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.