Need internet for your laptop, tablet or iPad on the go? Consider mobile broadband.
The best mobile broadband plans for data on the go
- : 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.
Best mobile broadband plan overall
Belong 400GB Data SIM Only
If you’re looking for the best dollar-for-data deal, there’s no going past Belong's 400GB mobile broadband plan. It has one of the largest mobile broadband plans out, and charges a surprisingly affordable $70 per month.
That works out to be roughly 17 cents per gigabyte.
This plan is subject to speed caps, however. You're limited to speeds of 180Mbps on 4G, and 250Mbps on 5G. If you go over your data allowance, you'll be capped to 1Mbps, but won't pay extra fees.
You'll also need to bring your own portable hotspot, dongle, or tablet. Belong doesn't sell any devices to go with its mobile broadband plans.
Here's how Belong's plan compares to other cheap options with at least 50GB:
Best Optus mobile broadband plan
20GB Optus Choice Plus Data Plan
Optus is offering 20GB of data for $20 per month on its Optus Choice Plus Data mobile broadband plan. That shakes out at exactly $1 per GB, making it a no-nonsense month-to-month plan for Optus 5G connectivity on the go. Optus also offers data sharing on its mobile broadband plans which allows you to share your 20GB with other phone or data SIMs attached to the same account.
If you go over, speeds are capped at 1.5Mbps, which means no excess data charges. This Optus plan can you get discounted access to Optus Sport + OS Fitness. You'll pay $6.99 per month instead of the full $24.99 per month.
Here are more popular SIM-only Optus mobile broadband plans:
Best Telstra mobile broadband plan
Upfront Data Plan Large
Telstra’s Upfront Data Plan Large provides a massive 400GB for $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.
You can also share your data with up to 10 eligible Upfront services on the same account, which is great if you're already a Telstra customer.
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.
These start at $99 for a 4G-ready dongle, or at $399.88 if you want 5G connectivity. Any Telstra mobile broadband modem can be paid off over 12, 24 or 36 months.
Telstra also has more affordable 4G prepaid dongle and hotspot options.
Here are more popular SIM-only Upfront Telstra mobile broadband plans:
Best Vodafone mobile broadband plan
100GB SIM Only Modem 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).
Unlike Optus and Telstra, Vodafone charges $10 per extra gigabyte if you go over your monthly allowance.
Here are more popular Vodafone SIM-only mobile broadband plans:
Best cheap mobile broadband plan
Vodafone 10GB SIM Only Modem 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.
Here are more cheap mobile broadband plans under $30 per month:
Best prepaid mobile broadband plan
amaysim 90GB Data 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.
amaysim is powered by the Optus 4G network.
Here are more cheap prepaid mobile broadband plans:
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?
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.
Mobile broadband pros and cons
If you're on the fence about mobile broadband, here are some of the main pros and cons.
We'd recommend mobile broadband for on-the-go usage or a dedicated SIM in a tablet or laptop, rather than replacing a home internet connection.
Telstra and Belong's 400GB mobile broadband plans could be enough for a primary internet connection for some users, however.
You can't get an unlimited mobile broadband with an unlimited data allowance in the same way you can an NBN plan.
Mobile broadband plans from Telstra, Optus, and Belong are however free from excess charges, so could be considered unlimited in a way, similar to mobile plans from these providers.
Instead of paying for extra data when you go over your allowance on one of these mobile broadband plans, you'll instead keep using your connection at a slower speed. 1.5Mbps on Telstra and Optus, and 1Mbps on Belong.
While these kinds of speeds are okay on mobile, they'll almost certainly be too slow if you're using your mobile broadband connection with a computer.
In many cases, mobile broadband plans will run at uncapped 4G or 5G network speeds. This will depend on your coverage and congestion, but it's safe to expect at least 50Mbps from a 4G mobile broadband plan, and over 200Mbps on a 5G mobile broadband plan.
Some mobile broadband plans - such as those from Belong - have speed caps, however.
A large number of providers offer mobile broadband. These include the following:
- Aussie Broadband
- ALDI Mobile
If you take up a mobile broadband plan, you'll need somewhere to stick your SIM.
Mobile broadband SIMs can be used in almost any device. The simplest solution is buying a portable modem (also known as a Pocket WiFi). Major telcos like Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone offer these alongside their plans.
Alternatively, you can buy a portable modem unlocked and outright, like this D-Link model on Amazon.
Mobile broadband SIMs can also be used in a tablet or laptop, if your device has a SIM slot.
Most mobile broadband SIMs can also be used in a phone. This means you can always take an old phone and turn it into a personal hotspot.