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Virgin Media Mobile Broadband USB Modem - Virgin Media Mobile Broadband USB Modem

Niall Magennis

By Niall Magennis


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

The pack comes in a store friendly box with the USB dongle clearly visible through a clear plastic window on the front. On the rear there's the genius marketing slogan - "Get the Internet Outside". Who said Britain was being dumbed down?

Inside, as well as the dongle, you'll find a USB extension lead and the Virgin Mobile Sim card. The silver and black dongle is branded on the front with the Virgin Mobile logo but flick it over and the markings on the rear reveal that it's a Huawei Mobile Connect E160 USB modem. The left hand side of the dongle has a couple of interesting features hiding beneath two tiny plastic covers. The first is an aerial socket to let you hook it up to an external aerial to improve mobile reception, while the second is a microSD slot as the stick also acts as a simple single format memory card reader.

As you would expect, getting the dongle up and running is very straight forward. You just place the Sim in the pull out card holder which slides back into a recess behind the stick's USB connector. When you push the dongle into your PC it first installs itself as a removable drive. Double-clicking on this starts the install wizard. Once completed you're left with a shortcut on your desktop to the Virgin Broadband application.

Seeing as Virgin Media hasn't suddenly bagged itself its own 3G license the question is where is it getting its network from? As with the standard Virgin Mobile phone service, it's actually all built around T-mobile's network. As a result anyone who's used T-mobile's mobile broadband package will be instantly familiar with the software provided here. It's rebranded with the Virgin logo, but otherwise it remains largely unchanged. You get a useful scrolling graph which plots in real time your current download and upload speeds, while a sidebar displays your daily, monthly and yearly download data usage.

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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"



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.



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 !!!!!!


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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