Dongles Internet for Business

In this age of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart devices must remain online in order to allow certain business processes to work effectively. However, the rise of remote work means that privileged access to an ultra-fast business broadband connection is no longer guaranteed.

In comes the ‘dongle’ to bridge this connectivity gap and enable UK businesses to embrace the digital revolution. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about dongles for businesses.

💡 Key Takeaways:

  • Two types: There are two distinct types of internet dongles: USB WiFi dongles and MiFi devices.
  • Procurement: Comparing mobile broadband deals is the easiest and cheapest way for a business to acquire a MiFi device. USB dongles can be purchased from online retailers.
  • The future: Remote work is the inevitable future, and embracing it may be a great way to retain young talent.

What is a dongle?

A dongle is simply a small device that can be plugged into a USB port to add extra capabilities to laptops, PCs, tablets, Raspberry Pi’s, TVs and other electronics.

While there is a plethora of use cases for these dongles, this article covers a category known as ‘internet dongles’ that enable internet connectivity in devices that lack the hardware to connect to the target network.

See our section on alternative dongles to see other examples that are also very useful for businesses.

What is an internet dongle?

An internet dongle is simply a USB device that acts as a mini modem for internet access through cellular networks (i.e. the same networks used by your smartphone: LTE, 3G, 4G or 5G).

This enables all essential work devices like laptops, Raspberry Pi’s, desktops and even some tablets to have internet access when fibre broadband in the form of WiFi or Ethernet is unavailable.

The caveat is that all internet dongles require entering a contract with a mobile provider, such as EE, Vodafone, Virgin Media, etc.

There are however, two distinct types of internet dongles which we will cover in detail:

💡 Availability: Most mobile broadband providers in the UK no longer offer WiFi dongles. See our section on WiFi dongle procurement to find out the best way of acquiring one.

What is a WiFi dongle?

A WiFi dongle (also known as: USB network adaptor, USB WiFi hub, internet stick, or mobile stick) is the original mobile internet dongle.

It plugs into a device’s USB port to enable mobile internet connectivity. Most models are simultaneously WiFi routers that can emit a WiFi signal for others (just like a smartphone hotspot) for other devices to connect to.

This means that you can have your USB internet dongle connected to your laptop, emitting a WiFi signal that can be picked up and used by other people’s devices within a remote location, essentially creating a ‘remote office’.

What is a MiFi device?

MiFi devices are an upgrade to the original (and still relevant!) WiFi dongles. They work in pretty much the same way, but instead of being plugged into a USB port, this new piece of technology works as a stand-alone WiFi router that doesn’t need plugging in as it has its own battery.

This means that as long as it can receive a signal from any cellular network (LTE, 3G, 4G, 5G) it can provide internet connectivity wirelessly while stored in a bag, pocket or simply being placed on a tabletop.

It uses the latest WiFi standards to provide a powerful high-speed signal that can support on average 32 simultaneous users, making it the ideal solution for groups of digital nomads in remote offices.

Also known as ‘mobile WiFi hubs’, ‘pocket WiFi’ or ‘portable hotspots’, these devices are the culmination of improvements in battery, WiFi signal and cellular network technologies. Such is the leap in convenience and capabilities that most mobile broadband providers no longer offer WiFi dongles.

Use our broadband comparison tool below to search 4G/5G mobile broadband deals now!


Why are internet dongles useful?

Here are a number of reasons why using either a MiFi device or a trusty WiFi dongle is great for remote working. Not only is it more secure than public WiFi, but it’s more performant than using your smartphone as a ‘hotspot’:

Remote working: They enable remote working from various locations without appropriate WiFi coverage or access, opening up opportunities for digital nomads to open temporary offices in beach cabins, mountain huts, trains, cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, etc.

Security: Connecting to the internet using a password-protected and encrypted dongle or device is more secure than using any public WiFi such as those available in airports, museums, cafes and bars, even when using a VPN.

Performance: These dongles are purpose-built and provide the most stable connection possible from the signal of cellular networks. They are regarded as superior to using a smartphone’s generic hotspot capabilities, which are the most common way of tapping into 4G or 5G.

Procuring an internet dongle

While MiFi devices are best acquired through a mobile broadband comparison, USB internet dongles are best acquired from distributors or websites like Amazon and eBay.

Buying a dongle from Amazon or eBay

When buying a dongle from an online retailer, it’s important to acknowledge that it is very easy to make a mistake. This includes mistaking them with ‘legacy’ WiFi dongles that are actually adaptors for devices that lack wireless capabilities.

Make sure the dongle has a SIM card slot and that the frequencies it receives are correct for the UK.

How much does a dongle cost?

An ad-hoc dongle can be acquired online by your business for as little as £29, but for this to work, you will also need to have a mobile broadband data SIM card to insert and will need to pay for the running costs of this mobile broadband plan from your network provider. This cost will depend on your desired data limit, speeds, and contract length.

Most mobile phone companies offer a MiFi device for free when taking out their mobile broadband deals. Most providers offer a monthly data plan for as little as £20 on a 24-month contract.

Comparing mobile broadband deals is the best way to get a cost-effective mobile broadband deal.

Things to consider when buying a dongle

Business internet dongles are clearly useful for digital businesses and can be easily acquired using our comparison tool or following our procurement instructions.

However, there are a few other things to consider:


Both MiFi devices and WiFi dongles are inexpensive, going for tens of pounds a piece. What is more expensive is the ongoing costs paid to the mobile broadband provider.

Start by comparing mobile broadband deals and then consider what best meets your needs, a MiFi device or a WiFi dongle.

While a MiFi device may be offered as part of a mobile broadband package, WiFi dongles must be procured independently.

4G or 5G:

With your dongle deal, you can either choose a 4G or a 5G connection.

4G is perfectly fine if you don’t need a superfast connection, and it will cost less than 5G. Also its significantly more available than 5G, especially in rural areas.

5G enables speeds comparable to full-fibre broadband but its connectivity is limited to urban areas and the signal can rapidly decay with bad weather.

Read our detailed guide on 5G vs fibre to grasp the key differences.


The availability of 4G and 5G in your area is probably the most significant factor. If you are relying on a dongle for your connectivity and you don’t have a strong signal in your destination, you won’t be able to get online.

This will be the same if you are travelling abroad, you would need to check if your data deal includes roaming and if 4G or 5G is available in the places you are visiting (with or without you colleagues!)

Ofcom’s mobile coverage checker is useful for checking your local mobile data coverage.

💡 Satellite internet: If mobile connectivity is unavailable in your area, you can use satellite internet providers like Starlink and OneWeb to guarantee high-speed internet anywhere, but at a much higher price.

Contract Length:

The contract length is important to factor in. Do you want a short 30-day contract for ad-hoc business travel or remote fieldwork? Or do you need to be able to use your device for long periods? If so, you can get up to a 24-month contract, which will be significantly cheaper per month as mobile broadband providers reward you for staying with them longer by offering a cheaper price.

Data Limit:

Data Limit is essential – just like your personal mobile phone contract, these business contracts can start from as little as 1GB a month allowance.

This is, however too little for most remote workers regularly joining meetings, doing presentations, working directly from the cloud, hosting websites, etc. In these cases, consider opting for a high data limit and possibly even an unlimited data package.

Excess data charges can be expensive, so it’s best to plan how much data you need.


The compatibility of your device will also matter.

If using a WiFi dongle, make sure that the device you are using has a working USB port. Also, make sure the SIM card slot supports the correct SIM size.

💡 International work: If you are working remotely from abroad, make sure that your WiFi dongle or MiFi device is compatible with the 5G and 4G frequencies used in your destination country, as these will vary by region.

Dongle: Pros and the Cons

If your business is still undecided on these dongles, see these additional pros and cons to help you decide.

Benefits of a dongle

  • Easy-to-use: Even the least tech-savvy of your staff will be able to use both the USB dongle and the MiFi device.
  • Staff Retainment: Young talent wants to be ‘location-agnostic’ and work from anywhere. Retain them by letting them work remotely using these dongles if necessary.
  • Redundancy: It’s great to have around in case of broadband outages.
  • All length contracts available: From no contract to 24-month contracts and even pay-as-you-go deals, a dongle deal is as flexible as they come.

Disadvantages of a dongle

  • More expensive: A dongle package can be more expensive than a typical fixed-line broadband package.
  • Requires a USB port: WiFi dongles require devices with a USB port. MiFi devices only require WiFi connectivity.
  • Download limits: Download limits can be restrictive, so ensure you get a deal that meets your business needs.
  • Data caps: Some dongle deals have low data caps, so choose a data package that meets your needs.
  • Inconsistent connection: As the dongle only uses 4G/5G network connections, you will only have access when the coverage is available.

Alternative dongles

Here are a number of alternative dongles that may be useful for businesses:

Ethernet dongles

These enable Ethernet capabilities on devices like MacBooks that lack the port for an ultra stable tethered connection. As a tethered connection, Ethernet is considered the most stable and is required for niche applications like high-frequency trading, website hosting, etc.

Bluetooth dongles

Bluetooth dongles enable advanced Bluetooth wireless capabilities on older yet perfectly usable devices, effectively extending their lifespan. They are the perfect solution for green businesses who want to reduce their commercial electronic waste.

WiFi adaptors

The WiFi dongles discussed herein are often confused with their legacy counterpart, the ‘WiFi adaptors’. These are used to enable WiFi capabilities on devices that are incapable, such as some models of the Raspberry Pi or very old laptops.

Dongles Internet for Busiensses – FAQs

Our business broadband experts answer commonly asked questions on dongles.

Can you get temporary internet?

Yes, you can use a dongle to get a temporary internet connection when you’re in a fix. It’s a quick and easy way to access the internet if you have a 4G or 5G signal.

Does portable WiFi work anywhere?

A portable WiFi device will work anywhere that you can get a 4G/5G signal with your network provider. You will struggle to get online with a portable WiFi device if you are in a remote location with little network connection.

Can I use 5G instead of broadband?

Absolutely! As long as there is a 5G signal in your area or destination, your 5G connection using your dongle may even be faster than many slower broadband types like ADSL.

What is the difference between a dongle and a modem?

The difference between a dongle and a modem is simple:

A modem: Connects you to the internet via either an ADSL Line, G-Fast, Fibre or Full Fibre connection; this is wired into your home and will give you access to WiFi in your home only.

A Dongle: A dongle is a small device that you plug directly into the USB port of your device that connects you wirelessly to a 4G or 5G signal. You can take this anywhere that you can get 4G or 5G signal, making it perfect for when you need to do business on the go.

Can you get unlimited internet on a dongle?

100%, many mobile broadband providers offer a dongle on an unlimited data deal. Simply search for unlimited data 4G/5G deals in our broadband comparison tool.

Is a dongle better than broadband?

This is very subjective and entirely depends on your broadband needs. If you are looking to connect one device while on the go or simply at home, then a dongle works perfectly well for you. A dongle is unlikely to provide sufficient internet speed for larger households, and your connection may need to improve on latency issues.

Are Bluetooth dongles any good?

A Bluetooth dongle is not the same as a WiFi dongle. A Bluetooth dongle simply connects devices via a wireless bridge. If you want to get online, the device you are connecting to must be connected to the internet. You will not be able to use a Bluetooth dongle to get online.

Can I use a dongle abroad?

Absolutely, a dongle is the perfect device to work from abroad. Ensure the country you are in has a strong 4G or 5G signal (and that your dongle can connect to the correct regional frequencies!) for you to access. Check with your network provider that you have roaming available and that it is switched on before you travel.

Are pay-as-you-go dongles worth it?

Pay-as-you-go dongles are worth it if you are looking for a short-term solution to your broadband needs. Whether that be for while you are travelling or just in temporary accommodation, it is a simple and fast way to get online.

If, on the other hand, you are looking for a more long-term solution, then you would probably want to look at getting a contract on a longer deal. You will get a better monthly price and normally do not have to pay any upfront costs when signing up.