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3g_iphone“While all the talk is about mobile broadband taking over fixed-line in the future, the current reality for dongle users is proving regressive, rather than progressive.” That’s the word from independent broadband comparison website Broadbandgenie.co.uk, which found that since it started monitoring the industry in 2007 the amount of data most providers offer on monthly deals for dongles has gone down, not up.

Broadband Genie blamed that dip over the last three years on the continuing rise of smartphones, especially unlimited iPhone data deals, which are “putting data pressure on the mobile networks that they can’t currently cope with”.

Back in 2007 T-Mobile offered unlimited data downloads (with a 10GB fair usage policy), while Orange followed with a deal that had a 15GB limit. 3 then matched that 15GB offer in mid-2008, while Vodafone business mobile broadband deals were unlimited (with a 5GB fair use policy).

In 2010 only 3 offers a 15GB package on contract dongle deals and only Orange has a 10GB monthly deal. Vodafone and T-Mobile have deals available with a maximum of 5GB, while O2 and Virgin are as low as 3GB per month.

O2 has offered customers who were willing to buy certain laptop deals a 10GB limit, but the company actually removed those deals this week.

“When Apple approached UK mobile broadband ISPs to sell its iPhone, one condition they made was that people who bought the handset would get unlimited data,” a statement from Broadband Genie said.

“This was always going to put massive pressure on an already struggling service.”