Prepaid mobile broadband can be the ideal internet fix if you only need occasional access, be that at home or when travelling. You might also consider it a backup plan when or if your home or work internet goes down.
While there are multiple providers, in Australia you only have the choice of four networks: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Vivid Wireless. Telstra doesn’t resell its Next G service through other providers. Optus’ network is used by several other providers (Amaysim, Boost, Dodo, Virgin Mobile), while Vodafone is used by Crazy John’s and gotalk. Vivid Wireless in addition to Telstra are the only two offering a 4G experience. Whilst both are national, there certainly isn’t cover for everyone at the moment. CBD and surrounds are the best you can get. Optus 4G is being trialled and should be out in late 2012 or early 2013.
Network performance and availability varies hugely depending on where you live. Capital cities are given access to the best coverage and but the coverage cn be inconsistent across all networks. Whilst they might not always be black spots, there are certainly grey patches all around. The biggest challenge for mobile broadband is traffic congestion. With phones now accessing the internet using the same network, peak hours can be slow no matter the network, no matter the location.
Whoever the provider, on a prepaid deal you’ll typically purchase either a USB modem or a Wi-Fi hotspot modem, plus a SIM to access the service. USB modems are slightly cheaper, but usually require specific driver software and will only work on one device at a time. Wi-Fi hotspot modems are becoming far more popular these days as they allow you to share your prepaid data across multiple devices at the same time. Whilst modems purchased from a specific provider are often locked, recharging around the $100 mark will usually see the modem unlocked. Then it is just the case of replacing the sim card with the provider you wish to move to.
Our prepaid mobile broadband comparison pages cover the network that the provider uses, the cost of starter kit (USB and sim) how much you’ll pay for a recharge, how much data that includes and what the expiry period is. A longer expiry period means not needing to recharge as often. There are often offers such as free texts or bonuses for online recharge.
Whilst it can pay to buy a larger recharge value to save money, you are better off understanding how much you use first and the upgrading later to save. Many plans using the Optus network offer unlimited access to Facebook and Twitter. All plans count both uploads and downloads. Keep an eye out for what the data increments are as some providers charge per 10MB, which means you can quickly consume your allowance if you make frequent brief connections.
Our Prepaid Broadband Starter Kits page covers the standard pricing for a basic USB modem and a Wi-Fi modem. If you have already unlocked your modem, we also cover the cost of sim card, with and without data. Mobile broadband starter kits go on sale very regularly, particularly through the likes of Woolworths, Coles and even Dick Smith. On many occasions savings can be as high as 50%. Our recharge prepaid site covers these sales every day from every retailer across Australia.