access the internet using the mobile internet network and iPad SIM cards are widely available for these devices. So, all you need to do is buy the device then compare the deals on iPad SIM cards (they are unique to the device and smaller too).
It's possible to get these on contract or PAYG and the built-in Wi-Fi also means that you can tap into free internet access when you're going up and down the UK without even using the 3G connection.
Things to watch
Look out for data usage allowances on any mobile broadband deal, as there can be rules and restrictions, depending on the package. Read the terms and conditions of any deal first to check that it meets your needs, as exceeding data limits can ensure additional costs.
Donít even think about using your mobile internet device overseas either unless you have a package that allows for this kind of usage. Roaming fees can be very high, so you might be better off using an internet cafť or picking up a local network SIM card when you get there, rather than risking needless expense.
About the author: Rob Clymo writes on behalf of www.broadbandgenie.co.uk, the independent comparison website for broadband, mobile broadband and smartphones.