Mobile Broadband Plans and the 5 GB Limit

As the world rushes head long into becoming more and more mobile and as more employment becomes the virtual variety, an increasing number of people will be looking into mobile broadband plans. Mobile broadband plans when combined with a wireless data card will allow just about anyone with a laptop to plug into the internet from anywhere and cruise just like they were in front of their computer at home. The mobile broadband plans come in a number of shapes, sizes and flavors, but a common theme among them is the 5 GB (GigiByte) data limit that has been imposed.

The big question in relation to the 5 GB is “What does it mean to me? How much time on the internet is that?” Let’s face it, it’s confusing, it’s not like we have anything like an odometer on our computers telling us how much we are using and it would be pointless if we did, since home internet connections have no limit these days. So let’s dive into the numbers and see if we can clear up some of the confusion.

I’m sure it will not surprise you that mobile broadband plans come in a variety of prices for 5 Gb of data, ranging from a low of $39.00 per month to a high of $59.00. How much of a data stream is your money buying you? Below is a chart that might help, each line equals 5 GB.

  1. Email with a 3 MB attachment. (You can send 1,706 of those)
  2. Web page lookup (150k) (You can perform about 34,000)
  3. Lo-resolution photos (500k) (Over 20,000 of these)
  4. Mp3 downloads (1,280 songs)

OK so your still confused and have no idea how much of each of these you use. Then let’s really simplify it. A 5GB limit on data will last the average person for about 250 hours of browsing or up to 20 hours of streaming video¬†

Now that you know how big the basket is, let’s see just how much the basket is going to cost. Every provider has a different pricing plan and below is a breakdown of the more popular providers.

  • T-Mobile at the moment appears to be the cheapest of the providers, coming in at $39.00/month, but that is only if you have a phone with them, if not it jumps to $49.00/month. This may seem like a lot until you notice that T-Mobile doesn’t charge over usage fees if you exceed the 5 GB, they simply slow down the 3G connection to 2G speeds.
  • Verizon has pretty much the same setup, except they charge $10.00 per GB over usage fees.
  • Sprint has a 5 GB limit on their 3G networks and unlimited usage on their 4G network at a cost of $59.00/month. Thing is 4G is not that widespread yet so you will more than likely be using 3G most of the time and be tied to the 5 GB limit, also there is a 5 cent per megabyte over usage fee as well.

As you can see the data usage is just one aspect of mobile broadband plans and as usual the devil is in the details, so choose wisely. There is little worse than opening up your cell phone bill to see that the cost of your data plan doubled because of those movies you just had to download. As another word of caution, just remember that these plans can change in a heartbeat, similar to the cell phone plans. The prices and details mentioned above are just guidelines and you will want to re-verify them.