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 23 so far

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  • Hi there!

    Thanks for this article, it’s really helpful.

    I am considering the Vodafone R219 Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot as my current WiFi is very unreliable and slow. We don’t have fibre here so our speeds are very slow and our hub constantly loses connection. Our 4g speeds on our phones however is decent and according to Vodafone’s coverage checker, the coverage where we are is good. Do you think this would be a good option please?

    Obviously, 150mbps is peak speed and we’re unlikely to get that, but how much of a drop off are we likely to see from the hub connecting to 4g, to our devices connecting to the hub? We use WiFi for watching live TV and Netflix etc all via an xbox as well as video calling friends and family etc. Will it be able to handle all of this do you think?

    Many thanks,
    Alex

    • Hi Alex,
      Thanks for your comment. The Vodafone R219 is potentially an option to consider, though like you say, it’ll probably suffer from some performance issues if you’re using lots of devices at the same time. The Wi-Fi signal will also be substantially weaker than a regular router (as a rule of thumb, it might only travel around one third of the distance of your normal router). You can, however, use it as a good starting point as you can always move the SIM card to a mains-powered router later on if you like (to get the improved Wi-Fi, better performance, etc).
      As an alternative, have you considered getting a 4G home broadband plan from Three Broadband? At the moment, they’re charging just £17/month for unlimited 4G home broadband. You’ll get a mains-powered router which should perform better than the battery-powered hotspot along with things a more powerful wi-fi signal, faster speeds, etc.
      Ken

      • Hi Ken,

        Thanks for getting back to me. Unfortunately Three say their home broadband isn’t available to my property. I don’t understand why that is though.

        There are only two of us so we would rarely have more than 4 devices connected. At the moment our WiFi gives us around 4mbps on a really good day, often it is less. Are we likely to experience better speeds than that with this do you think? The range I don’t think will be too much of an issue as we have a relatively small living room which is the only place we really use Internet. If we really needed it elsewhere we could move it to another room as it’s mobile, right?

        Really appreciate your help.

        Thanks,
        Alex

        • Hi Alex,
          That’s a shame regarding Three Broadband.
          Based on what you’ve said, I’d probably agree and say that the range of the R219 should be fine for your usage. Hopefully, the speeds you get should be better than 4Mbps as well, though that’s obviously dependent on the 4G coverage you’re able to get from Vodafone. Typically, Vodafone says you should be able to get around 23-35Mbps, but there is a lot of variability in that due to signal quality, congestion, etc. You can get a personalised expected speed range for where you live by entering your postcode here and then tapping on the “Data speed info” button in the result.
          Hope this helps,
          Ken

  • Hi Ken

    None of the websites actually advise if the R219 would support wireless printing (no USB cable or port). The Wireless printing (HP deskjet plus 4120) does not connect on my BT open zone, would the R219 work in the same way as BT open zone? I’d like to try something new as I travel long distance and abroad for work, so having a monthly fixed line router at home is not an option. (no telephone line). However at home my wireless printing and scanning simply does not work when I am connected to open zone on any device so hoping the above would help connect?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Lucy,
      Thanks for your comment and a very good question. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with exactly how your wireless printer works, but I imagine it requires the devices on your wi-fi network to be able to communicate with each other. On public networks like BT Openzone, this is obviously disabled as it would be a major security risk (e.g. other people on the network might be able to access data from your device). As the Vodafone R219 is producing your own private network, I see no reason why this type of access would be blocked. Saying that, there might be something else that I’m unaware of, so unfortunately it’s something you’ll need to test out for yourself!
      Ken

    • Hi Laura,
      Thanks for your comment. You can certainly do this if you like! However, the wi-fi signal on your Vodafone R219 might not be as a strong as a mains-powered router and it’s also limited to a maximum of 10 devices at one time. If you need a more powerful router, I’d recommend getting a 4G home broadband router instead.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

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