Feeds

UK mobile broadband carriers compared

Network vs network

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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

High performance access to file storage

Next page: O2

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.