If you know you'll need regular mobile broadband access, a pay monthly contract can often provide the best value for money...
But with so many great deals, how do you decide which package to sign up to? Use the free online price calculator at broadbandchoices to compare all the options available and find the best one for you.
Mobile broadband contract length
Contract lengths vary enormously, from "rolling" one-month contracts to standard 12, 18 and even 24-month deals.
A pay monthly contract will normally save you money, as mobile broadband providers save their lowest prices for customers signing a longer agreement. However, it is worth remembering that contacts are not the best idea for everyone.
Going for the longest contract in order to get a cheaper monthly price isn't always the best option. The mobile broadband market is changing fast, with new entrants and new deals pushing prices down and data limits up all the time.
So if you tie yourself into an 18 or 24-month package, you could miss out on some great deals while you wait for your outdated contract to end. For this reason, a 12-month contract can often make a good compromise.
Pay monthly USB dongles
Many mobile broadband providers offer better hardware to customers signing up to contracts rather than pay-as-you-go mobile broadband packages. This means that, as well as getting a USB broadband dongle that can connect at "futureproof" speeds, you could also get one that doubles up as a memory stick or even a mobile Wi-Fi modem for sharing your connection over multiple devices.
Pay monthly download limits
Each provider and each pay monthly package offers a different download limit, ranging from 500MB to 15GB, and there may even be a few "unlimited" options.
Once you've thought about how much data you'll be downloading each month, you'll need to decide whether or not you want to go for a package with a set download limit where you're automatically charged for any excess.
Almost all pay monthly packages come with a set download allowance, which means that you need to be very careful not to exceed your limit as out of bundle costs can soon add up to hundreds of pounds.
Check your online mobile broadband account to keep track of how much data you have left and, if your provider allows it, buy a data add-on if you think you're going to run out. This is almost always cheaper than paying out-of-bundle charges.
Mobile broadband connection speeds
Speeds with mobile broadband are typically a lot slower than the average fixed home broadband connection.
While, in theory, the UK's 3G network, which mobile broadband surfers share with phone users, is able to deliver speeds of around 14Mb, in reality speeds are usually around the 1Mb mark. However, your speed will fluctuate a lot depending on the strength of signal you're getting.
If what you need is a fast broadband connection, a mobile broadband service may not be the best option. The convenience of being able to take your broadband wherever you go comes at the expense of speed, at least for the time being.
There is currently a "fourth generation" of mobile broadband, known as 4G, in development, which will eventually deliver superfast speeds of up to 100Mb on mobile devices.
Mobile broadband coverage
Network coverage in your area will also affect which provider you should choose. Although most mobile broadband providers have masts up and down the country, there are still areas where you'll get patchy service or better signal from one provider over another. So it's important to compare mobile broadband coverage before signing any contracts. You can check coverage on your chosen provider's website or in a store before signing up.
Which pay-monthly package is right for me?
If you think about your needs as a user and consider all of the options above, you'll be able to find the right package for you.
Use our free and impartial price calculator to compare broadband packages and find a product that's right for you.