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Virgin Media Mobile Broadband USB Modem review

Niall Magennis

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

After shelling out the not inconsiderable sum of £22.47bn on UK 3G licenses, mobile operators found themselves initially at a bit of a loss as to what to do with all the bandwidth, especially after they discovered that our interest in video calls lasted about as long as our interest in Andrew Sachs' granddaughter.

It's true that more and more of us are now using data services on our mobiles to download emails, access Google Maps or just check the latest news on our favourite reviews site. However, it's looking increasingly likely that it will be mobile broadband services which will make best use of all that bandwidth, especially now that HSDPA has boosted download speeds into the 2.8Mbps range.

All the major networks already offer mobile broadband packages and they're trying hard to price them at a level competitive to traditional ADSL in an effort to win over light Internet users who don't want to pay line rental charges.

Virgin Media is currently number two in the home broadband market in the UK, but it obviously doesn't want to be left behind when it comes to broadband on the move. The company has its own-brand mobile phone service, so it's wasn't that much of a leap for it to add mobile broadband into the mix.

Virgin is offering mobile broadband via a number of different deals. For example, if you're already a Virgin customer using it's XL (20Mb) or L (10Mb) cable broadband packages or its ADSL Bundle 1 offering, you can get mobile broadband with a 1GB usage allowance for an additional fiver a month. If you're on one of the lower-end home broadband deals you can get the same package for a tenner a month.

However, for this review we're looking at the standard retail pack which targets people who don't already have a Virgin service. This deal costs £15 a month on an 18-month contract for a 3GB monthly download allowance and a free USB modem.

Martin Daler

November 10, 2008, 3:48 pm

Whilst you say Virgin is very upfront about their 3G coverage. They are also very confused. The page your article links to clearly says mobile broadband = 3G = 85% coverage.


But then on their more upfront "Mobile Broadband" home page it says:


"With Mobile Broadband you're connected to the internet through our mobile phone network which covers 99.5% of the UK"


http://www.virginmobile.com/vm...

Niall

November 10, 2008, 6:16 pm

Hi Martin,





The 85 per cent refers to the 3G coverage, while the 99.5 per cent refers to the coverage of the entire mobile network including non-3G areas. The postcode checker shows whether it's full 3G or just 2.5G in your area, plus they offer a 28 day money back guarantee. That's pretty upfront in my book, but of course people are free to differ in their views.





Niall

Krog2b6

November 11, 2008, 1:22 am

A warning to all existing Virgin Media customers who also have Virgin mobile phones i.e. 2 phones. Having the mobile broadband dongle counts as a third 'sim' and it takes at least 72 hours to get clearance for this on your account. I've just spent an afternoon on the phone with Virgin Customer Services trying to get this sorted out. All I got was an apology and the offer to upgrade my home broadband at an extra cost to myself !!!!!!

LittleGreyCat

April 15, 2009, 10:34 pm

I am currently having problems with the Virgin dongle.


I have managed to install it once on Windows XP Pro (SP3) on a Dell laptop but I can't see the modem device on my Scaleo L desktop running XP Home (SP3) or on my Gateway Win2K (SP4) portable. Note that only the Professional version of Win2K is supported (although this is not clear from any documentation).


I can also not see the modem device on my Linux EEE PC 900 and when running Ubuntu on my Scaleo and my Gateway.


This points to a possible firmware problem in the dongle. I am waiting for a replacement and will report back on progress but it is strange that I can see the USB virtual CD drive and install the software, but not see the modem device.

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