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Mobile broadband myths

If you don't know your Wi-Fi from your MiFi and have no idea what a dongle is, you're not alone. Although mobile broadband is available to 99% of the UK, it's still a technology that is little understood.

To clear up the confusion, we've made a list of the 10 most common mobile broadband myths. It's everything you ever wanted to know about mobile broadband but were too afraid to ask.

Myth: Download allowances are insufficient

Not so. Although 1GB deals are still around and are indeed limiting for users, these are now far from the norm.

Currently there are a range of deals that offer 10GB of usage every month. That's enough for 10,000 emails, 100 hours of web surfing, 50 half hour video downloads and 320 four-minute music tracks. If that's not enough for you, there are plenty of deals out there offering more — all the way up to 32GB.

You can compare uSwitch's mobile broadband packages to find a plan that suits your data needs.

Myth: Mobile broadband is much slower than home broadband

That used to be true but is no longer the case. Our speed test software reveals that the current average connection speed for mobile broadband is 7Mbps, roughly the same as most home broadband speeds. Although there are a lot of high-speed home packages available, the most common is an 8Mbps connection, which puts them neck and neck.

Mobile broadband users can also boost their speeds at no extra cost by using a specially designed browser such as Opera Turbo.

Myth: Contracts are too long

While 24-month contracts used to be the norm, contracts as short as one month are becoming increasingly common. Furthermore, those who don't like contracts can opt for one of the many pay-as-you-go options offered by all the major vendors.

Myth: Data charges are expensive

The days of charging per GB of data are a relic of the dim and distant past. You can now get up to three times the download allowance for a fraction of that outlay. Some providers no longer charge for excess usage on their plans. Others have online tracking systems that can be used to keep on top of download usage and prevent excessive charges.

Myth: You need a dongle or MiFi to get mobile broadband

Although many people do use dongles and MiFis, laptops that are pre-installed with broadband do exist. Laptops can also be tethered to mobile phones, meaning that the phone acts an internet gateway for the laptop.

Myth: Usage overseas is expensive

Horror stories of bills for thousands of pounds for overseas use were once a fixture of UK newspapers, but ISPs have cut charges massively. EU regulations have seen prices drop down to roughly 4p per MB of data used, and these charges are set to be entirely abolished soon. Until then, under the EU regulations, ISPs are also obliged to warn consumers when they are close to breaching their usage caps, making bill shocks a very slim possibility these days.

Myth: Mobile broadband is a luxury

Depending upon the plan you choose, your package price should be comparable to a monthly ADSL broadband connection — or even less, in some cases. Mobile broadband is often a cheaper option than fixed line broadband. That’s because you don't have to pay for line rental or set-up fees.

Find the cheapest mobile broadband packages here.

Myth: Dongles are bulky to carry around

The very first dongles prioritised function over form and weren't so much dongles as chunky pieces of plastic and metal that slotted into the side of your laptop through the PCMCIA slot. Now that they're tiny USB devices, they can afford to be more stylish as well as more functional. It's easy to find dongles with designs or purchase skins to liven up your dongle. Newer dongles can also double as USB storage devices, meaning you have one less thing to carry with you.

Myth: Mobile broadband can only be used outside the home

Although the biggest selling point of mobile broadband is that you can use it outside of the home, 75% of mobile broadband users connect to the internet at home. Mobile broadband can also be shared with other Wi-Fi capable devices if you have a MiFi.