Pay As You Go (PAYG) vs Contract
Is this your main source of broadband both at home and on the move, or are you looking for an occasional filler for when you’re away from your main source?
Main source ? Contract
Filler ? PAYG
Contract mobile broadband packages give you a faster connection speed and a higher data allowance than the prepaid counterpart. If the signal is poor in your location, you have a ‘cooling off period’, that allows for refunds. You will also be eligible for any laptop deals the carrier has on offer.
PAYG comes in two varieties: pay per block of time – day, week, month – or pay per chunk of data and use at will.
The carrier you choose for a PAYG dongle is important as not all carriers serve all locations. Don’t take the sales person’s word for it; even if they appear impartial (they are likely to be taking commission). Call the technical department of the carriers you’re considering. Ask if they have ‘broadcast cells’ in the intended location. Give them the postcode. You’ll get an accurate assessment of the signal strength and the quality of service.
All PAYG dongles require a minimum spend oncredit to kick start the service and many customers who can’t get signal have been told “We don’t refund credit”. You will get the cost of your hardware back, but if you want your (minimum) £10 start up credit refunded, you’ll have some chasing to do because UK don’t like giving out refunds whether you’re entitled to it or not.
Monthly limits range from 0.1GB to 25GB, depending on the price of your contract. Consider what sites you intend on looking at. Do they stream video? Would you like to watch an entire football match or tennis match – some matches regularly last 3 hours – online? If yes, then consider a larger data allowance.
PAYG data limit are also dependant on the amount you spend.
Free laptops or tablets
Are you interested in a free machine? The majority of deals cut the price of a laptop or tablet, while others absorb it into the cost of the line rental.
Do you intend to use the dongle outside the UK? What roaming packages are available with your chosen carrier? What do they charge per MB in different parts of the world? Not all carriers cater for roaming with PAYG and those who do charge hefty prices.
Length of contract
The majority of contracts are 24 months. If that’s too long for you, it might be worthwhile calling your phone carrier and asking for a bespoke deal. You could be very successful if your mobile phone contract is approaching renewal. Remember, mobile communications carriers are looking to make the maximum out of you, so look to negotiate the most for your money.
Answering these questions should help narrow down what type of mobile broadband package would suit you.
About the author: Marie-Paule Graham writes on behalf of Broadband Genie and Crowdstorm, the social shopping site