2016 Mobile Broadband Providers
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Looking for the best internet connection when on you’re away from home? Compare mobile broadband providers with our customer satisfaction ratings.
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Canstar Blue research finalised in February 2016, published in March 2016.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Most Satisfied Customers | Optus
Optus rated No.1 for broadband on the go
It’s hard to imagine a world before the internet – a time when home phones were the only form of communication and doing some research meant actually reading books. You could try asking your grandmother what it was like, if you can distract her from her new smartphone. But of course, there are those occasions when you find yourself without a suitable internet connection – and what do you do then? Fortunately, that’s when mobile broadband services have got your back.
Mobile broadband is a wireless internet solution when you’re on the move and can come in various forms, including USB modems (dongles), portable Wi-Fi modems and data SIM cards. Most providers will offer it as a prepaid service, or you could get a post-paid plan.
So which service provider is offering the best overall package to its customers when they need it most? To find out, we surveyed hundreds of Australians who have an active mobile broadband account and found Optus to be rated highest for overall satisfaction. Optus also earned top marks in regards to customer service and contract clarity, while Virgin Mobile scored favorably on value for money, Vodafone stood out for bill clarity, and Telstra earned praise for its network performance.
How much does mobile broadband cost?
Like with any other internet service, the amount you pay for mobile broadband will vary depending on the download speeds and level of data you crave, plus any additional extras. From our survey, we found mobile broadband users spend an average of $50 per month to stay connected on the move. To put that into perspective, this is what Australians pay for forms of home broadband:
- ADSL: $68
- Cable: $79
- NBN: $77
Fifty dollars a month may seem like a lot, when the chances are you’re also paying for home broadband. But mobile broadband plans can cost as little as $10 for 1GB of data and quality 4G coverage – that will allow you to do more than just check your emails and social media while you’re out and about.
Be aware though, excess data charges on mobile broadband plans can be very expensive, so make sure you select a plan that meets your data requirements, because if there’s no Wi-Fi around and you need to stay connected, it could end up costing you big. Also be aware that mobile broadband plans are likely to come with a fairly significant upfront cost for your wireless modem and its delivery, if you need it. Bringing your own modem will save you money, and SIM-only plans for your tablet won’t require a modem.
Here is a selection of modest, SIM-only mobile broadband plans for those who want to use their tablet on the move.
If you need more than 1GB of data on the move, you’ll need to spend over the $20 mark. And the more you’re willing to spend, the better a deal you’re going to find. Once you get over the $40 mark, you’re going to be looking at double GB digits.
For the super-serious mobile data users, you could spend in excess of $100 per month on a mobile broadband plan. Once you start to reach these levels, you might want to consider a plan that offers data pooling. Data pooling is a great way to get the most out of your mobile phone and mobile broadband plans, allowing you to share your monthly data allowance between the two services as you see fit. You also get one bill.
But remember, cost should not be the only consideration when it comes to taking out a broadband service, be it fixed-line or mobile. Staying connected to the internet, particularly on the go, comes with its potential pitfalls, so you’ll need your provider to be on their game when it comes to customer service (i.e. technical support). This year, Optus has been rated highest in this important area, as well as overall customer satisfaction.
Frequently asked questions
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 6,000 Australian consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have an active mobile broadband plan and they pay the bills – in this case, 293 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.