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The best mobile broadband plans for data on the go
Need internet for your laptop, tablet or iPad on the go? Consider mobile broadband.
- : Best overall mobile broadband
- : Best Optus mobile broadband
- : Best Telstra mobile broadband
- : Best Vodafone mobile broadband
- : Best cheap mobile broadband
- : Best prepaid mobile broadband
For those with patchy WiFi at home or who are constantly working on their iPad or tablet throughout the day on the go, you might want to consider getting mobile broadband. Let’s take a look at our round-up of the best mobile broadband plans, but first, we’ll explain how it all works.
There are four types of mobile broadband: data only SIM (no modem required), pocket WiFi (4G WiFi modem), USB modem and home wireless (5G modem). The type you’ll want to choose will depend on how many devices you want to connect, whether you want it plugged directly into your power outlet at home or to insert straight into your laptop or tablet.
For those wanting mobile broadband on the go, it would suit most users to either pick a data SIM for their iPad/tablet or a pocket WiFi modem to connect multiple devices while you’re out. For just plugging into a single laptop, consider a 4G USB modem, unless you have a laptop with a SIM card. If you’re at home, consider getting home wireless internet.
How does mobile broadband work?
Mobile broadband works in the same way that internet on your mobile phone operates. You need to be in range of a mobile tower on the network your telco uses to offer mobile broadband, which will be either Telstra, Optus or Vodafone. Like a mobile phone, the strength of the mobile broadband signal will determine overall download and upload speeds.
Most plans are offered on the respective 4G mobile networks of Australia, which means downloads can theoretically reach as fast as 100Mbps and up to 50Mbps upload. In reality, speeds are likely to be noticeably slower, as a number of factors come into play, including reception strength and the level of congestion on the mobile tower your internet connection is using.
Now with the theory out of the way, there are heaps of plans to pick from; so, which is right for your needs?
Best mobile broadband plan overall
If you’re looking for the best dollar-for-data deal, there’s no going past Spintel’s Mobile Broadband 500GB plan. It offers by far the most data out of all the mobile broadband providers, and all for the low price of $59.95 (that’s about 12 cents per gig).
Unfortunately, there is a required one-off upfront purchase of the Netgear AC800S for $290 plus $20 shipping, which isn’t ideal, but still offers the best value for heavy internet users.
Spintel runs on the Optus 4G network and plans are not locked into any contract, so you can leave at any time.
Not sold on Spintel? See more popular mobile broadband plans:
Best Optus mobile broadband plan
It doesn’t have as much data as it used to, but the $60 Optus Choice Plus Data Plan is still a good deal. You’ll pay $60 a month for 100GB of data, which works out to around 23GB per week. If you go over, speeds are capped at 1.5Mbps, which means no excess data charges. This Optus plan also includes Optus Sport + OS Fitness but, unfortunately, it’s not unmetered, so factor that into your monthly usage.
Unlike the Spintel mobile broadband plan above, Optus lets you choose between bringing your own modem or you can pay off a 5G Portable WiFi modem for $434.88, split across either 12, 24 or 36 months. This Optus mobile broadband modem has 5G capability, can connect up to 32 devices and has a 4,500mAh battery for up to nine hours of use.
Here are more popular Optus mobile broadband plans:
Best Telstra mobile broadband plan
Telstra’s Upfront Data Plan Large provides a massive 400GB for a typical $85 monthly fee. Like Optus, Telstra caps speeds for its non-prepaid mobile broadband plans at 1.5Mbps if you go over. Still, that 400GB monthly cap works out to a very respectable 92GB of data per week.
Another plus is you’ll get access to Telstra’s expanding 5G network as well as data-free Apple Music and select sports streaming for selected services. You can also share your data with up to 10 eligible services on the same account.
Telstra also has $15 Extra Small, $25 Small and $55 Medium mobile broadband plans (in addition to a few prepaid options), so if you find you aren’t finishing your data balance at the end of the month, you can always consider switching to a lower data plan.
If you don’t already have a modem, you can purchase one through Telstra for $99, if you choose a 4G plan, or $358.56 for the 5G Wi-Fi Pro modem; any Telstra mobile broadband modem can be paid off over 12, 24 or 36 months.
Here are more popular Telstra mobile broadband plans:
Best Vodafone mobile broadband plan
Vodafone has a knack for throwing in bonus data with its SIM Only mobile plans, and its mobile broadband plans are also part of this trend. You’ll find the best value from the Vodafone 100GB SIM Only Modem Plan, which costs $60 a month for 150GB of data (including a regularly extended 50GB of bonus data). Despite the plan name, you’ll have to pay a few bucks extra per month to pay off an Alcatel Link Zome MW41CL 4G modem over 24 months.
That mobile broadband modem has seven hours of battery life, plus it can connect up to 15 devices via WiFi, and you’re looking at around 34.5GB of data per week to use how you see fit. Bear in mind that, unlike Optus and Telstra, Vodafone charges $10 per extra gigabyte if you go over your monthly allowance.
Here are more popular Vodafone mobile broadband plans:
Best cheap mobile broadband plan
Assuming Vodafone continues its bonus-data trend, the best cheap mobile data plan in terms of dollar-to-data value is the Vodafone 10GB Red Mobile Plan. For $20 a month, you get 10GB of base data and 20GB of bonus data, which works out to 6.9GB of data per week. It’s a few bucks extra per month to pay off a modem. Alternatively, the $25 Optus Choice Plus Data Plan costs $25 a month for 30GB, with speeds capped at 1.5Mbps if you go over. You’ll also have to pay for your modem separately with both of these plans, though.
Here are more popular mobile broadband plans under $30 per month:
Best prepaid mobile broadband plan
Amaysim’s 90GB Data Plan offers the most data and best value for a prepaid plan and comes in at $60 per month, even though it’s a 28-day plan, which means you’ll have to recharge one extra time if you keep it for a year. You’ll also have to BYO your own modem or SIM card-compatible laptop or tablet, but you won’t have to worry about excess data charges.
If 90GB is too much for your usage, Amaysim also offers 7GB for $15 or 50GB for $40, and all of Amaysim’s plans can be set to top-up automatically.
Here are more popular prepaid mobile broadband plans:
How to find the best mobile broadband plan
Essentially, before picking a mobile broadband plan, you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:
If you’re a light data user, 20GB to 30GB per month should be more than enough for most people to satisfy your streaming and browsing needs. For heavy data users, wanting to stream videos in 4K or who are using your device for work all day, you’ll probably want to look at plans from at least 60GB up per month.
If you’re unsure about committing to a mobile broadband plan right now, it’d be wiser to stick with a month-to-month plan for the moment. If you don’t mind committing, you might be able to save yourself some dollars by picking a 12-month contract plan.
For example, if you’re keen to get data-free or a free subscription to Apple Music or for sports streaming, you might want to pick Telstra or Optus for such perks which most MVNOs don’t offer.