Network providing megalodon Vodafone has kicked out a new version of its popular Mobile Connect 3G/GPRS data card that will happily roam in the good ol’ US of A.
Of course we all know that 3G, capable of speeds up to 384kbps, hasn’t yet taken off in the land of the Bald Eagle, so you’ll be limited to GPRS (30-70kbps realistically). They do have EDGE, (GPRS’s big brother capable of 100 – 130kbps) which the new VMC card doesn’t support, but Edge hasn’t really taken off so far and to call the current state of its coverage patchy would be like calling Lee Bowyer a little bit annoying.
That said, the added functionality of the new Vodafone data cards should prove a real boon to all you regular Atlantic hurdlers, whilst it retains its existing range of GPRS and 3G services for the rest of the world. At last count, GPRS was available in 54 countries, with 3G used in 11. It is both Mac and PC compatible.
Incidentally, there is no word on who made these new cards, but we did say back in February “if you notice your provider suddenly offering world wide 3G data card coverage in the next few months, chance is it’s via a GlobeTrotter”. So we’re putting our money on that.
To coincide with its more versatile cards, Vodafone has also given their supplied software an overhaul. The new dashboard (its term, not mine) now features a selection of new buttons, such as a separate WLAN button which works with the wireless installed in your notebook (if you have it) to switch more easily between using that or your VMC card. There is also a built in WLAN timer which reminds you how much airtime you have should you be accessing a wireless hotspot. In addition, the helpful megabyte counter that came with the original software remains intact and now helpfully resets at the end of each billable month. Existing VMC users can upgrade their software here.
Finally, rounding of the announcement is something we all wanted to see: a cheaper range of price plans. Called Vodafone Mobile Connect 5, 75, 200, 450 and 1000 respectively (denoting the included monthly megabytes in each), the tariffs are priced at £11.75, £23.50, £35.25, £53 and £88.15.
Card prices begin at £199 for the 5MB package and reduce to £149, £135, £129 and £99 as you step up each plan. Should you slip above your agreed data allowance the additional cost per megabyte is a hefty £2.25 for the 5MB package, reducing to £1.76, £1.18, 88p and 59p depending on whether you have the 75, 200, 450 or 1000 scheme.
The obvious sweet spot here is the 75MB deal. As long as you don’t start a swath of downloading this should be enough to let you happily surf the web and check email (watch out for those attachments). If you want a little more freedom then 200 is also worth a shout.