Feeds

UK mobile broadband carriers compared

Network vs network

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Networks compared

O2 will try to tempt you with talk of free Wi-Fi access from BT Openzones and its own, growing array of hotspots, but that should fool no one. There are plenty of free hotspots to use. There's no need to factor it into your mobile data payments.

The data offers from Vodafone are also difficult to get excited about. Actually, make that 'impossible to get excited about'. The costs are high, the data allowances miserly and to cap it all, as with O2, you can’t have a Sim-only deal.

Network Performance

Performance chart

Speeds in Megabits per Second (MBps>
Longer bars are better
All tests are averages of five runs taken in quick succession

Everything Everywhere has a lot more to offer. Decent speeds on both T-Mobile and Orange, and its unlimited, if fair-use proscribed, data policy could work for you if you don’t plan on downloading large attachments or streaming video.

If you want cheap and are not too bothered about outright speed, take a look at Giffgaff. Even if the speeds are a bit crummy, I always managed to get on-line and the pricing system is biblically straightforward and very good value.

But if it’s speed you want, consider Three. Along with Giffgaff and T-Mobile, Three will happily do you a Sim-only deal. Ally this to the truly impressive speeds on offer and Three is by a country mile my primary recommendation for the regular or intensive user of mobile data.

Everything Everywhere: Orange & T-Mobile

RH Numbers
RH Recommended Medal

The PAYG data deal is now standard across Everything Everywhere, Orange having in effect co-opted T-Mobile’s offer. For £2 a day or £7 a week or £15 a month you get unlimited internet access but only within the terms of the fair use policy. So if you pay by the day and exceed 250MB in a day or 500MB in a week you could find yourself being restricted when it comes to streaming video or downloading file attachments. If you buy by the week or month the fair use policy is more generous but 1GB fair use over 30 days looks poor when Giffgaff will give you three times the data for £2.50 less. On the plus side, T-Mobile’s speeds have increased impressively, you can have a Sim-only deal and the PAYG web control panel is a great bit of design that lets you buy your daily, weekly or monthly access at the touch of a button and see what you have left both in terms of credit and time.

T-Mobile PAYG
Verdict Unlimited data meets fair use which could work for some
Rating 80%
More Info T-Mobile

Giffgaff

RH Numbers
RH Recommended Medal

Everyone's favourite PAYG data wallah thanks to a simple and easy-to-follow price plan. Data users you can buy a one month 500MB “gigabag” for a fiver, 1GB for £7.50 of 3GB for £12.50. If you run out, Giffgaff will give you a 50MB buffer to keep you surfing until you next top up. The network in question here is O2, which may put some folk off as its reputation for speed isn't great. Sadly, it’s a reputation my tests showed to be entirely deserved. But at least on Giffgaff I noticed no throttling compared to O2 proper. If you are not worried about outright speed, happen to need 3G data somewhere O2 can deliver a decent speed - Brigadoon? Dunharrow? Camelot? - or are stoney broke, then giffgaff is a good choice.

Giffgaff
Giffgaff logo
Verdict Slow but cheap
Rating 75%
More Info Giffgaff

Boost IT visibility and business value

Next page: O2

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms firm here
Is goTenna tech a goer? Time to grill CEO, CTO
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
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.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.