Mobile broadband

ByStaff Writer

Not sure what mobile broadband is or whether it's right for you? Read on and we'll explain how it works, what the advantages of using it are, the different types you can get and which one will best suit your needs.

In this guide:

What is mobile broadband?

How does mobile broadband work?

Is mobile broadband any good?

Types of mobile broadband

What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband is simply a way of getting on the internet through your laptop, computer or tablet - on the move. This could be via a Wi-Fi hotspot or dongle.

With mobile broadband you can stay connected on the move, sending emails, web surfing and - depending on your package - even watching TV programmes online through services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

How does mobile broadband work?

Mobile broadband uses the mobile phone network to connect you to the internet.

While mobile phones once seemed strange and new compared to home phone landlines, we soon got used to using them to make calls, even send text messages and now surf the net.

The situation is the same with mobile broadband - it may seem strange to connect to the internet without cables, but ultimately we use it in exactly the same way.

Is mobile broadband any good?

It's perfect for technophobes - you just plug in the mobile broadband dongle and you're online in a couple clicks.

It's suitable for everyday use - mobile broadband is ideal for anyone who uses the internet for browsing, emailing and a little downloading.

Types of mobile broadband

Sim-only mobile broadband

Sim-only mobile broadband is, unsurprisingly, mobile broadband that uses a sim card like those used in mobile phones to connect you to the internet, rather than a dongle. Sim-only mobile broadband is for use with tablets like the iPad and laptops with a sim card slot.

The main reasons to use sim-only mobile broadband are:

Freedom - You've got a tablet or a laptop with a sim card slot and you want to be able to use them wherever you are.

Flexibility - Sim-only mobile broadband plans are usually monthly, whereas mobile broadband deals with a dongle can be on contracts up to 24 months long.

You only pay for your internet use - You can pay up to almost £60 for a dongle if you go for a mobile broadband deal that uses one, but with sim-only deals you generally only pay for the data you want.

You've already a dongle - If you've got a dongle from a deal that's up, you can reuse it and avoid paying the upfront cost of a new one or having to commit to a long contract with a sim-only deal.

The four major mobile networks in the UK - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone - all do sim-only mobile broadband. 

Unlimited mobile broadband

Some mobile networks offer 'unlimited' broadband deals, meaning you won't have a set download limit restricting how much you can surf, stream and download each month.

However, just as with fixed-line home broadband products, an unlimited service doesn't necessarily mean you can use as much data as you like.

Most providers still have a fair usage policy in place. This means if you're a heavy downloader and repeatedly breach the fair usage guidelines by consuming massive amounts of data, you may be penalised with extra charges or even disconnected by your provider.

Click here for our guide on 4G mobile broadband

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