Mobile broadband explained
Mobile broadband gives you the freedom to use the internet on the go. However, this does depend on the coverage in your area and whether you have the right equipment. Use our comparison table above to give you a breakdown of each deal.
The availability of mobile broadband depends on your network area and devices. Mobile broadband runs on 3G and 4G networks. 4G is now widely available across all mobile networks – including EE, Vodafone, Three, Giffgaff and O2. You can use the individual coverage checkers at the top of the page to check what’s available in your area.
It’s always important to check the small print before purchasing a mobile broadband package. This will include information on contract length, cancellation fees, extra features and any hidden costs. Although it’s a long-winded process, it is vital to go through the terms and conditions to make sure you are happy with the details.
Why choose mobile broadband?
You can get online on the go
Mobile broadband allows you to get online wherever you are. Whether you are streaming a movie in the living room, browsing in the shopping centre or at work, you will be able to enjoy the treats of mobile broadband. However, this does depend on your mobile network coverage and how strong your signal is.
Available with pay-monthly and pay-as-you-go plans
Mobile broadband is available on both pay monthly and pay-as-you-go plans. So if you don’t want to be tied to a contract, you can opt for a PAYG or a monthly rolling contract. If you are unhappy with a network, by taking out a PAYG plan you’ll have more flexibility to switch without being faced with any cancellation charges.
Share your connection across multiple devices
If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can tether your connection with different devices. With tethering, your smartphone or tablet will act as a wi-fi hotspot. You can then connect your hotspot to your laptop, computer or other mobile device. Some providers limit tethering so check before you sign up. It's also worth noting that if you're thinking of using an old mobile phone as a temporary wi-fi supply, tethering may also not work.
Which package is right for me?
Decide which option is good for your device
You can receive mobile broadband through a dongle, mobile router or SIM card. A dongle is like a USB device that you slot in your laptop to receive internet connection. Alternatively you can get a SIM card to put into your tablet, which will allow you to get online.
Sign up for a mobile router or mifi device
If you have struggled up to now to get a fast fibre connection at home, then mobile broadband could solve your problems. With faster 4G now available from the likes of EE, and with prices for mobile broadband falling, you may want to consider buying a mobile router to have at home. These small devices emit a mobile signal to which you can then connect any other device - kind of like having a mobile router. They come with a SIM card and you then pay for how much data you want per month - just like you would with a phone.
Choose either a pay-monthly or pay-as-you-go
Mobile broadband comes with two different plans. Pay monthly plans come with a set amount of data allowance every month. This is ideal for anyone who consistently uses mobile broadband. It’s most likely you’ll get more data on a pay monthly plan than on a pay-as-you-go plan.
If you don’t want to be tied to a contract, it may be best to opt for a PAYG plan. You’ll have to pay for your equipment up front and top up your allowances whenever you need it – ideal for occasional use.
4G is now widely available
Mobile broadband is getting ever faster with widespread 4G. You can use the coverage checker on the top of the page to see if you can receive 4G. If you are out of luck, you’ll still be able to get internet connection via 3G. This will depend on a number of features, including location and network demand. Make sure you check which network offers a good signal in your area before deciding which one to go for.
What will I need?
A compatible option for your device
There are three types of broadband equipment. Which one you need will be determined by the device you want to use. Choose from a USB dongle for a laptop, a mobile router (also known as a MiFi unit or personal hostpot) or a SIM card for your tablet.
You may need a credit check
Some providers may ask to carry out a credit check before you purchase a deal. This applies if you take out a pay monthly deal. But if you don’t have a good credit rating, you can opt for a pay-as-you-go plan.
How do I switch?
How to choose your package
You can choose a deal that suits you from the table above. By clicking on the package, you’ll get a breakdown of what’s included in the plan. This will give you information on a number of features, including extra costs and pricing. You can sort the deals as you wish, be it monthly cost, contract length, total savings or upload speed. Once you have made a selection, click on the blue ‘See Deal’ button. You will then be redirected to the provider’s website to finalise your purchase.
Cancel with your provider
Once you have taken out a mobile broadband deal, you’ll have to inform your current provider that you are leaving. This will only apply if you are on a pay monthly plan. You’ll usually have to give 30 days’ notice, but read the cancellation terms to see if this applies. If you decide to cancel your contract before the minimum term expires, you’ll be subject to a termination charge.
Six essential questions before you buy
- Should I choose a pay monthly or PAYG package?
- Do I need a dongle, mobile router or just a SIM card?
- Which is the right network for me?
- How often will I be using mobile broadband?
- How much data do I need?
- What will happen if I exceed my limit?
Now you are armed with mobile broadband information, it’s time to make a decision. Make sure you take into account important features including contract length, data allowance, speed and network. Also, don’t forget to read the terms and conditions.