Mobile broadband plans

If you need Internet on your device while you're out and about, give mobile broadband a go.

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We get it - sometimes using your phone as a hotspot just doesn't cut it. From needing an Internet connection to do some work out of the office, to playing online games or watching Netflix on your long commute home, mobile broadband has got you covered.

Compare mobile broadband plans and get connected wherever you are

What is mobile broadband and how does it work?

Mobile broadband is a type of connection that doesn't rely upon wired connections to your house or device. Instead, it uses the same 3G and 4G networks that your mobile phone might use to connect to the Internet, meaning it can achieve the same kind of data speed.

Much like your phone, mobile broadband devices usually need to be able to exchange signals with a communications tower in order to work.

What are the different types of mobile broadband?

There are two main types of mobile or "wireless" broadband connections available these days: 'on the go' mobile broadband and home wireless broadband.

  • 'On the go' mobile broadband. This is the kind most people are familiar with, where some type of mobile broadband hardware is involved. It used to mean plugging a dongle into your device for wireless access, and while the dongle modem option still exists, you can now buy separate data SIMs that can be popped into a spare tablet, mobile phone or other device capable of acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • Home wireless broadband. This is a relatively new service which will include or require you to buy a new modem. Home wireless broadband plans usually offer slower speeds on average than normal fixed-line broadband due to the possibility of signal interference, but higher data allowances.

The main difference between the two types is their portability, with home wireless broadband being more of an in-home solution compared to mobile broadband where smaller, more portable modems are used.

Is mobile broadband the right option for me?

Ultimately, this depends on when and how you use the Internet. It's possible your phone can act as a data hotspot, but this isn't a great permanent solution considering how limited phone data normally is. Mobile broadband's main draw is portability, making it useful for:

  • Someone who moves frequently or can't get the wired connection speed they want at home
  • People who are out and about, but may want reliably fast Internet for doing work on transport or playing online games on a portable console or laptop
  • Anyone who may need to share a data connection with multiple devices, for collaboration or convenience
  • People who want a backup in case their wired Internet connection goes down
  • Travelling

If you're still unsure, here's a quick summary of the pros and cons of mobile broadband:

Pros

  • Portability. Wi-Fi hotspots or portable modems can be used anywhere. Even your home mobile broadband modem can be unplugged and hooked up somewhere else, if you desire.
  • Connection speed. Mobile broadband can theoretically outspeed even a decent NBN connection under the right circumstances.
  • Sharing power. Multiple people can connect to a hotspot, making it flexible for group work or a family anywhere.

Cons

  • Unreliability. Bad weather, poor reception or high amounts of network traffic can significantly impact the speed of your connection.
  • Limited data. Most traditional mobile broadband plans won't offer over 100GB of data, and it's usually far less than that.
  • Price Mobile broadband data is extremely expensive compared to a wired home connection, making it costly to get a significant amount of data.

Where is mobile broadband available?

Because you're getting your Internet access via mobile networks, mobile broadband is available anywhere traditional cell service is. Check your provider's coverage map to find out where you'll be able to get a signal, such as for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

What are mobile broadband speeds like?

As with any service, the speed you'll get with mobile broadband will vary depending on a few different factors. Here's what matters most:

  • Hardware. You'll get better speeds with newer hardware. Older devices may have weaker processors, limiting the speed of your connection. Whether your device is 3G, 4G or even 5G capable will limit what networks you can access.
  • Physical location. This matters much more than you might think. Certain places are blocked or obstructed from mobile signals. Public areas often have a lot of competing data traffic from other people's devices which will interfere with your connection speed. This is why a home wireless modem that stays in one place can promise more consistent speeds.
  • Service provider. A provider like Telstra can offer 4GX connections in major metro areas with maximum speeds 10 times faster than the NBN. Other providers may only offer slower 3G connections.
  • Potential 5G speeds. While 5G is far from being well-established in Australia, both Telstra and Optus are trialling these next-generation networks, with Vodafone set to follow this year. It's not available everywhere, but if you can get it you'll have access to speedier mobile broadband speeds, with the Optus 50Mbps Satisfaction Guarantee even promising no-fee cancellation if you aren't consistently getting a minimum of 50Mbps on your connection.

Just like wired Internet connections, mobile broadband can run at a snail's pace or lightning fast, depending on these factors.

What should I look for when comparing mobile broadband plans?

Picking a good mobile broadband plan will obviously depend on your own circumstances and what you want it for, but here are some things to consider no matter why you're after one:

  • Speed. As discussed above, speed can vary wildly. Don't just consider the fastest speed promised to you, but also what you're likely to get when using it. 4G connections are reliably faster than 3G while home wireless plans can often deliver close to their promised speed if there isn't too much network congestion. If your area has access to 5G, you could be getting speeds that match or exceed a fixed-line NBN connection.
  • Cost. Mobile broadband costs far more than wired connections. Make sure you're only paying for what you need, or you could be put way out of pocket with fancy and unnecessary features.
  • Additional hardware. Factor in the cost of additional modems as part of the plan.
  • Data limits. Since mobile broadband is so expensive, breaking the data limit will cost you. Many providers charge $10 for every extra GB of data, so make sure you have enough.

Do unlimited mobile broadband plans exist?

Given its convenience and fast speeds, mobile broadband with unlimited data is a tempting prospect. Unlimited mobile broadband does exist, however it does depend on which type of mobile broadband you're looking for.

Unfortunately, if you're looking at getting the 'on-the-go' type of mobile broadband, there are currently no unlimited data plans available.

Home wireless broadband, however, is another story. Unlimited data home wireless broadband plans are starting to appear on the market, but if you're a heavy data user, you're much better off investing in a fixed line Internet plan, since unlimited data is the norm these days for the majority of NBN plans. For a similar price you may even get a faster connection speed, since cheaper home mobile broadband plans are often capped at the slowest NBN speed of 12Mbps.

A home wireless broadband modem can still be used anywhere your network covers – it might just be a huge pain to lug it around with you! In contrast to mobile broadband hotspots, home wireless modems require constant power and need to be plugged in to function.

An alternative solution would be to consider taking up "endless" mobile data plans offered by Telstra and Vodafone. You can then use your phone as a hotspot to get your other devices connected to the Internet. As with most good things in life, there is a slight catch to these mobile plans. They give you an unlimited amount of data to use, but will reduce your speed significantly to only 1.5Mbps after you've used up your initial monthly allocation of data.

The providers also have the right to further throttle your speed or suspend your connection if they find your usage excessive. If you do decide to go down this route, make sure you familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions provided by Telstra and Vodafone so you don't find yourself in the dark.


Frequently asked questions

How does mobile broadband work?

Mobile broadband is a wireless technology that uses mobile networks, just like the ones your phone uses, to connect you to the Internet. It usually involves some type of hardware such as a plug-in dongle, hotspot or separate SIM card.

Is mobile broadband the same as WiFi?

No, they're not the same thing. Mobile broadband is a service that relies on mobile networks, while WiFi is a feature of your modem, not an actual separate service being provided.

Can you get unlimited mobile broadband?

If you're looking for travel-friendly mobile broadband, there are currently no unlimited plans available in Australia. However, there are unlimited home wireless broadband plans available, but the modems for these plans aren't as easily transportable as it's meant to be more of a 'home solution'. Alternatively, you can consider getting an unlimited mobile phone data plan by Telstra or Vodafone, which give you "endless" data but will reduce your speed significantly once you use up your initial allocation of data.

How fast is mobile broadband?

The speed of mobile broadband can vary due to a number factors, just like how your mobile phone coverage can vary depending on where you are and how strong your connection to your provider is. With the introduction of 5G in Australia, mobile broadband speeds could rival those of the NBN in the future.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    SteffApril 18, 2018

    Still end of the day its way to high..the day we get 500gs at 60 a month then we might actually be interested

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayApril 18, 2018Staff

      Hi Steff,

      Thank you for getting in touch.

      Prices indeed vary depending on the plan you get and the provider. If you’re looking at your options for SIM-only data mobile plan, you might like to check out this page. Best to contact the provider directly to discuss your options.

      I hope this can help.

      Cheers,
      May

  2. Default Gravatar
    damianJuly 23, 2017

    how to get amaysim mobile internet

    • Default Gravatar
      DanielleJuly 24, 2017

      Hi Damian,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      You may refer to this page on how to get Amaysim Mobile Internet. You may review and compare the offers available on the table. Once you have selected one, you may proceed by clicking the green “Go to Site” button.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

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