How It Works

Wireless Technology: How it Works

Mobile broadband uses a combination of wireless network and wired hardware technologies to connect remote homes and businesses to the internet. Most Americans have access to one of two distinct mobile broadband networks: 4G LTE or 3G. These two networks transmit online data between a local hub (a cellular tower) and any number of devices using radio waves.

From start to finish, the major technologies that make installed mobile broadband possible include: a mobile broadband network, a cellular modem, a wireless router, a sim card, and an optional booster antenna. Learn a little more about each technology below.

Unlimited 4G LTE Wireless Network

The fourth generation of mobile broadband, 4G LTE, is the current global standard in mobile broadband networks. The LTE standard is far faster than the earlier 3G, which means it supports high-definition sound, images, and video. In addition, it also supports online video gaming, virtual private network access, voice over internet protocol, video surveillance and monitoring, and vehicle Wi-Fi.

While 4G LTE is available everywhere in cities, it is not quite as widely available in less populated areas. To make our internet service available in as many places as possible, we use the cell towers of multiple carriers. This means our internet service is available almost anywhere.

LTE networks are about ten times faster than 3G. An LTE connection is usually fast enough to stream video in high definition (which requires a download speed of at least 4 Mbps), play a real-time online game (4 Mbps), and to use VPN networks (10Mbps) on multiple devices simultaneously, without any lagging or buffering.

3G Network

The third generation of mobile broadband, 3G, is the most affordable and available mobile broadband option. The growing demand for high definition content has decreased the demand for 3G, but the network is still a great choice for those who put good value and good coverage before high throughputs.

3G still has the best coverage of any mobile broadband network. For users in remote locations, especially, 3G is sometimes the only option. Note that devices automatically connect to 3G where the LTE network is weak so don't bother paying for LTE if you know your LTE network is weak. You'll be using the slower 3G network anyway.

Gigabyte for gigabyte, 3G is the best value in mobile broadband. Our Unlimited 3G Plan, for example, is significantly less expensive than our 75GB+ 4G LTE Plan. You get more data with Unlimited 3G plans and, yet, pay less.

While they don't match the throughputs of the newer LTE networks, 3G connections are still fast enough to use for email (which requires a download speed of 0.5 Mbps), browse the internet (0.5 to 1 Mbps), and stream video in standard definition (0.7 Mbps).


To connect you to the internet, online data passes between the mobile broadband network and an air-card modem. Many wireless devices, like routers, smartphones and tablets, have built-in air-card modems that connect the devices to 4G LTE and 3G networks. You can also purchase USB air-card modems that extend coverage to computers and laptops.

Installed mobile broadband connects to these networks via an external modem (either stand alone or built into a wireless router). This setup, with the help of a router, lets you connect to mobile broadband on your computer or laptop via Wi-Fi. It creates a more stable connection that you can amplify with a cellular repeater system or booster antenna.

Wireless Router

A wireless router converts the low-frequency radio signals from the air-card modem into high-frequency Wi-Fi radio signals. The router broadcasts a local Wi-Fi network that provides stable access to your mobile broadband connection for a wide range of devices including computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, security systems, and other connected devices. The air-card modem is for the most part built into the router.

Booster Antennas Increases Speeds and Reduces Latency

A cellular repeater system, or booster antenna, increases your mobile broadband connection's potential download and upload speeds including the reduction of latency or lag time. This powerful device fits in between your air-card modem and your wireless router. It amplifies cellular signals, creating a strong local network that loads online data more quickly.

For best results, we recommend one of several types of booster antennas: a Yagi antenna for targeted gains, an omnidirectional antenna for added reliability, or a MIMO antenna for general gains.

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