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A short guide to internet dongles

If you have ever heard the term 'internet dongle' and wondered what on earth was being talked about or even if you know the basics but are wondering whether they are worth the investment then read on. Here is a short guide to internet dongles:

What is a dongle?

A dongle is a small USB device which allows you to connect to the internet using a 3G or 4G mobile broadband connection. You may also hear dongles referred to as USB modem, internet stick or USB network adaptor.

What are the advantages?

The biggest advantage a dongle offers is a high level of flexibility when you are away from home. As long as you have a 3G or 4G connection, you can plug in your dongle and be on the internet within seconds. Dongles can be used in both laptops and PCs which means that they can be used regularly rather than just when you are away from home and they also run on the battery of your computer, therefore do not need to be charged.

Advances in mobile broadband technology also means that many dongles are smaller, faster and technically a viable alternative to having a fixed line of broadband in your home.

What are the disadvantages?

Perhaps an obvious disadvantage is the fact that the dongle will only work where there is mobile reception. If you struggle to get decent reception with your mobile device, then the same problems will be apparent with your dongle.

Another disadvantage is that use of the dongle costs. Many of the contract packages available only offer a small data limit, once you go over this limit you may find that the charges are quite significant. Small data limits are fine if you just want an internet connection for simple things such as use of social media or checking emails but if you are planning to stream videos or media then you will most likely find yourself paying for the luxury.

Whilst improvements have been made overall, speed is still a lot slower than a fixed line would offer. Again, if you are only looking to perform basic tasks then this is unlikely to cause you a problem but anything above that and you may start to notice a difference and whilst you could opt for a 4G connection, you will find that less providers offer 4G and so it is more expensive to obtain.

It really is a case of weighing up and deciding what you will be using your internet dongle for, and whether it is worth investing in a contract so you can have that added degree of flexibility or whether it will end up costing you more than you would really be willing to pay.

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