- 30-day and 18-month contracts
- Personal WiFi device
- 3G sharing hub for home
- Bundled BT Openzone WiFi
- Average value
- Poor range of dongles
- No 12-month contracts
Vodafone was the UK’s first mobile phone company, and not surprisingly it now has a selection of mobile broadband services.
As well as USB dongles for laptops, Vodafone customers can access the internet on the move using a personal WiFi network, an Apple iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Android tablet.
Vodafone has access to both high speed, high frequency dedicated 3G mobile capacity, and lower-frequency capacity that can be used for both 2G and 3G, but offers greater range at the expense of slightly lower speeds.
Many urban areas of Vodafone’s network have recently been upgraded to support higher speeds for more users, and Vodafone is trialling use of ‘femtocells’ - small, short-range cells mounted on existing buildings and telephone poles - to bring 3G to rural communities currently not in range of any mobile broadband service.
There’s a choice of ways to get mobile broadband with Vodafone, from a simple plug-in dongle to a personal WiFi network - on pay-as-you-go or a monthly contract.
Vodafone boasts excellent 3G coverage of the UK, with much of its network HSPA-enabled, which can deliver peak download speeds of 14.4Mbps, while the rest of the network has a top speed of 7.2Mbps.
In reality, Ofcom’s late-2010 survey of mobile broadband found delivering an average of 2.1-2.7Mbps downstream and 650-700kbps upstream. However, the network has seen significant investment in upgrades since then.
Vodafone’s standard broadband dongle on pay-as-you-go deals is the K3770. It weighs 22g and measures 88.1x11.6x26.9mm, and supports 3G connections up to 7.2Mbps, but has no support for microSD memory cards.
The Vodafone premium internet dongle comes with pay monthly plans from £15 up. It weighs 29g and measures 72.15x25.7x12.2mm. It supports microSD cards up to 4GB and 3G connections up to 7.2Mbps.
If you want to share the connection of your USB dongle over WiFi, you can use the Vodafone R101 sharing dock. It costs £49, can host 2G, 3G and next-generation LTE USB sticks, and can share memory on SD and microSD cards. It supports WiFi ‘b/g/n’, with speeds up to 300Mbps, and has DLNA media sharing.
The Vodafone R201 Mobile WiFi device can connect to up to five other devices on WiFi up to 54Mbps. It has an attractive OLED display and can accommodate microSD cards up to 32GB, with DLNA streaming for media files. A four-hour battery life is claimed, and it can also be tethered to a PC via USB to use as a modem and charge.
If you want a 30-day rolling contract, you can choose from two types of dongle contract or mobile WiFi.
With the K3770 standard dongle, you can choose from £3/month with a £19 connection fee, you get a 250MB monthly allowance with extra data charged at £2 for every 250MB.
For £7.50/month with a £19 connection fee, you get a 500MB monthly allowance and 1GB of BT Openzone WiFi hotspot access.
For £15/month with a £9 connection fee, you get a 2GB monthly allowance and 1GB of BT Openzone WiFi hotspot access.
With the R201 Mobile WiFi device, for £15/month with a £49 connection fee, you get a 2GB monthly allowance.
If you want an 18-month rolling contract, you can choose from two dongle deals with the premium internet dongle is supplied, or mobile WiFi.
For £15/month you get a 2GB monthly allowance and 2GB of BT Openzone WiFi hotspot access.
For £20/month you get a 2GB monthly allowance and 4GB of BT Openzone WiFi hotspot access.
The R201 Mobile WiFi device is free with an 18-month contract, for £15/month with a 2GB monthly allowance.
If you go over your allowance, it's £7.50 for each 500MB or £15 for 1GB on 30-day and 18-month contracts.
The only pay-as-you-go deal comes with the £24.99 K3770 standard dongle. It comes pre-loaded with a 500MB credit that lasts 60 days. Additional top-ups are £5 for 250MB, lasting up to 30 days.
Tablets and iPads
Vodafone offers the Apple iPad 2 in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB formats, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, with a variety of data plans on 30-day or 24-month contract.
A 30-day contract costs £7.50/month with 500MB or £15/month with 2GB, with the iPad priced at £499 (16GB), £569 (32GB), or £645 (64GB).
A 24-month contract costs £27/month with 2GB of data per month and 1GB of BT Openzone WiFi, with the iPad priced at £229 (16GB), £279 (32GB), or £379 (64GB).
Android fans can snap up the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, priced £499 on a 30-day contract at £7.50/month with 500MB, or £15/month with 2GB and 1GB of BT Openzone WiFi. On a 24-month contract, it’s priced £229 at £27/month, with 2GB of data per month and 1GB of BT Openzone WiFi.
If you go over your allowance, it's £7.50 for each 500MB or £15 for 1GB.
Vodafone Mobile User Reviews
"very bad service speed so slow such that you cant even open a single page so please dont buy any of vodafone mobile broadband"
"Very poor coverage...even in places they tell you that they are good in when you take out the contract!.
Wouldn't recommend them at all. Just not enough reliability.
I hate them so much I am just paying out the contract without using it and have gone to Orange PAYG."
"Have been using Vodafone Broadband service (phone line, not via dongles) for 3 years now, and have always been happy with speed and service. Never really had a problem with them."
"Have been with Vodafone for 15yrs. We've had our ups and downs, but they've been ace :)"