Vodafone’s dongles: Broadband for the luddite generation

I have to say, Vodafone UK is seriously, seriously disappointing when it comes to mobile broadband. I’ve been sitting enjoying both my unlocked Novatel Wireless MiFi unit for quite some time, but I’m hugely frustrated for the rest of the Vodafone marketplace not able to easily enjoy the benefits of MiFi.

Pop over to challenger network, 3, and for years you’ve been able to pick up a MiFi unit that shares your broadband connection with up to five of your connected devices. They’ve just released their all new 2nd-generation unit and, as with the first generation, I’ve no doubt they’re flying off the shelves, especially at their keen price of £49/each PAYG (plus a tenner for 1GB data).

What, then, does Vodafone UK offer it’s millions of customers?

A plastic dongle for their laptop.


That’s it.


All I can assume is that the financial bods have done their numbers and decided that their UK customer base isn’t quite ready for MiFi.

It’s not as if the UK is some mobile backwater.

Oh look, what’s this I found on Vodafone Spain’s website…

Yeah, they offer MiFi. They don’t force their customers to use stupid broadband sticks that ONLY work with laptops. How 1995 is that viewpoint?

It gets worse if you compare directly.

This is Vodafone Spain’s Mobile Broadband page. LOOK at the products they’re offering… Broadband sticks, yes, but they’ve got stick-plus-base station, the E960 router, another different stick … and the “Pocket WiFI”:

Aaaand what do we get offered in the UK? Let’s look at the same page on Vodafone UK:

Yes. Dongles. Just USB dongles.

Move along. Nothing to see here.

Spain isn’t the exception. Vodafone Germany also has a bucketload of possible products to choose from:

Oh look… the trusty old MiFi unit. Again.

How ridiculous is it that Vodafone UK doesn’t actually stock MiFi? Oh they’ll give you a MicroSIM for your iPad and they’ll be delighted to sell you a netbook-and-a-sodding-USB-dongle… (or a Netbook with integrated SIM). But MiFi?

No. Not today please. Why not?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

8 replies on “Vodafone’s dongles: Broadband for the luddite generation”

Hey Ewan,

In the back of the latest 'Your Vodafone Guide' June/July 2010, it has the Vodafone mobile WiFi as coming soon aparently available for £39.99 when connected to a £15 per month price plan

Maybe it's because the MiFi is soooo 2009?

Why buy a dongle or a MiFi when you can just buy a tetherable handset eg. any of the Nokia's (running JoikuSpot) or the likes of Androids that run Mobile AP straight out of the box.

As a big fan of MiFi I feel awful weird writing comments that seem to be running it down! especially as I even use (unlocked) dongles. Maybe it's my particular roaming requirements, whilst a locked MiFi would be great if I was in one country all the time I'd often find it a dead weight if I was abroad. Personally I find it much easier to only have to maintain a single data/voice SIM per country when travelling.

As an example of a tetherable handset I'm finding the Samsung Wave very good. Using it regularly at conferences/airports etc and having yet to encounter battery problems. It also helps that it's almost instinctive at this stage to plug my mobile into a USB socket whenever I'm sat near one.

BTW the reason this strikes a particular chord with me is that a colleague asked me last week to set him up with mobile internet for an European driving holiday he is taking next week with his facebook addicted kids. I gave him an unlocked tetherable handset, a car charger and told him to pick up a local PAYGO SIMs with the best data package as and when he needed them. When MiFi's are unlocked (or offered by a network that lets you roam efficiently – 3 is great for data when on other 3 networks eg in UK/Ireland/Italy but has no presence in France yet – and available at say £50 I wouldn't hesitate to fully recommend the purchase.

Hi – what is the URL of the spanish page screenshot you posted here? I live in Spain and without the language the service means nothing! I can only find Vodafone in spanish – this page would really help me out?


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