Need high-speed internet on the go? To get the cheapest price, we look at some of the best mobile broadband deals on the market.
Mobile broadband (AKA Mi-Fi) is a means of getting broadband-speed internet on devices away from your home. While you may want to check out the best broadband deals for fixed broadband at your property, there are numerous reasons you may want to branch out.
For example, if you don’t have traditional broadband in your area, or need a temporary solution before your internet is installed, mobile broadband fills that gap. It’s also increasingly popular among Airbnb hosts, who can provide a good internet connection to overseas guests while they’re out and about.
Here we take a look at some of the best mobile broadband deals on the market.
What is mobile broadband?
Mobile broadband is internet on the go. It’s effectively a router that you can take with you, that you can connect your phone and other devices to.
But it can take the form of dongles, hubs and SIM cards – separately or in combination. And you can pay for it through contracts, pay as you go (PAYG) or upfront spending plans. Most commonly, you combine a SIM card with a portable router or dongle, with the SIM providing internet access and the router sending out the signal.
Mi-Fi isn’t for everybody. You might find that your mobile contract or SIM only deal is sufficient for your phone. And its tethering options may be fine for, say, getting your laptop online while on a train.
But if you travel a lot, live somewhere where broadband coverage is patchy or need to keep children entertained on long trips, Mi-Fi can be a life-saver. By and large, they don’t need to plug in for power and are mostly small and lightweight.
What are the best Mi-Fi deals going?
To see the latest deals, you can compare Mi-Fi at Go.Compare. But here are some of the best deals we’ve found:
Mobile broadband from Three:
Three’s 4G Mi-Fi deal gives download speed of up to 300Mbps. It’s pocket-sized, can connect up to 32 Wi-Fi devices, and has a battery life of up to 9 hours.
Mobile broadband from EE:
This is EE’s fastest Mi-Fi package, offering download speeds of up to 100Mbps. And it comes with a whopping monthly data allowance of 125GB, plus the option to gift unused data to friends and family. If it’s a bit pricey for you, EE has cheaper options which offer less data.
With speeds of up to 40Mbps, this isn’t as speedy as the 5G, but will still be perfectly quick for most people. You also get less data but it’s £10 a month cheaper. Plus you’re only committed to an 18-month contract, rather than 24 months.
From as little as £14 a month, this is EE’s cheapest mobile broadband plan. It only supplies 5GB of data each month, but this should be fine for nights away, train journeys and so on. If you’re a bit more data-hungry, there are also 25GB, 125GB and unlimited plans to choose from.
Mobile broadband from O2:
The pick of the O2 plans, the Alcatel Pocket Hotspot 4G has a super stable connection, wherever you go. It has a battery life of 8 hours. There are cheaper options with less data available – although you can double your data if you have home broadband with Virgin Media.
For something a bit different, you could try this lightweight, pocket-sized dongle. It packs a punch with download speeds of up to 150Mbps. The only catch is that it’s powered by USB, meaning it needs to be plugged into a spare port.
Mobile broadband from Vodafone:
Vodafone’s 5G Mobile Hotspot provides 5G speeds, and also Wi-Fi 6. This is not only faster Wi-Fi but allows for a better connection across multiple devices. It supports up to 32 devices, in fact, and has a battery life of 8 hours. Other 30GB and 4GB plans are available, as are one-month plans.
If you want to go cheaper again, the Vodafone 4G Mobile Hotspot is worth a look. There’s a longer battery life of just under 12 hours and there’s configurable data control if you’re sharing the hotspot with the rest of the household.
The Vodafone K5161z dongle is another device which needs to be connected to a USB port. But it’s reasonably priced, and comes with unlimited data. You can also pop a memory card in the dongle, meaning it doubles up as portable storage.
Is it possible to get 5G Mi-Fi plans?
Despite being fairly new, several networks are already providing 5G Mi-Fi – including EE and Vodafone.
Is Mi-Fi different from Wi-Fi?
While Mi-Fi and Wi-Fi are similar in some ways, there are a few differences. Most obviously, you get the Wi-Fi in your home or office via a fixed connection. This might be via landline or a fibre connection, and usually requires a setup process.
On the other hand, mobile broadband requires no setup and can be taken with you where you go.
Mi-Fi can be quicker than internet you get via slower broadband such as ADSL. However, it may not match faster connections such as fibre for speed and consistency. But with 5G able to outstrip some entry-level fibre broadband packages, it’s worth comparing what the respective speeds are like where you live.
Find out how fast your broadband needs to be.
All-in-all, the type of broadband you need boils down to your circumstances. If you have good fixed broadband options where you live, it tends to be best to go for your Wi-Fi. This is due to its being affordable and more likely to give a consistent performance. But if you can’t get decent fixed broadband where you live, mobile broadband could be the ideal solution.
Are Mi-Fi routers faster than standard broadband?
It depends. There are a huge number of broadband deals out there, with a massive gulf between the slowest and fastest speeds available. You’ll find mobile broadband somewhere in the middle.
And portable routers also need a strong 4G or 5G connection, so you may find them patchy in some areas. Whereas, assuming good service, your average fixed broadband connection will at least be consistent.