Since I am at the moment in a house with no broadband connection and my netbook doesn’t have a dial up modem, I am using a Vodafone USB dongle to connect to the Internet.
For anyone without a phone line or in an area where ADSL is not available, a mobile phone dongle is a relatively simple way to get on to the net.
Since I only want to use this dongle on occasions, mine is a pay as you go version. However, I upload pictures to my Flickr album which eats up bandwidth, so my dongle needs regular topping up.
Now the easiest way to top up is to use your debit of credit card but of course mine are all registered to our address in Spain. No problem, I bought a top up voucher – from Asda but that didn’t work. Why, because silly me, I got a £20 voucher and that won’t do. It seems that Vodafone dongles will only accept £15 vouchers. Nowhere in the instructions does it tell you that and the lady in the shop didn’t know either. It took a phone call to Vodafone call centre to find that out.
How good is the dongle? If you can only find a GPRS connection it is painfully slow. So slow that web pages will time out before they download - even mail servers will close their connection. Get onto a 3G connection or better still 3G+ and it is a different story. It doesn’t come near to my 10Mb connection in Spain but it is good enough.
The problem is that the 3G signal is poor here. Once the dongle has connected, it does hold on pretty well so it is useable.