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Mobile broadband deals

If you currently suffer from a lack of fibre availability, or if being free to connect wherever you are is a priority, then mobile broadband may be the perfect choice for you.

This table has been sorted to display the fastest *average speed deals first.

EE Huawei 4G Wifi 2

EE MBB
Contract length
18 months
Download limit
100000
*average speed
31Mb
No setup cost
£35 /month
View deal

EE 4GEE Wifi Mini

EE MBB
Contract length
24 months
Download limit
50000
*average speed
31Mb
No setup cost
£40 /month

Three: 4G Hub with Alexa

Three
Contract length
12 months
Download limit
Unlimited
*average speed
14Mb
£49 setup cost
£30 /month

Three: 4G Hub with Alexa - 24 months

£49 broadband activation fee discount
Three
Contract length
24 months
Download limit
Unlimited
*average speed
14Mb
No setup cost
£25 /month
£49 broadband activation fee discount

Three: 4G Hub - 24 months

£29 broadband activation fee discount
Three
Contract length
24 months
Download limit
Unlimited
*average speed
14Mb
No setup cost
£15 /month
£29 broadband activation fee discount

Three: 4G Hub

£29 broadband activation fee discount
Three
Contract length
12 months
Download limit
Unlimited
*average speed
14Mb
No setup cost
£20 /month
£29 broadband activation fee discount

Vodafone R219 Mobile Wi-Fi hotspot 24GB

1 months discounted Broadband
Vodafone
Contract length
1 months
Download limit
24000
*average speed
10Mb
£35 setup cost
£19 /month
1 months discounted Broadband

Vodafone R219 Mobile Wi-Fi Unlimited - 1 month

Vodafone
Contract length
1 months
Download limit
Unlimited
*average speed
10Mb
£35 setup cost
£28 /month

Vodafone R219 Mobile Wi-Fi Unlimited - 12 months

Vodafone
Contract length
12 months
Download limit
Unlimited
*average speed
10Mb
No setup cost
£28 /month

This table has been limited to display a maximum of 10 deals; sorted by the highest download speed first.

* The "average" download speed displayed in Mb is the speed available to 50% of customers with this product during peak time (between 8pm and 10pm). The actual speed you will get depends on a variety of factors such as your cabling, your area, how far you are from the telephone exchange as well as time of day. The majority of providers will tell you the speed you will likely receive when you begin your online sign up — this may differ from the average speed displayed on our table.

The deals available at your postcode are subject to local availability. The provider will confirm availability for your line.

Money services are provided at no cost to you, but we may receive a commission from the companies we refer you to.

What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband is, as the name suggests, broadband that runs off a mobile network, accessed via a SIM card. The data you get on your smartphone as part of your monthly phone plan can also be considered to a degree as mobile broadband, except that it is bundled with calls and texts. SIMs which offer mobile broadband exclusively do not cover your call minutes or text.

Mobile internet can be accessed in the following ways:

Dongle

The most popular way to access mobile internet from a SIM card, dongles work like any USB flash drive, you simply insert your SIM card and then slot it into your laptop or PC. Most dongles are designed to automatically install on first use, and following that a pop-up will appear prompting you to connect or disconnect.

Dongles make it easy to get online on any compatible device, wherever you are (so long as you get mobile network coverage) and in many cases can even double as SD card readers so you can enjoy extra storage too. They do require you to manually disconnect so you don’t waste data, though, which might be an important step that most people initially forget to do.

SIM card slot

Some laptops and tablets will have a SIM card slot so you can insert a card quickly and easily directly into the device. If you want to take your tablet out and about with uninterrupted connection that doesn’t require any other devices then you should make sure you purchase a model with a dedicated SIM slot.

Mi-Fi router

Like Wi-Fi but for mobile internet, routers work just like any normal one except they source their connection from a SIM. You can simply slot a SIM into the dedicated port and away you go. Some routers might be referred to as “pocket Wi-Fi” meaning they are a portable Wi-Fi router and can be taken anywhere and used as internet access for multiple devices, others need to be plugged in as a permanent at-home router.

Mobile hotspots 

Just like you do with your mobile data, you can set up a mobile broadband SIM on your mobile and tether other devices to it. This can be a useful option if you don’t want to purchase any further equipment, but if you don’t have a phone with dual SIM slots you’ll have to swap cards out for broadband only and your own personal calls and texts.

Do I need a phone line for mobile broadband?

No, and that is the beauty of this type of broadband. It’s ideal if you live in an area where ADSL internet reach is too slow or where fibre optic isn’t available. While both of these are widely accessible for most of the UK, you may find that mobile coverage in your area is stronger than your other broadband options — this is especially true outside of urban areas.

How can I get Mobile Wi-Fi?

Signing up to mobile broadband can be even simpler than signing up to your regular home broadband deals. Contract lengths range from one month to over a year in length, so you can pick one that suits you best.

You’ll want to compare mobile broadband deals carefully, as some have hefty set-up fees, while others offer lower overall prices but don’t include the gear you need, just the SIM.

You’ll also want to be careful you are buying a SIM that is meant to be exclusively a mobile broadband option – many suppliers use the term ‘mobile broadband’ interchangeably with their regular minute, text and data SIM-only deals intended for use with a smartphone.

Once you have selected your provider of choice, you’ll receive your SIM and all other gear in the post. All you need to do is insert the SIM into the dongle, router or laptop you are using, let it run set-up and away you go.

Unlike ADSL or fibre optic, you don’t need any phone lines or extra cables connecting your home, so getting mobile broadband up and running is also a simple DIY affair. 

Why should I get mobile broadband?

There are several reasons you might find mobile broadband to be a great fit for your household, including:

You travel a lot

Mobile broadband is the only type of broadband that you can take anywhere with you. While your standard fibre optic gives you great connection at home, mobile broadband, contained within a compact SIM, dongle or router can go wherever you go.

That makes it a fantastic choice for people who need to work on the go or love being connected anywhere, from the bedroom to the end of the garden to the bottom of the street, without depending on a wired connection.

With this sense of freedom in mind, you might even want to invest in both home Wi-Fi with connected broadband and mobile broadband for when you’re out and about. 

You’re a globetrotter 

The majority of mobile network providers have an extensive list of roaming destinations that let you use your SIM abroad without impacting on your bills. This is great news if your job or family life sees you jetting off from Blighty frequently.

You don’t have a phone line

With the exception of Virgin Media, broadband providers require you to have a phone line. Mobile broadband simply requires you to have a SIM, a suitable device and be in an area covered by a mobile network which, generally speaking, gives you greater coverage than broadband providers. If you don’t have or want a phone line, mobile broadband is the perfect solution.

You’re renting

If you don’t own your property or are not able to enter into a long-term contract for wired broadband, mobile broadband is perfect. While many mobile deals still set their contract lengths to several months, this isn’t dependent on your location, so you can move home all year long without breaking the terms of your mobile broadband contract and being hit with fees for cancelling your broadband contract early. 

You need temporary internet

Maybe something delayed your broadband switch, maybe you’re only in your home during the weekend or maybe enjoying an extended break away from the norm, mobile Wi-Fi deals are a great short-term option to keep you online.

Who offers mobile broadband plans?

Mobile broadband deals are, unsurprisingly, offered by mobile networks, meaning your options vary from standard broadband providers.

Some mobile networks specialise in both, so you might find a broadband package that combines standard home broadband with a mobile SIM that lets you enjoy connection wherever you are. Here are the deals offered by the major mobile providers:

Vodafone

Vodafone claims to have 99% coverage nationwide with its 4G Wi-Fi network. SIM only deals include 30 day and 12-month options so you can pick the length that suits you. Vodafone’s Gigacube is their version of a mobile router and works with their 4G and 5G networks.

EE

EE offers a wide range of equipment to access your SIM, including a home router, HTC hub that clearly displays your speed and usage and two sizes of portable Wi-Fi router. EE offers 4G and 5G coverage and your upfront fees will vary based on what package you choose, which range from one month to two years. Its 4G Wi-Fi is advertised as superfast for smooth buffering. 

O2

O2 also offers 4G and 5G options and offers routers and mobile broadband dongles that are designed to join you on the move, with some of their dongles also doubling as a wi-fi hotspot. Pay monthly options let you pick precisely how many months you want to commit to and how much data you need.

You will also be able to change the amount of data you need per month, so you can bring down your allowance, use it all up, pay off your current plan and then switch plan.

Three

Three offers 4G Wi-Fi coverage and, depending on your location, also 5G. Its hub options are easily unpacked, set up and ready to go, with no lengthy installation needed and the Huawei AICube option that even doubles as a smart speaker.

Other providers

When you are looking for your ideal provider, you should also bear in mind that the networks listed above are the only ones who have their own physical tower networks across the UK. That’s not to say other providers aren’t able to offer equally good service.

In fact, it means that no matter what provider you go with, as the smaller suppliers purchase space on these set networks, the quality and reliability of your connection will be just as good for major and minor providers alike.

What are the best dongle deals?

Finding the best dongle deal depends on what you want from it. Some dongles double as wi-fi hot spots so you can plug it into your laptop and also connect your phone. Other pocket routers don’t need to be physically connected to any device, which is great if you don’t want to have to depend on another device to access and connect your dongle.

The best dongle deals in terms of value will be those with no installation fees, so the price of the dongle is included in your overall cost. 

So, what’s an unlimited internet dongle?

Just like cabled broadband, your mobile broadband can be unlimited — although this isn’t dependent on the dongle, it’s dependent on the SIM you are using. The major providers above all offer unlimited options as part of their dongle plans.

If, with smaller providers, you aren’t able to secure an unlimited data only plan, you can get around this by purchasing a regular call and text SIM and then tethering your devices to it, but beware that while your data may be unlimited, your tethering may not.

Should I get an unlimited mobile broadband plan?

If buffering video, uploading and sharing files, or online gaming is a big part of your internet use then you should definitely look into unlimited options. In fact, if mobile broadband is going to be your homes’ only access to the internet then you should almost certainly do so to avoid added fees.

Not all suppliers offer this option, though, so make sure to search and compare broadband plans well. 

What are the best mobile broadband speeds?

Mobile internet speeds depend on several factors including your precise area and even what the weather is like.

5G speeds are generally advertised in terms of performance rather than speeds, not least because the network is still in rollout stages across the nation. This fifth generation of mobile connectivity is described by major providers as:

  • Letting you download a HD movie in around three minutes

  • Letting you download a whole box set in under ten minutes

  • Creating reliable connection even in the busiest places 

  • Ensuring buffer-free streaming and delay-free downloads

If you are on 4G and have a minimum speed guarantee, you can use an online broadband speed test to see if your connection matches what your provider promised.

Who offers the best roaming network?

Free roaming is a massive draw of mobile broadband and networks know it, frequently expanding their roaming coverage. This means that even if you take your SIM abroad, you’ll be able to access your data at no extra charge (so long as you stay within your data limits). Here are the countries you will be covered by free roaming per major provider:

Vodafone roaming destinations

Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (inc Faroe Islands), Estonia, Finland, France (inc Corsica), French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (inc Balearic Islands), St Martin, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Vatican City

For a further fee you can expand your coverage:

Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Lesotho, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Saba, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam 

EE roaming destinations

Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Canary Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, San Marino, Saint Martin (French), Saint Barthelemy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican City 

O2 roaming destinations

O2’s coverage is split between Eurozone coverage, included in all their tariffs, and an additional ‘bolt-on’ included in selected tariffs that widens your coverage. 

Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden , Switzerland, Vatican City

With international bolt-on:

Argentina, Honduras, Australia, Madagascar, Botswana, Mexico, Canada, Myanmar, Chile, New Zealand, Colombia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Paraguay, El Salvador, Peru, Greenland, Rwanda, Guatemala, United States, Guinea, Uruguay, Guyana, Venezuela, Yemen

Three roaming destinations

Aland Islands, Australia, Austria, Azores, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France (Inc. Corsica, Mayotte & Reunion ), French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece (Inc. Crete & Rhodes), Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy (Inc. Sardinia & Sicily), Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Maderia, Malta, Marie-Galante, Martinique, Mayotte, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Ireland, Reunion, Romania, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United States (Inc. Florida Keys), Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Vatican City, Vietnam.

Will Brexit affect roaming charges?

This depends on your supplier and as yet, there have been no solid answers about if roaming will continue to be free, feature a small fee, or be subject to much higher costs. Of the changes that might take place, below are the rules suppliers will have to follow in accordance with new legislation:

  • Daily costs for roaming will be capped at £45

  • Customers must be informed when they reach 80% of their data usage allowance, and then 100%

  • Networks need to take ‘reasonable steps’ to stop customers in Northern Ireland being accidentally charged roaming fees for the Republic of Ireland should their phone connect to a signal originating from there