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27th September 2009


Brian Grainger

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At the September meeting of the Stevenage ICPUG Rod introduced us to Pay as You Go broadband via the Vodaphone broadband dongle that he had purchased for one of his friends.

There are a number of similar products in the marketplace but the Vodaphone option turned out to be the most cost effective.

This product is for the user who wants broadband on the move or a cheap and cheerful system for the basic internet activity. It uses mobile phone technology to connect but you don't have to have a mobile phone contract or an ISP contract to get going. You buy the dongle for 35, which includes an initial 15 for download of 1 GB of data. You have as long as you like to use this quota, but you must log in within 180 days or you will lose any outstanding balance and have to start again. When you use the 1GB allowance you simply top up with another 15 from the usual sources for topping up Pay as You Go mobiles. You have to top up with 15 worth at a time. The device is available in other countries for use locally. You cannot use the one bought in the UK for use elsewhere.

The dongle required Windows XP SP2 or Vista to run. Installation was a breeze. The hardest part was taking the dongle out of the blister pack. It was not obvious that the pack came apart without the need for scissors! Plug the dongle in and installing the software was a single click operation. After software installation you could determine the signal strength and on clicking connect you were into the internet. We browsed a few pages and at the end of the test we had used 21p of the allowance. Browsing the ICPUG pages used fractions of a penny - not much graphic content here to use your pennies!

All in all, the Pay as You Go broadband was a good product and would suit many people who simply want an internet connection for getting their e-mail and the odd bit of browsing. No drawbacks that I could see as long as you had Windows as your operating system. As usual there is no Linux/Mac/older Windows option.

The Stevenage club will be purchasing one of these for use at our meetings in future. I think it will be cheaper than what the local council wanted to charge us to use their wi-fi link!