What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband technology, also called wireless wide area network (WWAN) technology, provides wireless high-speed Internet access through portable devices. This technology is supported in this version of Windows. With mobile broadband, you can connect to the Internet from any location where there is GSM or CDMA-based cellular service available for mobile Internet connectivity. With mobile connectivity, you can maintain your Internet connection even as you move from place to place.

Mobile broadband is available with most 2G, 2.5G, and 3G cellular and mobile networks.

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Mobile broadband terminology

Mobile broadband technology has its own special terminology:

  • A data card is a small card or device that provides mobile broadband Internet access. Removable data cards can be in the format of PC cards, USB cards or dongles, or ExpressCards. Data cards can also be embedded laptop modules.

  • A subscriber identity module (SIM) is a small, removable card that contains subscriber identity and security information for mobile broadband services. Some data cards might not have physically identifiable or removable SIMs.

  • An access point name (APN) or access string is a combination of letters and numbers provided by your mobile operator to identify the type of network access you have. A mobile operator might have different APNs that offer different types of services.

  • Autoconnect refers to the mobile broadband connection manager that automatically establishes a connection to a mobile broadband network.

  • Autoselect refers to the mobile broadband connection manager that automatically selects a mobile operator to connect to when the home network provider isn't available.

  • Just as with a mobile phone, roaming refers to moving outside your usual area of usage, such as a state, country, or region. When roaming, you connect to your mobile operator through a partner network, and you're usually charged more for data service.

  • 2G and 3G networks are cellular networks that support different connection speeds and technologies.

What you need to use mobile broadband

To connect to the Internet using mobile broadband, you need a mobile broadband data card (either a PC card, USB card, ExpressCard, or embedded laptop module), the correct drivers installed, and a mobile broadband subscription.

To learn how to connect to the Internet using mobile broadband technology, see Use mobile broadband to connect to the Internet.

Recommended data plans

Mobile operators often offer many different types of data plans. For a full-featured Internet experience, we recommend that you select a high-speed, unlimited data usage plan with no restrictions on the types of programs you can use to connect to the Internet.

Recommended settings for other programs

For the best Internet experience, consider getting an unlimited data plan and a high-speed link, if one is available in your area.

The following settings are recommended if you aren't on an unlimited data plan or aren't connecting to a high-speed 3G network.

  • You should set your e‑mail program to download headers only. Headers include the subject line and who the e‑mail is to and from. In this mode, you first download e‑mail headers, and then you can decide whether to download the entire e‑mail. This minimizes the amount of data that you need to transfer over the mobile broadband link.

  • To avoid additional charges and slower network performance, change your browser settings so that images aren't automatically downloaded and displayed.

  • To further minimize the amount of data that you need to transfer over the mobile broadband link, change your Windows Update settings so that you don't automatically download updates. To do so, follow these steps:

    1. Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type Update, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Update.

    2. In the left pane, click Change settings.

    3. Under Important updates, select Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them from the list, and then click OK.


    • It's important to regularly install updates to enhance the security and performance of your computer.