Most mobile broadband is provided by phone companies to users mobile phones, so it is only natural that the same pay-as-you-go system as many use for their phone credit be used for mobile broadband as well. Pay-as-you-go or prepaid mobile broadband enables you to load a certain amount of data spend on your phone, device or dongle (nearly always via a SIM card) and then use up that amount of broadband data as you wish.
In this way it functions like call credit. It does have an expiry date in most cases, sometimes as short as one month. Some providers offer longer expiry dates of up to 6 months.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to prepaid mobile broadband vs standard mobile broadband monthly billing (bill-pay):
While bill-pay contracts are cheaper overall, they sometimes incur a minimum charge. If you’re looking to only use a small amount of data then prepaid could be a better option if there is a long expiry date. Per MB used, however, bill-pay is usually cheaper. Bill-pay contracts also usually offer the dongle as free with the service.
Contract and flexibility:
Prepaid has much advantage over bill-pay, it is easier to set up, involves more straightforward pricing (in that there is no way you can spend more than you paid for). It’s even an idea to pick up a spare SIM card (which you can get for free) to have as backup in case your main SIM is damaged or lost. The same applies to dongles, which can be bought for one up front charge. Perhaps the biggest advantage of prepaid plans are that you can switch provider instantly if you want.
Many users who are not sure of their data requirements up front (in the case of a lot of downloading of media per month) would be better suited to bill-pay contracts as there is no chance of the connection stopping if you run out of credit.