What is mobile broadband – everything you need to know

Advertisement

When it comes to home internet, NBN is by far the most popular choice, however there are other options available that might be more suitable for some users – in particular, mobile broadband.

In this article, we’ll take a look at mobile broadband: what it is, why you might need it, and compare a range of mobile broadband plans to help you find a plan that suits you.

What is mobile broadband?

It’s as simple as it sounds — mobile broadband is broadband (internet) which is delivered via a mobile network. In most cases, that mobile network would be 4G, but there are also limited 5G mobile broadband products.

However, there are a couple different products, or ways to use mobile broadband on the market, which is where it gets a little more complicated.

Mobile broadband can sometimes come in the form of a data-only SIM card, which you can then use with a smartphone, tablet or other device (such as a dongle) which can hold a SIM card. Generally data-only SIM cards have smaller data inclusions, but can range anywhere from 1GB up to over 100GB, but typically you won’t find unlimited data on these plans.

Some mobile broadband plans also come with a modem or USB dongle, so rather than buying a SIM card and the device separately, you’ll get both with the one plan  (although you may have to pay an additional upfront fee for the modem or dongle). Generally these plans with the modem included are called ‘mobile broadband’ plans, and some providers might offer more data on these than on a data-only SIM.

Compare NBN Plans

Loading...

How does mobile broadband work?

Mobile broadband can work the same as any fixed internet connection, such as NBN, depending on what type of mobile broadband plan you have. If you’ve chosen a plan with a modem or dongle, you’ll be able to use that device to create a WiFi network in your home and connect multiple devices to your mobile broadband connection, the same as you would on a fixed network modem. Some of these modems are portable and powered by an internal battery, while other mobile broadband modems are not, and will need to be plugged into a powerpoint to operate.

The only downside is that you are relying on the mobile network to access your internet connection, and if there are problems with signals, you might experience problems with your connection. However, if a fixed broadband network such as NBN experiences problems, it will not affect your mobile broadband connection.

If you have a data-only SIM card for your mobile broadband, and you’re using it to connect your tablet or phone to the internet, generally that is only providing an internet connection to the device that the SIM card is inserted into. If you wanted other devices to access this internet connection, you will need to set up a hotspot from your tablet or phone. Likewise, some dongles, such as USB dongles, are set up to provide internet connection only to the device it’s plugged into, such as a computer.

Why do I need mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband

While the NBN network is the most common form of home internet, there are many reasons why a mobile broadband plan could be a good option for you.

Considering the portability of most mobile broadband plans — especially if you have a portable modem or dongle —  mobile broadband is a great option for anyone who does a lot of travelling, perhaps for work, or needs internet access when out and about. Data-only SIM cards are also useful if you have a tablet or portable device and you need the internet on the go, rather than relying on whatever WiFi networks you can find, such as if you’re travelling or caravanning throughout Australia.

If you currently don’t have NBN available in your area, a mobile broadband plan could also be a good option while you wait for your home to be connected, or for renters who want to be able to take their internet with them if they move. Mobile broadband can also be a great additional internet plan for large households, especially if you work from home full time or part time, as dropped connections and slow speeds could cause problems. Having a separate internet option at home could minimise congestion on your home broadband plan, especially if multiple people in the home are using the internet for activities such as streaming high-definition video simultaneously.

Mobile broadband is also a good option if your home is in an area where NBN will not be rolled out, or if the fixed line options in your area are not right for your needs. Of course with mobile broadband you’ll need to ensure you’re in an area with mobile reception, especially 4G coverage, for a more optimal mobile internet performance.

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared: Over 100GB

The following table shows a selection of published mobile broadband plans with over 100GB of data on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Large

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020

min. cost $75 over one month

200GBMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Ovo Logo

OVOBoom XL

  • Unlimited sport and radio on OVOPlay
  • BYO modem option

min. cost $79.95 over 30 day billing period

250GBMax Data**/billing period $79.95Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared: 100GB

The following table shows a selection of published 100GB mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Vodafone Logo

100GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $720 over 12 months

100GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Ovo Logo

OVOBoom Large

  • Unlimited sport and radio on OVOPlay
  • BYO modem option

min. cost $64.95 over 30 day billing period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $64.95Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Large

  • SIM Only

min. cost $780 over 12 month plan period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared: Over 50GB

The following table shows a selection of published mobile broadband plans with 50GB – 100GB of data on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 50GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $40 over 28 day billing period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Medium

  • SIM Only

min. cost $480 over 12 month plan period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

60GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $540 over 12 months

60GBMax Data**/billing period $45Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Ovo Logo

OVOBoom Small

  • Unlimited sport and radio on OVOPlay
  • BYO modem option

min. cost $49.95 over 30 day billing period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $49.95Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Medium

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020

min. cost $50 over one month

60GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 90GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $60 over 28 day billing period

90GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared: Under 50GB

The following table shows a selection of published mobile broadband plans with less than 50GB of data on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 7GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $15 over 28 day billing period

7GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Extra Small

  • SIM Only

min. cost $180 over 12 month plan period

7GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Extra Small

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020

min. cost $15 over one month

5GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

5GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $180 over 12 months

5GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Small

  • SIM Only

min. cost $300 over 12 month plan period

15GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Small

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020

min. cost $25 over one month

20GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

25GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $360 over 12 months

25GBMax Data**/billing period $30Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Can I get 5G mobile broadband?HTC 5G Hub

Some Aussies might also find they’re in an area with access to a 5G network from either Telstra, Optus or Vodafone. Currently Telstra and Optus are offering 5G mobile or home wireless broadband plans, and all three telcos are continually rolling out their respective 5G networks. If you’re interested in a 5G mobile broadband plan, you should check the website of your provider of choice to see if your area is covered by their 5G network. Otherwise, you might need to wait a bit until you have access in your area.

The below table features all published Telstra mobile broadband plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost from lowest to highest and then by data allowance. These are products with links to a referral partner.

Telstra Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Telstra mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Extra Small

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020

min. cost $15 over one month

5GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Small

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020

min. cost $25 over one month

20GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Medium

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020

min. cost $50 over one month

60GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Large

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020

min. cost $75 over one month

200GBMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Should I get a mobile broadband plan?

After reading through this guide, hopefully you’ll have a clearer idea as to whether a mobile broadband plan is right for you. Think about what it is that mobile broadband will help you with — whether its for portability, a data-only SIM card for a portable device or perhaps an additional internet plan at home — and this should not only help you to decide if mobile broadband is right for you, but also how much data you might need on your plan.

Mobile broadband can be a great alternative to a fixed internet connection in the home, however it’s not going to work for everyone. If you have limited mobile coverage in your area or problems with mobile coverage, it might not be the best solution for you. However, if you are keen on a mobile broadband plan, do your research, compare plans and also check the website of your provider of choice to ensure you’ll have coverage in your area before signing up.

Share this article

Advertisement