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Mobile Broadband Plans

Mobile broadband keeps you connected to the Internet on your device while you’re on the 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.

Most mobile broadband plans are designed to be used with a tablet or modem with a SIM slot, so in most cases, you don't need to buy a separate device to use it.

Compare mobile broadband plans below

To find out whether you need to purchase a separate modem or device to use with your chosen plan, click on the 'more details' button and check the modem description under the 'fees' tab. We'll specify if you need to buy a modem from the provider. If it says 'BYO modem/device', you're good to insert the SIM into your own device.

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

  • SIM Only mobile broadband. This type doesn't require any type of modem to get you connected. Simply buy a data-only SIM and you can easily pop it into a tablet, mobile, or laptop that already has a 4G modem built in.
  • Portable modems. If your phone, laptop or tablet doesn't already have a 4G modem built into it, you'll need a separate modem to get you connected. USB modems are great for plugging into your laptop for extra juice on the go, but if you'd like to connect multiple devices, consider getting a portable WiFi hotspot modem instead.
  • Home wireless broadband. This is a relatively new service that is less transportable as it's designed to be used in your home. You'll get a larger modem with built-in WiFi to use, and it'll need to be connected to a power source in order to work. Home wireless broadband plans will usually have higher data allowances and can be a great alternative if you're not having success with normal fixed-line connections.

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.

Mobile broadband devices explained

As previously mentioned, mobile broadband devices are what makes this Internet connection a more portable solution. Here are the different types of devices you could use:

  • W-iFi hotspots. A Wi-Fi hotspot is created by a mobile modem or Pocket Wi-Fi device. Essentially, your mobile modem (usually battery-powered) connects to the Internet via the mobile network, then shares that connection with devices around it. Home broadband modems are the same idea, although they're generally larger, more powerful and much more difficult to move around to different locations.
  • USB modems (dongles). A USB modem, or dongle, plugs directly into the USB slot on your computer or other device. It will then provide the connected device with mobile broadband. Some modern dongles can also act as portable hotspots, allowing Internet access to devices other than the one it's plugged into.
  • Built-in solutions for SIM-only broadband. Though rare, some highly portable laptops and other devices will come with a SIM slot included. They contain a modem able to access the mobile network, which will allow them to hop on the Internet or act as a portable hotspot when the SIM is activated.

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. You can check out our page on the best mobile broadband plans to see what we think are best offers currently available.

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 more expensive compared to a wired home connection, making it costly to get a significant amount of data.

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, all three telco networks, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, are trialling these next-generation networks. 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 to consider 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.

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.

Mobile broadband providers

While you can obtain mobile broadband from a number of providers, we'll be focusing on the big three (Telstra, Vodafone and Optus) as the largest mobile broadband operators.

Telstra mobile broadband plans

Telstra has a number of mobile broadband plans, ranging from 5GB for $15 per month to 180GB for $300 per month (on a 12 month contract). You can either provide your own SIM-enabled device or purchase a modem from Telstra starting at $69.

Along with the mobile broadband, you'll get data-free sports streaming of AFL, netball and more, data-free streaming of Apple Music, and access to Telstra Air, its national Wi-Fi network. You may also get potential 5G network access on some plans if you have the right equipment and live in the right area.


Optus mobile broadband plans

With Optus, you get a choice of two home wireless broadband plans on their 4G network: 200GB for $65 per month or 500GB for $85. If you've got access to Optus' 5G network, you could opt for their unlimited home wireless plan for $70 a month. You can bring your own wireless modem or get one from Optus included on a 24-month mobile broadband plan.

Alternatively, if you want to go the data SIM route, you can get SIM plans which offer between 50Mb for $2 per month up to 75GB for $50. There are also additional data plans with longer expiry periods. With a SIM mobile broadband plan, you'll have free included streaming of the Premier League via Optus Sports.


Vodafone mobile broadband plans

If you need a modem, Vodafone has a set of Red Data plans that include one with repayments over a 12-, 24- or 36-month contract. The Red Data plans themselves provide between 5GB and 100GB for $15 to $60 monthly. You can access this same suite of plans if you bring your own mobile modem.

In terms of extra features, Vodafone's mobile broadband plans come with global roaming in 80 countries for an extra $5 a month, and you can potentially bundle your plan with other Vodafone offers to save a percentage off your total bill.

Frequently asked questions

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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