The pay as you go (PAYG) O2 mobile broadband has some of the most flexible plans available, but is the service any good? Read our review to find out.
Pay as you go mobile broadband has become more popular recently as many consumers only want this sort of Internet connectivity for short periods – when they go on vacation, or go on a short business trip, for example.
Those requiring regular broadband access would be better served by taking out a contract, however for infrequent use, PAYG tariffs are a sensible solution.
O2 Pay and Go Mobile Broadband Costs
O2 offer three levels of pricing for their Pay and Go service:
- Mobile broadband daily: This costs £2 for 500 Mb of bandwidth, which is available for 24 hours
- Mobile broadband weekly: This costs £7.50 for 1Mb and is available for 7 days
- Mobile broadband Monthly: Costing £15 for 3Mb bandwidth and is available for 30 days.
All plans offer unlimited access to O2 hotspots. There is also a one off charge of £19.99 for the purchase of the dongle.
This means that it will cost £19.99 plus £15 (£34.99 in total) for your first 3Gb of mobile broadband bandwidth. In contrast, at the time of writing this article, Vodafone have a special offer: £25 for the dongle and 3Gb of bandwidth.
Using O2 Mobile Broadband
There is little difference in the ease of using one PAYG mobile broadband service from another. In essence, you plug in your dongle into a USB port on your laptop and either the management software is automatically installed onto your PC, if it isn’t there already, or the management software interface is enabled and the modem detects and connects to the mobile network at the best speed possible.
We particularly like the way in which the O2 modem and management software automatically loads when the PC is turned on (and the modem is plugged in) as this reduces the time taken to establish a mobile Internet connection when booting your PC.
The most important aspect of a mobile broadband service is network coverage and speed. If you are using the dongle in a city or area with good network coverage then it will not matter which service you select from an connectivity point of view. It’s advisable to select the most cost effective product in that case, in our opinion.
It is when you are travelling to more remote parts of the UK that differences in network coverage, and therefore usability of the service, come into effect.
We have used both Vodafone and O2 mobile broadband services and find that the Vodafone coverage is more comprehensive. You will often receive a Vodafone signal when other networks are not available, however this will mostly be via the slow GPRS service.
What we like about tO2 Pay and Go Mobile Broadband
We like the flexibility of the pricing plans. PAYG broadband is primarily for infrequent users and the ability to purchase access on a daily, or even weekly basis is aligned with the requirements of this type of customer.
We also like the O2 management software and appreciate it loading and establishing an Internet connection automatically when the PC is booted.
Our Overall Opinion
At the time of writing, it is cheaper to buy the dongle and 3Mb of bandwidth from Vodafone than O2. This would be or choice, particularly if you need the better coverage of the Vodafone network.
If you only need very occasional mobile broadband use and the O2 network coverage is sufficient then their pricing plans will give you the flexibility that you need and will actually save money over time.