Ask LH: What’s A Good Mobile Broadband Deal For A Student?

Ask LH: What’s A Good Mobile Broadband Deal For A Student?
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Hi Lifehacker, I am a uni student soon to be moving into college in Sydney and desperate for internet. I recently found out that the internet packages available at the college are a good deal dollar-wise but provide incredibly slow speeds. I have decided buying my own is the best option but as a student cost is an issue. Any suggestions? I’m thinking of a mobile broadband solution, and I’d like lots of data, good coverage and speed at a relatively low price. Thanks, Speed Seeker

Student picture from Shutterstock

Dear SS,

The news isn’t great, I’m afraid. If you’re not going to use the internet provided at your college, then mobile broadband is effectively your only option, as it’s highly unlikely you’ll be permitted or able to organise an ADSL connection. Mobile broadband is generally very speedy (assuming you’re in a decent reception area and have 4G), but the one thing it isn’t is cheap.

We looked at the issue of 4G broadband plans recently, and concluded that you’re not going to be able to affordably get more than around 25GB a month, no matter which network you choose. If your data needs aren’t too high and you can afford $50-$60 a month, you can score between 10GB and 15GB a month easily enough, but more than that becomes very costly.

Under the circumstances, I’d suggest taking up the college offer, perhaps purchasing a prepaid 4G SIM for occasions when you really need more speed, and taking advantage of on-campus Wi-Fi whenever you’re out and about.


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  • Best best go with a BYO $40/month 12Gb plan with virgin, which uses optus 4G and just buy your own 4G modem (optus sells theirs for $200, you will find others online for less). Just make sure it suitable to use on the optus 4G network. Also bundle it with a virgin phone (again, 4G optus) and save 5% on the total bill as I have done.

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