Mobile Broadband Market Roundup – May 2008

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

Network Tarrif Speed Inclusive Data Price
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.

One thought on “Mobile Broadband Market Roundup – May 2008”

  1. As all landline based broadband is still dependent upon a fixed line rental of around £10 per month, before you start looking at the cost of broadband itself, so these mobile broadband deals are very attractive to many. Just one reason for the huge consumer interest in mobile broadband at the moment!

    If a mobile network can now provide you with all voice and data access why bother with the cost of a fixed line with a traditional telecoms provider? BT still charge customers £125 for the pleasure of giving them business by installing a phone line.

    For more details than the great summary table above, there are comparison services dedicated to mobile broadband, ours at for example.

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