We enter the world of the Dongle (and reminisce the days of open Wi-fi networks)

a dongle doing its dongley thingAfter the Wirefresh offices were hit by a catastrophic BT outage last night – we’re looking at being disconnected for at least four days while their technicians work out how to rewire a plug (or something) – we found ourselves scrambling around for our Internet fix.

Hunt down the Wi-Fi

Out first reaction was to flip open our ThinkPads and hunt out a nearby open network.

About six years ago, we were just about the only hotspot in town, but the last time we looked the area was stuffed full of wide open hotspots just begging to be logged into – so surely we’d have no problem piggybacking on to some kind soul’s connection?

Sadly, in the few years since we last went sniffing out Wi-Fi in our ‘hood, people have got wise to network security, and every one of the 40+ hotspots visible were all securely locked down.

Now, we know that most of these networks would be easy-peasy to hack into (most people never change the default passwords, and these can be easily looked up online), but we’re not the freeloading kind, so we had to think again.

iPhone says no

A few years ago, we would have just used our Palm handset as a modem, but now we’re all iPhone’d up, that means such an operation is verboten.

To use the phone to connect our laptops to the web we’d either have to Jailbreak the iPhone or go along with o2’s beastly pricing and be stung a hefty £10 for a mere 3GB of data/month – or a marginally more attractive £30 for 10GB – and then use up our phone’s battery when we were using it.

a dongle doing its dongley thing

Dongle on

Reluctantly, we realised it was time to open our wallets and reach for the dongle. Despite internet connectivity becoming cheaper and cheaper, mobile broadband costs still border on the wrong side of hefty.

The cheapest we found was a deal offering 500MB data per month for a fiver (Carphone Warehouse) – but that was on a hideously long 18 month contract – and we’d eat half a gig for breakfast.

Pay As You Go deals hit you harder, although there are some reasonable offers to be found, with the most attractive being T-Mobile’s ‘Mobile Broadband Daily‘ deal.

This involves buying a USB modem stick and then only paying for the days you need it, which sound much better to us than the alternative of being tied to month deals with no ‘carrying over’ of data.

Once you’ve shelled out the £19.99 for the Mobile Broadband USB Stick 120, there’s three pay options:  £2 a day, £7 a week or £15 a month, all offering  unlimited browsing.

That sounds exactly what we’re after, so we’ll leave the web cafe we’re currently sat in, and head off to the T-Mobile store – and hopefully have a review for you later.

If it works, of course. We hope so because if we drink any more coffee we’re going to get the jittery heebeegeebees.

About mike s

Editor, wirefresh.com

View all posts by mike s

2 Comments on “We enter the world of the Dongle (and reminisce the days of open Wi-fi networks)”

  1. In NYC there used to be open networks wherever you went, but now it’s becoming increasingly harder to track down a hotspot for a quick bit of browsing.

  2. Mike, I’d be keen to hear about your experience with the T-mobile dongle in Wirefresh Towers as I’m in the market for a portable broadband service. Things I’d like to know is whether it supports Skype and iPlayer. Their £150 annual subscription interests me.

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