For those looking for a 5GB plan, Vodafone offers a pleasant surprise – its USB modem, which costs $5 per month with Vodafone’s $30 per month, 1GB plan, is free.

The plan costs $50 per month, putting Vodafone’s pricing in line with all the other providers except Telstra. For those who need a smaller data cap, Vodafone is the second most expensive provider here, at $30 per month for its 1GB plan.

Its charges for exceeding its data plans are among the less punitive, though, at 10c per MB. Vodafone’s speeds were approximately as we’d expect for a non-HSDPA network. The fastest we saw during its speed tests was 1.9Mb/s – a respectable result for everyday web browsing and streaming video from YouTube, for instance.

Vodafone’s USB modem, like Optus and Virgin’s, comes with an integrated micro-SD card reader. Alternatively, you can opt for Vodafone’s ExpressCard/34 modem, which lacks the card reader, but is free on the $50 plan.

The Mobile Connect software that accompanies the modem is easy to use, besides offering a wealth of management and monitoring features. There’s a display of your usage by month, although Vodafone is keen to stress the most accurate information regarding your account is to be found by logging in with your account at Vodafone’s website – Mobile Connect includes a link to take you there.

Nonetheless, we appreciate the at-a-glance information, which also includes information on how much time you’ve spent on GPRS and roaming networks. The software can announce when you come within range of a preset limit – useful if you’re afraid of going over your cap.

At lower data caps, Vodafone isn’t the best deal. At 1GB, for instance, it costs $30 per gigabyte. Indeed, it’s the second most expensive 1GB plan here, and it’s only once you hit the 5GB mark that its plans become more reasonable. Still, it has one of the best software and hardware combinations around, and the free modem with the 5GB plan is a plus compared to Telstra, which charges $149 no matter which data plan you have.

However, it’s expensive at lower data capacities: Virgin offers free modems, 3 is worth considering because of its wide range of plans, and its modem pricing is identical to Vodafone’s. Virgin is worth noting because of its lack of excess charges. Vodafone is a solid mid-market offering, and if you live within its coverage area it’s well worth considering. You may well be able to find better value elsewhere, however.
4 6
A free modem and competitive pricing around the 5GB mark make Vodafone worth a look – but other networks are cheaper per GB
Value for money
• Vodafone: www.vodafone.com.au
Cost of modem $5/mth Cost per month $30 Included data 1GB Excess usage charge per MB 10c
This review appeared in the November, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

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