Sometimes you need to get online on the move, and only your laptop will do. Smartphones and laptops can do only so much. Here’s everything you need to know about USB dongles, Mi-Fi and tethering.
At home, virtually everyone uses Wi-Fi to connect to the internet from a laptop. But what do you do when you’re on the move anywhere out of Wi-Fi coverage?
Some laptops have a SIM card slot so you can get 3G mobile internet wherever you are – within 3G coverage areas obviously – but these are few and far between. Chances are your laptop doesn’t have built in 3G, so your options are a USB dongle, a portable ‘Mi-Fi’ router or to tether your laptop to your smartphone. Let’s look at each of these options.
How to get mobile internet on your laptop: USB dongles
A USB dongle is simply a means of adding a SIM card slot to your laptop. Dongles are available to buy on their own, both 3G and 4G versions, but you can also buy them from mobile operators in a package with a SIM – just as you’d buy a phone.
For example, Three offers a ZTE 4G dongle with data plans from £8 per month (with an up-front cost of £35 for the dongle itself).
Virtually all mobile operators offer these USB dongles. You will find that 3G plans (and dongles) are cheaper.