Best Mobile broadband and dongle deals on offer in 2021

In this day and age, getting connected is not enough. You need to be able to get connected anywhere! Today’s technology has made it possible for people to connect no matter where they are. There are now millions of people worldwide who use tablets or dongles to access mobile broadband. Here we take a look at some of the best deals you can get in 2021 on mobile broadband and dongle contracts this year.

Before anything else, let’s look at what mobile broadband deals are out there and what they entail:

The best Mi-Fi deal – Three Huawei 4G Plus Mobile Wi-Fi.

Three is a pioneer company for broadband service, and the mobile broadband device that it currently offers is a portable Wi-Fi or a “Mi-Fi” dongle.

Features

  • It is better than any conventional dongle because it creates a Wi-Fi hotspot on the go and allows you to connect multiple devices like mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops at once 
  • You don’t have to plug it into a USB port to get connected to the internet.
  • They offer different data plans as per your need. The unlimited data plan comes at £11/mo for the first six months with no upfront cost. You can get this deal if your sign a 24-month contract where you pay monthly.
  • There are various 12-month and other pay-as-you-go deals available for Three Mi-Fi devices.

Pros

  • Can connect multiple devices
  • Great value for money
  • The speed is great
  • Coverage is excellent

Cons

  • The device needs to charge up regularly.

Best 4G router Mobile broadband – EE 4GEE Home Router 2

EE offers mobile broadband router that connects to EE 4G mobile network. This is one of the best networks in the UK.

Features

  • It looks like a standard broadband router, but you can use it wirelessly. It doesn’t need to be connected to your phone connection line.
  • The range of coverage is 30m and can hook up to 64 devices at once.
  • It is purposed to be used for household broadband. So, the Wi-Fi signal is excellent at long ranges too.
  • The data plan starts from 100 GB to an unlimited plan if you sign an 18-month contract. It also offers a 30 days pay-as-you-go plan. But the upfront charges are hefty compared to the monthly charged contracts.
  • While it is somewhat expensive compared to its competitors but the quality of the router and the ability to connect so many devices at once without any drops in network speed make it a popular choice.

Pros 

  • The Wi-Fi signal is excellent.
  • One of the most reliable ISP in the country
  • Many plan choices

Cons

  • Pricier

Best dongle deal – Vodafone K5161 dongle

When it comes to customized data plans and heaps of pre-designed data plans for dongles, Vodafone stands out. They offer more than ten different 4G plans with their dongles, from 4 GB per month to unlimited data. So, you only pay for what you need.

Features

  • Vodafone dongle plan pricing is pretty flexible and affordable for long-term contracts.
  • Even for the pay-as-you-go plans, the upfront cost is not too much considering the amount of data you get.
  • Vodafone covers 99% of the UK. And the next-day delivery charge is included in the upfront cost.
  • While you cannot create a Wi-Fi hotspot with K5161, another device from Vodafone called R219 can be used as a Mi-Fi.

Pros

  • Flexible pricing
  • Coverage is excellent
  • Lot] of plans to choose from
  •  Delivery is free and fast.

What is a dongle or a mobile internet dongle?

A dongle is a small and portable USB device that provides you with internet access on the go. It is also sometimes called a Wi-Fi dongle, USB modem, internet stick, USB mobile broadband stick, USB mobile network adapter. Dongles are in demand because they allow greater flexibility compared to fixed-line connections and can be used anywhere.

How does a mobile Wi-Fi dongle work?

A mobile Wi-Fi dongle is a small modem that you can hook to one of the USB ports on your desktop or laptop. The connection is via the same method your smartphone works with 3G, 4G, and 5G networks. All you have to do is plug it in, and you are ready to browse. You might need to install drivers, but that is not compulsory for all dongles.

Some modern dongles are capable of creating a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot when it is plugged into the computer. So, this way, you can also connect your phone or tablet to the internet using a USB broadband stick.

When do I need an internet dongle?

While it is true that a mobile internet dongle is no replacement for the wired broadband connection at home, its portability and versatility make it a great utility device for many people. Here are the reasons why you will need an internet dongle.

  • If you travel quite often and need to access the internet on your primary working device (like your laptop) on the go, a dongle can be handy in places where free Wi-Fi services are not available.
  • If the internet connection at your workplace isn’t a strong or reliable one, you can opt for a mobile internet dongle to save time and effort. It will also save you from the frustrations of bad internet.
  • Fiber broadband is one of the fastest and reliable options when it comes to an internet connection. So, if you cannot get such a connection at your home or workplace and you have to use an ADSL broadband with limited speed, you can always keep a Wi-Fi dongle handy if you want a fast internet speed for essential works.

What are the benefits of Mobile internet dongle?

There are multiple benefits of using Mobile internet dongles. The portability factor adds in most of the pointers for its usefulness. Here are some of the benefits listed below.

  • Portability and ease of use: With a portable dongle, you can use the internet on the go from anywhere. You don’t need to rely on Wi-Fi connections or any broadband subscriptions.
  • Useful as an alternative for specific situations and places: Can be highly beneficial on holidays, in a cafe, on a train, or in a public area where it is not feasible to have broadband or any other wired internet option.
  • Handy and no charging required: They are small and convenient, which accounts for their portability. Since your laptop powers it, you don’t need to charge it constantly like other devices.
  • There is no need for extra software and hardware: The ease of use makes it a primary choice for most working people. You don’t need any additional hardware or software to use it. Plug it, and you are good to go.
  • When your primary network crashes: This can be a good alternative when the broadband crashes at your home. 
  • Ideal for temporary stays and visits: It is also an ideal choice if you are going to live at a place for a temporary period, then getting a broadband connection is a serious commitment. These dongles come with short-term contracts and pay-as-you-go plans, which makes them an easy option.
  • Fallback option in broadband deprived areas: In areas where there is no reach of broadband internet services, or the available services offer a slow or unreliable internet speed, you can use a 4G or 5G mobile internet dongle for faster internet speed.
  • Popular in developing Countries: This is especially popular in developing countries where free public Wi-Fi connections are limited.
  • Safety of data: The Internet is a medium to send and receive vital and sensitive information. And it is wise to avoid open public networks for such activities as data and information can be hacked easily. So, for the private use of the internet, dongles can be a great alternative.
  • Global plans available: Dongles can be used anywhere in the world if your plan allows it. So, if you are traveling to a new country, you don’t have to spend extra money on new gadgets.
  • A single dongle supports multiple ISPs: Dongles are universal. That is, the USB device is compatible with various service providers. Unlike modems that can be used with certain ISPs only, a single dongle works with most of them.

What are the downsides of a mobile internet dongle?

While the portability factor and the ease of use make dongle an excellent second alternative or a backup plan, it can never function as a primary internet device if you need stable and fast internet all the time. Here are some of the limitations or downsides of using a mobile internet dongle.

  • Speed is limited: Internet speed is a massive problem with these mobile USB dongles. While broadband internet is the choice of most users, broadband internet is fast without adding any extra modem or buying any other accessories. Currently, the speed range for dongles is between 3.2 Mbps to 7.6 Mbps.
  • Broadband dongles offer nothing better: You might be tempted to buy a broadband dongle provided by various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to search for better speed, but you will soon regret your decision. They, too, don’t offer a faster and reliable internet connection.
  • Restricted to a single interface: If you use a dongle as your primary internet device, you are limited to a single interface. This is one of the most significant drawbacks or restrictions of using dongles.
  • Tethering is a hassle: If you wish to tether your mobile phones with your PC using a dongle internet, you will be prompted to download and use countless other applications. 
  • Instability in the network connection: The fluctuation in the network connection from place to place is another shortcoming of using dongle as an internet option. In areas where 3G or 4G strength is limited, your dongle will perform poorly. Before purchasing a dongle, you should do a signal test in the areas where you are most likely to use the dongle.
  • Lack of Traffic maintenance: During network downtimes using a dongle, customer service of the ISPs is of little or no help. All you can do is change your physical location and hope that network gets better. So, this lack of accountability for traffic maintenance makes dongle an unreliable option for people who work online all the time.
  • Uncapped data deals are pretty expensive: Most of the dongles come with monthly data caps and charge extra for extra bandwidth usage. This can get pretty expensive compared to fixed-line broadband. There are incidents when the users are not aware of the hidden charges and pay massive amounts.

Can I get unlimited Wi-Fi with a dongle?

Yes, there are some awesome dongle deals out there that offer unlimited 4G data connections. Two companies that come to my mind are Three and Vodafone that offer the best prices on a dongle or mobile broadband with unlimited data.

This can be a real painful experience if you plan to use the mobile dongle broadband as your primary internet connection, as your usage will naturally be heavy. So, unlimited dongle plans are not the way to go for a household.

If you don’t have any other alternative for a stable and fast internet connection, you can consider a mobile broadband plan with a very high data cap. For instance, companies like EE offer a 500 GB per month plan for users who use mobile broadband as their primary internet source.

What happens if I hit my data cap on dongle internet?

If you don’t have an unlimited data plan for your mobile dongle broadband, it is pretty normal to go over your monthly cap. If such a situation arises, one of these three cases can occur with that. Let us see them one by one.

  • The most likely option is to be charged per megabyte for excess or over the cap usage.
  • Your internet service is interrupted, and you will be sent a notification to buy additional data packs to access the internet. Sometimes, these extra packets are accepted automatically. This depends on the plans and conditions you have agreed to while purchasing the mobile broadband plan.
  • Your internet will slow down and run at a secondary data speed until you buy a new or extra data usage block.

Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will provide you with their app so that you can monitor your mobile broadband data expenditure. This will allow you to avoid hitting the data cap.

Pay as you go Versus pay monthly dongle deals (US)

There are two popular plan options for using dongles or mobile broadband.

  • You can get a dongle deal and a mobile broadband plan for a short period, known as the Pay as you go plan. This means that you have to pay for the dongle every 30 days, and you can cancel the plan anytime you want.
  • The other option is to purchase a dongle on a long-period contract. The period can be of 12 months, 18 months, or even 24 months. This is called Pay monthly plan. Here you still need to pay every month, but you cannot opt-out of the plan just like that. You will have to pay a significant break fee to get out of the contract. This penalty depends on the amount of time left on the contract.

Mobile broadband providers will often offer a value-for-money charge upfront to incentivize users to sign long-term contracts. They may also offer deals on monthly charges if you choose to opt for long-term plans. If you want to sign a 24-month agreement, you might need to pass a credit check with the service provider.

In “Pay as you go dongle,” you can keep the dongle with you if you cancel the contract, but the data plan will be terminated. So, you won’t be able to connect to the internet. If you decide to use the dongle in the future, you will need to either reactivate the service. If the previous SIM has expired, you will have to buy a new data-only SIM deal from the same provider.

How to find the best 4G dongle deal for you?

Before you get all hyped up and buy a dongle, data-only SIM, and a mobile broadband plan to go with them, there are few things you should take care of to find the best 4G dongle deal for yourself.

  • You should assess the quality of the 4G or 5G mobile broadband network in the area you are going to use it. This is vital if you plan to use the dongle in a household as a primary internet source rather than as internet on the go option. If your current ISP provides great speed at your location of interest, then this is a good start.
  • You can always ask your neighbors about the speed and consistency of the internet network of the providers they are using, and you are planning to use. You can also check the coverage map of the mobile broadband of the concerned ISP. This can be quite advantageous for people who plan to use the dongle while traveling.
  • The next thing to consider is the length of the contract or the type of plan that will fit your schedule and budget. If you are determined to have a long-term commitment, you can go for a 12 to 18-month contract as they come at a lower upfront cost. Otherwise, you can always go for a Pay as you plan to assess the speed and reliability yourself.
  • Another essential thing to consider is the limit of your monthly plan. If there are 1-3 people and the data consumption is medium to low with some video streaming, you can opt for a 50 to 150 GB monthly plan. Else if you need to use the internet for heavy stuff, you can choose for unlimited mobile broadband plan. They do come at a hefty extra cost, though.’

Alternatives to mobile broadband dongles

Keeping the limitations and downsides of mobile broadband dongles in perspective, there are other alternatives. These options too will provide you with internet on the go and are portable. 

  • Data SIM: There are dedicated data SIM cards available that can work like any other SIM card. The sole purpose of these SIM cards is to provide 4G internet connectivity. They can be used in devices that have a built-in SIM card slot like mobile phones and tablets. So, they are not compatible with desktops and conventional laptops. Some modern laptops come with SIM card slots. With these SIM cards inserted, you can set up a Wi-Fi hotspot and connect any device to it.
  • Mobile Wi-Fi or Mi-Fi – You can also get a hotspot device to create a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere you want. So you don’t have to plug it into a computer or some other device. These Mi-Fi devices have data-only SIM inserted in them that create the hotspot. However, these devices either need to plug into a power source or be charged at regular intervals.
  • 4G routers: These are modern mobile routers that are portable and function as a typical home broadband router. The only difference is that they use mobile broadband to provide internet connection rather than a fixed-line broadband connection.

Note: The three mobile broadband options viz. The dongle, data-only SIM card, and Mi-Fi are different ways to use mobile broadband internet. All of these need a data-only SIM used one way or another. So, they are sold by the same companies like Vodafone and O2.

Frankly saying, dongles are past devices, and there are very few companies that offer these nowadays. So, it is wise to look for other mobile broadband options like a data-only SIM card or a wireless mobile broadband router.

Leave a Comment