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  • Leading UK providers including Three, EE, O2 and Vodafone
  • November 2019 deals start from just £10 per month
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PackageBroadband SpeedMonthly UsageSet-up CostContract LengthMonthly Price
Three Home Broadband 4G19Mb averageUnlimitedFree24 months£21 per month
Three 4G WiFi Mobile Broadband Unlimited19Mb averageUnlimitedFree24 months£22 per month
Vodafone 4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 15GB21Mb average15GBFree12 months£20 per month
Vodafone Superfast 2 Fibre Broadband63Mb averageUnlimitedFree18 months£28 per month
Three 4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 2GB19Mb average2GB£1912 months£10 per month
Three 4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 2GB19Mb average2GB£391 month£10 per month
EE 4G WiFi Mini Mobile Broadband 5GB30Mb average5GBFree24 months£13 per month
Three 4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 5GB19Mb average5GB£391 month£15 per month
Three 4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 20GB19Mb average20GB£1912 months£17 per month
O2 4G Pocket Hotspot Mobile Broadband 2GB42Mb average2GBFree36 months£17.84 per month
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PackageProviderOfferAverage SpeedMonthly UsageSet-up CostContract LengthFirst Year CostMonthly Price

Home Broadband 4G

  • New customers only
  • Home Wi-Fi hub
  • No landline or installation
  • Fast unlimited broadband on 4G
Three
Broadband
Download speed (average)19Mb
Upload speed (average)9.8Mb
Monthly usageUnlimited
Fair usage policyYes
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£21.00
Set-up cost£0.00
First year cost£252.00
Average cost per month£21.00
Minimum contract length24 months
19Mb
Average
Speed
Unlimited
Monthly
Downloads
Zero
Set-up
cost
24
Month
Contract

4G WiFi Mobile Broadband Unlimited

  • New customers only
  • Huawei 4G Mobile Wi-Fi device
  • Unlimited data
  • Free delivery
Three
Broadband
Download speed (average)19Mb
Upload speed (average)9.8Mb
Monthly usageUnlimited
Fair usage policy
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£22.00
Set-up cost£0.00
First year cost£264.00
Average cost per month£22.00
Minimum contract length24 months
19Mb
Average
Speed
Unlimited
Monthly
Downloads
Zero
Set-up
cost
24
Month
Contract

4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 15GB

  • New customers only
  • Connect up to 10 devices
  • 4G network
  • 48 roam-free destinations
Vodafone
Broadband
Download speed (average)21Mb
Upload speed (average)5.7Mb
Monthly usage15GB
Fair usage policy
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£20.00
Set-up cost£0.00
First year cost£240.00
Average cost per month£20.00
Minimum contract length12 months
21Mb
Average
Speed
15GB
Monthly
Usage
Zero
Set-up
cost
12
Month
Contract

Superfast 2 Fibre Broadband

  • New customers only
  • Superfast speeds or money off
  • Claim discount via the Vodafone App
  • £26p/m for existing pay monthly mobile customers
Vodafone
  • Black Friday – Free Google Nest Hub Max worth £219
Broadband
Download speed (average)63Mb
Upload speed (average)20Mb
Monthly usageUnlimited
Fair usage policyNo
Home phone
Daytime calls (per min)11.50p
Evening calls (per min)11.50p
Weekend calls (per min)11.50p
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£28.00
Set-up cost£0.00
First year cost£336.00
Average cost per month£28.00
Minimum contract length18 months
Terms and conditions
This offer is available to both new and upgrading Vodafone Broadband customers. If you’ve purchased Vodafone Superfast 1 or Superfast 2 broadband plans between the Friday 15 November and Monday 2 December (without any additional discounts), you’ll be eligible to claim a Google Nest Hub Max.
63Mb
Average
Speed
Unlimited
Monthly
Downloads
Zero
Set-up
cost
18
Month
Contract
Free Google Nest

4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 2GB

  • New customers only
Three
Broadband
Download speed (average)19Mb
Upload speed (average)9.8Mb
Monthly usage2GB
Fair usage policy
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£10.00
Set-up cost£19.00
First year cost£139.00
Average cost per month£11.58
Minimum contract length12 months
19Mb
Average
Speed
2GB
Monthly
Usage
£19.00
Set-up
cost
12
Month
Contract

4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 2GB

  • New customers only
Three
Broadband
Download speed (average)19Mb
Upload speed (average)9.8Mb
Monthly usage2GB
Fair usage policy
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£10.00
Set-up cost£39.00
First year cost (if taken over 12 months)£159.00
Average cost per monthNot applicable
Minimum contract length1 month
19Mb
Average
Speed
2GB
Monthly
Usage
£39.00
Set-up
cost
1
Month
Contract

4G WiFi Mini Mobile Broadband 5GB

  • New customers only
EE Mobile
Broadband
Download speed (average)30Mb
Upload speed (average)5Mb
Monthly usage5GB
Fair usage policy
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£13.00
Set-up cost£0.00
First year cost£156.00
Average cost per month£13.00
Minimum contract length24 months
30Mb
Average
Speed
5GB
Monthly
Usage
Zero
Set-up
cost
24
Month
Contract

4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 5GB

  • New customers only
Three
Broadband
Download speed (average)19Mb
Upload speed (average)9.8Mb
Monthly usage5GB
Fair usage policy
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£15.00
Set-up cost£39.00
First year cost (if taken over 12 months)£219.00
Average cost per monthNot applicable
Minimum contract length1 month
19Mb
Average
Speed
5GB
Monthly
Usage
£39.00
Set-up
cost
1
Month
Contract

4G WiFi Mobile Broadband 20GB

  • New customers only
Three
Broadband
Download speed (average)19Mb
Upload speed (average)9.8Mb
Monthly usage20GB
Fair usage policy
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£17.00
Set-up cost£19.00
First year cost£223.00
Average cost per month£18.58
Minimum contract length12 months
19Mb
Average
Speed
20GB
Monthly
Usage
£19.00
Set-up
cost
12
Month
Contract

4G Pocket Hotspot Mobile Broadband 2GB

  • New customers only
O2 Mobile Broadband
Broadband
Download speed (average)42Mb
Upload speed (average)5.8Mb
Monthly usage2GB
Fair usage policy
Price breakdown
Monthly cost£17.84
Set-up cost£0.00
First year cost£214.08
Average cost per month£17.84
Minimum contract length36 months
42Mb
Average
Speed
2GB
Monthly
Usage
Zero
Set-up
cost
36
Month
Contract
24
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Broadband speeds you receive may be slower than listed depending on where you live. Monthly costs include line rental. All prices are inclusive of VAT except business prices. Contract lengths vary. Prices may change during this period unless otherwise stated. You should have the right to cancel without penalty if your provider increases charges during the minimum term of your contract.

About mobile broadband deals

By Dan Howdle | Thursday, March 28th 2019

In this guide

Mobile broadband fills in the gaps where regular, home broadband deals can't go. Its face has changed somewhat over the last few years, however. The ubiquity of the smartphone means there aren't as many situations where we need access to the internet (but don't have it) as there once were.

Nevertheless, mobile broadband is still a valuable niche. There remain circumstances where living and working in locations where fixed-line broadband isn't an option requires something with a bit more oomph than your mobile phone can provide or sustain. Let's take a look at mobile broadband in its current form, what it is, where it's useful and whether or not you actually need it.

What is mobile broadband?

There are a number of different devices and technologies that fall under the umbrella of 'mobile broadband'. And although they largely deliver the same thing – internet without the need for a fixed-line router – they take a number of different forms and fit a number of different situations.

  • Dongles – Usually come in the form of a USB 'stick' that looks a lot like those USB memory sticks you also barely see anymore. A dongle plugs into a single device – usually a laptop – and uses a mobile data network (like a smartphone) to provide internet access to that device only. They're hard to come by these days, but one or two providers do still offer them. They are a niche within a niche – ideal only for those who travel everywhere with their laptop, and require constant internet access
  • MiFi devices – These can also be USB devices, but will often only use USB to charge their batteries. MiFi devices are small, pocket-sized boxes that act exactly like a home broadband router, with the obvious difference that they are battery powered and you can take them anywhere. You won't get the same sort of range on one of these that you will on a home router, but they are a good way for lots of people to access the internet if they are all sat relatively close to it
  • Data only SIMs – The most common use for these is to put one in a tablet. They're often referred to as 'tablet SIMs' in fact. They provide mobile data, but without a phone number, or call and text bundles. Quite a lot of newer laptops have a SIM slot for one of these. So, if your laptop can accept one, you could have internet access wherever you go without the need for a dongle.
  • Mobile hotspots/tethering – If you have a smartphone, chances are you can do something called 'tethering'. This is where you go into your wifi and connectivity options and switch on something called 'mobile hotspot'. When you do this your mobile will temporarily become a mobile broadband router. If you can do this reliably and it doesn't eat too much into your data allowance, there's a good argument to be made for taking this option over investing in some other, additional means of mobile connectivity
  • 3G/4G home broadband – Only a couple of providers offer this, but this is essentially the same as a MiFi device, only this one plugs into the mains and is designed to act as your full-time home broadband router. As with MiFi, it won't need a fixed line, but instead uses mobile network data. The main drawback with it is you will be limited in the amount of data you can use each month, but it's a good solution for those who cannot get any workable internet
  • Public wifi – Depending on where you find yourself without internet and how much bandwidth (speed) you need to do what you need to do, free public wifi can be a good solution. And it won't cost you a bean. Well, maybe a coffee bean

Do I need mobile broadband?

Even if all you do is skim through all the different types of mobile broadband above, you'll immediately get the idea that there are going to be a number of different reasons you may need mobile broadband. All of them, we would argue however, fall into one of the following four categories.

  • You have terrible fixed line broadband – Though superfast broadband is available to something like 97% of UK households, that still leaves well over half a million homes that can't get it. Things tend to be especially bad if you're somewhere especially rural. In this situation, you may wish to consider mobile broadband as although it is comparatively expensive, it's still a lot cheaper than satellite broadband
  • You travel for work – Some jobs will see you out and about all day long, maybe up and down the country, maybe even regularly abroad. For this type of person a mobile broadband package is an insurance policy that you'll remain connected wherever you go, within range of a wifi signal or not
  • No other options – If you have no broadband connection, no mobile phone you can tether to and no other options wherever it is you intend to live or work, mobile broadband is pretty much all you have left
  • You need a temporary solution – You can get mobile broadband deals on one-month rolling contracts. It therefore can ideally suit someone who only needs remote internet access at certain times of year – or even as a one-off

Mobile broadband coverage and data speeds

Whichever mobile broadband solution you ultimately choose, you'll be drawing your data from one of only four networks. You see, although there are many, many mobile providers in the UK, there are only four physical networks: EE, Vodafone, Three and O2. All other providers 'piggyback' on one of these four.

We should all be grateful for this. It means we only need to think about the coverage and download/upload speeds of four networks, even though there exists a wider range of providers.

Note that in any of these measures, that does not mean landmass. There are still significant spacial gaps in mobile coverage across all network providers. Happily, these holes aren't in the same spots from one provider to the next, meaning you should check each network providers' coverage map to ensure signal reaches the spots you need it to.

EE

EE claims the best 4G coverage. But there's not much in it, with all four providers claiming 99% or greater coverage by population. According to crowdsourced speed data from insight organisation Tutela, in January 2019 EE provided the fastest average data speeds of the four network providers with average 4G download speeds of around 27Mbps.

Vodafone

Vodafone also claims 99% 4G coverage by population. Tutela measured its average 4G download speed as around 21Mbps.

Three

Three also claims 99% 4G coverage by population. Tutela measured its average 4G download speed as around 11Mbps, the slowest of the four.

O2

O2 also claims 99% 4G coverage by population. Tutela measured its average 4G download speed as around 16Mbps.

Which providers offer mobile broadband?

While most mobile providers offer SIM only or SIM plus handset deals that allow mobile hotspot tethering, relatively few providers offer a comprehensive range of dongles, MiFi devices and 4G home broadband. Here are those providers and what each of them offers.

  • EE – On the EE network (of course), EE offers a wide range of mobile broadband devices. No stick-style laptop dongles here, but you can get a couple of different MiFi devices. EE also offers 4G home broadband with monthly data limits up to 500GB. They're not cheap, mind
  • Vodafone – You can get both stick-style laptop dongles and pocket-sized, self powered MiFi boxes from Vodafone. There's also Vodafone Airtel, which delivers 4G home broadband with limits up to 500GB. Again, not cheap at the high end, but lower limits are actually very reasonable
  • Three – Has partnered with Chinese mobile manufacturer Huawei to offer both a MiFi device and 4G home broadband
  • BT – Offers traditional laptop dongles and a versatile MiFi device, both offered with a variety of data limits. BT also provides access to 5 million wifi hotspots allowing you to economise on your data usage
  • O2 – Offers just one device – a Netgear 'Pocket Hotspot'. It's a discreet MiFi device offering with a range of different data caps
  • Virgin Media – Like O2, Virgin offers just one device with various data limits

Mobile broadband checklist: What you need

So what do you actually need to do if you want mobile broadband? Here, we put in order what we believe to be the best way to approach it.

  • Will tethering do? – This is something you need to ask yourself before shelling out for mobile broadband. If you have a smartphone, chances are you can use it as a mobile hotspot, which may in fact do everything you need in terms of ensuring you have an internet connection wherever you go. Even if you're going to bump up against your mobile's data limit by doings so, it's still going to be cheaper to increase that limit than it will be to take out an additional, bespoke mobile broadband deal
  • Pick the right mobile broadband device – If you only need mobile broadband for a single laptop, either a USB laptop dongle or a data-only SIM will serve your needs. If you need broadband for multiple devices when you're out and about, a USB or battery-powered MiFi device is required
  • Choose a provider – We advise you choose a provider solely based on the coverage it provides in the places you're going to need internet access. Check each provider's coverage map to see if there is a clear choice
  • Choose a deal – Use our comparison table (above) to find a deal that suits. We don't currently list all deals or providers, but we're working on it. Hopefully there will be something there that tickles your fancy

Want to learn more about broadband?

Our broadband guides contain a wealth of information on just about every aspect of current broadband packages.

Frequently asked questions

Can I get unlimited mobile broadband?

Yes. But only from Three, and it's not cheap. Also bear in mind that Three has the lowest average 4G data speeds of the four UK networks.

What's the fastest mobile broadband I can get?

Right now, anything from EE. It is far and away the fastest mobile broadband provider when it comes to data speeds, offering an average download speed of 27Mbps according to independent measurements from Tutela. Vodafone is the seconds fastest, averaging 21Mbps, then O2 at 16Mbps and finally Three at 11Mbps.

Is a MiFi device better than mobile tethering?

For some applications yes, for others no. If you need internet access for a wide range of devices at the same time and with a fair amount of range, a dedicated MiFi device is going to provide a better experience. If all you need is internet access for your own laptop, however, tethering it to your mobile may well be an indistinguishable experience compared to a dedicated dongle.

Is there such a thing as pay as you go mobile broadband?

Yes. All four network providers – EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 – offer broadband on a pay as you go (PAYG)/top-up basis.

How does mobile broadband work?

Exactly like the data on your smartphone. Connectivity is delivered wirelessly via mobile network masts. The main difference is that mobile broadband is geared towards supplying broadband to other devices beyond just your phone.

Should I get 3G or 4G mobile broadband?

You won't have a choice. When you get a mobile broadband device, it'll always be 4G by default. If it finds itself in a location where it cannot access 4G, but 3G is available, it will use that instead. 3G is substantially slower than 4G, but still perfectly adequate for basic online tasks.

Are there business mobile broadband packages?

Yes. However, we do not compare them on Cable. If you're looking for a business mobile broadband package, each of the UK's four network providers offer them – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – so you should pay a visit to their websites.

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