Mobile broadband plans allow us to access the internet from anywhere that we might go. We connect through our smartphones or laptops fitted with a USB dongle or data card, without a real understanding of exactly how we are accessing the World Wide Web. If you are curious to know exactly how you are accessing the internet via mobile broadband plans then keep reading to discover how mobile broadband really works.

Your mobile broadband actually works in much the same way as your mobile phone; the same technology is in operation for both services. Data packets are sent between mobile devices and mobile phone radio towers. These packets could contain voice data, in the case of a phone call, or other types of data such as email or music files. The packets of information are transported using radio waves, therefore the closer you are to a mobile phone radio tower, the better your phone or mobile internet signal is likely to be.

There are two different technologies that are in use today for access to mobile phone networks, both favoured in different parts of the world. These technologies are known as the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). The two technologies use different algorithms to enable different users to share the same radio frequency at the same time, without any interference or interruption.

Along with developing these technologies to carry voice data packets, they have also been adapted for the purpose of 3G mobile broadband technology. Both GSM and CDMA have developed different ways of handling mobile internet, but both deliver fast connections for downloading and surfing the web. The name of the technology for mobile broadband developed by GSM is High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), whereas CDMA offer Evolution-Data Optimised or Evolution-Data Only (EV-DO).

EV-DO runs on a part of the mobile phone network that is devoted purely to data, providing faster data transfers as the data isn’t getting caught up in the bandwidth-heavy voice calls. The downside to this technology is the inability to talk on the phone while accessing your mobile broadband.

HSDPA, on the other hand, allows the simultaneous access of both voice and data. This enables you to chat to your nearest and dearest while checking your emails at the same time. The average speeds using HSDPA tend to be faster than those achieved with EV-DO, making this technology, on the whole, more popular.

For both technologies you will require specialised hardware to provide access to mobile internet. This technology is often built into devices such as smartphones and some laptop or netbook computers. Alternatively data cards or USB dongles can be purchased to provide access to the internet.

Although both EV-DO and HSDPA still struggle to provide connection to the internet in rural areas that are far from the nearest mobile phone radio tower, mobile broadband is improving in coverage and speed all of the time.