Writing about web page http://shop.o2.co.uk/promo/o2mobilebroadband/tab/Pay_and_Go

Just before I went on holiday last week I noticed that O2 were selling their pay-as-you-go mobile broadband dongles at half price – £15 instead of £30. £30 is over my threshold for “just in case” purchases but at £15 it was hard to refuse. And as I was going to be away from home for a week and I was planning on having a laptop with me anyway, I thought it might be useful. So I got one.

An initial test at home suggested that it got a stronger 3G signal than my iPhone did, which was very encouraging. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way in practice. I was staying just outside of Ashford in Kent. The mobile signal wasn’t great, but my iPhone would happily maintain an EDGE connection most of the time, occasionally dropping to GPRS indoors. No 3G, sadly. The dongle, though, had a much harder time. Indoors it couldn’t connect at all. Oh, except once for about 5 minutes. All of my laptop-based surfing had to be outdoors. Fortunately the weather was good.

Even outside, though, things were very flakey. Sometimes I couldn’t get a connection at all. Sometimes the connection would stay up for 5 minutes or so before dropping. Sometimes the connection would stay up but stop passing data. Once I got a connection for 30 minutes or so. And all the time, just feet away, the iPhone, talking to the same network, would keep a constant, working EDGE connection.

The O2 coverage checker does say it won’t work well where I was. That’s not the problem. What I’m disappointed at is that it did less well than the iPhone, on the same network, and I guess talking to the same cell? Others have told me the iPhone isn’t the most sensitive receiver, compared to other phones, so I was expecting the opposite.

At least it was only £15, and it might come in useful some day. Somewhere else…

And it is funny how you get used to high speed connectivity. Everything felt soooooo sloooooow at EDGE speeds. Like taking the Internet back several years to the days of dial-up modems. Most frustrating.

Still, other members of my family have Orange phones and they had no signal at all, not even for calls, so things could have been much worse:-)

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4 comments

  1. LegalCentre @ 2009-09-01 12:37

    I recently had a very similar experience. However, I had purchased an Orange PAYG dongle and guess what….I could not even get online when outside. We stayed in North Suffolk at a quaint little holiday park. My mobile (Orange too) managed a GPRS signal most of the time. It hovered at 1 to 2 bars throughout the week but the dongle could not get any connection. I was a little miffed and when I got back last week I took my dongle back to the Orange shop. I was even more miffed when I was told that they don’t guarantee connection and pointed out that their coverage checker shows North Suffolk as an area of poor coverage. Poor coverage would be okay but no coverage at all is a little different! I think the dongle providers need to be more realistic with their claims of what kind of connection can be achieved in rural areas.

  2. Hampshire SEO @ 2009-09-01 15:44

    I know what you mean, I have really bad broadband at home so I bought a couple of dongles from Broadband Offers. I got both a Vodafone and a Three dongle. Even though the Vodafone one was payg and was only meant to go to 3.6mbps and the three one was upto 7.2 and the three had more signal I got much better and much more reliable speeds on Vodafone. I also get full 3.5g signal on my t-mobile phone but when I put the sim in a usb stick it dropped down to two bars. I don’t really understand why this was either. After all of this I still manage to get faster connection speeds on my mobile broadband than my ADSL line, good old BT!

  3. Search Engine Optimization Marketing @ 2009-09-02 10:10

    I recently bought a 3 dongle as I get great 3 coverage at home but although I get full signal on my phone i only get two or three bars on the dongle. What’s that all about?
    I was lucky because I got it on a 30 day contract so can cancel it. If anyone else wants to try it go here Dongles

  4. It can be tricky finding the best mobile broadband service depending on region, and even moreso if you plan to access the service while travelling. Over the passed few months i’ve amassed quite the collection payg broadband dongles. My advice would be to take a look at some of the 1 month contracts that are now available, hopefully that way you’ll be able to find a network with strong coverage without getting tied down to any lengthy contract terms!

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