Vodafone rolls out own-brand Mi-Fi service


Mobile Wi-Fi competition just got more heated as Vodafone has launched its own all-in-one package starting at 15 per month

Vodafone has followed in rival network Three's footsteps by launching its own mobile Wi-Fi package, allowing up to five devices to share a mobile internet connection at the same time.

Manufactured by Huawei, the Vodafone Mobile Wi-Fi router is a portable, batterypowered Mi-Fi device containing a mobile SIM card that enables it to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot and share the connection with other devices within range.

The network has announced three 18-month data deals to choose from, starting at 15 per month plus 49 up front for 3GB of monthly data. An extra 5 per month sees the data allowance rise to 4GB and the initial outlay drop to 29, while 25 per month gets you 5GB of data, with the device itself coming free of charge. A further pay-as-you-go option will be introduced shortly.

A number of SIM-free Mi-Fi devices are available from third-party manufacturers, but so far Three has been the only network to offer an all-in-one package directly. But after more than a year of exclusivity, other networks now appear ready to provide some competition.

As a relatively inexpensive way to get any number of web-capable portable devices online, Mi-Fi's popularity is growing steadily. In particular, the introduction of the iPad has seen demand for mobile Wi-Fi solutions soar, with Mi-Fi offering consumers an alternative to forking out for a dedicated contract on the pricier 3G version of the Apple tablet.

Vodafone claims the Mobile Wi-Fi router will provide four hours of battery life before needing to charge, with download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps possible over 3G or HSDPA networks.

The Vodafone Mobile Wi-Fi is available now.