Feeds

UK mobile broadband carriers compared

Network vs network

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Product Roundup

Reg Hardware Mobile Broadband Week

Two years ago, I plugged a selection of 3G dongles into my laptop at various locations to see what the coverage and speed offered by the major mobile networks was like. You can see the results here, but with HSPA being introduced at ever higher upload and download speeds, it's time to compare them afresh.

Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

Source: Vxla/Flickr

Last time, I also tested Virgin, which uses T-Mobile’s network, as well as the Big Five. This year, I decided to try Giffgaff, which relies on O2 to haul the coal. Giffgaff seems to be the favoured option for those who think that the major networks data offerings are too expensive and too Byzantine.

I’ve made another couple of changes from 2010. Then I used the supplied USB modem dongles from each carrier. This time I used a single ZTE MF60 portable 3G router to ensure all the networks were tested with exactly the same hardware.

Of course, when Mr Editor Sir asked me to do the speed tests back in 2010 I thought it’d be the for the first and last time. Surely, LTE would hove into view and usher a brave new dawn of super-fast data downloading? Like heck it did.

I asked all the cellcos about their 4G/LTE roll-out plans. Everything Everywhere reckoned it stood like greyhounds in the slips, while the others opined that until the Government works out WTF it’s doing with the spectrum auctions there was little they could tell me.

O2 coverage map 2012 Vodafone coverage map 2012
Three coverage map 2012 Orange coverage map 2012

Current coverage: Clockwise from top left, O2, Vodafone, Orange and Three

As before, tests were carried out using speedtest.net. Yes, I know it’s a wee bit basic and dirty, but it provides a level playing field and allows for rapid tests to iron out any freak spikes and anomalies.

The good news is I got HSPA connectivity wherever I went, and all the networks have taken a step forward since 2010 in terms of outright speed. For some - step forward, O2 - it's only a small step, however.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Networks compared

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Google has spaffed more cash on lobbying this year than Big Cable
Don't worry, it'll be cheaper when they use drones
EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday
Customer: 'Please change your name to occasionally somewhere'
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?