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What is mobile broadband?

If you’re struggling to find broadband with an ADSL or fibre optic connection, you might want to consider mobile broadband. It’s completely portable and means you can access the internet anywhere with a phone signal. But is mobile broadband for you?

In This Guide:

What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband means you can access the internet even if you’re away from home. It is the ability to connect to the web using mobile phone signals. If you choose mobile broadband, you can get online anywhere you have a mobile signal.

Currently, mobile broadband primarily uses 4G data signals. With the roll out of 5G networks in the UK, mobile broadband could outpace a wired connection.

How does mobile broadband work?

Mobile broadband works in just the same way as your smartphone. It delivers internet services to your devices using 4G data networks.

If you’re lucky then your mobile broadband could give you access to 5G connections! However, this is only likely if you are using mobile broadband in an urban centre.

In order to access the internet using mobile broadband you will need to connect your laptop to the 4G network. You can do this through a mobile hotspot, but you can also purchase mobile broadband routers, a USB dongle, or a data-only SIM if you have a laptop or tablet with a SIM card slot.

When is mobile broadband useful?

Mobile broadband can be great in a number of cases:

  • If you live in a particularly rural area and don’t use the internet too frequently then provided you have a decent 4G connection, mobile broadband could be great for you.
  • If you are a frequent traveller then a mobile broadband connection will allow you to do essential work on the move.

The biggest advantage of mobile broadband is that wireless access means you can use the internet on the go. Provided you have signal, you can use your device wherever you need to. It can even provide you with very . Sometimes as low as £10 a month if you are online infrequently.

It’s important to remember you will be restricted to where you can get signal. This means if much of your work is done on the train, you might be battling a poor connection.

Can I get unlimited mobile broadband?

Most standard broadband providers offer unlimited deals however if you opt for a mobile broadband package you are unlikely to find an unlimited offer.

Most mobile broadband comes in Gigabyte allowances. The bigger your allowance, the more expensive your monthly payments will be. This means mobile broadband probably isn’t ideal for streaming Netflix on a regular basis. If your internet use is limited however, it could be a cheap choice!  

Mobile broadband deals

You can find a mobile broadband deal with most of the major networks. O2, Vodafone and EE all offer dongles with their mobile broadband deals.

Some mobile broadband providers offer packages with freebies like a laptop or tablet. If you’re tempted by this it may be worth adding up all your payments. You’re likely to more than you’d pay for that freebie!

The best deal will depend on your internet usage so it’s worth doing a quick  search to find out if there is a deal that works for you. You will have to choose your speed and usage limit when you sign up and higher speeds will unfortunately mean higher costs.

Compare mobile broadband

There are lots of things to consider when comparing mobile broadband, but our comparison tool makes it easier for you to find the . Simply fill in a few details and we’ll give you the best quotes to compare.

Before choosing a mobile broadband deal it’s important consider your internet usage. Think about where you will need the internet, how often you use it and what you will be using it for.

It’s also a good idea to check coverage maps to make sure mobile broadband really is a viable option. You should be able to find these direct from the provider.

If mobile broadband looks like the best choice for you, it’s easy to set up. Provided you have a reasonably up to date laptop or netbook with a USB port then you can easily plug in a dongle and get online. Make sure to check your dongle is compatible with your operating system and  to make sure you are getting the best deal.