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O2 mobile broadband dongle

With the launch of Vodafone’s new cheaper pay as you mobile broadband deal, we take a look at the trend for more affordable offers from providers.

Cheaper pay as you mobile broadband deals are set to proliferate this year as the credit crunch makes them more appealing to consumers, with the news that a third UK internet service provider has unveiled a cheaper pay as you go offering providing proof of the trend.

This week Vodafone announced a new pay as you mobile broadband deal called TopUp and Go. Under the terms of the offer, customers pay £39 for the dongle and are given an initial £15 of credit, which represents around 1GB of usage. According to Vodafone, the dongle, which also functions as a 4GB memory stick, is capable of delivering speeds of up to 3.6Mb. Further top ups cost £15.

Vodafone’s service joins other cut-price pay as you go offerings from O2 and 3. The £39 cost of the dongle means that it is priced inbetween the cheapest offering from O2, which charges £29.35 for its dongle, and the price point of £49.99 for 3’s budget deal.

The difference between the three offerings is principally in the top up costs and usage terms thereof. 3 and O2 customers also pay £15 for a top up, but receive 3GB compared with the 1GB proferred to those on Vodafone’s plan. However, both 3 and O2 stipulate that this must be used up within 30 days of purchase, while Vodafone customers have unlimited time to make use of their top up.

Vodafone’s deal is indicative of the surge in demand for mobile broadband and is likely to enjoy strong take-up over the Christmas period. According to Jessica McArdle, marketing manager at Top 10 Broadband, affordable pay as you go mobile broadband deals are becoming more common in the face of the credit crunch as more and more people reassess whether they can afford a monthly contract.

She explained: “We’re seeing more pay as you deals appear as ISPs realise that in these straitened times people are much more reluctant to commit to a lengthy contract. However, by only paying for what they use, pay as you mobile broadband is an economical solution.”

Ms McArdle added: “I’d say the Vodafone deal will appeal in particular to people who only need to get online very occasionally as well as to the younger market who maybe don’t have the disposable income of their older peers. I can also see people buying it as a back-up connection.”

According to Vodafone, a 1GB data allowance will ordinarily enable users surf the web for around 30 hours, send 650 emails or download 65 music tracks.

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