O2 has entered the mobile broadband market, offering its new USB Modem with an 18-month contract or a rolling monthly deal.

O2 is a latecomer to the mobile broadband market; Vodafone, 3 and Orange have been offering 3G connectivity for laptops for some time. Like its competitors' offerings, O2's USB Modem supports GPRS, EDGE, 3G and HSDPA.

Customers can choose to take out an 18-month price plan for £20 a month with a USB Modem included free of charge, or pay £20 a month for a rolling one-month package plus the one-off cost of the USB Modem (£119.99).

Broadband speeds of up to 1.8Mbit/s, which are equivalent to or faster than the speeds many people experience on their home broadband, will be the standard. From June, O2 will begin increasing this to up to 3.6Mbit/s across the network.

As well as 3GB worth of UK data usage on the O2 network, customers get "unlimited" Wi-Fi access through The Cloud's 7,500 hotspots. The usage is subject to The Cloud's fair usage policy. O2 also promises 24/7 support from a UK call centre.

"We are confident our broadband services complete a great communication experience for our customers however they want to connect to the Internet, whether that be at home, on their mobile phone or laptop," said Sally Cowdry, marketing director, O2 UK. The company also offerings fixed line broadband and mobile phone services.