There are a number of things you should consider before choosing a mobile broadband deal. Is it right for you? Which plan is the right for you? Who provides mobile broadband? And how do you find the right deal to suit you? This guide will tell you everything you'll ever need to know about broadband so you can make the right choices.
Silly question, indeed, but just a quick reminder in case any newbies are interested... Basically, it is Internet access transmitted across the phone network instead of across telephone wires or fibre optic cables. The network provider will give you a specific data allowance that you can use within a given time limit, and some will allow you to use Wi-Fi hotspots in public places without reducing your usage of data allowance.
If you're just a casual user, updating Facebook now and then, sending a few e-mails a week, then it may be an option to suit you. If on the other hand you are a heavy web surfer and you watch YouTube videos for hours, download a lot of music, play games online or you share your connection with others in the house, then mobile broadband may be a limitation to you. Ideally it should be viewed as a back-up service. It would not be fast enough to download films or music, however it would offer you mobile and flexible web access.
Coverage used to be more patchy in the past but most mobile network providers offer good coverage nowadays. Think about where you will use the mobile broadband connection and make sure the network operator you're considering is able to deliver a quality service at that place. If you are unsure, ask a friend to borrow their mobile broadband modem and see how it works for you and avoid long term commitments.
Mobile broadband services are available from most major network providers on both PAYG and contract basis. If you shop around, you will soon notice that the shorter the contract is, the higher the setup fee is. If you commit to a longer contract, you may get free hardware as well. Don't get tempted by offers of free laptops. You may need to sign up for a 24-month contract for that.
Cheapest offers on the mobile broadband market come from 3. They offer deals with 2GB, 5GB, 20GB, 40GB and 50GB starting from just £9 per month on a 24 month contract. You have a variety of options to choose from and suitable for all budgets.
Another good provider to consider is Vodafone with offers starting from just £11 per month on a 12 month contract.
O2 have 4g mobile broadband on offer with prices starting from £20 per month.
Basically, if you are on a budget — PAYG is a wise choice, while if you are sure you're going to use the service permanently — go for a contract plan. While PAYG broadband is great for keeping track of your costs, you will usually get better value for money from a contract deal.