Vodafone plugs in ‘3G broadband’ data cards

Vodafone will launch its Mobile Connect 3G broadband data cards tomorrow, for wireless Internet access from laptops.

Dubbed by Vodafone as ‘3G broadband’, the PCMCIA cards are based on HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology. This extends 3G network performance and could provide more direct competition to fixed line and wireless broadband. It differs from the GPRS and UMTS flavours used by existing 3G data cards from the likes of T-Mobile and Vodafone.

Sometimes dubbed 3.5G, HSDPA theoretically supports data transfer at up to 2Mbits/sec, but in the real world users should expect performance of up to 380Kbits. In being first to (UK) market, Vodafone is ahead of 3 or T-Mobile, which are expected to provide similar offerings.

‘3G broadband is designed to meet the needs of today’s “work anywhere” business culture, as more and more people access their email or office network whilst on the move or away from the office,’ said Mark Bond, Sales Director, Enterprise Business Unit, Vodafone UK. ‘As the first operator to provide 3G broadband in the UK Vodafone customers will benefit from the fastest mobile data speeds enabling them to work more efficiently and productively.’

Greater London (within the M25), Glasgow, Sheffield, Greater Manchester and Tyneside will be the first UK conurbations that see coverage for Vodafone’s 3G broadband, with its entire 3G network being targeted from completion by the summer of 2007.

In terms of pricing, the service will match existing Vodafone 3G price plans, starting from £25 (excl VAT) per month with Data 250, which includes 250 MB of data. A Data Unlimited plan costs £45 (excl VAT) per month. The cards themselves cost £99 on the Data 250 price plan and £49 on the Data Unlimited price plan.

More information can be found at www.vodafone.co.uk/business.

Mac users will want to check support – there was Mac support (PowerBooks) for the 3G/GPRS service and the previous Vodafone data card – Vodafone announces mobile Web access for Macs.)

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