Despite the ubiquity of Wi-Fi hotspots, mobile broadband has grown in popularity fuelled by the rise of remote working and commuting.
Tablets, 2-in-1 laptops or even connected portable gaming consoles have made a dedicated mobile broadband subscription a must have for a lot of families and businesses.
Free Wi-Fi hotspots may be present almost everywhere where there is heavy footfall but the quality of service combined with security concerns make them a less attractive for some users.
On this page, you’ll find links to the best mobile broadband deals currently available in the UK; the market is currently very competitive with some surprising names popping up. For the sake of clarity, we will be including tethering as an option.
Tethering allows you to use your smartphone as a wireless Wi-Fi hotspot; you could even be looking at having an old or cheap smartphone as a hotspot or even use a dual-SIM smartphone like the OnePlus 3. Note that prices usually increase every year in line with the RPI (Retail Price Index).
The best mobile broadband deals of the month are:
These are the deals we recommend most highly. We try to pick out a deal for everyone, whether you’re after the cheapest possible option or the best balance between allowance and cost over one month and 12/24-months deals.
For light users and European travellers
Three | 24GB | No contract | £28.60
We would recommend going the PAYG route if you’re a light user for three reasons. Firstly, it gives you the flexibility to use more or less data each month, secondly, you are not tied into any contracts and thirdly, PAYG beats any entry-level broadband-only SIM offers.
We recommend the Three 3G/4G PAYG Trio Data SIM preloaded with 24GB of data and available exclusively from Amazon and in theory, can even be used abroad as part of the popular Feel At Home scheme.
It allows you to get online abroad at no extra cost in 42 destinations worldwide with new countries being added regularly. Check the terms and conditions with Three as these change frequently.
As an added bonus, register with Three and get an additional 200MB per month on top of the 24GB already preloaded as part of the “Data Reward” Pay As You Go plan.
That’s a whopping 4.8GB if you plan to use the SIM for the whole 24-months duration, till it expires. If you have munched through the data just discard the SIM and buy another one.
View this deal at Amazon
For medium users
Three | 30GB per month | 12-month contract | £18 per month
Planning to use more than 20GB of data a month? Then pay monthly is your better option; otherwise, stick to Three’s 24GB offer which, at the time of writing, is available for under £1 per GB.
The only inconvenience is that you may have to change that SIM more often and prices might also shoot up in the future.
Three is currently selling its Advanced Plan with 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 30GB personal hotspot allowance for £18 a month as part of its “We Love Sale” campaign which ends on 31 January 2017; that is a saving of £8 per month or £96 over the duration of the contract (12 month).
If that wasn’t enough, you’re also automatically enrolled in the “Feel at Home” scheme and get unlimited texts.
Plug it in a smartphone like the Alcatel OneTouch Pixi 3 (3.5) (£15 at Carphone Warehouse) and you get a versatile hotspot for not a lot of money.
View this deal at Three
For heavy users
If you need even more than 30GB of data a month, then Vodafone offers 50GB of data allowance every month for only £25, that’s only 50p per GB.
You will be tied to a two-year contract but you will receive a free 4G hotspot, the Huawei R216, that can support up to five devices and has a long battery life.
Vodafone is also bundling a not-so-insignificant 2GB of roaming data every month to up to 40 European countries. Vodafone also sells its 50GB data SIM with a 12-month contract for the same price.
Grab this deal from Vodafone
For international travellers
If you often travel internationally and want to freely use the internet without having to think of costs, then it is hard, if not impossible, to beat Knowroaming’s offering.
It is offering a global SIM card for as little as $9.99 (about £8) with an unlimited data package costing only $7.99 (about £6.50) per day in more than 90 countries. We tried it during a recent trip to Japan and it worked flawlessly.
The SIM comes with a free US and UK number with the option to purchase additional foreign numbers. There’s an app to track your real-time usage and as a bonus, you get to use WhatsApp for free worldwide (that includes calls, photo and video messaging).