Vodafone UK is to upgrade its 3G network to offer faster connection speeds. Downloads will run at up to 7.2Mbps and uploads at up to 1.44Mbps, though download speeds are most likely to be in the range of 1.7Mbps to 5.5Mbps depending on things like signal strength.
The new service speeds are based around HSUPA technology which will require upgrades to the 3G network, with this happening initially in central London and other places such as the larger airports.
The service will be available via a USB modem or for those with a laptop that has an ExpressCard slot a card will be available. The availability of a USB modem makes it suitable for people wishing to connect a desktop computer.
The challenge for Vodafone is to compete against the pricing from Three who currently offer three price plans at 1GB for £10 a month, 3GB for £15 and 7GB for £25 a month. Vodafone currently offers a 3GB usage allowance for £30 a month. Compared to the days when mobile broadband usage allowances were around 20 to 100MB (0.02 to 0.1GB) per month the services are much more suited to consumer use. The usage allowances and pricing are now heading into competition with cheaper fixed line broadband services, without the need for connection fees when you move home.
With the increasing speeds and more attractive usage allowances, there are areas of London where people may actually get a better broadband service with the 3G services. This is because some parts of London, particularly around London airport, suffer from a lack of cable broadband and also have long telephone lines.