Mobile broadband has enjoyed a recent explosion. The plethora of free laptop deals advertised on the high street shows that telecommunications carriers consider mobile broadband to be central to the future of online access. If you’re new to the idea of mobile broadband, here are some questions you need to answer before you decide what package to get.
Source – dmcl
Pay As You Go (PAYG) or Contract?
Is this your main connection to the internet, or are you looking for an occasional connection when you’re on the road?
Main source → Contract
Filler → PAYG
Contract mobile broadband packages give you a faster connection speed and a higher data allowance than the prepaid counterpart. If the dongle is receiving a poor signal in your location, you have a ‘cooling off period’, that allows for refunds. You will also be eligible for any laptop deals the carrier has on offer.
PAYG comes in two varieties: pay per block of time – day, week, month – or pay per chunk of data and use at will.
Why shouldn’t I make PAYG my main source?
If you’re a light user who only checks emails, but isn’t interested in social networking or watching TV online, then PAYG as a main source is a good idea. Bear in mind that the more you use, the more you will pay and the internet can be an addictive beast.
It’s all about the data. Users are charged by the megabyte and those who exceed their limits are likely to face extra charges. It’s exactly the same as exceeding your free monthly minutes on your mobile phone. Data limits currently range from 0.1GB to 25GB. When deciding on the size of your monthly limit, it’s useful to consider what sites you visit most frequently. Will you watch TV online? Will you download music? If the answer is yes, you’ll quickly rack up the bytes.
Free laptops or tablets.
“Free laptop” deals are all over the high street. They work by building the price of the laptop or tablet into the cost of the line rental, so it’s more of a hire purchase arrangement. Some deals ask for a small payment upfront, reducing the line rental slightly, but you’re still paying the same amount whichever way you cut the cake.
Do you intend to use the dongle outside the UK? If yes, then bear in mind that roaming is extremely expensive, even with the €50 (approx £45) EU cap in place. Look at the roaming packages offered by your chosen carrier in Europe and the rest of the world. If you have a PAYG dongle, not all carriers will activate it for international roaming and those who do charge hefty prices.
Length of contract
Most mobile broadband contracts last for 24 months and if you are purchasing in store, there’s no room for negotiation. Look around online; there are some shorter contracts available with internet dealers.
If you’re considering using the same carrier for mobile broadband and mobile phone, it might be worthwhile calling them to negotiate a bespoke deal, especially if your mobile phone contract is approaching renewal.
Remember, mobile communications carriers are looking to make the maximum out of you, so look to negotiate the most for your money.
Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, there are plenty of price comparison sites that will show you what the market offers.