My main interest in setting up this blog is to promote various Mobile Data products available here in the UK, and to compare the services available from our various networks.
For anyone that would like some more information on anything I've written in this Blog, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
I would also like to offer a service, where if you email details of the kind of offer you are interested in for your Telecommunications wants, including Mobile Data, Mobile Phone, Broadband, etc. services, I will check over the companies I am affiliated with and email you back with some links and my opinions on the pros and cons of the services compared to your requirements. Be sure to include your postcode and I will check coverage in your area where possible.
Please note any opinions given are purely my own opinion on the matter, and my search for offers will be limited to the companies I have affiliated with. (A list of which can be found in the list of links on the left.)
Three have released some Mobile Broadband Starter Kits, these come with a USB Modem, SIM card, and data allowance preloaded on the SIM card.
The cost of these Mobile Broadband Starter Kits ranges from £69.99 for a kit with 3GB to £279.99 for 24GB. Now, these data allowances do have a time limit, but they are not the 30 days of the standard add ons. You have 3 months to use the 3GB allowance to 24 month to use the 24GB allowance.
For more details on these Mobile Broadband Starter Kits, click here.
For more information on the latest offers from Three, click here.
One of my concerns about Mobile Broadband has been due to it's huge increase in popularity in the last year. I was worried that with such a large number of people using the mobile network for their internet that it would become clogged and render the service unusable due to slow speeds where so many people were downloading or uploading data at the same time. Fortunately, it looks like most of the networks are planning for this eventuality and have signed an agreement with BT which will increase the amount of data that can be transmitted across their networks at any one time. It would appear the only network among the UK Big 5 at the moment to have not done this is Orange.
More information on this can be found on the Financial Times website:
If you have a wireless router then you can connect multiple devices to your Mobile Broadband connection. This applies to any Wi-Fi enabled device, which in my home includes Laptop, Mobile Phone, Nintendo DS, and a Nintendo Wii. There are a two main ways of doing this, either you can get a Wireless Router which has Mobile Broadband built-in, or that you can connect your Mobile Broadband device to. Or, you can set-up a home network and allow other devices on the network to connect through your computer which has the device attached.
I know Vodafone has had a wireless router with included Mobile Broadband for a few years now but it has always been very expensive and only available to business users. For the Consumer market I have heard that T-Mobile and Three both have plans to release these but will most likely be locked to their own networks.
For those wanting to try a standard wireless router, here are some links to guides to get these working.
For Windows users I recommend this guide from Microsoft:
The big news for Mobile Broadband at the moment seems to be the decision by a group of 16 companies to form the Mobile Broadband Alliance (or Mobile Broadband Initiative, reports differ) and put one billion dollars in to promoting this. Which is going to include a brand new Mobile Broadband sticker to be stuck on new computers. The first of these are to be rolled out in time for christmas apparently. But for those of you who don't want to wait until christmas, you can get a Laptop with Mobile Broadband built-in with Orange now, unfortunately it will not include that new sticker.
I have just discovered this cool service from Sky. With their Sky+ Service you can set up a Remote Record feature, which allows you to set your Sky+ Box to record from anywhere you have access to the internet or via text message on your mobile phone. You do need Sky+ for this service and to register for it before hand. It is completely free of charge when done over the internet and £0.25 for the confirmation message when done by mobile phone. For more information click here.
T-Mobile has improved the rates ou are charged when using Mobile Broadband on their Pay as you Go option. Instead of the previous £4.00 per day it is now £2.00 for one day, £10.00 for seven days, and £20.00 for 30 days.
3 has decided to combine their Push Email service with their internet service for mobile. This means that for a low price of £2.50 per month you get the Internet 10 add-on and Push Email or for £5.00 per month you get the Internet Max add-on and Push Email.
This is just available to their contract customers, but you can get a 2 week free trial and it is unlimited data for email and attachments, anything else is as per the add-on.
For information on using VoIP with Mobile Broadband, click here.
The 3 Skypephone S2 is the best way to take advantage of 3's free Skype to Skype calls.
It also comes with a 3.2MP camera, 50MB of internal memory, as well as a slot for a microSD memory card. You can easily switch between multiple running programs. And you can also plug it directly into your computer like a dongle, so this makes it great to use with Mobile Broadband.
3 have now added Unlimited landline calls to their Mix & Match 1100. This plan comes with 1100 minutes or texts for £27.00. So, you can get 1100 minutes and 0 texts, 0 minutes and 1100 texts, 550 minutes and 550 texts, or any other combination adding up to 1100.
This offer is only available through their telesales and Online, so click here to take advantage of this offer.
For information on why you might want Home Broadband as well as Mobile Broadband click here.
Sky have some good offers on their home broadband service at the moment.
One thing to note about the Sky Broadband service is that it is only available to Sky TV customers.
If you are already a Sky TV customer, then you get your Home Broadband added to your package for between £0.00 and £10.00 per month.
The free option is Sky Broadband Base which gives you up to 2Mb download speed and a 2GB usage allowance.
Then for £5.00 per month you have Sky Broadband Mid which gives you up to 8Mb download speed and a 40 GB usage allowance.
And finally for £10.00 per month you have Sky Broadband Max which gives you up to 16Mb download speed and Unlimited usage allowance.
All of these come with a free wireless router and McAfee Security (even the free option), although there is a set-up cost of £30.00 for new customers and £75.00 for existing customers who are adding Sky Broadband Base only. This is reduced to £50.00 for customers taking Sky Broadband Mid and £25 on Sky Broadband Max. Existing customers can save £25.00 by also adding a Sky Talk package, making it free installation if taking the Max package.
For those who do not already have Sky TV, you can take one of their Get all 3 See Speak Surf packages. Which give you Sky TV, Sky Broadband, and Sky Talk in one package. These are priced from £17.00.
Orange have a great selection of offers for this month.
Great offer for students this month, all you need to do is enter your UCAS or NUS number and you can get a £5.00 discount on your line rental on a Mobile Broadband contract or a £10.00 discount on selected Pay as you Go handsets. And on top of that you get entered into a prize draw with a £3,000 prize.
For new Blackberry contracts there is a £5.00 discount on the Blackberry service, making it £2.50 per month instead of the standard £7.50 per month.
An exclusive handset is also being released on Orange Pay as you Go. Pink LG KS360 (Etna). It has a slide out full QWERTY keyboard, which makes it great for messaging. This is available this month at a £20.00 discount, £59.00 instead of £79.99.
For people who use Text Messaging a lot, you may find that you are paying a stupidly large amount of money for this service. You can usually send a email with exactly the same message for less than a penny each. There are of course some advantages and disadvantages to Text Messaging over Email and vice versa.
The most obvious one is that not all mobile phones support email and you need to set it up with your email details if it does. These can be small issues, a lot of phones now do support email, and I would recommend checking your manual to see if yours does. And setting up email can be automated with some phones, so you can go to your manufacturers or networks website, enter in the details of your email account and then a settings message gets sent to your phone. Otherwise you may need to contact your manufacturer, network, and email provider.
Next, depending on your network you may need to set up a email address before you can use email. Others may have set up a email address for you automatically, or will be able to arrange this for you.
Then, the people you want to send emails to also need to have this set-up. This is exactly the same as with Picture Messages. An advantage to email is that it can be viewed from your computer instead of your phone, and you can send messages from there as well. Some services allow you to send Text Messages via Email so you send the email to the company and they forward it onto the recipient as a Text Message, these services will often also relay the Text Message replies back to your email.
An advantage to Text Messaging is that the messages are sent direct to your phone and so unless there is a network or phone problem you will get the message straight away. Whereas with most email you need to ask the phone to check for new messages. With many phones you can set it to check automatically, but this may be every half an hour as a maximum depending on the phone, so you would be waiting up to 30 minutes for your message notification. Unless of course you have a Push email service like Blackberry Internet Solution or Windows Push Email. If this is the case then you will get the emails immediately like with a Text Message.
Another advantage to Text Messaging is you do not get charged for receiving messages and there are no other 'overhead' charges. But, the charges are so much less than Text Messaging that I think this is not a major issue. The reason you get charged for receiving emails is because networks charge for all internet data sent and received, and when you receive a email you are receiving data from the internet. The problem with what I called overhead charges is that the phone needs to connect with the internet to check if there are any emails waiting, and this means you get charged for sending the request to see if there are emails waiting and again for the notification as to whether there are any or not, and then there is the email itself. This sounds like a lot of charges when spelt out like this, but it still comes to a fraction of a penny. But it does mean even if there are no emails you will be charged for the data used to check or the data will be deducted from any allowance you have. I would estimate as a maximum for 0.5p per day if you have no emails, so approximately 15p per month. This would be based on 1kb used each time the email was checked (a huge overestimation, but easier for basic calculations), with email being checked automatically every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with data charges at £10.00 per MB (Prices vary from £1.00 per MB up). On top of this I would also estimate a charge of 1p per message sent or received, which can be a longer message than a Text Message. For the 1p charge the email can be approximately 287 characters long whereas a standard Text Message is up to 160 characters. Overall I feel these charges balance in favour of email over Text Messaging.
Do give some indications of how many emails you can get on some networks. On T-Mobile you get charged up to £1.00 per day for internet usage, this is based on a charge of £7.50 per MB. So this comes to approximately 0.7p for each email (287 characters long) for the first £1.00, which would be approximately 142 emails and then you get a fair usage policy of 40MB during that day (midnight to midnight) for your £1.00. Which would give you approximately 5,680 emails for £1.00 if you used the full 40MB. If you regularly send a lot of emails each day you may be better off with their Web'n'Walk handset option which would give you 1GB of data for £7.50/month. This would give you approximately 148,897,792 messages to use each month. T-Mobile also have Mobile Broadband Plus, which is 3GB for £12.50 and can be 446,693,376 messages, and Mobile Broadband Max, which is 10GB for £22.50 and can be 1,488,977,920 messages. Now, all of these offers on T-Mobile are only available on contract in addition to a standard price plan, except the £1.00 per day offer which is also available on Pay as you Go.
Now, for another example if you took 3 Mobile Broadband you can get the 148,897,792 messages mentioned above for £10.00. And if you were to up it £15.00 you would get 3GB of data which can be 446,693,376 messages, or to £25.00 you would get 7GB of data which can be 1,042,284,544 messages. Now, all of these offers on 3 are available on Pay as you Go on their own.
Of course any data not used for email can be used for surfing the internet, downloading, etc.
Plus note, all figures in this post are estimates and there are a number of factors which can increase or decrease the actual cost paid. Including the network you are using, the software used to send/receive email, the size of the emails, and where it is being sent from (e.g. UK or overseas). No figure in this post is a guarantee and should be treated as a rough guide.
And another article, a definite series. This one is written from a Singapore perspective and details how to to connect to Nokia N95 8GB using Bluetooth to use it as a modem from Linux. Again, should be more generally applicable. Enjoy.
I've just found this great guide to WiFi. It's written from an American perspective but the majority of it is universal. It covers a few interesting areas like Aggregators, 3G/Cellular Routers, Laptops as Hot Spots, and Mobile Phones as Hot Spots. The two middle ones I was already aware of and researching, the other two I wasn't aware of but will definitely be keeping an eye on for future developments.
Some Mobile Broadband services are coming complete with Wi-fi hotspot access. The two main networks for this offer are T-Mobile and O2. So, when you have Mobile Broadband, why would you want to use Hotspots as well? As great as Mobile Broadband is, it is not yet the most reliable of ways to connect to the internet, when the mobile telephone network in your area has gone down, or you just have a poor signal you may be able to connect to a Hotspot to get high speed access again. Another benefit to partnering your connection with Wi-fi Hotspots is that depending on how much you use the internet and what your allowance or fair usage policy is like, you could benefit from the extra allowance that the Hotspot can provide. So, with T-Mobile and O2 offering Wi-fi as part of their packages and an increasing number of places offering free Wi-fi you can't really go wrong. Whether you use it as a back-up when you network doesn't work, as a speed boost when your network connection is slow, or as a way of getting more data usage. Also as mentioned in a previous post O2 is currently offering free home broadband with their mobile broadband, so you can have Mobile broadband, Home broadband, and Wi-fi access all for a single price of £20.00 per month.
I've just found this blogpost and this which gives some brief details on setting up Linux for Mobile Broadband. The software used is a device driver for a Vodafone Mobile Connect Card but the author of the post has got it to work with a 3 Ireland SIM in the UK. So, the software should definitely work with Vodafone's service and apparently with a little tweaking other networks as well.
If you have a home phone line you can also get Home Broadband, this can be more reliable than Mobile Broadband as it is does not rely on signal strength and is generally not affected by atmospheric conditions. The downside is basically that it is not mobile. But, with many services offering a Wireless Router as part of the package you can get a degree of mobility. I think the average range of a Wireless Router is about 10 metres. Which means it would comfortably cover most homes, and possibly even your garden if you have one.
But, what you can also do is if you keep your computer switched on and connected to the broadband you can use your Mobile Broadband to connect with your home computer wherever you can get a signal. I will go into some of the things you can do with this in future posts.
Now the biggest potential at the moment for combining Home and Mobile Broadband is O2's service. Which if you take their Mobile Broadband offering you get free Home Broadband for 12 months. (Actually you get a £7.50 discount for 12 months, but the lowest package is £7.50 so you get it for free.) This offer is available until the end of October. And you also get unlimited Wi-fi access, which I plan to cover in my next post.
Other Home Broadband providers include AOL and Orange.
Now this is the first in a series I plan to do on what you can use your Mobile Broadband for. This one is all about VoIP, which is Voice over Internet Protocol. Which basically means making telephone calls over the internet. Some of the advantages of VoIP is cheaper rates on calls particularly when calling internationally. Most (all?) of the time calls to other users of the service are free and this includes to any destination in the world, and calls to other numbers are generally a lot cheaper than other telephone services. You just need to keep an eye on your data usage if you've got a limited allowance.
Now, when using VoIP on mobile networks you need to make sure you have good coverage and that your network has good Uplink (how fast it sends data) speeds as well as Downlink (how fast it receives). When I've tried to use VoIP with my network, I've always had problems with my voice sounding very choppy to them, but I can hear them fine. This is due to the data being sent a lot slower than it receives. This is standard on most (all?) consumer internet connection as consumers tend to download a lot more than they upload. (It's been a few months since I last tried this so the service on my network may have improved.)
Ok, now that you have your connection all checked out you need to decide on a VoIP provider. I would say the most popular provider at the moment is probably Skype.
Now one thing you need to bear in mind with Skype is that it is a closed network. This means you can only call other Skype customer, and only other Skype customers can call you. Unless you opt for the SkypeIn service which gives you a telephone number for your VoIP service. But this isn't generally a problem as possibly most people are Skype customers that have VoIP service. Another great advantage to Skype is that if you have your Mobile Broadband through 3 you get Skype access free of charge, so no charges for Skype-to-Skype calls on the 3 network. You can get this offer on both contract and Pay as you Go. On Pay as you Go you just need to top-up and you free Skype for 30 days, just top-up again within that 30 days and the free Skype continues. Three also offer a specialised SkypePhone. Also, in order to make calls to non-Skype customers you will need to add their SkypeOut service, which just works like a Pay as you Go phone, top it up and use the credit until it runs out, and top up again.
Now the other main service available is SIP compliant VoIP. This is a open system. Meaning that anyone with SIP service can call anyone else with SIP service regardless of who their supplier is. And as most VoIP-to-VoIP calls are free of charge you can do this from and to any SIP compliant service. As with Skype a lot of these services offer 'real world' telephone numbers you can be called on, and a service to allow you to call 'real world' numbers. By real world I mean not VoIP.
Great news! Nokia have released what is essentially a follow-up to the Nokia E61 (My current and favourite phone). It is the Nokia E71, and from what I've seen so far it's got all the great features of the E61 plus Camera and GPS. Plus there's probably lots more besides. Get some more info at:
A great new offer from Orange. Purchase their Mobile Broadband dongle at £25.00 per month on a 2 year contract and get a Eee PC Laptop. I've heard this offer is just available until the end of the month. (August 2008) Or for £15.00 per month on a 24 month contract get the same Mobile Broadband without the Eee PC Laptop.
A new option I have just become aware of is a SIM Only version of Mobile Broadband. This has some of the benefits of Pay as you Go as well as some of the benefits of contract. As it is SIM Only there is just a 30 day rolling contract so you can cancel the contract at any time, giving 30 days notice. But, as with a contract you get your bill each month to pay, so it automatically renews each month with no intervention.
I only know of one company at the moment that offers SIM Only for Mobile Broadband, which is O2. You get it with a USB Modem which costs £99.99 and the monthly line rental is £20.00.
Pay as you Go Mobile Broadband is the main way I connect to the internet at the moment. I use my handset (Nokia E61) as a modem, connected via a USB cable. Pay as you Go Mobile Broadband can give an economical way of accessing the internet wirelessly wherever you can get a mobile signal without a contract, so you just top up as you want to and maybe purchase an add on. This also allows you a very effective way of budgeting your expenditure, as if you have no credit there will be no chargeable access. At the moment I only know of two networks in the UK who offer Mobile Broadband on Pay as you Go.
The first is T-Mobile, which is a service I would not recommend except to trial the network and service before taking a contract as it can run very expensive. You get charged for the first £4.00 of usage each day and then the rest is free. There is a fair usage policy of up to 3GB per month, but unlike some providers they do not charge if you go over this fair usage limit. If you go over two consecutive months you get a speed restriction placed on your line for 2 weeks, and if it happens for a 3rd consecutive month you get the speed restriction for 2 months.
Now, the service I would definitely recommend, and the one I am currently using to post this, is the service with 3. The available add ons were until very recently the same as on contract, the same price for the same allowance. £10.00 for 1GB, £15.00 for 3GB, £25.00 for 7GB. I'm sure you can see straight away how this is more economical than the T-Mobile service. If you use your 3GB in 3 days, then you would save money with T-Mobile, otherwise you can be paying up to £124.00 for it. Now, once this allowance has been used up you do get charged for any extra usage, this is at a rate of £1.00 per MB. But you can add a new add one at any time. Each add on lasts for 30 days and anything not used is lost. With the Pay as you Go option on 3 you also can easily pick and choose how much you expect to use or want to pay for at that time. ou also get a SMS notification when your allowance is running low, to let you know you need to add a new bundle soon or you will start getting charged the £1.00 per MB. You can also keep track of your remaining allowance with the My3 service which keeps you up to date with your remaining allowances and credit. With contract you would need to change your price plan each time you wanted it changed. With Pay as you Go, you just add the relevant add on as and when you need it. Now, the only real problem I have had with the service from 3 is problems with topping up using my Debit card. I have now given up on this, it worked for the first two months but now I need to get a voucher to get it topped up. I consider this a minor problem, and may not be a problem to anyone else.
My main interest in setting up this blog is to promote various Mobile Data products available here in the UK, and to compare the services available from our various networks. I hope to update soon with the first informative post.