Compare Wi-Fi dongles and pocket Wi-Fi plans | Finder

Wi-Fi Dongle and Pocket Wi-Fi Plans

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Wi-Fi dongles and pocket Wi-Fi devices both make use of mobile networks to get you connected to the Internet fast and with minimal effort. They also won't cost you an arm and a leg, with prices starting at under $20 a month for 20GB of data or only $64 monthly for a whopping 100GB.

What is a Wi-Fi dongle/pocket Wi-Fi and how do they work?

Both of these devices connect to the Internet using the same mobile networks as your phone. If you're somewhere that your phone can get a signal, these portable Wi-Fi devices should have Internet access too.

Beyond that, pocket Wi-Fi modems and USB dongles work a little differently:

telstra_modem

Wi-Fi dongles:

  • Are super small and portable
  • Attach directly to a device by USB
  • Are powered by the connected device (which means no battery is required)
  • Can connect a single device to the Internet

Pocket Wi-Fi devices:

  • Are larger, but still portable
  • Attach devices by creating a Wi-Fi network connection
  • Are battery powered
  • Can connect multiple devices to the Internet at once

Don't need a plan that comes with a dongle or pocket Wi-Fi? Check out our guide on data SIMs

Compare pocket Wi-Fi broadband plans below

The table below shows plans from our database with at least 20GB that come with a USB dongle or pocket Wi-Fi modem. Keep in mind that the modem will usually be an extra fee on top of your plan cost.

To see more options, check out our guide on mobile broadband plans.

Which one is best for portable Wi-Fi?

While both are highly portable and very easy to use, pocket Wi-Fi modems are more popular. They're more popular than USB dongles because of:

  • Reliability. The fact that pocket Wi-Fi is battery powered means you can stash it in your bag and it will still function. Dongles have to stay attached to your device to work.
  • Flexibility. Want to use two devices at once or let your friend hop onto the Wi-Fi? Pocket modems allow multiple devices to get online at once, while dongles are stuck at just one.

On the other hand, dongles are really small and can provide that tiny extra bit of convenience, on your daily commute, for example. They also tend to be a bit cheaper than a pocket Wi-Fi modem.

What's better: Mobile data or pocket Wi-Fi?

Your phone plan probably has a decent chunk of data on it, leading you to wonder why a separate data plan is even useful. Here are a few reasons why standalone pocket Wi-Fi can be handy:

  • Increased data value. The money you pay only goes towards data, and not calls or texts. This means pocket Wi-Fi has more bang for your buck.
  • Back-up connection. Internet gone fuzzy or dropped out? Having a pocket Wi-Fi device on hand means you'll be able to stay online.
  • Great on the move. A dongle or pocket Wi-Fi modem can connect anywhere your phone can, so you can get that dedicated data for gaming, working or whatever, everywhere you need it.

Can you get unlimited data on a dongle or pocket Wi-Fi device?

At the moment in Australia, you can't really get unlimited data on a USB dongle or pocket Wi-Fi device. What does exist are plans that don't charge you extra for going over your monthly data limit.

Telstra is the only provider in Australia that currently offers plans for your pocket Wi-Fi modem or dongle that let you use unlimited data past your cap for free. Instead of charging you extra for going over your monthly data allowance, these plans slow down your download speed by 10 times or more. So while you don't have to pay more to use as much data as you like, it will limit how much you're actually able to do on these plans since your speed will drop to 1.5Mbps once you pass your cap.

Can I use a regular mobile SIM with pocket Wi-Fi?

Most mobile SIMs should work inside a pocket Wi-Fi modem so long as data is included on your plan. However, pocket Wi-Fi modems don't usually have the capability to send and receive calls or text messages, so you won't be able to use the talk and text inclusions on your phone plan.

If that doesn't bother you and you just want a mobile plan with tons of data to use, we'd recommend the 100GB plan from Circles.Life, which should be enough data for you to use both on your phone and as pocket Wi-Fi.

Promoted
Over 20% off for 12 months - pay $30 for 100GB of data per month. Plan reverts to $38 for 100GB per month after 12 months. T&Cs apply.

Frequently asked questions about dongles and pocket Wi-Fi

Can I use my pocket Wi-Fi as a Wi-Fi extender?

No. Pocket Wi-Fi modems are not designed to amplify and extend Wi-Fi signals. You'll need a dedicated repeater or Wi-Fi extender for this function.

How do I install a Wi-Fi dongle?

Once you've inserted an active SIM into the dongle, all you need to do is plug the USB into your laptop or other device. Then, find the data dongle's network on your network list and connect to it.

Images: Telstra & Vodafone

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