Increasing numbers of people are choosing to get online with mobile broadband.  The networks are enhancing their ability to provide fast connectivity so that we can do more of the activities that we enjoy on our laptops and desktops.  Indeed, 4G phones have now arrived to the networks, providing connectivity that is as fast as many fixed-line broadband connections.

Alongside, getting online through smartphones, we’re able to buy a Dongle such as a Vodafone Dongle, and get online on the networks through a laptop or tablet.  It’s even possible to pop a sim card into a tablet and be browsing on our tablets through that.

The Cost of Mobile Broadband

When you’re opting for mobile broadband you can either choose a pay-as-you-go deal or a pay-monthly contract. 

Pay-as-you-go choice include paying for a small allowance of data, or paying for a specified period, or a combination of the two.  For example, you can buy around 3GB of data for £15 which can last to 30 days.  After this period of time, the data will normally expire.  Alternatively you can pay a fixed sum, such as 5 pounds, and have a few hours unlimited internet.

If you choose to go for a contract, you probably won’t have to pay for the Dongle as it would be included in the price.  And if you go to a longer contract, you may well be given a laptop or a tablet in exchange for signing up for the deal. 

Look at the true cost of the package, especially if you are being offered a free gift.  Assess the value of gift and find out how much you’re paying for your data allowance.  Being tied in to a longer contract should enable you to achieve better data pricing.

Length of Contract

Of course, if you sign up for pay-as-you-go, you aren’t being tied in to a contract and you can pick it up and leave it as and when you require.  The only upfront chargers will be the Dongle and the first payment you make. With contracts, you may well be tied in for 12, 18 or 24 months. 

There are benefits of the longer contract though as you’ll get better free gifts and cheaper data.

Check the Coverage

Before you begin with the provider, it’s important to check coverage.  There are online postcode checkers that will provide you with a measure of 2G, 3G, or 4G connectivity in your area.  This will be a good guide.  You should also ask people local to you, such as friends, and family, how their connectivity is, and if possible try out a mobile dongle in your residence.  This will provide you with a measure of confidence that you will get a level of speed and stability that you require.  Some providers may also provide you with a guaranteed coverage period where you can check that you get the level of service that you require.


The speed that you achieve will be dependent on the level of coverage that you have.  The faster 4G connections are very fast providing up to 5 or 6MBps.  You’ll likely to get between 600kBps and 1MBps on 3G and in areas where you’ve got 2G, you’ll likely struggle to do much online.

Avoiding Charges

It’s important to make sure that you understand the full implications of using mobile broadband.  You may be charged extra costs if you use more than your data usage limit on a contract. In addition, if you run out of a pay-as-you-go allowance before you expect to, topping up might get quite expensive, especially if you’re buying small portions of data.

Economies of scale apply to broadband usage and the more you buy, the cheaper it is per unit.

So there you have it, a brief guide to mobile broadband.  Make sure that you understand your personal usage behaviour in order to ensure that you get enough data allowance to cover yourself.  You’re better off having upfront cost and cheaper data than going for cheap alternatives that end up costing a lot more in the long run.