O2 Mobile Broadband giving speeds up to 1.8Mbps (megabits per second) will be available from 1st May, with speeds starting to increase across the network up to 3.6Mbps from June. Existing O2 customers can get the service for £20 a month so long as your primary O2 account remains active during the minimum term. For those who are not an O2 customer already, the service will cost £30 a month. A USB modem (that supports speeds of 7.2Mbps HSDPA and 2.1Mbps HSUPA) is included.
Your monthly fee buys you 3GB of usage, with data above this figure being charged at 20p per MegaByte (£200 per GB). The small print for the product reveals that until 31st October 2008 the usage charge is being waived, though an excessive usage policy does exist.
A big bonus of the product is that it includes access to some 7,500 Wi-Fi hot spots via The Cloud. The usage when on Wi-Fi is described as unlimited but subject to an excessive usage policy again. A single device unlimited Wi-Fi account at The Cloud normally costs £6.99 a month.
Two contract options are available, a one month minimum term if you pay £119.99 for the modem upfront, or an eighteen month contract with the modem included free. For O2 Pay & Go customers to continue to qualify for the £20 rather than £30 monthly fee they will need to carry out £30 or more of top-up per quarter.
The range of mobile broadband products on the market now offer a reasonably attractive alternative to the costs of installing and renting a landline and paying for broadband on top. While the data limits and technology are somewhat constraining for those who are into watching video or play first person shooters, for many people the ability to have a product not tied to a physical location is useful. Including hot-spot access in the product is a neat touch, and gives people the ability to do very large downloads over Wi-Fi rather than use up their mobile data allowance.