Sunday, 1 January 2012

When unlimited is limited

Prior to leaving Australia I did some in-depth research into UK mobile phone coverage and plans.  We already owned a Samsung Galaxy S (SGS) which I’d purchased as a “parallel import” some months before leaving Australia.  Purchasing the phone as a parallel import meant the price was significantly lower; and the phone was “unlocked”.  Although the SGS is a “smartphone” I used it in Australia with my existing basic Vodafone SIM plan.  This didn’t include a data allowance for email. browsing and other web services!

After all the research into UK mobile phone providers I selected 3 as our preferred provider.  However I’d already established there might be “blackspots” on the inland waterways network so I brought our Australian mobile outback aerial with us.  Actually it wasn’t my original intention to use the aerial with the SGS but rather with an internet dongle we intended to purchase on arrival in the UK.

After discussing our requirements with the 3 Mobile shop in Stafford we opted for their SIM only pre-paid £10 p/m plan.  This gave us 100 minutes of talk, 1000 text and 1GB data.  At this time I hadn’t realised I could configure the SGS to act as a wireless router.

We had also purchased a £10 SIM for the usb dongle which gave is 3GB valid for 90 days.  I quickly discovered we were consuming the 3GB data allowance very quickly.  I also purchased a “Zoom” wireless router to which the dongle could be connected giving multiple user access to the dongle. Our boat problems meant our SGS talk allowance was being rapidly consumed.  As a consequence I updated the SGS plan to £15 p/m.  This gave us 300 minutes of talk, 3000 text and unlimited data.  Two weeks later I worked out how to configure the SGS as a wireless router and the Zoom + dongle were relegated to backup communications. 

We hardly know anyone in the UK and that our boat building situation has now stabilised so we are scarcely using any of our talk time.  I assume this will change once we’re living on the cut.  We’ve probably sent a maximum of 5 texts in the past six months.  However the 3 mobile unlimited data allocation does get a thrashing!

The SGS provides good wireless coverage in Ufton. I can place it in the bow of the boat and  wirelessly connect to it with the laptop and iPad from the stern.

Today I went back and updated my research into SIM only plans.  I discovered there were now other UK mobile providers with plans similar to ours.  Specifically; they also offer unlimited data.  But there is a tiny asterisk beside the “unlimited”.  Click on it and a pop-up window appears telling you it’s subject to “fair usage”.  It takes a considerable amount of “digging” on the network providers website before you find their definition of “fair usage”.  With T-Mobile it means 500MB of combined upload and download data p/m.  If you exceed this you’re blocked against any further data upload/download until the start of the next monthly cycle.

In my opinion 500MB is a pittance in today’s internet connected world.  I also find in this case the term “unlimited data” quite misleading.  Especially when the provider advertised other plans with 500MB or 1GB data allowances.  IMHO… in this situation, “unlimited” is very limited!

I’ve found 3 Mobile’s £15 p/m “All you can eat” data plan to be exactly that.  So we are going to stay with them! 

As for the other providers……….. You are NOT going to get my business whilst you maintain; what I consider to be; misleading and deceptive advertising!


Skippy said...

I have abused my o2 connection like this for years; I cant update my contract no;

I hate the fair use crud they talk about -

Tom and Jan said...

Don't tell me Apple make you pay for a function Android provides free?

Dave on ANON.... said...

Hi Tom & Jan,
I'm thinking of buying a Samsung Galaxy S 11 and am wondering how you connect your external aerial to your phone. Are you using a wrap around connector or are you using what I think is an aerial socket under the back cover.
Thanks, yours, Dave

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Dave,
I have a SG 1 and I connect it to the external aerial using the plug under the back cover. I drilled a hole through the plastic case to access the plug.
It's a propriety socket but I managed to find a cable and plug supplier in Australia. If you look at my blog post on 13 Oct you will see photo's of the setup