Using a Mobile Broadband Dongle Abroad

The sun is out, summer is here, the world cup in on telly and most of us are really busy at work! Many people have work or personal trips planned in the next few months and they are probably going to need online access while out there. However when working abroad getting online either with a mobile broadband dongle or via a mobile phone can be very expensive.

Richard Patterson from broadband and mobile broadband comparison site Broadband Expert has written a guest blog post for us on the trials and tribulations of using a mobile broadband dongle abroad. He also runs through a few tips to minimise your costs and avoid ‘bill shock’.


Alone by Giorgio Montersino

Firstly check the data costs for using mobile internet on your phone or your mobile broadband dongle abroad, costs will differ by country, for example charges in non EU countries will often be more than EU countries. There’s a wide range of costs that vary dependent on both your provider and the country you are in all of which should be available on your provider’s website or by calling them before your trip. Although roaming costs have dropped they can still be very expensive for heavy use so it’s well worth doing your research.

Once you have an understanding of the data costs it’s important to understand exactly how you intend to use your internet connection before deciding how to get online. Activities such as watching or downloading video which use a lot of data can prove very expensive with some horror stories of customer racking up bills in the thousands of pounds being reported in the press. It’s best to keep an eye on your usage to avoid any nasty surprises if you do plan on using your standard UK plan to get online when abroad.

If you do plan on using your mobile broadband more than just occasionally when abroad the two best options are either a dedicated travel tariff or a local pay as you go mobile broadband plan.

Mobile broadband travel tariffs

All of the main 5 mobile broadband providers (Vodafone, Orange, O2, T-Mobile, 3 and Virgin) have introduced special tariffs or add-ons for using your mobile broadband dongle whilst abroad at a much reduced rate from the standard roaming charges. Rates vary between providers with Orange being the best value at the time of writing. For those who need to get online regularly when working abroad it’s well worth considering the travel tariffs available with each mobile broadband provider before signing a contract.

If you have a pay as you mobile broadband plan then you will need to activate international roaming before going abroad (speak to your provider to do this). Some providers may offer an add-on for using pay as you go mobile broadband packages abroad which will reduce data charges so it’s worth enquiring about these when you enable international roaming.

Buying a pay as you go mobile broadband dongle abroad

An easy way to avoid the high costs of using a UK mobile broadband dongle abroad can be to purchase a local pay as you mobile broadband dongle from the country you are in. This will usually give you the cheapest costs and is often the best solution if you plan on being abroad for some time. This means that you will be paying local rates and are not committing to any lengthy contract. Furthermore you can top up your data allowance as and when you need to.

Happy (work) holidays!