Mobile Broadband Guide: How To Access It & UK Providers Compared

Mobile broadband gives you access to the internet using 4G mobile network coverage on your laptop and tablet.

Mobile broadband has been growing in popularity as another way to get your devices connected to the internet.

Making use of the same 4G technology that connects your smartphone to the internet, it can give other devices like your laptop and tablet access to high-speed internet whilst you’re on the go. It can occasionally also be used as a replacement for home broadband, giving faster set-up and greater flexibility.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about mobile broadband in the UK. We’ll start by looking at how you can access mobile broadband and at the various connection methods available to you including tethering, USB dongles, portable wi-fi and using a SIM card slot. We’ll then discuss the different providers you can use in the UK, before comparing it to home broadband and looking at mobile broadband coverage.

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Download Speeds: What Do 2G, 3G, 4G & 5G Actually Mean?

You can access the internet on your smartphone using either a 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G connection. Find out how download speeds compare.

When it comes to mobile internet download speeds, terms like 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G are often used. Referring to four different generations of mobile technology, each of them gives a very different download speed.

Older 2G connections give a download speed of around 0.1Mbit/s, with this rising to around 8Mbit/s on the most advanced 3G networks. Speeds of around 60Mbit/s are available on 4G mobile networks in the UK (but this can be substantially higher in other countries like the US). Next-generation 5G mobile networks are targeting a download speed of over 1,000Mbit/s (1Gbit/s).

In this article, we take an in-depth look into the topic of download speeds and see how 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks compare. We’ll also consider the real-world speeds and how they’ll impact upon your actual day-to-day usage.

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Compare Pay As You Go Networks: Prices & Coverage

Looking for the cheapest Pay As You Go tariff in the UK? Our interactive comparison table allows you to compare Pay As You Go mobile networks by price and coverage.

If you’re looking for a Pay As You Go network in the UK, you’re spoilt for choice with nearly 20 different mobile networks to choose from.

With the UK having one of world’s most competitive marketplaces for mobile communication, it’s never been easier to change mobile networks to take advantage of a cheaper deal. Just order a free Pay As You Go SIM card and insert it into an unlocked smartphone to take advantage of lower rates.

When choosing a new Pay As You Go mobile network, there are two primary considerations you need to think about. Firstly, there’s the price: you’ll want to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to. Secondly, there’s the coverage: you’ll want a mobile network that gives you fast and reliable coverage.

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Plusnet Mobile Review: 30 Day SIM Only Plans With Coverage From EE

Plusnet Mobile is a low-cost 4G network with 30 day SIM-only plans from £6/month.

In the UK, Plusnet Mobile offers low-cost SIM-only plans using 3G & 4G coverage from the EE network. Plans on Plusnet Mobile start from £6/month with key benefits including a flexible 30-day rolling contract and time-limited special offer promotional tariffs. Plusnet Mobile also offers ‘Smart Cap’ functionality and gives an extra discount to customers who have Plusnet home broadband.

In this article, we’ll review the Plusnet Mobile service. We’ll start by looking at the price plans available on Plusnet Mobile and how they compare to offerings from other mobile networks. We’ll then discuss how to use your handset on Plusnet Mobile, the level of coverage you can expect and how to keep your current phone number.

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O2’s Big Bundles Reviewed: Pay As You Go Packages from £10/month

O2 offers Big Bundle packages from £10/month on Pay As You Go. The bundles come with a one-month allowance of 4G internet, minutes and texts.

In the UK, customers on O2 Pay As You Go can convert their Pay As You Go credit into a Big Bundle package. The Big Bundle will give you a one-month allowance of calls, texts and mobile internet, with bundles ranging in price from £10 to £30 per month.

The most popular Big Bundle package costs £10/month and includes 500 minutes, 5000 texts and 2GB of 4G internet. Data rollover is available when you renew your Big Bundle automatically, making it possible for you to roll over up to an additional 2GB of data.

In this article, we’ll review O2’s Big Bundles tariff. We’ll look at the bundles available on O2 and how they compare to the bundles available on other mobile networks. We’ll also look at the level of coverage you can expect on O2 and how to keep your existing phone number when moving to the network.

Stop Press: giffgaff is a low-cost sub-brand of O2, offering larger allowances for a lower monthly price (e.g. unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of data for £10/month). If you’re a customer of O2 Pay As You Go, you can save money whilst getting the exact same coverage by switching to giffgaff.

Order giffgaff SIM card (Free) →

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Data Rollover on UK Mobile Networks: Carry Over Unused Data Allowances

Some UK mobile networks will allow you to roll over unused data into the following month. We compare the roll-over policy by mobile network.

  • EE
  • giffgaff
  • iD Mobile
  • O2
  • Sky Mobile
  • Smarty
  • Virgin Mobile
  • Vodafone

Typically, on Pay Monthly contracts and Pay As You Go bundles, you’ll receive a certain airtime allowance that’s valid for one month. At the end of each month, your unused allowances will normally expire. The unused minutes, texts and megabytes will be removed from your account before your bundle renews giving you a fresh set of allowances.

Some mobile networks have now started to offer the ability for you to roll-over unused allowances into the following month. This will give you a second chance to use the allowances you’ve paid for.

At present, data rollover is offered on Pay Monthly contracts from iD Mobile, Sky Mobile and Virgin Mobile. SMARTY offers an unused data discount, which is similar in many ways but with even more flexibility as you’ll get money back on your bill. Meanwhile, on Pay As You Go, data rollover is available on bundles from EE, O2 and Vodafone.

In this article, we’ll review and compare the data rollover offerings from each mobile network. We’ll also look at the associated terms and conditions such as how long your data will last for and how much data you’re able to carry over.

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Three Go Roam: Free Roaming in 71 Destinations Inc. Europe, US & Australia

Three offers inclusive international roaming in 71 destinations including most of Europe, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Singapore and more.

ThreeThree offers a mobile roaming package known as Go Roam for its UK-based customers (previously known as Feel At Home). For customers on an eligible plan, the charges for using your mobile phone abroad in 71 destinations have been removed. This means you’re able to use your normal UK allowances including your minutes, texts and mobile internet at no additional charge.

The offer makes Go Roam a fantastic package for anyone who wants to continue using their smartphone whilst abroad. You’ll be able to continue using your normal smartphone applications including social media, instant messaging and maps. You’ll also be able to stay in touch with friends and family without the need to worry about how much your phone calls will cost.

The Go Roam offer is available to customers on both Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go. It’s also available on mobile broadband tariffs for your mi-fi or tablet. If you’re not currently a customer of Three, you can pick up a Pay As You Go SIM card to take advantage of the offer. Customers joining Three on a Pay Monthly contract will also receive a free priority upgrade on outbound EasyJet flights from the UK.

In this article, we review the Go Roam offer, including the countries it’s available in and the limitations of the deal. We’ll also look at the level of coverage you can expect in each country and at how customers of other mobile networks can benefit from the offer. Finally, we’ll discuss alternative roaming offers that are also available from other providers on the market.

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Best Place To Buy A Moto G6, Moto G6 Plus & Moto G6 Play: UK’s Cheapest Deals

The Moto G is available to buy from £149 unlocked. We compare the UK’s cheapest deals for the Moto G6, Moto G6 Plus, Moto G6 Play and Moto G5S.

If you’re looking for an affordable mid-range smartphone, my current recommendation is to buy a handset from the Moto G family. With a solid design and fantastic specifications, the Moto G handsets are powerful, yet budget-friendly. Priced at just a fraction of the cost of an iPhone XS or Galaxy S9, you can buy a Moto G handset from as little as £149 unlocked.

There are three handsets to choose from in the latest generation of the Moto G family. They are the Moto G6, the Moto G6 Plus and the Moto G6 Play. The handsets have impressive edge-to-edge screens, TurboPower charging and 64-bit octa-core processors. On the top-range handset, the Moto G6 Plus, you’ll also get an intelligent camera with Dual Autofocus Pixel and lots of other clever features.

For a cheaper alternative to the Moto G6, it’s also still possible to buy last year’s Moto G5S. You’ll get a slightly smaller screen, but this will come in a more compact aluminium form factor.

In this article, we’ll look at the best value deals for buying a Moto G smartphone in the UK. We’ll start by looking at the best deals for an unlocked Moto G handset. We’ll then continue on to compare the best value deals on Pay As You Go and on a Pay Monthly contract.

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Mobile Phone Credit Checks: How They Work & ‘No Credit Check’ Deals

You’ll normally need to undergo a credit check when taking out a mobile phone contract in the UK. Find out what this involves and discover alternative ‘no credit check’ deals.

If you’re taking out a Pay Monthly mobile phone contract or SIM-only deal in the UK, you’ll normally need to undergo and pass a credit check. The most stringent checks are on 24-month contracts, where you get a new handset included with your plan.

Because of the credit check requirement, it isn’t always possible for everyone to get a mobile phone contract. At a minimum, you need to be over 18 and need a UK credit history to be approved for a mobile phone contract. Beyond that, different mobile networks have their own internal credit criteria against which your application for a mobile phone contract will be judged.

In this article, we’ll explain the credit check process for when you take out a mobile phone contract in the UK. We’ll discuss the information you’ll likely be asked to provide and how to check your credit record for errors and mistakes. We’ll also discuss “no credit check” alternatives such as buying your handset SIM-free and getting a Pay As You Go bundle.

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Mobile Networks Using Three Coverage & Cheaper Piggyback SIM Cards

In the UK, mobile networks like iD Mobile, SMARTY and Superdrug Mobile piggyback on network coverage from Three.

The UK has four network coverage providers: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. Alongside them, there’s a system of “virtual network operators” that piggyback on coverage from one of the big four. They’ll give you the exact same coverage you’d get on one of the four big networks, but sometimes with lower prices or other benefits like an unused data discount.

At the time of writing, there are seven other mobile networks that piggyback on Three for 3G and 4G coverage. The biggest ones are iD Mobile (from the Carphone Warehouse), SMARTY (a low-cost sub-brand of Three) and Superdrug Mobile. They’ll each give you 99% population coverage from Three’s 3G & 4G network but with different benefits like data rollover on iD Mobile and an unused data discount on SMARTY.

In this article, we’ll look at the UK mobile networks using coverage from Three. We’ll compare some of the best value SIM cards, and will look at the different features available on each network.

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