1. Guides
  2. Household Bills
  3. Broadband & TV
  4. Best mobile broadband deals

Best mobile broadband deals

Tamires Criscio
Tamires Criscio
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 9th April 2021

Do you want to know what the best mobile broadband deals are for you? Latest Deals is here to help you understand what is mobile broadband and why you need it. Find out what the best mobile broadband deals are available at the moment.

In this guide

What is mobile broadband?

Image

Mobile broadband is a wireless connection to the internet by using a mobile phone network via 3G, 4G or 5G services. You can access mobile broadband via a USB dongle, MiFi or SIM Card. To be able to use mobile broadband you just need to make sure you are in an area with coverage. 

How does mobile broadband work?

Mobile broadband works the same way your phone’s internet does. Instead of broadband being delivered via cables, it’s delivered by a mobile network, via mainly 4G and 3G services. Some mobile broadband providers also work with 5G technology. 

Usually, mobile broadband is totally focused on data and its plans don’t cover any calls or text. Sometimes, you can get free texts with your mobile broadband plan. 

In the UK, mobile broadband is provided mainly by four large mobile operators: O2, EE, Vodafone and Three. They use 3G, 4G and 5G services to send and receive data. 

At the moment, the most common type of mobile broadband uses 4G services. In the near future, 5G services will be more popular and a good option for someone that is opting for mobile broadband to replace fully cabled broadband. EE and O2 are the two mobile providers that already offer 5G technology to their customers. 

What is 5G mobile broadband?

5G mobile broadband is the latest technology when it comes to data transmission via a mobile network. It has the same power as a cabled broadband connection. With 5G mobile broadband, the speeds can be as high as fibre broadband.

To find out more about 5G, read our guide!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of mobile broadband?

Image

The biggest advantage of mobile broadband is its mobility. You can take your broadband with you wherever you go, if within your provider’s coverage area. You will never again need to depend on the public internet to get your work or study done when out and about or worry about your internet signal going weaker when changing rooms in your home, for example. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you live in a remote area in the UK, where fixed-line access is limited, mobile broadband can be an excellent option for you. 

Another big advantage of mobile broadband is that you will be able to use your tablet wherever you are without depending on Wi-Fi. If you have the habit of carrying your tablet around, getting mobile broadband can be a life-changer. Make sure your new tablet has a slot for a data SIM card. You can even find some deals that include tablet and mobile broadband together. This is very common and convenient to extend the use of your tablet outside your house.

Unfortunately, mobile broadband has some disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage of mobile broadband is lower speed. Even if you get a 4G service, the maximum broadband speed you will get is around 30Mbps, which is much slower than fibre broadband. If you are working with a 3G service, you can expect even lower speeds. 

However, 5G technology is growing in the UK and it will be more popular in the next few years. The 5G service has promised to be even faster than fibre broadband.

Another disadvantage of mobile broadband is that it can be more expensive than cabled broadband if you are not careful and look for a good deal. In addition, you can’t be 100% sure about the download and upload speeds you will be working with and most mobile broadband plans available come with limited data.

So, if your data is finished, you won’t be able to use your mobile broadband or you will need to buy more data, making it more expensive. 

What are the types of mobile broadband?

Image

There are three types of mobile broadband. You can find inbuilt data SIMs, which were developed for laptops and tablets that have a slot for a data SIM card. You can also find USB Dongles, which can be connected to a laptop or a PC via a USB port. And finally, mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, which are called Mi-Fi and look just like a standard router, but instead of being connected to an internet cable, they pick mobile signals to transfer data. You can use this at home to replace cabled broadband. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is another type of mobile broadband and it’s called Car Wi-Fi. The device will have a Data Only SIM supported built-in and can be connected to a vehicle with a 12V port. This is a good option for someone that commutes for long hours and distances and wants to keep the entertainment of choice going or powering Google Maps.

Mobile broadband at home and on the go 

Mobile broadband is so versatile that you can use it both at home and on the go. Initially, mobile broadband was created for people that needed to be connected to the internet no matter where they were. Nowadays, it’s more common to see people using mobile broadband at home, either because they can’t get cabled broadband in their area or because they want a good internet signal when changing rooms around the house or going to their gardens, for example. 

Which mobile broadband is best for my area? - Mobile broadband availability

Just like cabled broadband, mobile broadband availability will depend on your area. Before getting a mobile broadband deal, you will need to check what is available to you. This is really important because it will determine how strong your internet signal and connection is. Use Ofcom Checker to see mobile broadband availability in your area.

Do I need a mobile broadband deal? 

Image

This will depend on your lifestyle: 

  • If you live in a rural area that does not have access to cabled broadband or if you can’t get good cabled broadband service in your area, mobile broadband could work better for you.
  • If you are someone that is frequently getting work done or studying outside your home, mobile broadband can be a great convenience. 
  • If you are tired of not getting a good internet connection in a specific area inside your home or in the garden, mobile broadband can be a solution. 
  • If you are someone who is often commuting and needs to be connected on a 24/7 basis, mobile broadband is perfect for you. 

Investing in mobile broadband is not so cheap, but if you really need it, it can bring much more ease to your daily activities. 

Why choose a mobile broadband deal? - 3 reasons why 

  • The first reason is to have it as an alternative to fixed-line broadband. If you can’t get cabled broadband, go for mobile broadband.
  • The second reason is to have it as temporary broadband. If for some reason you can’t get a traditional internet connection, you have your mobile broadband as a back-up. 
  • The third reason is to be connected when you are out and about without depending on public wifi or smartphones.

How to compare mobile broadband deals

Image

You can find many options for mobile broadband deals with higher data allowances and improved equipment to guarantee a better mobile broadband experience. 

With so many options available in the market, it can be hard to choose the best mobile broadband deal for you. Latest Deals is here to help you compare mobile broadband deals and make a decision. Check some of the points below that you need to keep in mind when making a decision: 

What gadget do you want? 

There are three types of mobile broadband, and they all come with different gadgets. The first thing you need to decide is: what gadget do you want? 

  • If you have a laptop or tablet with a slot for a data SIM card, you just need a Data Only SIM. Keep in mind that you are only able to connect one device with this type of mobile broadband. 
  • If you are planning to use mobile broadband at home and connect multiple devices at the same time, you need Mobile Wi-Fi (Mi-Fi). You can also take this with you wherever you go. 
  • If you only need mobile broadband for your laptop or PC, you can get a USB dongle. Also, keep in mind that you are only able to connect one device with this type of mobile broadband.

How much data do you want? 

This will depend on how much you are going to use the internet and what you are going to use the internet for. If you are going to connect only one device, you will need less data. If you are going to connect to multiple devices, you will need more data. 

If mobile broadband is the main source of your internet connection in your home, you will need more data. If you are only using it when out and about, you will need less data. 

If you are planning to only research the internet to write documents, you will need less data. If you are looking to stream for entertainment and use Netflix or Amazon Prime, for example, you will need more data. 

Read our article about how to choose a broadband deal and learn what type of internet user you are. Knowing if you are a light, moderate or heavy internet user will help you get the best mobile broadband deal for you. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: We recommend getting an unlimited mobile broadband deal, this way you know you will have internet access at a good speed for the entire month. No matter what you are going to use your mobile broadband for, having it available whenever you need it is essential. You can also find some cheap unlimited mobile broadband deals. 

What is the best contract length for you? 

Usually, you can get mobile broadband with 12-month, 18-month, 24-month, 36-month contracts. You can also find 30-day plans. Pay as you go contracts are not easy to find at the moment. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you get a 30-day plan, you will have to pay the upfront cost, which can be expensive. 

Which provider do you prefer? 

There are four big mobile broadband providers in the UK: EE, Vodafone, Three and O2. You can also find mobile broadband with other providers, such as Virgin Media. 

The best mobile broadband deals 

Image

The cheapest mobile broadband deals (under £20 per month)

These are sorted by the cheapest per month, with no upfront free, of all types, for £20 or less: 

ProviderTypeContract lengthData (GB)4G/5GCost
Per Month
Virgin MediaMi-Fi1234G£8
ThreeMi-Fi24Unlimited4G£11
ThreeMi-Fi241004G£11
Virgin MediaMi-Fi1264G£12
EESIM Only242504G£13
VodafoneUSB Dongle12Unlimited4G£14
VodafoneMi-Fi12Unlimited4G£14
VodafoneSIM Only12Unlimited4G£14
ThreeMi-Fi24404G£16
VodafoneUSB Dongle12Unlimited4G£17
VodafoneMi-Fi12Unlimited4G£17
VodafoneSIM Only12Unlimited4G£17
O2SIM Only12504G£20
O2USB dongle24154G£20
Virgin MediaMi-Fi12154G£20
O2Mi-Fi24154G£20

The best unlimited data mobile broadband deals 

These are sorted by having unlimited data, with no upfront fee, by cheapest per month:

ProviderTypeContract
length
4G/5GCost
Per Month
ThreeMi-Fi244G£11
VodafoneUSB Dongle124G£14
VodafoneMi-Fi124G£14
VodafoneSIM Only124G£14
VodafoneUSB Dongle124G£17
VodafoneMi-Fi124G£17
VodafoneSIM Only124G£17
ThreeSIM Only14G£26
EESIM Only245G£37
EEMi-Fi184G£55

The best 5G mobile broadband deals 

This is sorted by 5G plans, by the cost per GB. This is a useful measure, a bit like comparing the per kg price of strawberries in a supermarket. Some plans have an upfront cost which is included.

ProviderTypeContract lengthData (GB)Upfront CostCost Per MonthCost per GB
EESIM Only24100£0£29£0.29
EESIM Only24Unlimited£0£37£0.37
EEMi-Fi24200£0£100£0.50
O2Mi-Fi3675£0£44£0.59
EEMi-Fi24100£0£75£0.75
O2Mi-Fi3650£0£40£0.80
EEMi-Fi2450£100£50£1.08
O2Mi-Fi3615£0£31£2.06
EEMi-Fi1100£275£75£3.50
EEMi-Fi150£275£50£6.50

The 30-day best mobile broadband deals (contractless mobile broadband) 

It is difficult to compare 30-day mobile broadband deals because the final total cost depends on whether you use it for more than 30-days (one month). In the comparison table below we have sorted the deals by 1-month only contracts, by the Cost £ per GB. This includes any upfront costs. It is a useful measure to compare the value of mobile broadband deals, a bit like comparing the per kg price of strawberries in a supermarket. 

ProviderTypeData (GB)4G/5GUpfront CostCost Per MonthCost per GB
ThreeSIM Only1004G£0£24£0.24
ThreeSIM OnlyUnlimited4G£0£26£0.26
EEMi-Fi5004G£100£50£0.30
EEMi-Fi3004G£100£45£0.48
EEMi-Fi1004G£100£35£1.35
EEMi-Fi1005G£275£75£3.50
Virgin MediaMi-Fi154G£39£20£3.93
EEMi-Fi505G£275£50£6.50
Virgin MediaMi-Fi64G£39£12£8.50
Virgin MediaMi-Fi34G£39£8£15.67

Vodafone Mobile Broadband

Image

Vodafone is one of the biggest names when it comes to mobile broadband. You may want to check with them first to see what they have to offer as they have some of the best unlimited data deals on the market. 

You can get unlimited data with USB Dongle, Mi-Fi or Data Only SIM. They have two packages for each with the faster one costing £2.50 more.

 Vodafone is still not working with 5G, but its biggest advantage is the 12 month-contract. If after one year, you are not happy with your plan, you can cancel. 

ProviderTypeContract lengthData (GB)4G/5GUpfront CostCost
VodafoneUSB Dongle12 monthsUnlimited4G0£14
VodafoneUSB Dongle12 monthsUnlimited4G0£16.50
VodafoneMi-Fi12 monthsUnlimited4G0£14
VodafoneMi-Fi12 monthsUnlimited4G0£16.50
VodafoneData Only SIM12 monthsUnlimited4G0£14
VodafoneData Only SIM12 monthsUnlimited4G0£16.50

EE Mobile Broadband

Image

EE has a good range of mobile broadband deals. With EE, you will probably find the perfect package for you.

EE has the best coverage in the UK and is already working with 5G mobile broadband. Some consider EE the best option for mobile broadband, but its plans can be more expensive when compared to other mobile broadband providers. 

ProviderTypeContract lengthData (GB)4G/5GUpfront CostCost
EEMi-Fi24 months1005G0£75
EEMi-Fi24 months505G£100£50
EEMi-Fi24 months2005G0£100
EEMi-Fi30 days505G£275£50
EEMi-Fi30 days1005G£275£75
EEMi-Fi18 monthsUnlimited4G0£55
EEMi-Fi18 months1004G0£35
EEMi-Fi18 months2004G0£40
EEMi-Fi18 months3004G0£45
EEMi-Fi18 months5004G0£50
EEMi-Fi30 days1004G£100£35
EEMi-Fi30 days3004G£100£45
EEMi-Fi30 days5004G£100£50
EEData Only SIM24 monthsUnlimited5G0£37
EEData Only SIM24 months1005G0£29
EEData Only SIM24 months2504G0£13

Three mobile broadband

Image

Three is the cheapest option for mobile broadband. At the moment, they only offer Huawei 4G Plus Mi-Fi, but it’s all you need if you are looking for mobile broadband. With this low-cost portable solution, you will be able to connect up to 10 devices at once with a battery life of up to 6 hours. Three also promises more speed and coverage. We definitely recommend Three’s deals. 

ProviderTypeContract lengthData (GB)4G/5GUpfront CostCost
ThreeMi-Fi24 monthsUnlimited4G0£11
ThreeMi-Fi24 months404G0£16
ThreeMi-Fi24 months1004G0£11
ThreeData Only SIM30 daysUnlimited4G0£26
ThreeData Only SIM30 days1004G0£24

O2 Mobile Broadband

Image

O2 Mobile Broadband offers both Mi-Fi and USB dongles. With O2, you can also get 5G mobile broadband. Although O2 can be accessible, you could be tied to a long-term contract. O2 also doesn't inform you what broadband speeds you can expect. 

ProviderTypeContract lengthData (GB)4G/5GUpfront CostCost
O2Mi-Fi24 months154G0£20.38
O2Mi-Fi24 months504G0£29.38
O2Mi-Fi24 months754G0£33.38
O2USB dongle24 months154G0£20
O2USB dongle24 months504G0£29
O2USB dongle24 months754G0£33
O2Mi-Fi36 months155G0£30.95
O2Mi-Fi36 months505G0£39.95
O2Mi-Fi36 months755G0£43.95
O2Data Only SIM12 months504G0£20
O2Data Only SIM12 months1504G0£28

IMPORTANT NOTE: With O2 you can find a USB dongle with Wi-Fi, which will allow you to connect to more than one device. 

Virgin Media Mobile Broadband

Image

Virgin Media offers one type of mobile broadband via Mi-Fi. With Virgin Media, you will be taking home a Huawei 4G Mobile WiFi. 

This is a small and portable WiFi hotspot that lets you connect up to 16 devices at the same time. This powerful little gadget comes with a rechargeable battery with 6 hours of working time. 

You can get it with three different data plans and Virgin Media promises a download speed of up to 150 Mbps and an upload speed of up to 50Mbps. You can’t find a Pay as You Go deal with Virgin Media. 

ProviderTypeContract lengthData (GB)4G/5GUpfront CostCost
Virgin MediaMi-Fi30 days34G£39£8
Virgin MediaMi-Fi30 days64G£39£12
Virgin MediaMi-Fi30 days154G£39£20
Virgin MediaMi-Fi12months34G0£8
Virgin MediaMi-Fi12 months64G0£12
Virgin MediaMi-Fi12 months154G0£20

Mobile broadband checklist: What you need to know before getting a deal 

  • Is tethering enough? If you already have a smartphone, tethering your mobile internet will be enough. This depends on what you are tethering for and how much data you have in your plan. This can be a cheaper option if you want to save money. If that’s the case, you can invest in a mobile plan with more data to be able to use it on your laptop or tablet on the go, for example. 
  • Are you picking the right mobile broadband device for you? We have mentioned your options, make sure you are selecting the best one for you to avoid unnecessary expenses.
  • Are you picking a provider that has larger coverage? This needs to be the number one priority when it comes to mobile broadband as you want to make sure you will be connected to the internet no matter where you go. Usually, broadband providers will provide a map with their coverage. 
  • Are you picking the best mobile broadband deal you can? Have compared all your options and checked what is going to be the cheapest one with more benefits? 

10 mobile broadband need-to-knows

Image

FACT #1 To be able to use mobile broadband, you will need the correct hardware

Make sure you select the correct hardware for your needs. Sometimes, you can find USB dongles and Mi-Fis sold separately and unblocked. Then, you just need to buy a Data Only SIM. This could be a much cheaper option. 

FACT #2 You might need to unlock your hardware to be able to use it. 

As a mobile phone, depending on the hardware of your choice, you might need to unlock it before inserting a Data Only SIM from any mobile provider. 

FACT #3 Check for mobile broadband coverage before getting a new deal 

To avoid problems with your mobile connection, the most essential thing to do is to check how mobile broadband coverage is in your area. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: EE is considered the UK’s best coverage. In London, you can get access to 4G +

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although Vodafone doesn’t have the largest coverage in big cities, it provides 4G LTE Advanced (3x faster than 4G). 

You can also use www.signalchecker.co.uk to check for mobile broadband coverage in your area. 

FACT #4 Check if that data amount will really work for you 

This can be tricky to decide. The best deals are the ones with unlimited data, especially if you are not too sure how much data you will need. 

FACT #5 Going contractless is more expensive than getting a mobile broadband contract 

If you want to go contractless with a 30-day contract, you will need to invest more money upfront. 

FACT #6 Before travelling with your mobile broadband, check how much roaming will cost you 

Sometimes, you can get a plan with roaming for certain countries included. Before travelling and taking your mobile broadband with you, make sure how much it will cost you. 

FACT #7 If you are an existing customer, you might be able to haggle 

If you are already a Vodafone, Three, O2, EE or Virgin Media customer, you might be able to haggle with them for a cheaper mobile broadband deal.

FACT #8 Use your data wisely

If you are paying for a limited data plan, make sure you only use it when you don’t have another alternative, such as free Wi-Fi in public spaces. 

FACT #9 Unfortunately, mobile broadband is still not a replacement for home broadband. 

Mobile broadband is only good for certain people, if you are looking for home broadband, it’s much better to get a cabled broadband deal. Check out here to see some of the best broadband deals available. 

FACT #10 Considering tethering through your smartphone to save money 

At the end of the day, if you are on a budget the best solution is to make the most of the things you already have. If you have a good mobile plan, make sure you use all the data available to you. 

FAQ 

Image
What do you think of this?
We use cookies (e.g. personalisation, analytics, social media). Find out more.