Mobile wireless broadband - who is it suited for?

Comparing mobile wireless broadband to ADSL1, ADSL2+ or cable broadband is like comparing apples and oranges. Whereas ADSL broadband runs through your home phone line, mobile wireless broadband is exactly that – wireless, and not just within your home, but wherever there is coverage.

Mobile wireless broadband isn’t as fast or as stable as other types of broadband. However it’s great for emails, surfing websites with fewer graphics and using online chat text-based services.

Below is a list of reasons why mobile wireless broadband might be better suited to you.

You need internet on the go

To use mobile wireless broadband, you’ll need a USB modem (or USB WiFi modem), which will also have a sim card inside. The SIM card will connect to the closest mobile phone tower, depending on which network you are connecting to (whether it’s Telstra, Optus, Vodafone or 3). Before you sign up to a plan, you’ll need to make sure there is coverage in the areas where you plan on using the service.

You don’t want a home phone line

Because mobile broadband connects through the mobile phone towers, it means you won’t need to have a home phone line. However, if you need fast, stable broadband with high amounts of broadband, Naked DSL may be better suited for you because Naked DSL doesn’t require an active home phone line either.

You are only a very light user

The average maximum mobile broadband plan amongst providers is 16GB. At Compare Broadband, if you need at least 10GB each month, we’d recommend trying to connect to other types of broadband first. If you are a medium-heavy downloader, you’ll probably find this type of internet connection isn’t fast or stable enough for you. For Naked broadband, try Internode, iPrimus (1300 137 794) or TPG’s even cheaper bundle deals (call us on 1300 106 571 to find out just how cheap!).

You want a prepaid or no contract service

If you sign up for a 12-month or 24-month mobile wireless plan, you will usually receive a free modem for signing up for a longer period. However, most mobile broadband providers also offer month-to-month plans or prepaid plans for customers who don’t want long term contracts. If this is your only reason for wanting mobile broadband, ADSL may still be a better option for you, as internet providers such as iiNet (1300 106 571), SpinTel (1300 381 277) and Internode all offer month-to-month plans on an ADSL service.

You cannot access ADSL broadband due to being too far away from the exchange

If you can still get mobile wireless coverage in your area, this is probably the best option if you’re too far away from an exchange. Call Optus (1300 780 226) to find out if they have coverage in your area. If they do, you could take a look at the Optus plans, and compare them to Virgin mobile (1300 106 571), Dodo (1300 136 793), iiNet (1300 106 571) and iPrimus (1300 798 605) who all use the Optus network to provide coverage.

You need a backup broadband plan for your ADSL broadband service

If you want a backup plan for your ADSL broadband service (just in case), mobile broadband is a great option as you won’t need to touch any of the existing infrastructure at your property (i.e installing a new phone line), and you can also sign up for short term contracts. Additionally, because it connects to the internet differently from ADSL or cable, chances are it will still be there if something happens to your primary connection. 

You’re after a very cheap internet plan

Although ADSL prices are cheap, one also needs to factor in hardware costs, setup and possible cancellation fees and sometimes home phone line rental (which is usually about $30 per month). Factoring in all of these charges, the cheap setup cost of mobile broadband can look like a tempting offer.

For example, one of the cheapest offers available at the moment (whether it’s Naked broadband or with a home phone), is TPG’s ADSL2+ $39.99 10GB home phone and broadband bundle. If you go for an 18-month contract and need a new wireless modem, the plan is already $289.90 upfront. However, a mobile wireless broadband plan can cost as little as $49 upfront for about the same amount of GB (including the USB modem).

Price-conscious customers should still be wary – If you download 8GB or more each month, wireless broadband costs can become more expensive, and for a much slower speed. Additionally, you should read into the terms and conditions, because some mobile broadband carriers such as Virgin and Dodo charge for excess usage, whereas many ADSL providers now just slow your speed if you download or upload more than your quota.

You need internet – right now!

Getting broadband with an already active home phone line generally takes about 3-5 working days. Naked DSL or a home phone and broadband bundle deal can take much longer at 10-20 working days. The timeframe will depend on factors like payment method (a bank account payment will take longer to process than a credit card payment), your phone line condition and connection status, and other factors such as completing infrastructure tests before a provider can activate your service. Mobile wireless on the other hand, as soon as you take the dongle (the USB modem) out of the box and install any needed software on your computer; you can start surfing and emailing away.

For mobile wireless broadband plans on the Optus network, try Optus (1300 780 226), Virgin mobile, iPrimus (1300 798 605) and Dodo (1300 136 793). Providers with their own networks include 3, Vodafone and Bigpond.