THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS
As of November 2009 mobile broadband has never been cheaper, data allowances have never been larger and 3G coverage has never been more widespread.
Take 3, for example. Right now £10pm will give you a free USB dongle and 1GB of data allowance. Step outside of this and the additional megabyte charge is 10p... 10p! Need more? Then a £15pm 18 month contract will give you a free dongle and 15 gigabytes of monthly data. Even Vodafone - traditionally a more expensive network - will take just £15 of your hard earned cash per month for 3GB of data per month. Likewise Orange has launched a 500MB per month deal with prices starting from just £5pm. The contract phobic can benefit too with pre-pay, daily, weekly and rolling monthly deals all available.
Truth be told there is now a greater variety of mobile broadband packages on the market than we are given for our mobile phones. It's a very different world from where we began.
It's not just pricing that has evolved beyond all recognition though, 3G technology itself has made quantum leaps. Whereas the Vodafone Mobile Connect Card that Riyad tested maxed out at 384Kbit/sec downstream and uploads of 64Kbit/sec (neither of which you could realistically get near) we have moved onto HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) which has jumped from 1.8Mbit/sec to 3.6Mbit/sec and now 7.2Mbit/sec (14Mbit/sec is its potential limit). This did little for upload speeds though so along came HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access) which provides all the download performance of HSDPA and boost uploads to a potential 5.76Mbit/sec.
Even when a 3G connection isn't available 2G GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) signals have been bolstered by the introduction of EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) which turbo charges the 60Kbit/sec download and 40Kbit/sec upload maximums to near early 3G performance of 236Kbit/sec download and 118.4Kbit/sec upload. It all sounds like heaven, doesn't it?
Here suddenly is a technology which on paper seems like it will replace your fixed line home Internet connection. After all, most users consume under 15GB of data per month on their desktops, let alone their laptops. So ditch your BT/Orange/O2/Virgin/Sky/TalkTalk home phone with its monthly service charge, grab yourself a mobile broadband dongle and take your Internet connection wherever you go. It sounds more convenient, more progressive and certainly much cheaper. Customers up and down the country should be thrilled, the future is here and we should be grateful for it.
The problem is it isn't, we aren't and - if anything - we're getting more angry with each passing month.