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Mobile Broadband Questions & Answers

What is mobile broadband?
Mobile broadband provides high-speed Internet access using the cellular network, so the Internet access goes where you go.

Zoom Model 4595 Who provides mobile broadband service?
In the US the largest providers are Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and Virgin Mobile.

What is the best equipment to provide mobile broadband service to computers?
The most popular equipment for both computers and routers is a 3G USB modem that plugs into the USB port of a computer or router.

How fast is mobile broadband?
This depends on the speed of the modem and of the service. Zoom's 3G modems for USB have a top download speed of 7.2 Mbps, but most service providers don't support this high speed. In the US a more typical speed is about 1.5 Mbps. This varies depending on your service provider and that service provider's coverage in the area where you're using the modem.

Does one modem work for all popular services?
Such modems do exist, but they tend to be big and expensive. Most users prefer a USB modem that's for GSM networks like AT&T and most other networks worldwide, or a different USB modem that's for CDMA networks like Verizon, Sprint, Virgin, and CDMA networks in some other countries.

Is the modem all you need?
No. Normally you also need to pay for mobile broadband service. There is a wide range of plans, including prepaid, pay-as-you-go, and long-term-commitment plans.

Don't I have to sign a long-term contract to obtain mobile broadband service?
No, and a long-term contract is usually not a good choice. Mobile broadband speeds, coverage areas, and rate plans are changing on an ongoing basis. What seems like a good service plan today may not be tomorrow. You may have to pay more for your modem to avoid a long-term contract, but that is a good investment to keep your options open with this fast-changing technology.

Will the modem work everywhere?
No. The modem works where your service provider has 3G service. The service provider typically has a map that shows 3G coverage. If you are in a coverage area, you should get high-speed Internet access unless the 3G signal is blocked by, for instance, a building's metal roof or walls. Zoom's 3G routers can help deal with signal blockage with their Range Extender feature.

Will the modem work in a moving vehicle?
Normally it will if there's 3G coverage where the vehicle is.

Will the modem work in a park or on a beach?
If your service provider has 3G coverage there, it should work.

Does a 3G modem for GSM services work for all GSM services worldwide?
Not necessarily. The frequencies used by GSM services vary in different countries. That's why Zoom's 3G modems for GSM, models 4595 and 4596, are Tri-band. These modems should work for all GSM services worldwide, as long as you're signed up for service.

How do I sign up for service?
This depends on the service provider. Zoom's 3G modems for GSM accept a tiny card called a SIM that is an international standard for obtaining access to a GSM network. You can sign up for AT&T service, for instance, and get a SIM card for AT&T service. In many countries you can get a prepaid SIM card that lets you use the service associated with that SIM card.

Zoom Model 4501 Can I use 3G service for multiple devices at once?
Yes. A good way to do that is to use a 3G router such as Zoom's Model 4506 Travel Router or Model 4501 desktop router. You plug a 3G modem into either of these models, and then you can have high-speed Internet access for any WiFi compatible device that's within range of the router, and to devices with an Ethernet port. The device could be a computer, mobile phone, iPod Touch or Blackberry, portable game station, or any other device with wireless n, g, or b or an Ethernet port. This means a Zoom router is a great way to significantly expand the devices that can use your mobile broadband service.

Do Zoom's 3G routers support wireless-N?
Yes, they support wireless-N and also wireless-G and wireless-B. They are flexible and fast, and they provide a very wide coverage area.

What's the Range Extender feature?
This lets you use the Router's wireless-N capability to connect to a wireless device that's having trouble using 3G. You put the router where the 3G signal is strong, and then communicate with your devices using wireless-N. This is a great solution for buildings that have bad 3G coverage, such as buildings with metal roofs or thick walls

Zoom Model 4506
I know Verizon and Sprint have a travel router called a MiFi that integrates a modem. Why are Zoom's 3G routers better than a MiFi?
There are a number of reasons why Zoom 3G routers are better for most users, those reasons include:
  1. Zoom's mobile broadband routers are Wireless-N, the latest WiFi standard. The MiFi only has the older, slower Wireless-G.
  2. Zoom's mobile broadband routers have enough flexibility and horsepower to be used as a home or small office router with a wired WAN connection , as well as mobile broadband connections. The MiFi does not have an Ethernet LAN or WAN port, Zoom's mobile broadband routers do.
  3. The MiFi devices only support five concurrent users. Zoom supports up to 253. Zoom 3G routers are a serious networking product, the MiFi is very limited.
  4. The wireless range on the Zoom routers are much better. The MiFi range is 30 to 40 feet, Zoom's 3G routers have a range of about 300 feet.
  5. Zoom allows you to change the modem used with the 3G router. The MiFi integrates the modem and locks that modem to a specific service provider. With Zoom, you can change the service provider, the type of modem, or both. Mobile broadband coverage areas, speeds, rate plans, and technologies are changing rapidly. A better mobile broadband deal may be introduced tomorrow. You might move or get a new job and find your 3G service no longer works at the new location. Locking the 3G router to a single modem technology and service, as the MiFi does, sacrifices the flexibility you need.

Why is Zoom a good choice for 3G products?
Zoom has been producing communication products since 1977, and we know how to make and support good products. Zoom's support staff is based in Boston, and provides support via the Web, email, or phone in English and Spanish. Zoom also has great retailer partners who can supply our products promptly with good prices.

 

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