O2 mobile broadband review

When we first tested mobile broadband dongles in 2008, we bemoaned the lack of speed on offer from O2. Eighteen months later, and that criticism still holds true.

O2 mobile broadband review

Although O2 boasts the same 0.8Mbits/sec median speed as 3, it doesn’t offer its rival’s turn of pace in the HSDPA regions. The fastest speed O2 managed to record from our central London testbed was 2Mbits/sec, although results of less than 1Mbit/sec were more common.

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O2’s lack of speed is compounded by relatively poor nationwide coverage. The maps published by telecoms regulator Ofcom last year showed that O2 had the patchiest 3G coverage of Britain’s mobile networks.

O2 goes some way to compensate for its poor 3G speeds by throwing in free Wi-Fi access. Its fussy software handles both the Wi-Fi and 3G connections, although it’s a little too keen to steer you towards Wi-Fi, with irritating pop-ups every time a new Wi-Fi hotspot comes into range.

At least O2 offers reasonable value for money: those willing to sign a two-year contract can get 3GB of data a month plus unlimited Wi-Fi for only £10 a month. Month-by-month deals start at £15 for those who wisely baulk at committing for such a length of time.

Overall score: 2/6

Maximum speed recorded: 2Mbits/sec

Median speed: 0.8Mbits/sec

Modem tested: Huawei E160

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