Vodafone offers 4G mobile broadband from £11/month, allowing you to get connected to the internet on up to 10 devices.

In the UK, Vodafone offers a 4G mobile broadband service allowing you to get connected to the internet on up to 10 devices at the same time. With 99% 4G population coverage and download speeds of up to 150Mbit/s, the service can be a useful alternative to home broadband especially if you’re struggling with slow internet or poor wi-fi at home. It can also be useful for working from home, using video conferencing or for keeping the kids entertained.

When joining Vodafone’s mobile broadband service, there’s a choice of two devices. Most people now choose the Vodafone R219 mobile wi-fi hotspot as it allows you to connect up to 10 devices to the internet at the same time. The Vodafone K5161 USB data dongle is also available if you want a simpler device that gives you mobile broadband on your laptop. Alternatively, it’s also possible to get a mobile broadband SIM card that gives you access to mobile broadband on Vodafone without a new device.

In this article, we’ll review Vodafone’s mobile broadband service including the devices and price plans available. We’ll also look at the download speeds and coverage available on the service.

Vodafone Mobile Broadband

In the UK, Vodafone’s 4G mobile broadband service gives you access to high-speed broadband internet on up to 10 devices at the same time. With 99% population coverage, download speeds of up to 150Mbit/s, and a choice of flexible one-month or 12-month plans, it can be a useful addition or alternative to your regular home broadband service.

Unlike Vodafone’s regular fixed-line home broadband (including Superfast Broadband and Gigafast Broadband), Vodafone’s 4G mobile broadband service doesn’t rely on a phone line. This gives you the flexibility to use it in more places – whether that’s at home or outside at a different location. You can even use it abroad in 51 destinations at no extra cost through Vodafone Global Roaming (or in 81 destinations if you have an Unlimited Max price plan).

When joining Vodafone’s mobile broadband service, you’ll currently have a choice of two devices: either the Vodafone R219 mobile wi-fi hotspot or the Vodafone K5161 USB data dongle:

Vodafone R219 Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot Vodafone K5161 USB Data Dongle
Best for connecting multiple devices to the internet at the same time (up to 10 devices at one time).
Best for connecting a single device (your laptop) to the internet using mobile broadband.
Compatible with any device that supports wi-fi connectivity. Includes your phone, laptop, tablet, smart TV, games console and more. Compatible with a laptop running Windows 7 or later, or Mac OS X 10.9 and newer. A driver will be installed on your laptop for the dongle.
Fairly light and portable: the hotspot weighs 95g and measures 10.0 x 5.8 x 1.37 cm. A micro-USB cable is used for charging, giving up to 6 hours battery life on one charge. Even lighter and more portable. The dongle weighs just 35g and measures 8.8 x 2.8 x 1.15cm. There’s no need for a separate charger – just plug the dongle into a USB port on your laptop to use it.
Available for £35 upfront on a one-month rolling plan. No upfront cost on 12-month plans with 6GB+ of data. Available for £30 upfront on a one-month rolling plan. No upfront cost on 12-month plans with 6GB+ of data.
See Vodafone R219 Price Plans & Specifications → See Vodafone K5161 Price Plans & Specifications →

In the following sections, we’ll review each of the two mobile broadband devices in more detail.

Vodafone R219 Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

For most people, we’d recommend the Vodafone R219 mobile wi-fi hotspot as the best device for getting online through Vodafone’s mobile broadband service.

The R219 hotspot allows you to get up to 10 devices connected to the internet at the same time. It connects to Vodafone’s 4G network, offering Category 4 LTE download speeds of up to 150Mbit/s. Using the 4G signal, it then broadcasts a regular wi-fi network for your other devices to connect to. This means it should work with any wi-fi enabled device including your laptop, tablet, smartphone, smart TV, games console and more.

Weighing just 95g, the Vodafone R219 is designed to be a portable device that you can easily carry in your pocket. It has a built-in battery with a capacity of 1,500mAh (enough for up to 6 hours of active usage on one charge). The battery can be topped up using a micro-USB cable and charger which is provided in the box.

You can currently get the Vodafone R219 on the following mobile broadband plans from Vodafone:

Data Allowance Contract Length Upfront Price Monthly Price
12 month contract
Unlimited Data (Max Plan) 12 month contract £0 £33/month
Unlimited Data (Up to 10Mbit/s) 12 month contract £0 £28/month
24GB Data 12 month contract £0 £22/month
6GB Data 12 month contract £0 £17/month
2GB Data 12 month contract £20 £11/month
1 month contract
Unlimited Data (Max Plan) 12 month contract £35 £37/month
Unlimited Data (Up to 10Mbit/s) 12 month contract £35 £32/month
24GB Data 12 month contract £35 £26/month
6GB Data 12 month contract £35 £21/month
2GB Data 12 month contract £35 £15/month
Pay As You Go
15GB Data (90 day validity) Pay As You Go £50 Top-up as required

For more information on the R219 including detailed specifications, please see the Vodafone website.

Vodafone K5161 USB Dongle

As an alternative to the R219 mobile wi-fi hotspot, Vodafone also offers the K5161 USB data dongle. This is a simpler device compared to the R219, allowing you to use mobile broadband on only one device at a given time (your laptop).

The main advantage of choosing a K5161 USB data dongle is the fact it’s lighter and more portable than a R219 hotspot. Weighing just 35g, it’s around one-third of the weight of a R219 hotspot. There’s also no need to charge the device or to carry around a charging cable for it – simply plug it in to the USB port on your laptop to use it. The dongle also has a built-in micro-SD card reader. This allows you to transfer files between different devices.

The main disadvantage of the K5161 data dongle is that it can only be used on one device at a time. This needs to be a laptop with a spare USB port, running on Windows 7 and later or Mac OS X 10.9 and later. It isn’t possible to use the dongle with other types of device like your tablet, smartphone or games console.

The following table shows a list of available mobile broadband plans for the Vodafone K5161. Broadly speaking, these are very similar to the price plans on the R219 hotspot. However, you can save £5 on the upfront cost if you choose to take the K5161 dongle on a 1-month rolling plan:

Data Allowance Contract Length Upfront Price Monthly Price
12 month contract
Unlimited Data (Max Plan) 12 month contract £0 £33/month
Unlimited Data (Up to 10Mbit/s) 12 month contract £0 £28/month
24GB Data 12 month contract £0 £22/month
6GB Data 12 month contract £0 £17/month
2GB Data 12 month contract £20 £11/month
1 month contract
Unlimited Data (Max Plan) 12 month contract £30 £37/month
Unlimited Data (Up to 10Mbit/s) 12 month contract £30 £32/month
24GB Data 12 month contract £30 £26/month
6GB Data 12 month contract £30 £21/month
2GB Data 12 month contract £30 £15/month
Pay As You Go
15GB Data (90 day validity) Pay As You Go £45 Top-up as required

For more information about the K5161 USB data dongle, please see Vodafone’s official website.

Mobile Broadband SIM Cards

If you already have an unlocked mobile broadband device that you’re happy to use, Vodafone offers data-only SIM cards for mobile broadband from £11/month. These data-only SIM cards are enabled for both 4G and 5G coverage. This means you can access 5G download speeds if you have a compatible device to use with the service.

Vodafone currently offers the following mobile broadband SIM cards:

Data Allowance Contract Length Upfront Price Monthly Price
12 month contract
Unlimited Data (Max Plan) 12 month contract £0 £33/month
Unlimited Data (Up to 10Mbit/s) 12 month contract £0 £28/month
24GB Data 12 month contract £0 £22/month
6GB Data 12 month contract £0 £17/month
2GB Data 12 month contract £0 £11/month
1 month contract
Unlimited Data (Max Plan) 12 month contract £0 £37/month
Unlimited Data (Up to 10Mbit/s) 12 month contract £0 £32/month
24GB Data 12 month contract £0 £26/month
6GB Data 12 month contract £0 £21/month
2GB Data 12 month contract £0 £15/month

Please see the Vodafone website for full details about all of their mobile broadband SIM cards.

If you’re looking for a new 4G tablet on which to use Vodafone’s mobile broadband service, they also sell a range of iPads along with tablets from Samsung and Huawei.

Download Speeds

Both the Vodafone R219 mobile wi-fi hotspot and the Vodafone K5161 data dongle support Category 4 LTE speeds (up to 150Mbit/s download and up to 50Mbit/s upload). In practice, however, the actual download speeds you get will depend on the coverage available in your area. It may also be affected by the number of other people using the service in your area.

For an estimate of the download speeds available, enter your postcode on Vodafone’s online coverage map. You can tap on the “data speed info” button after entering your postcode to see a range of speeds that will likely be available.

Most of Vodafone’s mobile broadband plans have uncapped download speeds so you’ll get the fastest available speeds in your area and on your device. The only exception is on their £28/month Unlimited data plan which has a maximum download speed of 10Mbit/s. The £33/month Unlimited Max plan has uncapped download speeds.

Customers using their own mobile broadband device with Vodafone’s data-only SIM card may be able to access even faster speeds than what is available on the Vodafone R219 and K5161. For instance, 5G speeds are available on a data-only SIM if you have a 5G device and are living in a 5G coverage area.

Coverage

2G, 3G & 4G Coverage

On Vodafone’s mobile broadband service, you’ll have access to 99% population coverage in the UK on Vodafone’s 2G, 3G and 4G networks.

Before signing up to Vodafone mobile broadband, we’d strongly recommend double-checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on Vodafone’s online coverage map:

Check Vodafone Coverage (vodafone.co.uk) →

It’s worth checking the coverage on Vodafone in all of the places where you’d use your mobile broadband service (e.g. at home and at work).

If you’re using a 5G-ready device with a mobile broadband SIM card, it may also be possible to access 5G coverage on Vodafone.

For more information, see our in-depth guide to coverage on Vodafone or our overview of how mobile coverage works in the UK.

International Roaming

If you’re travelling abroad, you can use your mobile broadband service through Vodafone Global Roaming.

On all mobile broadband plans, it’s possible to roam at no extra cost when travelling to one of 51 European destinations (capped at a maximum of 25GB per month on unlimited data plans).

On the Unlimited Max price plan, you can roam at no extra cost in 81 international destinations with Global Roaming Plus. This includes most European countries along with the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey and more.

In most other countries, it will cost you £6/day to use your Vodafone mobile broadband service as part of the Roam-further offer.

For more information, see Vodafone’s official website or read our full guide to Vodafone Global Roaming.

More Information

For more information on Vodafone mobile broadband, please see Vodafone’s official website.

Your Comments 34 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 34 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Hi Ken,

    Thank you for the article, it is really informative. I am planning to get R219 hotspot as I live in rental property and don’t want to get long-term contract. My only worry is its compatibility with Apple products. I have read that it might be a problem but those articles were written some time ago so I just wanted to know if the device has been improved since or what would you suggest as an traditional home broadband alternative for a Mac user?

    Many thanks,
    Lissi

  • Hi Ken,
    Thanks for your website and reviews of these products – very helpful.
    I am looking at getting 4G Broadband as I have just moved house and there is no fibre to cabinet connection available at my new property (just standard ADSL or Virgin which is expensive). The Vodafone website says we have good 4G coverage at the new address, and since moving I have gotten a speed of around 22Mbps on my 4G connection on my phone (on O2 network). Vodafone and O2 seem to be the only 4G mobile providers available here (no EE or 3 available in our rural market town).
    I am looking at the R219 hotspot as an option, as the Unlimited Max data plan is currently on offer which would bring it in at an average of about £25 per month on the 12m contract (this is the same price Sky offered me for an ADSL connection). The price is OK but I want the fastest speed for the money, be it wired or 4G (we’re not bothered about a fixed phone line as we both have unlimited text/call bundles on our mobiles anyway).
    My only concern is the actual WiFi broadcast range of the R219 hotspot device itself. I can’t find details of this anywhere. It says you can connect 10 devices, which is more than sufficient for us (at max we would have two phones, an iPad and a Smart TV connected, but unlikely they’d all be active at the same time). My concern is, how close you have to be to the hotspot itself to get a strong connection (as I would like to position it in the house so I don’t really have to move it and it acts like a traditional wired router but through 4G).
    I’m tempted to get the unlimited data deal and just see how the hotspot itself performs, then maybe buy an alternative 4G Router to put the SIM into, if the WiFi broadcast on the hotspot isn’t wide ranging enough to cover the whole house well. Do you have any tips on which 4G Router might be a good alternative (and do you think it’ll be needed)?
    For info, I will be (currently) using the connection to deliver online live teaching (with screen-share and two devices connected) during the daytime, and we watch our internet TV in the evening (just one TV). We occasionally video call friends and relatives overseas, and our phones are usually on all the time. Will the R219 do the job do you think?
    Cheers
    Jen

    • Hi Jen,
      Thanks for your comment. The Wi-Fi range of the R219 is definitely going to be a lot worse than a normal router, so it really depends on how large your home is! As a rule of thumb, you can expect around 10 metres Wi-Fi coverage (versus around 30 metres coverage with a more traditional router). If you decide you want to upgrade to a proper 4G router, my recommendation would probably be to get something like the Huawei B311 or the Huawei B535.
      Finally, with regards to whether the R219 should be “up to the job” for what you want to do: yes, it should be able as long as you’re in an area with good enough speeds and coverage 🙂
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Jenny Murray replied:

        Thanks for this Ken – we did indeed get one of these little R219 spots and, to be fair, I’m surprised at how well its been performing considering the size of our house (covers about 2/3rd of a fairly large old Edwardian villa)! The 4G signal is good so when we move the hotspot about its absolutely fine… if annoying to have to move it all the time! I will look into the Huawei as an alternative. Thanks! Jen

  • Hi Ken I’ve been quite happily using an R219 for working from home for nearly a year now however I have noticed in the last couple of weeks it’s become much slower. I don’t think it’s a problem with the 4G signal strength as my phone is much quicker if I switch from the mifi to mobile data. Do they wear out after a year of constant use and should I be looking to replace the device with a new one? Thanks Nigel

    • Hi Nigel,
      Thanks for your comment. There shouldn’t be a problem with your device “wearing out” but it could be that coverage has worsened or that your local mast has become more congested. I’d possibly test out placing your device in a different location and seeing whether this makes a difference 🙂
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Nigel Batten replied:

        Hi Ken

        Thanks for your advice and yes I tried that without success. However as a last resort I switched it off overnight and the next day it was back to full strength and has been working fine ever since. For anybody reading this I think it’s a great product and really useful being able to take it out and about. Although you might find it likes a rest after a year’s constant use.

        Best wishes

        Nigel

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