4G home broadband: what is it and what are the cheapest deals today?

4G home broadband
(Image credit: Future)

Nowadays, having a steady internet connection is a crucial part of life. But for some, getting online isn't all that easy. Maybe you live somewhere where broadband can't be installed (such rotten luck!) or maybe you can't commit to the rigidness of a 12-month contract - that's where 4G home broadband might just be the solution.

4G broadband in essence is just like the regular broadband found in most homes but with a few key differences. You're still getting a steady internet connection, you can connect all of your devices and you even pay a monthly fee for it.

However, unlike regular internet which runs through cables and Wi-Fi signals, 4G broadband runs off, well...4G. That means it works in the same way as your phone, operating through a SIM card and mobile signals.

This means you don't need a phone line, you don't need to pay set-up fees and the best part...you can take it on the go. You can use it on the train, in the garden or even on the beach (if you have a long enough extension cable). You don't get that kind of thing with normal broadband deals.

If all of this sounds like the ideal broadband set-up for you then you're in luck, we've gathered all of the best options and listed them down below, as well as answering a few key questions about 4G home broadband.

  • Need something more reliable? Check out the best fibre deals

What is 4G broadband and how does it work?

Unlike regular broadband, 4G home broadband operates through air waves instead of cables. In this sense, it's more similar to the way your phone operates when using mobile data.

Also unlike regular broadband there is no set-up process needed. All you need to do is plug in the router and your internet is ready to go.

Who offers 4G home broadband?

4G broadband from Three

Three Home Broadband with Huawei AI Cube | 12-month contract | Unlimited data | £13 for six months and then £26 for the next six months
Have you ever thought to yourself: 'I really wish my router was more like a speaker'. Well, if this is a niche thought that's ever occurred to you, then Three's Huawei AI Cube is ideal. It's not only a wireless router that can connect up to 64 devices but also a speaker with Alexa voice command features. And, as part of a promotion from Three, you're paying half price bills for the first six months.
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Three Home Broadband with Huawei HomeFi | 12-month contract | Unlimited data | £11.50 for six months and then £23 for the next six months
Sadly, Three's second home broadband option isn't also a speaker. But what it lacks in its ability to blare out Taylor Swift it makes up for in its more affordable pricing. At £23 a month (after the six month half price bills) you're saving a few extra quid each month. It does also only connect 32 devices instead of the 64 available above.
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4G broadband from EE

EE Mobile Broadband with 4GEE Home Router | 18-month contract | 100GB data | £35 a month
Obviously, the major benefit to EE is its speeds. As the UK's fastest 4G network, EE will be the option to go for if you like your internet consistently fast. However, what's not so great with EE is its data caps. Unlike Three, you'll be capped on your usage. EE's most popular plan comes in at 100GB, offering you a pretty substantial amount to work through each month.
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EE Mobile Broadband with 4GEE Home Router | 30-day rolling contract | 100GB data | £35 a month | £100 upfront
Absolutely identical to the option above with two exceptions - an upfront cost and the contract length. If the idea of shelling out for 4G broadband for a whole 18 months is too much of a commitment, this plan drops you down to a 30-day rolling contract. However, you have to pay an £100 upfront fee to get the special privileges of abandoning EE a few months in.
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4G broadband from O2

O2 Pocket Hotspot Pro Netgear M1 | 36 month contract | 75GB data | £39.84 a month
O2 has one offer that stands out above the rest, its Netgear M1. This has two appeals - its speed and its customisation. With speeds that can reach 1GB (incredibly fast if you were wondering), this is one of the speedier options available. The other great benefit is the customisation. You can choose how much data you want, the contract length and even the price you'll be paying.
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4G broadband from Vodafone

Vodafone GigaCube | 18 month contract | £50 upfront | Unlimited data | £50 a month
With a dramatic name like 'GigaCube' you would expect a lot from Vodafone's home broadband and luckily, it delivers. Firstly, with 5G capabilities at no extra cost, if you live in a 5G area, this package is perfect. But with 5G not widely available, 4G is also available with Vodafone. For £50 a month you're getting unlimited data on this package.
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Vodafone GigaCube | 18 month contract | £100 upfront | 100GB data | £30 a month
If you want to try and save your money, going with this option could be a safer bet over the above deal. However, you get 100GB of data instead of unlimited and, while the monthly costs do drop the upfront costs also shoot up to £100. Like the package above, this offer can also provide 5G speeds if you live in the right area. Overall, this is the more affordable of Vodafone's two packages.

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What are the pros and cons of Home Broadband?

Pros:

  • Portable - can be taken anywhere as long as there is a plug
  • Can be a much faster option over broadband (depending on the package)
  • More flexible plans available - 1 month through to 24 months
  • Ideal if you struggle to get fixed line broadband

Cons: 

  • 4G can end up costing more overall than regular broadband
  • Most plans carry download limits
  • 4G broadband can be patchy in areas making it less reliable

Below you'll find some more detailed exploration of these positives and issues:

What are the downsides to 4G Home Broadband?

More than anything, the major issue is 4G broadband's reliance on mobile data. While you can plug it in anywhere, it will need to work off 4G signals. That means if you live in the middle of nowhere or in a 4G blackspot, you will find yourself running into slow or non-existent internet.

To counter this, make sure you test the mobile speeds where you live first. If you find that you're getting next to no internet there, a regular broadband deal could be a safer bet.

How much are installation fees?

Because there is no need to have anything installed or have any engineers come around, 4G home broadband is completely free to have set up. Wherever you get your 4G broadband from, the company will send you your retailer and you set it up yourself.

Do I need a landline to get 4G home broadband?

There is no need to have a landline for home broadband. You also don't need to pay for a line rental.

Does 4G home broadband have any data caps?

Depending on who you go with and which package you use, there is likely to be data caps. However, unlimited plans are also available. As you can guess, the more data you choose the more expensive your package becomes.

If the idea of having data caps is a major issue then Three looks like your best choice, offering a number of unlimited data plans.

Does 4G broadband work as well as regular home broadband?

Neither package is necessarily better, but there are a few pros and cons that 4G broadband faces compared to regular broadband.

Firstly, the pros. 4G broadband offers more flexibility, there are more options for contract lengths and pricing and most importantly, you can take it on the go. That means you can use it anywhere there is a plug - trains, hotels etc.

However, there are negatives too. While almost all regular broadband packages have unlimited downloads and uploads, many 4G broadband packages will see you capped. And, while 4G broadband is faster, it can be more unreliable. Speeds aren't necessarily always going to be the same.

Is 4G faster than home broadband?

Yes and no. While 4G broadband is likely going to be faster than most ADSL and fibre packages, it is more unreliable. This means you could see your speeds every so often drop but the majority of the time it will be faster.

However, the benefit that regular broadband has is its range. Both Virgin and Hyperoptic offer packages that are incredibly fast, with speeds going all the way up to 1GB.

Overall, you'll find your speeds on average will be faster with 4G broadband, unless you pour cash into Virgin or Hyperoptic's faster packages.

Still want more options? Then head to our main broadband deals guide for all the best tariffs out there right now.