Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband helps you take your internet on the go, wherever you are in Australia.

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, updated on February 13th, 2024       

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Internet - Compare Broadband & NBN Plans

We’ve partnered with Econnex to bring you a range of internet plans to help you compare them.

If you’re looking for a versatile internet connection you can use on the go, mobile broadband might be the solution you’re after. There are many different types of mobile broadband plan and connection on the market, from portable pocket Wi-Fi devices to a simple SIM to insert in your tablet or phone.

You’ll be able to compare a range of internet options side-by-side through Savvy. Through our simple online comparison service, you can see which plans are available where you live from some of Australia's most trusted and leading internet providers. Get the wheels in motion on your plan today!

What is mobile broadband and how does it work?

As the name suggests, mobile broadband is an internet connection which is achieved through a local mobile network. This option is popular among Australians who want access to internet on the go, such as through their mobile phone or directly onto their laptop. The connection delivered will typically be either to the 4G or 5G network, with the latter becoming more popular and readily available in Australia.

However, it’s important to note that you generally won’t have access to as much data on this type of plan as you would on fixed line broadband plans. Plans generally won’t exceed 500GB per month, but you’re more likely to find many closer to 100GB and even 10GB. They aren’t necessarily cheap, either, as you’ll probably have to pay more for the data you use compared to fixed line and home wireless broadband.

What types of mobile broadband are available in Australia?

Data-only SIM

Data-only SIM

How it works: data-only SIM cards are designed specifically for mobile broadband. They don’t provide voice or text services but instead offer data connectivity. Users insert their data-only SIM card into a compatible device, such as a tablet, smartphone or mobile broadband modem. The SIM card connects to the cellular network, enabling the device to access the internet.

USB modem/dongle

USB modem/dongle

How it works: a USB modem or dongle is a small, portable device which connects to a USB port on a computer or other compatible device. When plugged in, they establish a connection to the cellular network, providing internet access to the connected device. They’re handy for laptops and desktop computers which lack built-in cellular connectivity and are often used by individuals who need internet access while on the go.

Pocket Wi-Fi

Pocket Wi-Fi

How it works: pocket Wi-Fi, also known as portable Wi-Fi or mobile hotspot, is a compact, battery-powered device which connects to the cellular network. It creates a Wi-Fi network which multiple devices can connect to simultaneously. Unlike SIMs and dongles, pocket Wi-Fi doesn’t have to be physically connected to your devices to work. However, they’re generally the most expensive option when it comes to mobile broadband.

How do I compare mobile broadband plans?

Comparing mobile broadband plans effectively involves considering several key factors to ensure you select a plan that aligns with your needs and budget. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to compare mobile broadband plans:

  • Compare prices: compare the monthly costs of plans across different providers. Consider the total cost over the contract period to help you determine which one is the best fit for your needs and budget.
  • Determine your usage needs: assess your typical data usage habits. Do you primarily use mobile broadband for light web browsing, email and social media or do you engage in data-intensive activities like streaming and online gaming?
  • Think about your device: consider the device you plan to use for mobile broadband, such as a tablet, smartphone, USB modem or portable Wi-Fi hotspot. Ensure the plan is compatible with your device.
  • Review coverage: check the coverage maps of different mobile network operators (such as Telstra and Optus) to ensure they provide reliable service in your area, especially if you have specific coverage needs.
  • Compare data allowances: look at the data allowances offered by each plan. Consider your monthly data usage and choose a plan with an appropriate data cap to avoid overage charges or throttling.
  • Evaluate speed and network quality: understand the speed tiers offered by different plans and the network technology (4G or 5G) they use. Try to find a plan that offers the speed and quality you need for your online activities.
  • Consider contract terms: determine whether you prefer a month-to-month plan or are willing to commit to a longer contract for potential cost savings. However, be aware of any early termination fees.
  • Check for bundle options: some mobile broadband plans may offer bundle options with other services like phone plans or home broadband. Consider if bundling services can lead to cost savings which are worth your while.
  • Review additional fees: be aware of any additional fees, such as activation fees, setup charges, SIM card costs and excess data charges. These can impact the overall cost of the plan
  • Examine extras and perks: some plans include extras like free streaming subscriptions or international roaming data. Assess whether these extras add value to the plan.

The pros and cons of mobile broadband

PROS

Portable

With a data SIM, dongle or pocket Wi-Fi modem, you can essentially take the internet with you wherever you go rather than restricting it to your home or business.

Flexible

You can use a mobile broadband connection as an individual connection for one device or use it as a hotspot for multiple devices to access the internet at once.

Powerful        

With access to the 5G network, mobile broadband can theoretically rival the NBN’s fastest tiers in terms of internet speed.

CONS

Expensive

Because you’re paying for roaming data, mobile broadband is the most expensive internet plan in terms of dollars for data.

Potentially inconsistent

Connections are dependent on mobile networks, so congestion on your local network or poor reception could slow your internet down.

Data caps

You’ll have to stick to greater restrictions on data usage than you would with most NBN or home wireless internet plans, with caps in place on most plans.

Frequently asked mobile broadband questions

What’s the difference between mobile broadband and home wireless broadband?

Home wireless broadband is similar to mobile broadband, but it isn’t designed to be taken out and about (though it is portable if you’re moving house). You plug in your modem at your home or business, which has to stay there to allow you to access the internet on your devices.

Home wireless plans typically come with higher data caps, in some cases offering unlimited data, and are generally cheaper in terms of what you’re paying for your data usage when compared to mobile broadband. Because of this, they’re a more popular option when it comes to providing a fixed internet connection.

Can I buy an unlimited mobile broadband plan?

Mobile broadband plans with unlimited data do exist, but they're very uncommon. However, if your provider doesn’t charge you for excess data usage, that’s essentially unlimited mobile broadband. You may find that internet speeds are reduced after you surpass your data allowance, so the quality of unlimited internet you receive probably won’t be what you need.

How much data do I need for my mobile broadband plan?

This depends on how you intend to use your mobile broadband connection. If it’s an emergency backup for your home internet or when you’re travelling, you may not need more than 10GB to 15GB. However, if it’s a primary internet source, you’ll likely need much more. Not everyone is the same with their general broadband usage, though, so it’s important to assess your internet usage before buying your plan.

Should I buy a prepaid or postpaid mobile broadband plan?

Prepaid and postpaid mobile broadband each have their respective benefits and drawbacks. Prepaid mobile broadband plans require you to pay prior to using your internet and don’t involve any contracts, so you only have to pay on a month-to-month basis and can switch plans easily if need be.

On the other hand, postpaid plans charge your payment at a set date each month and can be cheaper than prepaid plans, given that you’re committing to paying for your plan over a long period. The risk of overspending is also present with these plans, so consider which is the most suitable for your needs.

Can I use a mobile broadband plan as my primary home internet connection?

Yes – however, it’s important to note that you’d paying a similar amount or more for less data than you’d otherwise have access to with home wireless or NBN plans. As such, you may find that the value for money you receive isn’t as great as other internet plans.

Can I use a regular phone SIM card in my mobile broadband modem?

You can – however, it isn’t usually advised. Part of the cost of your mobile phone SIM comes with its talk and text capacity, so using that in your mobile broadband modem means that you’re paying for services you’re actively discarding. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find phone plans which fulfil your data needs, though.

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Disclaimer:

Savvy is partnered with Econnex Comparison (CIMET Sales Pty Ltd, ABN 72 620 395 726) to provide readers with a variety of internet plans to compare. We do not compare all retailers in the market, or all plans offered by all retailers. Savvy earns a commission from Econnex each time a customer buys an internet plan via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased directly, as all purchases are conducted via Econnex.

Any advice presented above is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an internet plan. For further information on the variety of internet plans compared by Econnex, or how their business works, you can visit their website.

$50 Woolworths eGift card terms and conditions
  • The Promoter is CIMET Sales Pty Ltd ABN 72 620 395 726. Level 18/570 George Street Sydney, NSW 2000. Econnex Comparison is powered by CIMET.
  • Promotion available on qualifying Broadband Plan purchases between 1st February 2024 to 31st July 2024 (“Promotional Period”) and may be withdrawn at any time by Econnex Econnex Comparison retains the right to change or alter the terms of this offer.
  • You (“Customer”) will receive $50 worth of Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards when you purchase a Broadband Plan via Econnex Comparison, subject to these Terms and Conditions.
  • Information on how to qualify to receive the Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Card forms part of these Terms and Conditions. Participation in this promotion is considered acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.
Eligibility requirements
  • To be eligible to receive the Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards, you must purchase the Broadband Plan via the following link: https://app.econnex.com.au/broadband?rcCode=90709
  • You must switch to a new Broadband retailer. Customers who change plans via Econnex but remain with the same retailer will not be eligible.
  • Your Broadband Plan must be connected within 30 days from the date of purchase.
  • Eligible Recipients will receive the applicable Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards by email up to 120 days after purchasing the Broadband Plan.
  • Econnex Comparison is not liable if any Customer details supplied are incorrect.
  • Econnex Comparison is providing this offer in conjunction with the retail services offered on its platform.
  • Details of Econnex Comparison retailers can be found at the following link: https://www.econnex.com.au/approved-providers-list
  • You must be an Australian resident aged 18 or over. Econnex Comparison may request you to provide a copy of your valid ID for identification purposes.
  • The Promoter reserves the right, at any time, to verify the validity to receive the Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards and Customer’s information (including the Customer’s identity, age and place of residence) and reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who the Promoter has reason to believe has breached any of these Terms and Conditions, tampered with the claim process, or engaged in any unlawful or other improper misconduct calculated to jeopardise fair and proper conduct of the promotion.
  • Errors and omissions may be accepted at the Promoter's discretion. Failure by the Promoter to enforce any of its rights at any stage does not constitute a waiver of those rights.
  • When the request for a connection cannot be completed, is unsuccessful, or a request is made for the cancellation of your Broadband Plan within the first 30 days from the date of connection, you will not be eligible to receive any gift card.
  • Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Card is subject to any issuer Terms and Conditions.
  • Any ancillary costs with redeeming the gift cards are not included.
  • No responsibility is taken for any lost or stolen Woolworths Store Bonus eGift Cards.
  • If the Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards are unavailable, the Promoter reserves the right to substitute the Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards to a card with equivalent value, subject to directions from a regulatory authority.
  • If the offer is not able to be conducted as reasonably anticipated, due to any reason beyond the reasonable control of the Promoter, including but not limited to: technical difficulties, unauthorised intervention or fraud, the Promoter reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to the extent permitted by law: a. to disqualify any individual; or b. to modify, suspend, terminate or cancel the promotion, as appropriate.
  • This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer from Econnex
Econnex Comparison Terms and Conditions.
  • Econnex Comparison will transfer your Broadband Plan request and details to the selected retailer.
  • Econnex Comparison may contact you to clarify any details or discrepancies in the information you provided for your Broadband Plan purchase.
  • To cancel your request, you will need to contact the Broadband Plan retailer and inform them of your decision.
  • Please note that we do not compare all brands in the market, or all products offered by all brands.
  • If you have any inquiries regarding your Broadband Plan purchase, you can contact us directly at 1800 013 000 or email us at [email protected]
  • Econnex Comparison Terms and Conditions: https://www.econnex.com.au/terms-and-conditions/
  • By participating in this promotion, the individual authorises the Promoter to collect, hold, use and disclose their personal information in accordance with Econnex’s privacy policy, including providing such information to third parties such as contractors, service providers, suppliers and where required or authorised by law. Econnex’s Privacy policy can be found at https://www.econnex.com.au/privacy-policy
  • Econnex may, unless the individual tells us not to, use the information to communicate with them by mail or electronically by, for example, email, phone, SMS to issue direct marketing and commercial communications telemarketing calls.
  • To opt out of direct marketing access, update, or correct personal information you may contact us at [email protected]
Other Information
  • Woolworths Group Ltd ABN 88 000 014 675 is the issuer of the Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Card but is not the Promoter of the offer nor responsible for fulfillment of the offer terms.
  • Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards have a fixed term expiry as displayed on the front of the gift card and are redeemable in-store and online at Woolworths Supermarket stores only.
  • Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards are valid for 3 months from the issue date and Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards are not reloadable or redeemable for cash.
  • Econnex Comparison and Woolworths will not replace, expired, lost, stolen, or deleted Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards.
  • Check your Spam/junk email if you have not received a Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Card in your inbox within 120 days after activation of your Energy, Electricity or Gas Plan.
  • Woolworths Store Bonus eGift Card is sent via email from [email protected] or [email protected]
  • For enquiries related to the application, gift cards, or adding or removing any details on the application, please contact the Econnex Comparison at 1800 013 000 or e-mail us at [email protected]
  • For the balance and transactions history on this Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Card and Woolworths Terms and Conditions visit https://woolworths.com.au/giftcards or call 1300 101 234.