Heavy competition between phone network operators means better deals for consumers. And recent months have seen the price of mobile broadband plummet as Vodafone, T-Mobile and 3 vie for their share of the market. This week, we look at what T-Mobile has to offer.
The cost of mobile broadband has about halved across the board in the past few months, and it is even possible to get the necessary hardware for free. However, all the companies, including T-Mobile, require that you commit to a 12 or even 24-month contract to get the best value deal.
If you are averse to contracts, as many people are, you can opt to pay daily for T-Mobile's broadband service. At £4 per day it is reasonable value for money but you do need to cover the cost of the modem or stick yourself at £99. This option could be good if you need mobile broadband for occasional business trips or days away from the office.
Better value is the £15 per month 'web'n'walk' option. This is a special offer and the price will revert to £20 per month at the end of March. You will get your modem or stick for free, but you must sign up for a lengthy contract. Two notable advantages is the unlimited surfing time and the unlimited free access to T-Mobile Wi-Fi spots, and you will never have to pay more than the £15 monthly charge. However, you are blocked from using internet calling services such as Skype.
For an extra £20 per month you can avail of 'web'n'walk Max'. This plan will allow you to use services such as Skype and offers all the advantages of the standard plan. However, it is questionable that it is worth the extra cost simply to be able to use internet calling services.
T-Mobile's £15 per month plan comes across as a particularly good deal if you are willing to make the commitment to enter a 12 or 24 month contract. Unlike its competitors, it does not limit the amount you download per month, though you may be limited by fair usage policy. Also, the unlimited access to T-Mobile Wi-Fi spots is an added perk.
The block on the use of internet calling services, however, means that it isn't a practical alternative for a cable or ADSL broadband connection in the home. However, for someone who travels frequently it should be perfect.
That said, we do not recommend signing up for any mobile broadband service unless it performs well in the area in which you intend to use it. T-Mobile provides a good coverage check facility on its website to help you determine whether you will get a good speed where you live and intend to travel.
In general, T-Mobile's mobile broadband seems to work well in and around urban areas. You should still be able to maintain at least a GPRS connection if a mobile broadband signal is not available. However, the best option is to try it out first hand for a month to see how it works for you. In general, speeds will be good in urban areas but will not match a good cable or ADSL connection.
The fact that T-Mobile doesn't impose any download limits gives it an immediate head start over its competitors. While the £35 per month option is a bit pricey, we think the current £15 per month offer is good value if you are happy to commit to a contract.