O2 finally joins mobile broadband party

O2 offers mobile broadband for £20 a month as it becomes final network to join the fray

O2, the last remaining UK network without a mobile broadband offer, has finally decided to join the party.

O2 will launch its Mobile Broadband on Friday, offering all of its existing customers 3GB worth of mobile data for £20 a month. The network has offered mobile data cards to business customers for some time, but this latest move sees it enter the burgeoning consumer USB dongle market.

Customers choosing to sign an 18-month contract will be given the requisite USB dongle for free; those preferring to pay the £20 month charge on a rolling month-by-month basis will have to stump up £120 for the modem.

O2 says its modem will automatically switch to the fastest available network - be that GPRS, EDGE, 3G or HSDPA - with a colour-coded panel on the device revealing which network is being used. Mobile Broadband customers will also be given free access to 7,500 Wi-Fi hotspots on The Cloud network.

O2 claims its mobile broadband network offers speeds of up to 1.8Mb/sec - which its press release rather disingenuously claims is "faster than the speeds most people experience on their home broadband" - and said that will be doubled to 3.6Mb/sec in June.

Given that O2 has just slashed the price of the iPhone ahead of an expected launch of a 3G model, that speed boost could be very welcome indeed for those who are holding out for faster surfing speeds before splashing out on Apple's handset.

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