Wireless Internet Reviews

Watching Streaming Video on Mobile Broadband

Although the prospect of using your mobile broadband connection to watch the “Star Wars Kid” video over and over may have you weak at knees you must be prepared to exercise some caution.


Streaming video is a very bandwidth intensive process that requires a lot of information to be sent to your computer from the network. Currently most mobile broadband providers offer a maximum of 5GB per month.

For the YouTube addicts, lets do some overly simple math. The maximum size of a video allowed on YouTube is 1GB, so after watching 5 videos your account is pooched for the month. OK this is a major oversimplification most videos are nowhere near the 1GB limit.

In fact, the Star Wars Kid video clocks in around 4.23MB that means we could theoretically watch it over 1200 times a month as long as that’s all we did. However things are never that simple are they?

Whenever you send a request to a server to start streaming a video you are using up bandwidth, which can slow down the network considerably. This is because cellular networks are not designed for continuous loads like trying to download a large file like a video.

Instead the networks are designed to handle short bursts of data traffic which means that using anything that requires bandwidth streaming or downloads can have an effect to the whole network.

Although you might be able to get away with watching a couple of viral videos a month, if your intention is to use something more bandwidth intensive like video conferencing then you will have to cross your fingers and pray.

Because of the nature of cellular networks and the bandwidth limitations you can face with a wireless Internet connection, nearly all mobile broadband providers will reserve the right to limit throughput speeds or the amount of data transferred. Even worse, if you are a heavy user you could be forcefully disconnected or your account could be terminated. You have been warned: always read the providers fine print.

laptop and popcornAlthough mobile broadband offers a great convenience for connecting to the Internet, it is generally only really useful for general Web browsing, email, and the odd download here and there. Even though most cell companies are lauded for improved data speeds, 3G technologies are still in their infancy and a truly mobile broadband service that can rival a fixed connection is still a long way off.

However, changes and improvements are constantly being made and with these come more bandwidth and fewer restrictions. Yes, you can watch video online with your mobile broadband connection…but just be aware of the things that can hamper the service.