Mobile Broadband: What are the Challenges?

When I had normal access to cable Internet, I had taken it for granted. Since moving to a more rural area, I have not had a chance to set up high-speed Internet. My mainstay for access?

Mobile broadband through my mobile provider.

T-Mobile's Mobile Hotspot
Depending on the phone plan, T-Mobile lets users activate a mobile hotspot for broadband access.

T-Mobile is my provider, and one of the selling points of their current monthly plans is mobile hotspot access.  While many things can be done via smartphone, there are some things that require a keyboard and a mouse/touchpad.

It’s how I’ve been able to write for this website and why I invested in a WiFi-only model of the Samsung Chromebook.

What can I do via mobile broadband? Just about anything, including some online games (so long as I’m not on for too long). Social networking, web surfing, blogging, and more are accessible virtually anywhere.

What about the challenges?

The rural area that I live in only has edge network speeds, and data access is not consistent, so even web surfing is iffy at best.  Where I work, there’s 4G access, but there’s a few small problems that can make things a royal pain.

For starters, let’s say that a major storm hits. Since my provider is T-Mobile, if one of their towers gets hit, I won’t have service for several hours. Every other network has a better chance of staying up.

Another issue that could be problematic depending on how often I’m online is the fact that each plan has a cap for mobile hotspot. On my current plan, I have 2.5 GB of access to mobile broadband.

It’s ideal for most things, but online gaming and VOIP sessions would eat away at that cap in a matter of hours.

Then there’s the issue of interference. When I was working on a piece regarding the FCC’s proposed rules that would affect Net Neutrality on my lunch break, everybody else decided to use all three microwaves in the break room at the same time.

The one thing that kills a WiFi signal in a split second: multiple microwaves running at once!

Goodbye WiFi signal, hello anger, frustration, and choice expletives.

As I already alluded to, depending on coverage areas, mobile broadband may not be ideal for an individual. One thing’s for certain: I appreciate having a home-based ISP, even if it turns out to be DSL in the future.

About Thomas Holbrook II

Thomas first encountered FOSS while visiting the University of Central Missouri (then known as Central Missouri State University) during high school. Mandrake was the first distribution he ever attempted to run. He has had experience with SuSE, Red Hat, Fedora, Ubuntu, and other distros. He currently does a podcast each week and publishes a monthly digital magazine covering Unix and Overlooked Pop Culture at

2 thoughts on “Mobile Broadband: What are the Challenges?

  1. Microwaves disrupt wifi … interesting. By the way, it would be useful to have a way to have wifi-specific domain blacklists. That way I could add, say, to a blacklist when using my phone’s wifi and avoid using up all its monthly data.

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