With so many different mobile broadband plans available – how do we know which one to choose? To help you out I’ve listed a few of the most important factors you should take into consideration when choosing a mobile broadband plan.

Cost of the Mobile Broadband Plan

Cost is obviously an influential factor when choosing mobile broadband plans. How much are you willing to spend on your mobile broadband plan each month?

The cost of mobile broadband plans varies quite a lot between providers – however they do have different things on offer and some of the most expensive plans may have added benefits that are beneficial to you. On the other hand you should make sure you’re not paying for extras that you don’t need.

If you live in a metropolitan area and don’t tend on travelling into regional areas then you may be able to get away with having a cheaper mobile broadband plan on one of the networks that has less coverage than the more expensive ones.

All of the factors we look at below will have an influence on the cost of your mobile broadband plans.

Length of Contract for Mobile Broadband Plans

Contract lengths vary between mobile broadband plans – however the standard options are 12 month and 24 month plans. Some providers only offer 24 month mobile broadband plans.

This is certainly something you need to take into consideration when choosing a mobile broadband plan. Do you want to commit to 24 months or 12 month? Or would you be better suited to a pre-paid plan? If you only use your USB dongle and mobile broadband on a casual basis then you may not be suited to a mobile broadband post-paid plan.

The length of your mobile broadband plan contract will usually make a difference to the cost of the plan. Longer contracts (such as 24 months) will generally give you more data allowance at a lower cost each month and in most cases a free USB dongle. There may be other inclusions with longer plans also, which we shall look at below.

Not all providers offer 12 month plans, however those that do generally don’t offer the same benefits as you may receive on a 24 month plan. So you need to weigh up the pros and cons to establish whether the benefits are worth signing up for 24 months.

Coverage and Speed of Mobile Broadband Plan

Coverage and speed may not be important to everyone looking for a mobile broadband plan, however in many cases it is one of the most important factors.

One of the big differences between Australian mobile broadband providers (other than price) is the mobile broadband coverage and speeds that they offer. Three mobile, for instance, offers some of the cheapest mobile broadband plans however their coverage is not nearly as good as networks such as Telstra and Optus that charge more.

If you live in a major metropolitan area then coverage should not be an issue no matter which mobile broadband provider and plan you go for, however the differences begin when you head into smaller towns and regional areas. If you plan on travelling quite regularly and will not always be in the capital cities then you will need to check the coverage of the network you are considering before signing up for a plan.

Extras and Inclusions in your Mobile Broadband Plan

The final thing you need to consider when choosing mobile broadband plans is what inclusions and extras come with your plan. It is also the area that you need to be very careful with.

Many mobile broadband plan providers will lure you in with their ‘free’ gifts and other enticements. Try to look beyond these and assess that actual value of what you are getting, as in many cases they are not free at all.

Most mobile broadband plans include a free USB dongle – although some of the cheaper plans will charge you an additional fee each month.

A popular option at the moment is the free Netbook that comes with various mobile broadband plans. There is debate over the actual value for money you are getting, as in most cases they use the ‘free’ Netbook to lure you into signing up for a plan that is much more expensive than you originally wanted.