Best Mobile Broadband UK

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3 Mobile Broadband
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Best Mobile Broadband Network - Our View

Here at Best Mobile Broadband UK, we spend a lot of time online reading up on mobile broadband networks, and finding out what people have to say about their services, so we thought we'd give you our own opinion on the mobile broadband networks. We take into account the mobile broadband reviews received on this site (although happy customers don't tend to post reviews, so most are the unhappy few), as well as reading user feedback for mobile broadband on the internet generally. Our opinion is a nationwide overview, and the best mobile broadband provider for you will depend on your location, so ask around about performance in your area and check signal type available using mobile broadband coverage maps.

Vodafone Mobile Broadband
Voted Best Wireless ISP for 2008 at the ISPAs

1st - Vodafone Mobile Broadband

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Vodafone Mobile Broadband Network Performance: Vodafone has excellent performance when you have good signal strength in a 3G area. In these conditions, it's fast enough to stream video and use Skype and other VOIP services. Outside a 3G area, as with other mobile broadband services, the service reverts to GPRS and is slower than old dial-up services.

Vodafone Mobile Broadband Coverage: Coverage levels are good in the UK's major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. See our Vodafone Mobile Broadband coverage map for an overview of Vodafone 3G coverage.

General Usability: Generally good. However, the service does downsample images to save bandwidth and a stringent content filter is in place which you have to phone customer support to remove.

Customer Service: Although waiting times can be high, customer support is good and a support forum is also available.

Quality of Connection Software: Good, shows the bandwidth being used. 

Conclusion: We use Vodafone Mobile Broadband ourselves, and have been impressed by the service when in a 3G area. Vodafone offer good levels of customer support and we feel they are currently leading the way with their mobile broadband service.


T-Mobile Broadband

2nd - T-Mobile Broadband

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Network Performance: Generally quite reasonable, the network offers above average reliability especially in major cities. 3G coverage is very good in London. The T-Mobile HotSpot network means that coverage is usually good at popular business locations, e.g. major UK airports and Starbucks coffee bars.

General Usability: There is an adult content filter in place and sites like Facebook are initially blocked. The content filter can be removed by phoning customer services, who will confirm you are over 18 by making a small charge to your credit card and refunding it.

Customer Service: Reasonable.

Quality of Connection Software: Decent software that shows you your download and upload data usage making it easy to keep an eye on usage.

Conclusion: Well worth considering, particularly if there are T-Mobile HotSpots where you will be using the service regularly.


O2 Mobile Broadband

3rd - O2 Mobile Broadband

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Network Performance: Speeds are below those of its competitors, but it does deliver a usable mobile broadband connection. The data network can get a bit congested in built-up areas because of the number of iPhone users O2 has.

General Usability: Good. Whilst it did not offer the fastest speeds in our testing, it delivers a useful mobile internet connection and the overall experience, from ordering through to installation and use, is good.

Customer Service: Reasonable, generally quite easy to get through to.

Quality of Connection Software: Good. The connection software is easy to install, has a polished feel, and makes key functionality easy to access.

Conclusion: Whilst in pure speed terms it may be behind some of its rivals, the overall experience delivered is good, particularly in terms of usability. Well worth considering.


3 Mobile Broadband on a Laptop

4th - 3 Mobile Broadband

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Network Performance: Can be good in a 3G area. However, user reviews suggest there are serious issues if too many users start using the service in a given area, severely affecting performance. Users have reported the service working well for a given time until too many people started using it in the local area and the service becoming extremely slow, i.e. there appear to be network capacity issues.

3 Mobile Broadband Coverage: See our 3 Mobile Broadband Coverage Map for an overview of UK coverage.

General Usability: TBC

Customer Service: Room for improvement. If you are unlucky enough to experience a degradation of service in your area customer service can prove unresponsive. 3 Mobile is a very cost competitive service, and your customer service level expectations may have to reflect that.

Quality of Connection Software: Generally OK, but some experience issues with reliability in installing itself.

Conclusion: 3 Mobile Broadband is priced extremely competitively, and some pleased customers have a high speed broadband service at a good price. However, the customer service is not of the same standard as that of the leading providers. This network may be more susceptible to capacity issues, as some users for which the service was working well have found that the service can become very slow and stay that way. When this has happened, the users have found the issue hard to resolve with customer support.


Orange Mobile Broadband

5th - Orange Mobile Broadband

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Network Performance: Variable. Some report good levels of 3G coverage and are happy customers, whilst others have been disappointed (although that might be because they were incorrectly advised that they were in a 3G area). Our own experience, using the permium Orange Option 515m dongle, has been a good one, and for our particular location it has offered the best overall mobile broadband experience.

General Usability: Good. The software is easy to use and the online account management is easy to use.

Customer Service: Reasonable but not sector leading.

Quality of Connection Software: Well laid out and simple to use, the Orange Connection Software does a good job.

Conclusion: Worth considering if you are in an Orange 3G area.