back to article Brits are bored with mobile broadband

UK mobile broadband sales are tumbling as consumers have figured out that the technology does not live up to its billing. So says Broadband Expert, which notes a 57 per cent drop in the number of people signing up for mobile broadband via the price comparison site. Sales sank from 3000-ish in May 2009 to 1,300 in May 2010. …


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  1. Nathan 13

    Shit, Shittier and Shittiest :)

    Ive tried 3, O2 and currently use T-Mob. They are all shit at a fixed location, and even shittier if you attempt to connect on the move.

    3 are also the shittiest company on the planet.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Timing is everything

    The problem is timing. The UK 3G operators are now over half way through licences that cost them all hundreds of billions between licence fees, infrastructure and subsidies.

    3G is never going to make anyone a net profit. The technology arrived too soon, when people were still getting used to dialup and PDAs, let alone mobile broadband.

    Now that people are ready for mobile broadband, the 3G implementations out there look dated already compared to other wireless experiences.

    It's all reminiscent of DAB and digital TV, rolled out in the UK years before the rest of the world. The UK was the true pioneer of all that stuff. Unfortunately, such is the pace of digital progress that by the time the rest of the world 'caught up', they were rolling out DAB+, DMB and MPEG4 rather than the 80s technologies the UK made official in the early to mid 90s. And being 'official' means it's an absolute pig of a job to abandon them and catch up to what everyone else is doing today.

    It really doesn't pay you to be the first to achieve something anymore. It's much better in the long run to sit back and adopt mature systems later on. 3G is a duck that died when companies like Symbian failed on their promises of delivering a billion smartphones to the cradling arms of the global population by 2003. It seems so long ago now. And, in retrospect, such a truely barmy expectation. Even the iPhone and iPad haven't reached anywhere near that level of adoption a decade on, and they're arguably the closest thing to it so far.

    Semel insanivimus omnes. Colly Myers more than most.

  3. envmod

    mobile "broadband" is laughable bad

    i jumped onto the mobile "broadband" bandwagon when it first came out - i got a T-Mobile dongle and signed myself up for their top package for 18 months. What followed was a complete lack of internet, then the worst speeds i have ever experienced (worse, much worse than dial-up) and then 3 or 4 months of wrangling with T-Mobile who wanted me to pay them £600 for the privilidge of not being tied into their utter shit service for the next 18 months. i laughed at them. Luckily, my job requires me to be quite cunning at finding out things and phone numbers you're not supoosed to have etc, so i managed to get the direct number to the T-Mbile technical department in Scotland, find a contact in the mobile "broadband" department and explain all to him. He was cool and pulled a few strings, got my contract cancelled without charge and actually got all my money refunded too. Speaking off the record, the guy admitted that the infrastructure and technology was nowhere near good enough and they had had a shit load of complaints from day one.

    Anyway, yeah - steer well clear of mobile "broadband" because it like, doesn't fucking work at all.

  4. JasonW

    If they'd complete the rollout...

    ... they might find quite an interest around here. Carefully though they seem to have left the town I'm currently in untouched, yet have 3G-enabled the next cell along the road which has by a quick reference to the OS map of the area 28 buildings in it - and I think 4 of them are actually occupied premises - the rest are barns, byres and the like.

  5. David Gosnell

    Poor value for money

    Poor value for money is surely another driving factor, especially with the PAYG options offering no tangible benefit over a contract in most cases now - pay upfront hardware costs AND have to use it all within a month anyway. Vodafone were the last to offer a true expiry-free PAYG option, perfect for most people's usage patterns, but that bit the dust a few months back now, cloaked behind an at-first-glance generous increase from 1 GB to 3GB per £15 top-up.

    The key thing is to NOT consider mobile broadband as home broadband for laptops. Usage patterns are completely different, and the pricing model needs to reflect that.

  6. moylan

    wifi v 3g

    i have been using mobile broadband since 2004 on a nokia 3650 here in ireland on prepay. it was very expensive back then. as tech improved the mobiles added wifi and 3g got cheaper and faster.

    now on my iphone 3g or htc hero i can get prepay at 99c for 50mb for a day. fairly cheap. i do use it but 99% of the time i am in known locations. home, work, various meeting spots, pubs etc. i have free wifi in those locations so so not use the 3g data. the only time i really need it is while on the move on public transport and i can usually wait an hour or so till i'm in wifi coverage to do what i want.

    i'm not going to pay a monthly contract for a service i use 2-3 times a month on average. result is that i use less 3g data on my iphone or htc hero than i did on my nokia e61 4 years ago.

    one bad thing about the iphone still not fixed in os4 is that i can't tell the device to use only wifi and not to try 3g. in bad wifi areas this means the device grabs data on 3g and costs me money with no warning. worse some apps grab data when you use them for high score tables in games for example. so i have pretty much given up on iphone. i can put it in airplane mode but then i can't send/receive texts or calls.

    the htc hero has a great toggle icon that switches on/off 3g data. perfect! 3g data only used when i say so.

    oh and os4 was a bugger to install. best way was to wipe the device with no backup and start again restoring then from the backup after the os was installed. no probs syncing afterwards.

  7. envmod

    and another thing....

    btw, i don't class iphones and other smartphones in the same category as mobile broadband. smartphones are mobile internet devices, small and only used now and again. i'm talking about a USB stick you plug into your laptop which is meant to get you "broadband speeds" when you're out and about. mobile broadband was (and is) marketed as a potential replacement to your standard broadband service and has angered many people as it is absolutely nothing of the sort. another thing they don't tell you is when you finally do manage to view a web page, it is normally formatted at a lower resolution and size etc as you are accessing it via the 3G network and it assumes you are on a mobile phone so reduces all the graphics etc to match viewing on a phone. this is inctredibly annoying if you are trying to view the page on a proper laptop. also, the USB dongle thing picks up 3G signals from various sources (I believe) and possibly routes things through the different sources at random (not sure)....anyway, the upshot of this is that if you are logged into a site (forum, on line game etc), then refresh the page, more often than not you are logged off as it thinks you are a different person due to how it's routing the connection or something. all i know is that mobile broadband is not remotely practical or usable for every day surfing.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    "the technology does not live up to its billing"

    Very little in the mobile phone industry ever does.

  9. Neur0mancer


    The amount of trouble I have getting a decent signal on my dongle is ludicrous. I end up waiting 10 minutes to send an email because I'm barely connected. I was missold

  10. Greenalien

    Wrong pricing model

    3G needs to be priced on the amount of data used - period. Pre-pay data shouldn't expire if it's not used, that's just robbery. And I agree with the first poster about 3 mobile, a company I shall never, ever use again.

  11. Paul Stockwell

    Not fit for Purpose

    I have been using the Vodafone system for some time and had no end of problems.

    Their network connectivity is poor, even in the centre of Basingstoke (which should have proper 3G by now!)

    Their support is completely geared to Phone customers and does not recognise the phone numbers assigned to dongles.

    One PAYG dongle they sold me uploaded its software into my PC which ran then happily announced it was not compatible with the dongle it had been loaded into.

    I frequently spent more time trying to get the Dongle to work properly with Windows XP than I have online. I know XP is receiving Euthansia from Microsoft at the moment but 1000,s of notebooks with XP loaded have been sold and these are natural partners to a PAYG dongle and will be in use for a few years to come at least.

    When you can get it to work it is useful but the uphill battles...

    Even adding credit to the thing is very difficult dueto a website problem at time of writing. All in all Vodafone should make Huawai iron out the problems properly, work on its web and phone support and return to the market with a properly sorted product. Give me a job and I will sort it out for them!

    Calling their suport from a non-vodafone phone is no doubt also expensive but after this experience I am definitely not interested in any of thier voice products.

    A pity really as it is a potentially useful product - if they sort the bugs out.

  12. Uplink

    Drop the caps

    Drop the caps, keep the prices low, and I'll get it. 1GB/month, with an "fatter" option of 3GB, 5GB if you're lucky, slightly more if you're a Ltd. with deep pockets? And yes, I don't mind limiting my speed for "special download services" (torrents). I need mobile Internet for the following: Youtube, iPlayer, Google, The Register, and Work (SSH, HTTP, FTP, that kind of stuff - I'm a developer). But all these can reach your cap mighty fast, even on a slow link which "encourages" me to give up Youtube, iPlayer, and Flash Ads.

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