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What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband is a way to connect to the internet, wherever you may be. You are not required to access a router or Wi-Fi. Instead you use a mobile broadband 'dongle' to access the internet through mobile phone signals.

Usually, the dongle will be sent to you by your provider when you sign up to a mobile broadband service. This will often be a device that will plug in to the USB port on your laptop or tablet. Once you have your dongle you will then be able to surf the web at your leisure. It doesn't matter if you're on the bus to work, or if you're enjoying a coffee with friends, as long as you're in an area that is receiving a mobile signal, you will be able to access the internet.

This kind of flexibility really suits people who always need access to the internet, even when they are on the go. It can also be appealing to people who don't want to commit to a long term fixed line broadband deal. For more information, read our mobile broadband guide.

How does mobile broadband work?

Mobile broadband works by using a 3G signal to connect to the internet. 3G is the 3rd generation of mobile phone technology and allows providers to offer more services, such as internet on the go. This means that you do not need a fixed line connection to get on the net. Most new mobile phones will be 3G enabled and mobile broadband dongles use the same technology.

This means that when you plug your USB dongle into your computer it will be able to access broadband through mobile phone signals, which results in you having the option of accessing the web anywhere, as long as there is a mobile signal.

A few years ago, when this technology was in its infancy there were criticisms of the download speeds that mobile broadband offered. However, mobile broadband coverage has advanced a lot over the last couple of years and in some areas you should be able to receive speeds of up to 7.2Mbps.

Why should I use mobile broadband?

There are many reasons to use mobile broadband these days. The main reason is that it is the most convenient and flexible way to access the internet. With your fixed line connection you will have to be within a certain radius of your modem in order to use your broadband. With a mobile dongle you will have access to broadband services almost anywhere.

Many people have lifestyles that mean they cannot risk being without the internet for any length of time. You may have a long commute to work in the morning and, with mobile broadband you would be able to send and receive emails while you are travelling.

Another advantage on offer is Pay as You Go mobile broadband which makes this service even more flexible. This is great for occasional broadband users who feel that they do not use the internet enough to warrant paying a fixed price each month. With a Pay as You Go service you can simply pay for the exact amount of data that you use each month.

What do I need to use mobile broadband

All you will need to use mobile broadband is a laptop or computer with USB ports. You should also check the service provider's requirement check list before you purchase a dongle. The reason for this is that certain operating systems like Linux may not be compatible with the dongle you have.

Some provider's may even offer free laptop with mobile broadband deals. While this can be great if you are looking for an 18 or 24 month contract, you may find that over the course of the contract you end up paying more for the laptop than you would have needed to had you bought it separately.

If you decide that mobile broadband is the best option for you then you would also be advised to install a good security package to keep your computer safe from potentially harmful viruses and malware.

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Compare
Provider
Package
Speed
Usage
Monthly
 
O2
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
Pay and Go Dongle with 1GB Data
Up to 3.60 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly Free
Setup £25.00
1st year cost £25.00
Contract length 0 months
 
O2
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
Pay and Go Dongle with 2GB Data
Up to 3.60 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly Free
Setup £26.50
1st year cost £26.50
Contract length 0 months
 
Three
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
Pay As You Go +1
Up to 21 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly Free
Setup £29.99
1st year cost £29.99
Contract length 0 months
 
Three
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
Pay As You Go +3
Up to 21 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly Free
Setup £39.99
1st year cost £39.99
Contract length 0 months
 
Three
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
Pay As You Go +12
Up to 21 Mb per second 12 GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly Free
Setup £89.99
1st year cost £89.99
Contract length 0 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
1GB a month USB Stick
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £7.50
Setup Free
1st year cost £90.00
Contract length 18 months
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
1GB UK Internet 3G dongle
Up to 7.20 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £7.50
Setup Free
1st year cost £90.00
Contract length 12 months
 
Three
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
Standard dongle 1GB a month
Up to 21 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £7.87
Setup Free
1st year cost £94.44
Contract length 24 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
1GB a month USB Stick (1m)
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £7.50
Setup £4.99
1st year cost £94.99
Contract length 1 month
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
1GB Mobile Wi-Fi 3G
Up to 7.20 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £7.50
Setup £19.00
1st year cost £109.00
Contract length 12 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
1GB a month Mobile WiFi
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £7.50
Setup £29.99
1st year cost £119.99
Contract length 18 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
1GB a month Mobile WiFi (1m)
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £7.50
Setup £29.99
1st year cost £119.99
Contract length 1 month
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
2GB a month USB Stick
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £10.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £120.00
Contract length 18 months
 
Virgin Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
1GB a month Virgin Mobile Broadband
Up to 1.80 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £10.21
Setup Free
1st year cost £122.52
Contract length 18 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
2GB a month USB Stick (1m)
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £10.00
Setup £4.99
1st year cost £124.99
Contract length 1 month
 
O2
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
Pay Monthly Dongle and Data
Up to 3.60 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £10.21
Setup £10.20
1st year cost £132.72
Contract length 1 month
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
2GB UK Internet 3G dongle
Up to 7.20 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £11.25
Setup Free
1st year cost £135.00
Contract length 12 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
2GB a month Mobile WiFi
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £10.00
Setup £19.99
1st year cost £139.99
Contract length 18 months
 
Virgin Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
1GB a month Virgin Mobile Broadband (2m)
Up to 1.80 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £10.21
Setup £24.99
1st year cost £147.51
Contract length 2 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
2GB a month Mobile WiFi (1m)
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £10.00
Setup £29.99
1st year cost £149.99
Contract length 1 month
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
2GB Mobile Wi-Fi 3G
Up to 7.20 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £11.25
Setup £19.00
1st year cost £154.00
Contract length 12 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE Mobile WiFi 1GB of 4G data per month
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £13.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £156.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE USB Dongle 1GB of 4G data per month
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £13.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £156.00
Contract length 24 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
5GB a month USB Stick
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £180.00
Contract length 18 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
5GB a month Mobile WiFi
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £180.00
Contract length 18 months
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
4GB UK Internet 3G dongle
Up to 7.20 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £180.00
Contract length 12 months
 
Virgin Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
3GB a month Virgin Mobile Broadband
Up to 1.80 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.32
Setup Free
1st year cost £183.84
Contract length 18 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
5GB a month USB Stick (1m)
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.00
Setup £4.99
1st year cost £184.99
Contract length 1 month
 
Three
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
Standard dongle 15GB a month
Up to 21 Mb per second 15 GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.99
Setup Free
1st year cost £191.88
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE Mobile WiFi 3GB of 4G data per month
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £16.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £192.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE USB Dongle 3GB of 4G data per month
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £16.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £192.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE USB Dongle 3GB of 4G data per month (1m)
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £16.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £192.00
Contract length 1 month
 
Three
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
Standard dongle 5GB a month (1m)
Up to 21 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.99
Setup £4.99
1st year cost £196.87
Contract length 1 month
 
Virgin Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
3GB a month Virgin Mobile Broadband (2m)
Up to 1.80 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.32
Setup £24.99
1st year cost £208.83
Contract length 2 months
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
4GB UK Internet 4G-ready
Up to 40 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.00
Setup £29.00
1st year cost £209.00
Contract length 12 months
 
T-Mobile
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
5GB a month Mobile WiFi (1m)
Up to 4.50 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.00
Setup £29.99
1st year cost £209.99
Contract length 1 month
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE Mobile WiFi 3GB of 4G data per month (1m)
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £16.00
Setup £24.99
1st year cost £216.99
Contract length 1 month
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
4GB Mobile Wi-Fi 4G-ready
Up to 40 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £15.00
Setup £39.00
1st year cost £219.00
Contract length 12 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE Mobile WiFi 5GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second GB Go to site
Offer: Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.

Package costs

Monthly £21.00
Setup Free
Offer  Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.
1st year cost £252.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE USB Dongle 5GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second GB Go to site
Offer: Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.

Package costs

Monthly £21.00
Setup Free
Offer  Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.
1st year cost £252.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE USB Dongle 5GB of 4G data per month (1m)
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £21.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £252.00
Contract length 1 month
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE Mobile WiFi 5GB of 4G data per month (1m)
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £21.00
Setup £24.99
1st year cost £276.99
Contract length 1 month
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
10GB UK Internet 3G dongle
Up to 7.20 Mb per second 10 GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £25.50
Setup Free
1st year cost £306.00
Contract length 12 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE Mobile WiFi 8GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second GB Go to site
Offer: Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.

Package costs

Monthly £26.00
Setup Free
Offer  Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.
1st year cost £312.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE USB Dongle 8GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second GB Go to site
Offer: Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.

Package costs

Monthly £26.00
Setup Free
Offer  Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.
1st year cost £312.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE USB Dongle 8GB of 4G data per month (1m)
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £26.00
Setup Free
1st year cost £312.00
Contract length 1 month
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
10GB UK Internet 4G-ready
Up to 40 Mb per second 10 GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £25.50
Setup £9.00
1st year cost £315.00
Contract length 12 months
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
10GB Mobile Wi-Fi 4G-ready
Up to 40 Mb per second 10 GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £25.50
Setup £19.00
1st year cost £325.00
Contract length 12 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE Mobile WiFi 8GB of 4G data per month (1m)
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £26.00
Setup £24.99
1st year cost £336.99
Contract length 1 month
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
iPad mini with 3GB of 4G data per month
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £26.00
Setup £49.00
1st year cost £361.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
iPad mini PAYG with 2GB of 4G data
Up to 30 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly Free
Setup £384.00
1st year cost £384.00
Contract length 0 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
iPad mini with 5GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £31.00
Setup £29.00
1st year cost £401.00
Contract length 24 months
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
iPad mini with 2GB of 3G data per month
Up to 7.20 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £26.00
Setup £99.00
1st year cost £411.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE Mobile WiFi 20GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second 20 GB Go to site
Offer: Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.

Package costs

Monthly £36.00
Setup Free
Offer  Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.
1st year cost £432.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE USB Dongle 20GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second 20 GB Go to site
Offer: Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.

Package costs

Monthly £36.00
Setup Free
Offer  Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.
1st year cost £432.00
Contract length 24 months
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
iPad mini with 10GB of 4G-ready
Up to 40 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £36.00
Setup £29.00
1st year cost £461.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
iPad mini with 8GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £36.00
Setup £29.00
1st year cost £461.00
Contract length 24 months
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
iPad mini with 1GB of 3G data per month
Up to 7.20 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £22.00
Setup £199.00
1st year cost £463.00
Contract length 24 months
 
Vodafone
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
iPad mini with 4GB of 4G-ready
Up to 40 Mb per second GB Go to site
 

Package costs

Monthly £31.00
Setup £99.00
1st year cost £471.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE USB Dongle 50GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second 50 GB Go to site
Offer: Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.

Package costs

Monthly £50.00
Setup Free
Offer  Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.
1st year cost £600.00
Contract length 24 months
 
EE
Mobile Broadband
Free Dongle
Laptop
EE Mobile WiFi 50GB of 4G data per month
Up to 60 Mb per second 50 GB Go to site
Offer: Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.

Package costs

Monthly £50.00
Setup Free
Offer  Free Alcatel One Touch 7 tablet.
1st year cost £600.00
Contract length 24 months
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