O2 have recently cut the price of their pay as you go mobile broadband dongle, opening up the feasibility of using 3G for broadband up to millions. O2 dongles are now only £20 (down from £30) and you can buy usage in day, week or monthly chunks - with no contract and hence no risk.
O2 3G Coverage
We’re hearing mixed things about the 3G coverage O2 have. One the one hand O2 are getting good reviews from iPhone users using the 3G network to surf the web, on the other, there are a few people on the 3g.co.uk forum who are dissatisfied by the service. O2 do have a mobile broadband coverage checker where you can just enter your postcode, so give it a whirl. This can be a bit misleading however as you don’t necessarily know where you’re going to be when you use the dongle. Doh! Bear in mind though, that as well as 3G broadband access this dongle also entitles you to free WiFi access in most of the UK’s big cities. Also, you get a 30 day happiness guarantee with your dongle. If it turns out that you can’t connect where you want to, just send the dongle back for a refund.
These PAYG dongles get you free access to over 6000 WiFi hotspots - so if you’re near a Stabucks, McDonalds or a Wetherspoons pub - you’re bound to get a superfast connection. You can check O2’s WiFi hotspot map to see if a location you’re planning to visit has some access points available. This in itself can save lots of cash. Hotels can charge as much at £10 a day for WiFi access and I know I’d rather check my emails in a nice café rather than a cramped hotel room.
O2 Connection Manager & Usage Monitor Software
Supplied with each mobile broadband dongle (actually on the dongle) is software to allow you connect to the internet and will also log you into a website where you can monitor how much data you are using. The software also detects if you are withing reach of a WiFi signal and asks if you want to switch from a 3G connection to WiFi. You don’t need to install the software, just plug in the dongle and it’ll set itself up.
Top Up Methods
You can top up your PAYG broadband anywhere you can top up your PAYG phone. More information on PAYG top ups.
These dongles tend to work on most laptops or netbooks. The only gotcha is that the software/hardware only works with Windows XP and Vista machines that have 32 bit processors. Brand spanking new laptops may contain 64 bit processors.
If you’re on a Mac, you need to be running OS X 10.4 or higher
O2 PAYG Mobile Broadband Key Facts
|Daily Data Allowance||500Mb||1Gb||3Gb|
|Max Speed||384 Kbps||384 Kbps||384 Kbps|
|Price per day||£2||£1.07||£0.50|