back to article T-Mobile joins 3 UK in prepaid mobile broadband race

T-Mobile UK has announced a range of prepaid mobile broadband options that come with a USB dongle for a laptop, taking on the wildly successful similar offering from 3. This move also shows how the mobile data sector is changing quickly to support new revenue streams and new breeds of users for the hard pressed cellcos. As …


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  1. netean

    fair use

    you didn't say what the "fair use" is in this "unlimited" package.

    Currently their "unlimited" plan is for 3gb per month.

    So basically I can pay my £45 for the dongle, then my £20 per month just to have the pleasure of not being able to use as my main broadband because it's "unlimited" to 3gb.

    Alternatively, just find a wifi hotspot or a library!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Price increase in disguise

    This is not new - you have been able to use your 3G-enabled phone as a dongle, or 2nd hand contract dongle to get the same thing, only cheaper...

    However, it has only been £1/day capped up to now and branded as Web'n'Walk. It was even featured on El Reg previously!

    All packages:

    Thumb Down

    Time limits on a data package?

    Data packages in the ISP market are measured in GB not time. While time is fine for the mobile pre-pay voice market it might not go down very well for data based packages. Let's say £10 for 1gb in a month would go day alot better than £2 a day or £20 unlimited for 30 days. Let's face it, unlimited isn't unlimited anyway.

    3's contract rates are cheaper anyway.

  4. William Gallafent
    Thumb Up

    3G broadband _is_ a viable alternative!

    At home I get about 1.3 to 1.5 Mb/s ADSL connection at best, with real-world data transfer of about 140kB/s on average. The connection is sometimes solid, but sometimes unreliable. Cost is about £21 per month including the telephone line which I basically never use.

    T-Mobile HSDPA gives me rock-solid data transfer at about 240kB/s at the same address. The slightly increased latency doesn't bother me, the difference is small. One must do tricks to avoid the inline image compression (unless you don't mind it!), and configure connection sharing to route from the internal network to the HSDPA connection, but that's no big deal (and I hope it will soon be possible to buy a standalone HSDPA router for sensible money). For me, it's just a question of getting round to terminating the land-line, really.

    The power consumption if you do this using a phone as the router is frightening, though. It uses almost a whole fully charged battery to download a CD ISO, routing from HSDPA to WiFi!

  5. W
    Thumb Up

    I'm on Virgin's 3x package

    The TV beyond Freeview channels is crap.

    I never use the landline - I get all the free minutes I need on my mobile (with 3).

    The broadband is the only compelling service - I only have the others cos the way their packages are structured, it's effectively forced on you and you'd be mad not to.

    I pay £30pm to Virgin for the above.

    I pay approx. £25pm to 3 for my mobile with plenty of anytime X-network texts/minutes and unlimited "mobile phone internet".

    My gf pays a similar amount pm for her mobile.

    That's effectively £80pm purely on phone calls, broadband and "mobile phone internet".

    True mobile broadband is a real contender.

    I wonder if there's a network that'll offer;

    A) 2x approx. 300 ) plenty of anytime X-network calls/texts, and

    B) 2x USB dongle with 3GB of downloads,

    for £80pm?

    <Ctrl+T, Ctrl+K, types away...>

  6. Sergie Kaponitovicz

    Not serious competition to 3 UK

    Alerted by Martin Lewis' excellent email newsletter (Money Saving Expert), I signed up for the 3 UK £5 a month deal yesterday. It's just 1Gb bandwidth per month, but if I am not in a free wi-fi hotspot zone, all I want is email access and maybe RSS newsfeeds. 1 Gb is PLENTY!

    The FREE dongle arrived this morning, with pre-loaded installers, and I was up and running in less than 5 minutes (unpacking was the longest bit!). So how does a £2 per day stack up, T-mobile?

    3 UK's most expensive tariff is £30 month (on offer at 1/2 price until the end of the month for £15) for 15Gb usage. Unless T Mobile's 'Fair Use' cap is better than 20Gb per month, £20 is not competitive. At least, not until after 30th September.

    This may seem like a plant, but I am not a 3 UK employee or supplier, honestly!



    PS It also works on a mac, faultlessly - 2 minutes to install and get online. Eat that Webster!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Please would all these mobile broadband providers sit up for once and listen!

    I don't, repeat DON'T, want a dongle. I have a perfectly good PCMCIA wireless card for up to 7.2Mbs and a USB dongle is no use to me at all under Linux.

    Offer me just a SIM card and I'll bite your hand off to get it, but I don't want to pay £50 for something I'll just throw away.

  8. Vince

    @W "I'm on Virgin's 3x package"

    For £80pcm no, but for £55.00 pr x yes....


    a) 2x Three Mobile Broadband, £7.50 each, £15 total, with 3gb or 5gb on 18 month.

    b) 2x O2 Simplicity Online 25, £20.00 each, £40.00 total, on 30 day contract (600 mins, u/l txt)

    Total: £55.00

    Or if you need a little less minutes/txts...

    a) Broadband as above

    b) 2x Three Mix/Match, £15.00 each, £30.00 total, with 300 mins/txt xnet & 300 3-to-3

    Total: £45.00

    I can come up with loads of options (and I prob haven't found the cheapest), either way you're being robbed right now.

  9. W
    Thumb Up

    @ Vince

    My point was verging on rhetorical, but that's a good quick summary of options that you've come up with. Nice one - I'll be taking a closer look.

    And that's the thing. With minimal research and some rational thought, most/many of us who don't care for TV beyond freeview or a landline phone would probably be better off opting for a broadband dongle for each pc/laptop rather than going for a "traditional" deal. You're right: £80 pcm is just too much for mobile+internet for two peeps. I'll very likely be playing T-mobile off against 3 for an all-in package when it comes to renewing my mobile contract.

    The first thing the fixed line providers should consider is sacking off the ridiculous £10pcm line rental fee. £10 for just a fixed landline phone, with no calls, just doesn't cut it in today's comms market.

    All of the above paint's a poor picture for Wi-Fi (for me, anyway) other than as the glue in a home network.

    Question (genuine, non-rhetorical): in the real world, is a connection via a dongle enough to drive the BBC iPlayer? If not, what are the chances that it ever will be anytime soon? Or have I gone cloud cuckoo?

  10. richard


    Despite the hype, at 3GB per month it won't be replacing my ADSL and BT line combo anytime soon. Bottom line.

  11. Giles Jones Gold badge


    Sell it then. There will be many people who have a contract SIM who only want the USB modem.

  12. David Beck

    @Pink Pole (what a guy)

    I have a T-Mobile PAYG Mobile Broadband SIM that I got by asking for a free PAYG SIM from the T-Mobile site (or maybe a store), rang T-Mobile CS and asked to convert the SIM to the (at the time) WebnWalk Plus Daily plan, they said sure, I topped up and have been using it occasionally ever since. No dongle purchase involved. They have just changed me automagically from the old £4 per day rate to the new £2 per day rate. Given that I use it about twice a month (=£4 now) and I'm allowed to use 3GB per calendar month (that would be 1.5GB per usage in my normal case) I'm pretty happy. I do have a grandfathered 30 day contract SIM for voice with the old 1GB WnW add-on too, all for the princely sum of £15/mon.

    The 3 contract rates do look better since the unlimited cap (oxymoron) is 5GB for roughly the same money as 3GB on T-M.

    None of this improves T-M and 3 coverage.

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