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Mobile broadband deals 2024

Looking for cheap broadband? Compare prices from top providers and get a great deal

With such a wide range of traditional broadband deals on the market, customers often forget about mobile broadband. If you want to learn more about mobile broadband and its benefits, this article covers the most common questions and the best mobile broadband providers.

Plusnet – Full Fibre 145
Monthly Cost
£27.99
Average speed
145 Mb
Contract term
24 months

Monthly prices are subject to increase each year on 31 March by Consumer Price Index rate of inflation + 3.9%.

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What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband differs from traditional broadband by sending data over a wireless network in the same way you access data on a smartphone. Due to the exclusion of copper or fibre optic cables, mobile broadband has fewer accessibility issues and can be used by people living in remote areas of the country.

It is important to remember that having mobile data on a smartphone is not the same as having mobile broadband in your home; home mobile broadband can be accessed via a sim card installed in a mobile broadband device, such as a dongle or mobile router. These all use a 3G, 4G or 5G network, with the latter being the fastest but least accessible across the UK. Here are some of the key takeaways from the most popular mobile broadband solutions:

  • Mobile broadband sims: Some providers offer dedicated mobile broadband sims that you can use in phones, laptops and tablets. These are not the same as conventional mobile sims, as they generally do not come with SMS or call features
  • Dongles: If you’re hoping to connect a laptop or desktop to the internet, USB dongles can be very beneficial; dongles plug into your computer to provide mobile broadband. Dongles come with a range of contract lengths, with most providers offering them on a no-contract basis
  • Portable hotspot: Portable hotspots provide wireless internet via a sim card. Unlike dongles, they do not need to be plugged into your device and they can typically connect to more than one device at once
  • Mobile router or hub: Mobile routers or hubs are ideal for households with multiple people who all want broadband access. Mobile routers are not portable, unlike sims and dongles, as they typically need to be plugged into your wall socket. They are similar to standard routers but provide internet using a sim card rather than a fibre optic cable or phone line

Top mobile broadband deals

Broadband provider Deal name Type of broadband Contract length Downloads Price* Upfront charges Extras (included in the cost)
O2 Alcatel Pocket hotspot 4G 4G 24 months 5GB £11/m £0 Three months of Disney Plus
O2 Alcatel Pocket hotspot 4G 4G 12 months 5GB  £14/m £0 Three months of Disney Plus
Three Three 4G Hub 4G 24 months Unlimited £22/m £0 First six months half price
Three Three 5G Hub 5G 24 months Unlimited £22/m £0 First six months half price
Vodafone 4G Mobile Hotspot 4G 24 months Unlimited £20/m £0 N/A
Vodafone 5G Mobile Hotspot 5G 24 months 4GB £15/m £0 N/A
EE Smart 5G Hub 5G 18 months 500GB £45/m £100 N/A

*Prices correct as of 13 February 2024 and may include limited-time offers

Which providers offer mobile broadband deals?

Only several of the best broadband providers offer mobile broadband in the UK, limiting your scope in terms of range. Due to the nature of mobile broadband, you will not find restrictions in terms of postcode, but signal and speed will still vary depending on the region.

Vodafone 

Vodafone offers a variety of mobile broadband deals, including wifi hotspots, dongles and sim cards. These vary in price, with the cheapest unlimited data solution costing £20 per month for 24 months.

EE

UK residents can get wifi hotspots and hubs from EE, with the company’s Smart 5G Hub costing £45 per month and £100 upfront on an 18-month contract.

O2

O2 may not provide any traditional broadband solutions, but it does offer dongles, mobile routers and wifi hotspots. The cheapest option is the Dongle 4G, which comes with 5GB of data for £10 per month.

Three 

Three offers mobile broadband for up to 10 devices, with products including data only sims and wifi hotspots. You can top up the sims every month or pay as you go for more flexibility.

Is a mobile broadband deal the right option for me?

Now that you have a better understanding of how mobile broadband works, you must consider whether it will be a good fit for your household. Mobile broadband comes with some key advantages and downfalls that you should be aware of before committing to a deal.

Advantages  Disadvantages 
Portable solutions (including sims and dongles) can be used on the go and switched between devices  Connectivity to 4G or 5G networks is heavily dependent on your region, with some areas having no reception at all
Better accessibility for those in remote areas without access to fibre optic cables  Some providers limit the amount of data you can use per month, making it unreliable for those with internet-intensive habits or workloads
More flexible than traditional contracts, with multiple providers offering pay as you go or no-contract models, making them ideal for renters  Like traditional broadband, speeds will generally be slower during peak hours, usually in the evening 
Much safer and more reliable than connecting to public wifi  May not come with the additional benefits of home broadband, such as phone or TV packages 
No need for a landline to access the internet  Can be more expensive than traditional broadband, although this will depend on your provider 
No expensive installation charge due to the easy nature of the setup  Older smartphones, tablets or laptops won’t be able to access 4G or 5G networks, which are more desirable than 3G due to the higher speeds
Ideal backup in scenarios where your home broadband goes down or you are without broadband when moving house

What is 5G mobile broadband, and can I get it?

5G is the fastest type of mobile broadband, taking over from 4G and 3G. 5G mobile broadband works in the same way as other types of mobile broadband, connecting to devices via a wireless network from a sim, dongle or wifi hotspot.

According to an Ofcom report from 2023, the level of 5G coverage provided outside of the premises by at least one mobile network operator rose to between 85 and 93 per cent, allowing more people across the country to connect to mobile broadband. Accessibility to 5G mobile broadband will depend on where you live, with rural communities generally seeing less coverage than urban areas.

Mobile broadband deals FAQs

5G is the fastest mobile broadband network in the country. 5G has the potential to deliver download speeds of up to 200Mbps and is generally 10 times faster than 4G.

Some providers offer unlimited mobile broadband data, while some cap your limit. If you intend to use your mobile broadband for heavy workloads or share it with multiple people, look for unlimited mobile broadband deals to avoid going over your data limit and incurring fees.

MiFi is an umbrella term for wifi hotspot devices. They are small, portable devices that allow multiple users to connect to the internet without the need for a home broadband service.

Gemma Ryles

Home Tech Writer

Gemma Ryles is a BJTC and PPA-accredited journalist with three years of experience writing across various publications. As a home tech expert at Independent Advisor, Gemma tests, researches and writes about broadband and home security. 

Previously, Gemma reviewed and curated lists about consumer technology at Trusted Reviews, where she honed her skills in creating buying guides and features to help customers make informed decisions. She has previously worked at Yorkshire Post, BBC Yorkshire, Glitterbeam Radio and Bonus Stage. 

Gemma has a BA in Journalism and in her free time can be found writing short stories, gaming and crocheting. 

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.