One of the best things about owning a caravan is the feeling of freedom it brings. In years gone by it also meant that you'd basically be isolated from those at home unless you made a trip to the local phone box wherever you happened to be pitched up. Modern technology has of course changed all that. The mobile phone has revolutionised the way we stay in touch and now mobile broadband takes that a step further.
Mobile broadband works by utilising the same networks as your mobile handset, allowing access to high-speed internet on-the-go, pretty much wherever you are. The success of mobile broadband does rely on being able to access an available network, so some geographical areas suffer limited coverage, but by and large you can get broadband access across a large proportion of the UK. And it's this factor that makes it the caravan owners' dream come true.
Getting yourself set-up and ready to go is thankfully very
straightforward. One of the best ways to get started is to use the free
services of a price comparison website like Broadband Genie. This is
effectively a one-stop-shop for getting the best performing deals, both
in terms of price and efficiency of service. If you're a casual user of
broadband who only goes online occasionally then a Pay-As-You-Go option
should be more than adequate. Travellers with more demand for online
services are best off going for a contract based mobile broadband
There are pro's and con's for both PAYG and contract mobile broadband. With Pay-As-You-Go there is no contract tie-in, so as the title suggests, you only spend money on the time you're online. It's effectively the same service you'd be getting if you were on a contract, but without the commitment of a fixed-term deal and is therefore fine for catching up with a few emails to let the folks back home know about your whereabouts.
However, if you see yourself needing to be online regularly then it's worth investigating the contract option. Going down this route means that you'll probably be required to sign-up for a fixed period of time, but there can be additional benefits with this option. For starters, many contract packages offer up a free dongle, the small plastic USB key needed to receive the mobile broadband signal. Better still is the way some providers will offer you a free laptop computer if you commit to a fixed contract term.
So if you're on the lookout for a new computer and need the portability a laptop affords then a mobile broadband contract that includes a laptop thrown in for good measure can be a great way of getting yourself online. If you've got a caravan this also means you'll be able to enjoy the significant benefits that mobile broadband delivers. For example, television shows that you'd normally either miss or have to record at home can be downloaded and watched while you're away via an online service like BBC iPlayer.
Having access to the internet and email while you're away from home also means that you can stay online, surf the web and locate new destinations or camping locations even if you're miles from anywhere. And, as any web savvy person will know, having the capability for searching out things online instantly using high-speed broadband means you'll be able to get a better deal in a more desirable location when you next pitch up for the night.
Despite the fact that mobile broadband access can transform the way you gain access to the internet and email you you'll need to keep an eye on a few things along the way. It can be subject to lack of coverage, or heavy usage can also mean the service will slow down. Advertised speeds can often be a lot slower in reality, largely because of the above named factors. You'll also need to be acutely aware of any data usage penalties.
So be sure to read the terms and conditions of any mobile broadband package you're interested in. If you see yourself wanting to download hour upon hour of movie footage while you're camped out in the caravan then be sure that the package you've selected will permit it, without any heavy penalties being incurred. Heavy broadband users will need to be sure that the package they pick allows them to download enough data without facing restrictions, or capping as it is more commonly referred to.
The same applies if you're planning on hitching up the caravan and heading further afield. Mobile broadband packages don't always work overseas. And, be warned, when they do they can often be much more expensive than if you're accessing broadband while happily touring domestic areas like North Wales or the Lake District.
Nevertheless, being able to harness the power of mobile broadband can transform your caravanning lifestyle.
About the author: Rob Clymo writes on behalf of www.broadbandgenie.co.uk