Using mobile broadband

Deciding what mobile connection you need

The three main kinds of mobile broadband connection are:

  • 3G, which is the slowest connection, and is unsuitable for care homes
  • 4G, which is a fast connection, suitable for most care homes
  • 5G, which is the fastest connection but has limited coverage 

If you cannot get fixed-line broadband, we recommend getting at least a 4G mobile connection.

Find out what kind of connection you can get in your area using Ofcom’s tool. The ‘indoor coverage’ will show the quality of connection you can get inside your property.

Accessing mobile broadband

To access mobile broadband you could use:

  • a mobile device or standalone device as a Wi-Fi ‘hotspot’, for light use
  • a 4G router, for heavier use
  • a 5G router, for a faster connection in areas where 5G is available

Using a mobile hotspot

You could use a smartphone or tablet with a SIM card as a hotspot to connect to the internet on another device. Follow instructions on setting up a hotspot on an Android device or setting up hotspot an iPhone or iPad

You can also buy standalone devices (called ‘mobile Wi-Fi’ or ‘MiFi’) which perform the same function, if it is more convenient to have a separate unit. 

Using mobile hotspots is the most straightforward option if you need a light or occasional internet connection, but it’s not recommended for connecting multiple devices or for regular video calls.  

Using a 4G router

If you need a more reliable connection that isn’t dependent on your mobile phone or tablet’s battery life, you could use a 4G router. 

This is similar to using a fixed-line router, but uses the mobile network to connect your router to the internet. It is generally less reliable than fixed-line broadband, and the provider may put limits on the amount of data you can use. 

The speed of 4G routers depends on the mobile network coverage in your area. Find out the likely signal strength at your location 

Using a 5G router

5G is even faster than 4G, but it has less coverage in the UK. If you already have good indoor 5G in your location, it may be worth using a 5G router. 

Choosing a mobile internet provider and contract

Visit the websites of the providers available in your area or use an online comparison tool to find mobile internet deals. 

When looking at deals, check:

  • how much data the deals include - without unlimited data, you may be charged extra if you exceed your limit
  • whether ‘unlimited’ truly means unlimited in the contract terms - some providers may cap speeds if you exceed a certain data limit  
  • upload and download speeds - this is the speed at which you can download information (for example, stream videos or download files), and upload or send information (for example, sending emails or uploading content to websites) 
  • contract lengths - shorter contracts can be more expensive, but this may better suit your needs 
  • whether providers offer free cancellation or money back if you don’t get the connection you expect