Mobile modems

There are many offers around for mobile modems but what are they and are they worth the money?

What are they?

A mobile modem is a device which allows you to connect your computer, laptop, tablet or phone to the internet, or more specifically the 3G network, wirelessly. They come in two basic types:

  1. A USB stick which plugs into your computer. This type of mobile modem only connects one computer or laptop to the internet
  2. A pocket wifi modem which is a device that sits on the table and provides wireless internet for up to five devices, such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The devices must be able to connect to wireless internet use the pocket modem.

How do I get one?

A mobile modem is attached to a mobile phone carrier, such as Telstra or Optus, much the same as your mobile phone. Each of those companies has a different range of modems and costs, but there are three main ways to purchase your modem.

  • Prepaid
    You purchase the modem outright, then pay for credit separately. The credit will have a data amount and a time limit attached to it – when it runs out you just purchase more
  • Contract-free plan
    You purchase the modem outright, then choose a post-paid plan which you can change or stop from month-to-month
  • Plan plus contract
    You sign up for a 12 or 24 month plan, which includes the data and the modem.

How much does it cost?

When choosing a carrier it is important to look at which areas have the best coverage. Each carrier will have a coverage map on their website, which tells you how strong the internet will be in your home and at the places you visit. Remember that some companies will have faster speeds than others, so it may be worth considering some of the more expensive options.


Super savings tip

If you are on a tight budget and you have a friend or family member who uses the internet, you could consider getting the pocket wifi (which can be used simultaneously by up to five people) and splitting the cost between you.