Dongles provide mobile internet access but is this form of mobile broadband the most cost effective solution? Plug in a dongle into your laptop or tablet and you’ll be able to connect to the internet from virtually anywhere. Well, as long as there’s a 3G signal available.  According to reports from mobile internet providers from across the UK, a quarter of million dongles are sold every month.

Have consumers really considered the cost? What are some things you should consider before you sign on?

PAYG Dongle or Monthly Contract

With a PAYG dongle, you’ll need to pay for credit up front. The credit will give you specific packets of time, one day or one month, you decide.

For an ongoing monthly service you’ll need to sign a contractual agreement so the provider will continue the service without interruptions. Contracts range from 1 year to 3 years with cheaper rates for longer contracts. The problem with extensive contracts is that you’ll face cancellation fees if you opt out.

Providers and Packages

The cost of contract and pay-as-you-go dongle packages are as varied as the providers that offer them. Your best option is to browse comparison sites to see how providers stack up against one another. Alternatively, you can browse individual sites and make notes if you have more time.

Your budget will obviously influence your choice, but don’t let cost be the only deciding factor. The goal should be to get the best value for your money. Coverage, speed, transfer and services are just as important as the price you pay.

A decent package will offer 3G and at least 3GB of data allowance at an affordable rate. A word of caution: Choose your package carefully and monitor your usage because exceeding your monthly data limits will cost you a tidy sum if you’re not careful.

So the question still remains, are dongles worth the cost?

Here are some pros and cons to help you decide.


  • Wireless broadband access anywhere you go
  • Convenient and flexible
  • Packaged deals if you already a mobile phone package with the provider
  • Free Wi-Fi minutes and bonus hardware
  • Modern and sleek dongles that might double as a memory drive
  • Runs on your computer battery power, so no need to charge


  • Lower usage caps
  • Low download limits
  • Not suitable for heavy broadband usage
  • Streaming videos or large file downloads could lead to data overages
  • Potential for possible virus infection on your computer


If after considering the pros and cons you decide that a dongle is the way to go, make sure that your computer has the correct specifications for mobile broadband. You’ll also need to install the necessary antivirus and firewalls on your computer for safety and security.

According the experts, fixed line broadband services offer the best value, but if you need access to the internet on the go, a mobile connection is priceless.