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What is Pay As You Go Internet?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pay as you go Internet is a way to access the Internet without signing a contract or paying a monthly service fee. There are a few different types; the type designed for home use is often provided through a dial-up connection, whereas the type designed for use on the road makes use of mobile broadband services from cellular companies. It is typically not possible to receive this type of prepaid Internet in the home through a cable connection, which is currently the most common type of standard Internet connection, but this could change in the future.

Many people find that pay as you go services are a great choice for those who do not regularly access the Internet, or only need to use it for a few minutes per day. In addition, it can be very helpful when traveling in a foreign country. Those who want to use this type of Internet access in their homes will generally only need to have a phone line available and to contact an Internet service provider to purchase minutes.

Once minutes have been purchased, the user is then free to use them as needed. When the time runs out, the user will need to purchase more to continue to access the Internet. This is very similar in structure to a prepaid cell phone plan, and it is an excellent choice for very budget-conscious people or for people with poor credit. In this way, they can use a varied amount of Internet minutes each month; typically, the minutes do not expire, but users should check with the service provider to be sure.

Pay as you go Internet that uses mobile broadband is a very different service. In this type, the user must purchase a USB device that connects to the computer and can receive a signal from the mobile Internet providers. These USB devices are typically proprietary, and the user will usually need to have an account with that particular provider. Occasionally, these wireless devices are built in to new laptops sold through the provider.

All the user needs to do then is to enter his credentials and select the amount of Internet time that he wishes to add to his account. In general, the smallest amount of time that must be purchased is 24 hours. In addition, users should be mindful of bandwidth limits, which are set by the cellular provider and may cause overage fees if the user goes over the limit, such as by downloading a lot of music.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By burcidi — On Jun 03, 2013

My roommate has pay as you go internet service. She doesn't let me use it because she says that she has a limited amount of minutes per month and if it goes over, it will charge her extra money.

By literally45 — On Jun 03, 2013

@fify-- Mobile broadband is not very good if you need internet for hours. Like the article said, it's good for people who only need the internet for a few minutes to check their email. You are right that this type of pay as you go internet connection tends to be poor. But it's low in cost and easy to carry, so it works for some people.

If you're not traveling, why don't you connect through a phone line? I'm sure that will work out much better for you and you can still pay as you go and avoid signing a contract.

By fify — On Jun 02, 2013

I used a mobile broadband for a few months. I stopped using it after that because it had very poor network coverage. It would keep losing connection and had to reset the device and restart the computer all the time. I needed the internet for several hours each day so it basically drove me nuts. I personally don't recommend it.

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