If you want to connect your tablet or dongle to the internet without access to wifi, then a data-only plan might be what you’re looking for.
There are a wide variety of both options and data requirements when it comes to data-only plans, so selecting a data SIM for a tablet or internet dongle can require more consideration and comparison than purchasing a plan for your phone. As some people only use their iPad for surfing the web, while others rely on their laptops, how much data someone uses on their tablet can vary a lot.
It can therefore be difficult to figure out which data-only SIM plans might best suit your needs and data usage, but that’s where Mozo’s experts can help. We’ve broken down the need-to-knows of data-only SIMs to make the process easier for you.
What is a data-only SIM plan?
A data-only SIM card is exactly what it sounds like - a SIM that only offers internet data. It is similar to the normal SIM in your phone but it does not offer call and text. Data-only SIMs provide you with a set allowance of data in exchange for a monthly fee. As they don’t have attached phone numbers, data-only SIMs are used mainly for tablets and other internet-only devices.
You can typically sign up for a data-only SIM on a pre-paid basis, rolling contract, as well as a longer-term contract, which usually has you covered for 12 months or 24 months.
How do I choose the right data-only sim plan?
Which data-only SIM plan is right for you is dependent on how you will use it and so it’s fair to say that no plan will be right for everyone. For example, if you’re looking to get internet to your tablet when you’re between home and the office, away from wifi, then you will require less data than if you want mobile broadband to your laptop.
You don’t want to be spending money on data that goes unused, so to search for the best data-only SIM plan to suit your needs, you will want to find a plan that covers your usage for the lowest price.
Which devices and gadgets are compatible with data only sim plans?
Tablets and iPads - If you’re looking to surf the web on your tablet while you’re out and about, away from wifi, then a data-only SIM could be the answer. Most newer tablets will come with a slot for a SIM card, but you should double-check your model before purchasing a SIM plan.
Wifi dongles - You can get access to wifi anywhere where your mobile phone has a signal with a wifi dongle using a data-only SIM. Most often paired with laptops, you can connect the dongle to your device via USB and use wifi through mobile data
Laptops - Although not common, some laptops have SIM slots built into them, allowing you to create your own wifi through a data-only SIM. If your laptop does not accommodate a SIM card, then a wifi dongle is your best bet.
Wifi modems - Instead of traditional NBN, you can get a wifi modem. These accept data-only SIMs and create a hotspot, allowing you to connect multiple devices to wifi.
Smartphones - While a data-only sim in your smartphone won’t allow you to make phone calls, you can still utilise data-only functions, such as social media and checking emails.
Which telcos and providers offer data-only SIM plans?
For the most part, you can get a data-only SIM plan from the same providers that offer normal SIMs.
For example, you can turn to the big telcos such as Optus, Vodafone or Telstra, or alternative providers such as Belong and Spintel.
There are lots of data-only SIMs available. To find one that best fits your needs, you first need to determine how much data you require.
How to determine how much data you’ll need on your data-only SIM
The amount of data you need depends on how often you want to use data-only functions and services. Some apps and online activities require more data than others, including:
Video streaming (e.g. YouTube, Netflix)
Streaming music (e.g. Spotify, Apple Music)
Downloading large files (e.g. music, photos, movies and software)
FaceTime and video calling.
If you plan to use your data-only SIM to do these things regularly, you may want to give yourself a larger-than-average data allowance. If you mainly browse the internet and send emails, a smaller data allowance may be enough.
It's also important that if you’re using your data-only SIM for remote work, be aware that communication apps, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype, use data to send messages and make voice and video calls. If you regularly communicate through these services, you also might need more data.