How to Use Dongles or Modems to Get Online During COVID-19 

Dongles or Modems

Wi-Fi dongles vs. traditional land lines and the NBN

Looking for a more flexible, cost-effective way to connect your home to the internet during the COVID-19 lockdown? Then there’s a myriad of reasons why you should consider a Wi-Fi dongle. These devices not only give you the freedom to access the internet in any location within network coverage, but they’re also cost-effective and run with low-budget data plans.

You can conveniently slip your USB-sized Wi-Fi dongle inside your pocket or plug it into your device to access your internet connection whenever and wherever. Unlike land lines and the NBN, Wi-Fi dongles work with a mobile network. What’s more, they have absolutely no major requirements for installation, maintenance, and powering. To top it off, they offer incredibly fast connection speeds, with some even offering trial access to 5G networks.

However, one major downside of Wi-Fi dongles is that they mostly come in SIM-only versions, with the device locked to a specific network. Unlocked dongles are usually rare to find (found mostly online) and pricier.

How to use a Wi-Fi dongle

Most Wi-Fi dongles are about the size of a USB thumb drive. You can simply plug one directly into your laptop’s USB port to access your network. But the new generation of Wi-Fi dongles work wirelessly, negating the need to plug them anywhere. You can simply switch them on and let them sit anywhere around you, even in your pocket, and your internet-enabled devices will hook up to the dongle wirelessly to access the internet.

Another advantage that wireless Wi-Fi dongles have over plugged ones is that they can connect multiple users simultaneously, whereas the plugged ones can only connect the device they’re plugged into at a given time. However, plugged dongles usually offer faster connection speeds since their signals don’t travel through any distance between the dongle and your device.

At any rate, Wi-Fi dongles eliminate the need for cables, giving you a portable, clutter-free means to connect your home to the internet. And although they mostly come locked to a particular network, they usually run with prepaid packages which allow users to adjust their data expenses conveniently every month based on finances or preference.

Since they’re easy to carry around, Wi-Fi dongles can come in handy just about anywhere, anytime, including during emergencies. What’s more, they offer high-speed connectivity on 3G, 4G, and even 5G networks, depending on the carrier.

The best Wi-Fi dongle plans: Telstra Mobile Data Plans

Telstra’s mobile data plans

Telstra’s mobile data plans. img src

As the biggest telco in the country, Telstra dominates the mobile data market. They currently offer the most generous mobile data plans in the country. They also offer mobile connectivity devices like Wi-Fi dongles and pocket Wi-Fi systems. The best part is that they’ve put these devices up for free, even though the devices will be locked into their network.

But whether you’re using a locked dongle or an unlocked one, Telstra offers mobile data users on its network highly competitive prepaid data plans. These include the Extra Small plan with 5GB at $15/mo, the Small plan with 10GB at $25 per month, the Medium plan with 50GB at $50/mo, and the Large plan with 100GB at $100/month. For a little extra fee, you can add a wide range of additional services to your plan, including sports, news, movies, and more.

Note that all these plans will provide trial access to Telstra’s 5G network until 30 June. You might need to pay an additional $15/mo for access to their 5G network afterwards, if you’re on the Extra Small or Small plan. Or you can simply fall back to their 4G network, which is about as good as 4G can get in any part of the country.

Thankfully, you won’t be faced with nasty excess data charges if you exhaust your data allowance. You’ll simply be browsing at throttled speeds of 1.5Mbps after you exceed your data allowance.

Final words – Ready to go live with your Wi-Fi dongle?

With more time at your disposal during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this might be a great time try different ways to get online while saving money. Trying out the fast internet connectivity of 5G networks through a Wi-Fi dongle should be on your list. Wi-Fi dongles are clutter-free, inexpensive, and highly flexible. Plus, you can also take advantage of the incredible mobile data rates that top telcos like Telstra are offering to Wi-Fi dongle users.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.