It’s been 8 months since I posted my last summary of the mobile broadband market in the UK, and things have developed fairly rapidly since then. In November, O2 launched the iPhone with unlimited Internet access along with some competitive USB dongle packages. Orange have also now joined in the fun, which means that all 5 major UK networks have a reasonably priced mobile broadband offering, compared to only 3 of networks in September 2007.
The time I’m going to separate the tariffs into 2 sections. The first shows the prices when added to a standard voice tariff. The second shows the prices for a standalone mobile broadband account (e.g. through a data card or USB modem).
NB: For this study, I’m only interested in the cheapest “unlimited” packages offered by each provider, as there are too many tariffs if I list every one.
Mobile broadband + phone packages
|O2||iPhone contract + data pack||200-300 kbps?||Unlimited||Free with contract|
|T-mobile||Web’n’Walk Plus with Phone contract||1.8 mbps||3 GB / month||Normal contact + £7.50/12.50 per month (phone only/phone+laptop)|
|Three||X-Series||up to 2.8 mbps||1 GB / month||Normal contact + £5.00 per month|
|Vodafone||Phone contract + data pack||7.2 mbps?||500 MB/month||Free with contract|
With the Vodafone and 02 iPhone tariffs above, I’m unsure whether these can be used as a modem for a laptop or computer. It is certainly technically possible to use an iPhone as a modem. If anyone knows any more on this please add a comment to this post.
Mobile broadband only packages
|Network||Tarrif||Speed||Inclusive Data||Price (Device + Monthly)|
|O2||USB Modem – Mobile Broadband (18 months)||1.8 mbps||3GB / month||Free + £20 per month (O2 customers only)|
|Orange||USB Modem – Mobile Broadband (18 months)||1.8 mbps||3GB / month||Free + £15 per month|
|T-mobile||Web’n’Walk Plus USB Modem / Data card (24 months)||1.8 mbps||3 GB / month||Free + £15 per month|
|Three||USB Modem – Broadband Lite (18 months)||2.8 mbps||1GB / month||Free + £10 per month (or £5 per month for existing customers)|
|Vodafone||USB Modem – Mobile Broadband (24 months)||7.2 mbps||3GB / month||Free + £15 per month|
As you can see, £15 a month for 3GB transfer seems to be the most common price point, but you can get it as low as £5 a month from Three if you have an existing mobile contract with them. If you don’t need (or have) a phone line or Sky TV, then at these prices mobile broadband is probably now the cheapest way to get online.