The need for switching providers is something that can happen to you with mobile broadband.  There are many reasons why you may want to do this - from not getting the coverage you need to getting a better deal elsewhere.  The process of switching your mobile broadband provider is not as complicated as with home broadband.  The one problem you may face is this: what to do with your mobile broadband dongle -are you able to take it with you or do you have buy a new one?  This is a question you need to answer when you switch so you know exactly what to expect.

Before you Switch

Before you change your provider you need to take note of a few points.  Like home broadband, you need to be out of your contract time.  If you have been working with pay-as-you-go broadband you should make sure you have used all of your data.  If you are on a contract you have to make sure you cancel the contract.  If you do not, the provider may automatically renew it and you will have to pay the full term again.  Ideally, you should be contacted by the provider before they do this but you may not be. 

What to do Next?

Once you have checked all of this, the next step is actually very simple.  All you have to do is sign a contract with the new provider.  Now you might be wondering what you should do with the dongle you have.  The best thing to do is not get rid of it.  If you have a pay-as-you-go dongle you should keep it, as this is a great back-up.

If you have a dongle from a contract you should not get rid of it.  The fact that you are leaving the provider now does not mean you may not go back to them in the future.  It is possible that the provider will offer the best mobile broadband at a later time.  If you have the dongle you will not have to get a new one if or when you go back.

What are Locked Mobile Broadband Dongles?

When you switch you should check to see if you have a locked mobile broadband dongle.  A locked dongle will only be able to work with a sim card from the provider it is locked to.  Most locked dongles will have the name of the provider on them.  If you still have the box that the dongle came in you will be able to find out if it is locked.  Either on the box or in the manual it should state which provider it is locked to.

You will very rarely get a mobile broadband dongle that is not locked to a certain network.  It is for this reason that you should look into how you can unlock the dongle, should you want to.  You need to remember that if you unlock the dongle you will void the warranty and you will not be able to get support for it.  This may also be an unnecessary step because most mobile broadband contracts will give you the dongle for free.

Unlocking your Dongle

Have you ever seen stores advertising that they can unlock your mobile phone?  Unlocking your dongle will work the same way.  You can take your dongle to these stores and they may be able to unlock it for you.  You should first find out if they unlock dongles before you take your device to them.  The process is similar as they are both locked in the same way of having a sim card and software fixed to a single provider. 

If you are nervous about the repercussions of unlocking your dongle there are two other options:

  • Get a new dongle from your provider.  Most contract deals come with a free dongle.  This is perhaps the best option to go with as you are getting the dongle for free in this case, while you have to pay to get one unlocked.  If you are getting pay-as-you-go broadband you will have to pay for the dongle but you may get a discounted rate.  Many providers will offer a cheap dongle to get you to take their pay-as-you-go deal.
  • Get a third party dongle.  These dongles are not linked to a network and many manufacturers state that these dongles are compatible with all networks.  Of course, before you buy the dongle, you should look at some reviews about them.  Not all dongles are as good as the manufacturer would want you to think.  The best places to look for reviews are consumer groups and forums.  You should look at a few reviews to ensure you are getting the full picture.

Why Would you Unlock your Dongle?

You might be wondering why you would look at unlocking the dongle.  The main reason that people do this is to take advantage of the sim card only deals that many providers have.  These deals are usually cheaper than any of the other mobile broadband deals.  The reason for this is that the provider does not have to make back the cost of the dongle because they aren’t giving you one.

Unlocking the dongle also saves the cost of buying a dongle if you are going with pay-as-you-go broadband.  As you already have a dongle, you may wonder why you should have to pay for a new one.  Of course, with this option you should also consider that you still have to pay to get the dongle unlocked.  This means that you may end up paying the same amount overall.  If this is the case then you would be better off getting the new dongle because you will not be voiding your warranty or forfeiting your technical support on the old one.

What to Consider when Switching

While you need to look into the dongle when you switch your provider, you also have to look at other aspects.  You have to see the coverage of the new provider and whether you are really getting a better deal.

If, after considering these various scenarios, you feel that unlocking your dongle is the best way to go, you will be prepared to handle any eventualities you might face.