back to article Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband is a grand concept. The idea of being able to grab your notebook and modem, hop in the car and surf the web while sitting amid the Wordsworthian splendour of Ullswater, or on the 10:15 from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston, is beguiling. Mobile Broadband - Vodafone Of course, you may get a rude …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    ...I live 10 miles outside Brum centre (1 mile from the M42) and can get a 48k connection with an O2 Dongle, so they may say they can cover, but truth is far from it....

  2. Thomas 4
    IT Angle

    A disappointingly light review

    While good for the basics regarding speeds and dongle quality, there are afew other areas I'd have like to have seen taken into consideration. I mainly use my Vodafone Mobile Broadband for gaming and have been having problems not tied to firewalls, AV, etc but within the actual service itself. From what I have been able to figure out, this seems to be linked to an inability of Vodafone to support certain P2P connections for games such as Borderlands and Civilisation 4 amongst others.

    As there are more people slowly beginning to use their mobile internet connections in this way, it might be something to consider for future reviews. The other one, of course, is customer and technical support being included as part of a review but I can imagine that would be hard to test.

  3. Steven Raith


    While not quite the same, I was surprised that T-mobile was so slow - I can get 2mb/sec fairly reliably in Scarborough, North Yorks - although upload doesn't get above 0.5mb.

    Those figures drop though - it seems to use multiple different HSDPA profiles, varying from 0.5-2mb down, and anywhere between 0.05mb up to 0.5mb.

    Mind you, I don't use the web that much on the phone (Samsung i5700/Galaxy Portal) so it's not too relevant.

    I have heard that T-mobile is a droppy network though, not too good for SSHing into servers/Remote desktop? Never tried it meself.

    Steven R

  4. Anonymous John

    Why oh why?

    Does a three page article have two comments pages?

  5. Calum Morrison

    Scotland good on paper?

    Are you kidding? We're as bad on paper as in real life. For that analogy to work, you'd need an international team stuffed with top stars from the "greatest league in the world" but that consistently falls to pieces in every tournament it enters, failing to get anywhere near the potential it claims. As a Scot, I can't think of any teams that fit that description though...

  6. Triggerfish

    Steven R. T-mobile

    Yeah t-mobile drops the connection a lot, which is a pain when you open a few web pages at a time sometimes. Howver I would say the fair use policy (non contract) is very very handy and for me makes up for this.

  7. Dave Foster

    Dave Foster

    A lot of people (myself included) will want these mobile dongles for holiday use. They all seem to need topping up each month which makes them expensive for occasional use.

    I'm using one of the older Vodafone dongles which was a genuine PAYG. It doesn't run out after a month so is ideal for my purposes. It is slower than the latest models at 1 gig download speed but that isn't a real problem. It's a great pity that the mobile companies don't offer a PAYG mobile dongle that lasts longer than one month before topping up.

  8. Jaques Croissant

    major fail

    That speed tester is bollocks, it tells me that I have 50+ megabits at home, when my router is locked at about 17- and at work, where I have an uncontended gigabit, it reads lower. I've never ever had a result from it that reflects the actual throughput of my link.

    Thus, this article is a waste of perfectly good electrons, which could have been used to show a picture of pie.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    BS I'm afraid

    3's coverage is at best, poor, thoughput is very poor.

    Even if you can get a signal, transfer rates can fluctuate wildly, Skype (for example) simply connot be used reliably, even though the bandwidth claims made should handle it no problem at all.

    I can see the point if you're desperate, but otherwise ... avoid.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    3 & Skype

    @ AC, 16.59 - that's not my experience. My mother uses a 3 dongle for Skype all the time because it's free and she doesn't have ADSL (a long story...). Granted she lives in a pretty rural part of Surrey so local network congestion is not a major issue, but the service is very reliable.

    All that these comments prove is that quality of service can vary hugely from place to place and network to network. I think the Reg's idea of performing comparable tests in three locations is a reasonable one. I certainly can't think of an alternative other than using each dongle for a prolonged period of time at locations all over the UK but I doubt that is practical.

    1. Steven Burn

      The problem ....

      .. with the test, is that all 3 were done within the same city, which isn't representative of reality for anyone living outside of such location. Would've been far more accurate to have done the tests at least once in 10-15 of the major towns and cities across the country, or even better, to have done a test in all of the major towns and cities (though that's likely not viable for most reporters, let alone a web reporter that likely isn't paid travel expenses).

  11. Jacqui
    Thumb Down

    credit cards

    I dont have a credit card (by choice). ATt least of the above operators sells a dongle that only when you get home and break the shrink wrap do you find the *only* way to top up is via a credit card!

    How can this be reconciled with the "no maney back if opened" policy for such goods?

    There have been at least two comments on such devices where people have bought them, found this out after opening them them chucked them in the bin...

    Until there is a decent credit card provding generated (one off payment) card details for use over the net (in the UK) there is no way in hell I plan to use a CC for net transactions. And if you tthink your card data is safe with any of the above mob operators you need help.

    So where is the true PAYG dongle that does not need a CC?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      ...return it.

      If you are sold it and no where does it say it has to be topped up via credit card or you are not told at point of sale,, that is an unfair contract. If they say it is on the web, again unfair contract.

  12. Mike Wilson
    Thumb Down

    "Three" is the only game in this (not) town

    Out here in rural south west Wales, Three is the only way I can get any kind of broadband. We are so far from the phone exchange, the best BT can offer is 512k (I kid you not -- it would be like using a wretched dial-up modem) at the same price as a punter getting 8Mb. The Three service is cheap at £15 a month, but the 5Gb limit is very restricting -- iPlayer will soon eat through that. Go over 5Gb and they will quickly bankrupt you. Speed is poor, but is probably better than 512k. I haven't tested it -- what's the point? There's nowhere else to go.

    The Three connection manager for Windows is abysmal but the connection worked first time in Linux. Windows connection manager is painfully slow to load, needs a reboot if the modem isn't plugged in when it is loaded and worst of all, has a slide out advertising panel which has occasionally showed some really offensive animated ads, like the one for some sleazy on-line casino which mercifully went away a couple of weeks ago.

  13. Alex King

    Coverage stats.

    The coverage stats quoted by operators are totally pointless, in that they quote coverage for a percentage of population. This is totally stupid for a mobile service, which is primarily designed for use somewhere where you do not live.

    If an operator can claim 3G coverage on 98.5% of mainline railway track, then that'd be the one I'd go for. I'll use my ADSL where I live, thanks very much.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    T-Mobile Speed Tests

    My Understanding is that using a spedtest site like speed is not going to allow these connections to give the best result.

    The T-Mobile network does not offer the fully avaliable speed straight away it has to work up to so using a speed test site like where the packet size it tests with is very small does not allow fully capacity of the connection.

    i would be interested to see the results published again using an optimized site like think broadband speed checker.

  15. RobE

    Mobile broadband not ready for GB. use phone modem instead

    I live in london and work in central london (Zones 1-2).. I have Orange mobile broadband here is what I have learnt:

    Customer service - useless. I complained about QoS as I was/still am getting <1% of advertised speed at which device was sold to me at (7.2Mbps) and they wont allow contract termination unless I pay them off so I halved the price by dropping the contract down to the next step. Its still just as utterly p*ss poor as it was though.

    Cost - too high for what you get

    Download limit - too low to act as a real substitute for a land line

    Coverage - high in london but signal is so bad for me anywhere I go.. public wifi is usually free here and usually much faster/easier to access as I dont have to dig through my laptop bag to find the piddly little dongle, plug it in, wait for software to recognise it.. etc, its frustrating at best.

    dongle - its a fat old thing and gets in the way.. it should be at the very least twistable in the USB port to suit the sitting position of the user. It is not.

    Plenty of mobile phones these days have built in modems... use those instead, they can be shared wirelessly and are using exactly the same signal as the mobile dongles.

    The previous messages mostly seem to say "Mobile broadband - dont waste your time" - this message is no different

  16. Greg J Preece

    T-Mobile vs Orange

    Was very surprised by your conclusions with T-Mobile and Orange. T-Mobile's AUP is indeed nice, and for me (in Leeds) the quality of service is far superior. I can take the train home via two routes. On one route, both are fine. On the other, the Orange modem will scream, bitch, moan, and generally not connect for more than 10 seconds at a time, while 2 feet away from it the T-Mobile connection stays rock solid all the way.

  17. jon fisher

    OSX/o2 install help

    Ran into trouble recently with o2's dongle on an up-to-date OSX, documented the workaround here:

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