Mobile broadband has brought the possibilities offered by the internet to a new level. Simply plug your modem into your laptop and receive a high speed internet connection on the go. Over the next few weeks we will review the services provided by all the mobile broadband providers starting this week with Vodafone.
The cost of mobile broadband has come down sharply making it a much more affordable option for computer users, and maybe even a possible alternative to standard cable and ADSL broadband.
Vodafone Mobile Broadband plans
Vodafone offers a wide variety of mobile broadband plans and with their plans starting at £3 per month for a very occasional user they are within the affordability radar of a lot of people, perhaps for many of whom it was too pricey before.
The £3 per month rate is the cheapest mobile broadband option from Vodafone for a very occasional user needing a monthly contract.
You have to sign up for either 30 day plans or 18 month. You can get all the details on the Vodafone website but briefly as at February 11
- 30 day plans
- Very Occasional User – £19 one-off charge, £3 per month. This gives you 250MB UK data and then you pay £2 for each 250MB extra
- Occasional User – £19 one-off charge, £7.50 per month. This includes 500MB of UK data, 1GB Wi-Fi, 30 days with BT Openzone. You pay £7.50 for each 500MB extra
- Regular User – £9 oneoff charge, £15 per month. This includes 2GB of UK data, 1GB Wi-Fi, 30 days with BT Openzone. You pay £15 for each 1GB extra
- 18 month plans – Currently you get 3 month 1/2 price line rental on all 18 months plans
- Occasional User – Free standard internet dongle, £15 per month. Includes 2GB UK data, 1GB off-peak UK data, 2GB BT Openzone Wi-Fi
- Regular User – Free professional internet dongle, £20 per month. Includes 2GB UK data, 2GB off-peak UK data, 4GB BT Openzone Wi-Fi
If you need a laptop to use your mobile broadband then for example at £25 per month for 24 month contract, plus a one-off £29 cost, Vodafone are currently offering a free Acer Aspire D260.
There’s also the Vodafone TopUp and Go service if you’re not wanting to get tied into any lengthy contracts.
Vodafone Mobile Broadband Coverage
Vodafone’s mobile broadband offers speeds which of course vary depending on whether you are on their 3G or 2G networks. According to their website, average download speeds on 3G range from 1-2Mbps and average upload speed from 700Kbps to 1.2 Mbps. You can check specific coverage details on their website.
However, being a mobile service the quality of signal and download speeds will depend on where you are and other factors. As a general rule, you will get mobile broadband coverage in and around cities and towns. Once you start moving into rural areas it is touch and go. Also, because it is a mobile service there is no way to know how many other users there are in the same cell at any one time, so speeds can vary a lot.
However, in general connection speeds are good. The service works well while moving in cars and trains, and if you lose broadband coverage it will seamlessly adjust to a standard GPRS signal without you losing your connection. The modem is neat, easy to carry and installs itself.
All in all, Vodafone mobile broadband is a good product. The £15 per month 3GB option is very affordable.
Whether it has quite reached the level where it can be recommended as a replacement for a home broadband line is questionable.
However, if you spend time commuting on a train each day or if you travel a lot in general it offers excellent speeds and coverage for broadband on the go for what is now an affordable price.
(Updated Feb 11)