Sunday, 23 August 2015

The internet issue and a fine lunch

Thank you to our readers who either left a comment or sent us an email regarding the internet issue we need to resolve.

Situation

We have three mobile phones.  Two have Vodafone SIM’s with £5 on them.  The credit doesn’t time expire but the phone does need to be used at least once per month to keep it active.  What we do is send each phone a text from the other which is free.  Consequentially there is still £5 credit on each phone.  If we are going out and heading in separate directions we both take our phones and agree a meeting point before parting.  One of us will phone the other when we want to meet and the other won’t answer the call but now knows they need to go to the meeting point.  All this costs us nothing…….. We’re cunning old grey nomads!

The third phone stays on the boat and is linked to the 3 network via our external aerial on the cabin roof.  Our current £15 plan gives a monthly allowance of 200 voice minutes, 2000 text messages and unlimited internet data, including tethering.  Tethering is where the phone is converted into a personal wireless hotspot.  We rarely make phone calls, never send a text and both regularly tether to the phone for internet access.

3 have changed the plan, increasing it to £20 per month (25% increase) and; more importantly for us; altered the unlimited data allowance.  It is still unlimited for the phone but there is now a tethering allowance of 4GB per month.  The 3 website doesn’t display the amount of data that we use every month.  We assume because until the current change it was unlimited.

We’re now in the position of not knowing how much data we routinely use every month and therefore don’t know whether the new plan will be suitable.

Options

After looking at other providers it appears there is no other mobile phone plan providing unlimited tethering data for £20 per month.  An option would be to revert to a SIM data only plan.  We still have the Zoom wireless router from our arrival in the UK back in 2011.  We also have the original USB dongle purchased in Plymouth.  This dongle has an external aerial port which would enable us to connect the dongle to the aerial on the cabin roof.  The Zoom wireless router is battery powered and only 3G but that is sufficient for our needs.  I can be powered by the boat 12V system.

zoom

Both 3 and EE have a 15GB per month pre-paid SIM only data plan for £20.  Further research revealed Carphone Warehouse have established their own mobile network and have a 20GB monthly SIM data plan for £20.  The irony is Carphone Warehouse use the 3 network!  So the best value monthly data plan I can find is with the Carphone Warehouse.  We have excluded 12 and 24 month contracts.  They are slightly cheaper but we would be locked into a plan in a market where allowances are increasing and prices reducing.

Decision

We have decided to do nothing for the remainder of this month.  Our £15 “The One Plan” with unlimited tethering will expire on the 20th of September and I will contact 3 a few days before that date and ask how much tethering data we use on average per month.  If we use 4GB or less then we will stay with 3.  If our average usage exceeds 4GB we will probably change to the 20GB Carphone Warehouse plan.  The cost is the same with both options.  If we decided on the latter option then any outgoing voice calls can be made through Skype.  We’ll use one of the existing phones to receive incoming calls.

Lunch

We stayed In Newbold so we could enjoy Sunday lunch at the Barley Mow.  They have a buffet and the food is very tasty.  I opted for all three meats (beef, pork & turkey) whilst Jan chose the beef and turkey. The plates were very hot which made it interesting trying to fill them with vegies.  Perhaps it was part of the pub’s strategy to limit the size of the portions? Smile

buffet lunch

After lunch had settled we decided to do the annual bilge inspection and clean out the deep storage compartments.  Everything was removed from the lockers and inspected.  Then the cabin bilge hatch was removed.

bilge hatch

When I shone a torch into the bilge I was pleased to see it was completely dry.

bilge

I suspect our strategy of not having ballast and ensuring the sidewall insulation was sealed to the underfloor insulation has been very successful.  The bilge is well scoured with dry air and the heavy insulation almost eliminates condensation.

Three interesting boats today.  The first has a very fine name.  Did you know it means strong handsome and courageous!

fine boat name

An old working boat passed with Jan managing a photo just before it rounded the bend.

working boat small

Finally, here is a photo of SB Adamant

adamant1

Whilst walking back to Waiouru from the Barley Mow we were both bemused by the small, hand written sign in the window of an unattended boat that has been left moored on the 48 hour moorings for the last three days.

“Arrived on 20 Aug.  No free 14 Day moorings”

I guess that’s alright then!  Winking smile

5 comments :

Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

I believe there are some (older) phones which don't accurately report the difference between phone data and tethering data so mobile networks can't easily tell if you are tethering so you might add getting one of those to your list of options to explore.

Halfie said...

(My) Jan's "smart" phone is on the Three network and has a "button" which she presses to go to "My3 Account". Here there is an accurate (as far as we know) summary of allowance remaining giving how many voice minutes, how many texts and how much data is left.

(And I always did think you were powered by your boat's 12V system.)

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Halfie,
we have the same information on My 3 except it says unlimited data available. The website doesn't differentiate between the phone and tethering data!

Kim Harrison said...

Hi Tom, have you considered connecting your phone to your tv screen via hdmi, that way you just need a all you can eat data phone plan sim card to put in your phone and you would then have a unlimited internet - we spoke a long time ago about aerial connections on samsusng s2 phones - do you still have the s2 as I know the s2 has a hdmi out capability.

Tom and Jan said...

Nice idea Kim. Unfortunately the phone and external aerial are at one end of the boat and the TV is at the other. We have a Samsung S4.