What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband uses a portable device like a dongle to get you online almost anywhere via 3G and 4G networks.

You can use mobile broadband in the same way you would use internet at home, but with the added bonus of not needing any cables or landline connections. As long as you’re in an area that has coverage, you can get online easily when you’re on the move.

How does mobile broadband work?

Mobile broadband connections use 3G and 4G mobile networks, but without the calls/texts part of that technology, to deliver broadband services across the air. This has the distinct advantage against what are generally called “fixed line” services in that they’re truly mobile; as long as you have your connection device, whether that’s a dongle, Wi-Fi hotspot device or even a smartphone acting as a hotspot, you should generally be able to connect to a mobile broadband network for data access on the go.

If you’re always on the move, because of work or just because you get itchy feet, mobile broadband could be a game changer. Having a mobile broadband connection allows you to use your laptop or tablet online on a train, in a car, at the top of a mountain… anywhere you can get signal basically!

If you live in an area which fibre cables haven’t reached yet, but which gets great 4G signal, mobile broadband could improve your online experience. It may cost you more, however, and may have data caps, so it’s worth comparing the features of the tariffs available.

How fast is Mobile broadband?

The speed of mobile broadband is highly relative, because it’s both a shared spectrum – which means that your actual speed experience will depend a great deal on what others in the same mobile mast location radius are actually doing online as well – and one that’s dependent upon both the technology in the device you’re connecting to the network and the network itself.

What’s the difference between 3G and 4G?

The simple difference between 3G and 4G is that 4G is much faster. This allows you to load web pages almost immediately, and download speeds are up to 5 times quicker.

In the context of mobile data, the ‘G‘ stands for ‘Generation’. ‘1G’ was used to describe the earliest mobile technologies. In the 1990s, 2G allowed mobiles to incorporate now standard features such as SMS Text Messaging (that’s ‘Short Message Service’ Messaging – which allowed people to send 160 characters to another device).

3G technology revolutionised our phones, giving everyone high speed data in their pockets. People could suddenly access emails and surf the internet on the go.

How can I compare mobile broadband plans?

  • Speed.
    If there are some particular places where you want to be able to use your mobile broadband connection, it’s worth checking out your preferred provider’s coverage there. Most providers have a coverage checker on their website, where you can enter a postcode. Bear in mind that speeds will fluctuate depending on usage levels though.
  • Data.
    It’s pretty rare for providers to offer data without restrictions on mobile broadband, but the allowance can be as good as 30GB. Use the handy tool below to get an idea of the data allowance you’re likely to need.
  • Number of devices.
    Consider whether you just want to connect one device – say, your iPad – or to have a mobile Wi-Fi network that perhaps all your family can connect to. If you’re leaning more towards the second of those, then bear in mind again that data limits will be a consideration.
  • Cost.
    As well as your monthly charge, be sure to check out rates for exceeding data limits.
  • Length of contract.
    Many tariffs are available on a “Pay-as-you-go” basis. Estimate how much data you’re likely to burn through and see if you’d be better off with a fixed monthly payment or a flexible fee.
  • Bundling discounts.
    Most mobile broadband services sit within the general mobile category of each provider. If you have multiple services with the same provider, check for discounts.

How much data do I need?

It’s a good idea to make sure that the deal you select gives you enough monthly data. Most providers charge over the odds for data usage beyond this agreed limit. The tool below is designed to give you a rough idea of the data allowance you should be looking for, based on your normal online activity.

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

3 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JennyMarch 18, 2018


      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaMarch 26, 2018Staff

      Hi Jenny,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder.

      Upon checking, the mobile broadband router of EE seems to have no UTP insertion area. Thus, it means that you can’t use a UTP wire to connect your desktop computer to your router. However, one good solution to this is to buy a Wi-Fi adaptor. It enables your desktop computer to receive Wi-Fi signal and thus, enabling it to connect to your router.

      You may also directly get in touch with EE to learn more about their products. Click on this link to be redirected to their page.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


    Avatarfinder Customer Care
    joelmarceloMarch 17, 2018Staff

    Hi catherine,

    Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

    As I checked on our mobile plans comparison page, Giffgaff offers unlimited plans. They have a £20 Always on data plan that has unlimited internet. Always On data comes with 9GB of data at full 4G speed. After 9GB of data used you’ll experience a reduced data speed of 384kbps from 8am to Midnight. You may notice that activities which require high amounts of data, like HD video streaming, will be slower. For more info about this, please click HERE.


Go to site