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Dongle - Mobile Broadband on the move

A Dongle is a small USB device that you simply plug into a USB slot on your laptop or PC and provides near instant Internet access through a mobile operator’s 3G network.  It is also known as a USB Modem Stick, or simply a USB Modem.  The first time you plug it in, the necessary software is usually self-installed after which you can get online. It costs from around £10 per month.

Where can I get one?

You can easily buy a dongle online, or by popping into a mobile store. T-Mobile, BT, Vodafone, O2, Orange, 3 and Virgin all offer mobile broadband dongles, and it's usually included free on pay monthly packages, much like mobile phone contracts.  Similarly, there are pay as you go and 1 month contract options where you pay a one-off fee of around £30 to £50 for the dongle.

Free laptop and mobile broadband bundles

Most mobile operators also offer inclusive laptop and mobile broadband deals.  This means you get a laptop with a mobile broadband contract (including a free dongle) for one monthly fee.  These range from around £20 to £40 per month, and usually come with 18 to 24 month contracts.  The advantage of this is that you get a laptop without having to pay the upfront cost for it.

How fast is it?

Speeds are quoted from 3.6Mbps to 7.2Mbps.  However these are just theoretical maximums.  The maximum speed you can realistically expect is around 2.8Mbps to 5.5Mbps at the moment, depending on 3G signal strength and the number of users on the network at the same time.

Above:  Mobile Broadband Dongles

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