Thanks to the dropping price of data, mobile broadband is becoming an increasingly affordable way to stay connected. Whether you want an alternative to an ADSL or NBN broadband connection, a SIM card for a tablet, or a stop gap for a move or a holiday, mobile broadband could be the answer.
When it comes to data allowances, mobile connections are still more expensive than fixed line broadband; the same amount of money will almost certainly get you less data. While mobile broadband might leave you a be a bit worse off in terms of pure value, you'll win when it comes to flexibility. You can take a mobile broadband connection anywhere in Australia (in most cases), setup is almost instant, there are no moving fees, and you'll often get faster speeds.
Many mobile broadband offerings are sold as no contract plans, so it's also possible to take a connection up on an ad hoc basis. And if you don't have a 4G modem and you don't want to spring for one, you can always throw your data only SIM in an old phone and use it as a portable hotspot.
The smaller data allowances mean mobile broadband won't be ideal if you're binge watching on a daily basis or download massive games through Steam, but it's worth considering if you just need a flexible, reliable internet connection.
Small inclusion mobile broadband plans
Let's start small: 10GB of mobile data will now set you back as little as $25 per month on a no-contract basis through a provider like Jeenee. If you're happy to sign a contract in exchange for a little more data, Virgin Mobile has one of the best deals around at the moment: sign up before December 11 and you'll get 15GB for $30 per month.
High inclusions mobile broadband plans
If you're looking for a mobile broadband plan that could potentially replace your broadband connection, we're now starting to see plans with inclusions of 100GB or more. If you don't want to sign a contract, OVO is currently the best value option on the market; you can get 100GB for $69.95 per 30 day recharge.
If you're okay with signing a year-long contract, Optus and Virgin Mobile will do 140GB for $70 or $75 per month respectively. While the Optus plan is cheaper, the Virgin Mobile plan includes a portable 4G modem.
Home wireless mobile broadband plans
If you're genuinely looking at replacing your fixed line internet connection, there are now a few providers offering fixed home wireless broadband plans over 4G. However, these can require signing up for a 24-month contract, at least if you don't want to get hit with upfront modem fees.
The most interesting of these is Vividwireless, who recently launched an unlimited data fixed wireless mobile broadband plan for $90 per month. The biggest catch is that you'll be limited to maximum download speeds of 12Mbps, which is roughly the same as a basic fixed line internet connection. The same applies to Optus' home wireless plans. It's also worth noting that Vivid's unlimited plan is only available in metro areas where you can connect to Optus' 2300 MHz spectrum.
Telstra is the only home wireless provider to currently offer uncapped 4G speeds on its plans, but you're looking at a higher monthly bill and a lower data allowance.
In the case of Vivid and Optus, you'll be given a traditional modem router that you have to keep plugged into power at all times. On Telstra, you'll get a Nighthawk M1 which also works on battery.
Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone all offer data sharing for postpaid phone services, which means you can pool data from all your plans (on the same bill) into one big total. This pool can be used across all your connected devices, and typically covers phones on a plan, SIM only plans, and mobile broadband plans (although not fixed wireless).
Alex Choros is Associate Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. All his useful knowledge has been replaced with fun facts about mobile and broadband plans.