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Home vs mobile broadband

Mobile broadband and home broadband both have very distinct selling points. Here we'll break down what each service offers to help you find out which one is right for you. Or whether you need to sign up for both.

Compare mobile internet packages at our mobile broadband comparison page.

3G mobile broadband, which is the most common mobile broadband connection in the UK, has a maximum speed that's dwarfed by home connections. It's still enough for most applications, but for more demanding applications is a little slow.

In addition, the download limits are much lower for mobile and mobile internet packages. Most home packages offer unlimited download allowances, but these are much harder to come by for mobile broadband.

4G mobile broadband is much faster. In the case of EE's service, for instance, it's up to five times faster than 3G. That means it's a much more viable alternative to standard ADSL or fibre home broadband. But there is a drawback. 4G is far less widely available than 3G so you might not be able to sign up for it in your area.

As with 3G, you're also far less likely to find a 4G mobile broadband deal with an unlimited download allowance.

Round 1… fight!

The case for home broadband is currently very strong, and at present home connections excel in the following areas:

  • Price
    The cheapest home broadband packages are generally less costly than the cheapest mobile broadband products, but will have more extra costs, such as BT line rental.

  • Bundle options
    TV, calls and broadband can be bundled together to save money.

  • Download allowances
    Unlimited download packages are available, which are great for heavy users, but even the most restricted home packages are 10 times higher than their mobile counterparts.

  • Speeds
    Although speeds always vary, some of the slowest home connections still offer a maximum speeds of up to 16Mbps, and the fastest, such as Virgin Media and BT's cable Infinity product offer up to 120Mbps and 300Mbps respectively.

Compare our best-selling home broadband packages at our dedicated home broadband comparison page.

Mobile broadband has the edge on home broadband in the following areas:

Odd as it is to have this as a pro for both, the price of some mobile connections can be incredibly cheap, and they don’t include the hidden costs that ADSL (BT line) or cable (fibre) connections do.

Mobile modems, such as dongles and MiFis that you need to use 3G and 4G mobile broadband, are completely portable and can be used anywhere there is mobile phone coverage (in the UK and abroad)

No landline needed
As mobile broadband runs over mobile phone networks, there’s no need to pay a costly installation fee and month line rental on top of your broadband.

Simple installation
Just plug in your mobile broadband dongle or MiFi and connect to the internet. No wires, no routers and no worries. With built-in connections, there’s not even a separate USB dongle - the laptop just works out of the box.

Easy to buy and switch provider
You can have as many as you want and switch them at any time. No need for MAC codes.

Compare the latest mobile broadband packages here.

Round 2, 4G and the future…

One key aspect of mobile broadband is the dongle or MiFi unit - mobile broadband providers offer a range of dongles or USB modems to allow you to access the internet on the go. Each provider has its own design of dongle.

Compare all the latest dongle designs and deals at our USB internet comparison page.

4G is the latest in mobile internet connection technology. It offers potential speeds equal to the fastest home connections, outperforming even fibre-optic packages in some instances.

As mentioned above, however, it is only available in select parts of the country and from a smattering of providers.

The advent of 4G in the UK will almost certainly seriously threaten the dominance of ADSL (BT line) and cable (fibre-optic) broadband in years to come. Why would you settle for a fixed line when mobile is cheaper, faster and 100 per cent mobile?

Check out our uSwitch guide to fibre-optic broadband for more information.

Of course, this is not to say that home broadband will become entirely redundant, but the days of expensive line-rentals and poor speeds will be well and truly over when 4G becomes more widely available in the UK.