Three UK announce Web Cube – Broadband in a box

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Although the MiFi is a fantastic device, it’s designed for use on the go, and anything with a battery risks damage if left permanently on charge. So, for people who want the benefit of the MiFi (3G available to up to 5 devices via WiFi), but want a more permanent solution, this may well be the solution you’ve been waiting for.  3UK also suggest it’s useful for students or people renting where committing to a new landline contract (often 18 months nowadays) is either not an option or not worthwhile.

Although it’s been available in other countries (such as Ireland) for a while now, 3UK seem to be the first UK Mobile Network to offer a realistic “Broadband in a box” solution with the Web Cube.

The Web Cube comes on a Mobile Broadband tariff, and the SIM is already inserted, so it really is a case of plugging into the mains and you’re ready to go. That’s one of the key points about the Web Cube; it’s powered from the mains, so for some people that’s a downside (and for those a MiFi is a better option), but for others that want a permanently on option or can live with only having access whilst near a mains power socket, then this is for you. To show that’s it’s a little bit less convenient than a MiFi, it’s also a little cheaper per month for the same amount of data.

Data? Lots! You have two contract options:

  • For a rolling 1 month contract (ie no long tie in period), you can get 10GB of data each month for £15 per month, but there is a £60 upfront charge for the device.
  • Alternatively, and what I suspect will be the more popular option, you can get 15GB of data each month for £15.99 per month, with no upfront charge, but instead you will commit to a 24 month contract.

15GB is a lot of data; that’s approximately 500MB per day, which is the limit many network place on handset tariffs for the whole month. Of course, the main reason for the extra amount is things like Security Patches and viewing full web pages, but even so, 15GB is a lot of data. The device is HSPA+ compatible, so (where it’s available), 3UK could provide speeds upto 21.6Mbps download and 5.76Mbps up; even at a quarter of those speeds that’s more than many of us can currently achieve on our landlines; in fact, 3UK carefully market their network as “in excess of 10 Mbps, with typical speeds of 2-5 Mbps”.

Of course, with all good things, there has to be a downside, and I’m afraid this device does have a downside; for many people it’s simply not available 🙁 3UK are launching it in 3 cities to begin with; Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh – if you are outside of those cities, it’s not yet available, but you can put your name down to be informed once it is available.

I expect as the year goes on and the device becomes available across the whole of the UK, and especially as students set off in September, this is going to become a well selling solution.

Although 3UK have also talked about adding a Mobile WiFi docking station for existing Mobile Broadband dongle customers (see here), I think this is a nicer cleaner solution.

Head to 3UK‘s website for more information on the Web Cube.


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3 launch Mobile Broadband Wi-Fi Hub

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

3 have announced they are launching a Mobile Broadband Wi-Fi Hub, which will allow users who have selected Mobile Broadband USB Modems to be able to share them (to up to 5 devices) via Wi-Fi, in a similar way to the newer 3 MiFi.

This, I guess, is similar to the original D100 USB Router they released a few years ago now, and like that device, only works from mains power; ie it has no battery (again another plus for the 3 MiFi).  However, one very positive aspect is that it covers many of the recent and not so recent USB modems 3 have sold.  The list includes:

  • Huawei E122, E1550, E156G, E169, E1750, E1820, E353u, E367u
  • ZTE MF112 and MF627

This list does include the latest Huawei USB Dongle that offers HSPA+ speeds (up to 21.1Mbps).

It’s 88mm x 66mm x 25mm, gives you around 30 metres range, and is only available in Black (unlike the 3 MiFi, which now comes in White too); pricing and exact availability will follow in time.


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Vodafone Offer: Free Broadband Dongle with phone contract

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Running until the end of February, if you take out a Vodafone phone contract (some limits apply; see next paragraph), then you can enter the code “PAYGMB” as part of the Checkout process and you will get a free PAYG Mobile Broadband USB Dongle along with your Vodafone phone contract.

To qualify for this deal, you’ll need to select one of:

  • A 18 month contract costing £35 and over
  • A 24 month contract costing £30 and over
  • A 12 month SIM Only deal (£20 and £25 only)

You’ll also need to buy the phone contract online, as this is an online only promotion run by Vodafone.


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T-Mobile backs down on data changes (a little)

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

T-Mobile has backed down on it’s plans to introduce a flat rate of 500MB for all customers that it announced earlier this week.  Instead, this new 500MB rate will only apply to “new and upgrading” customers; so when you reach the end of your current contract and select a new phone or a new tariff you will now be subject to the new limit.

Interestingly, T-Mobile have also clarified further that there are no charges for exceeding the 500MB, and although web and email will continue to work other services (including simple file downloads as well as streaming services) may be restricted.  Also, for the heavy users, they are recommending they add a Mobile Broadband package to their tariff to provide an additional 500MB allowance (although they have not provided any details or costs of exactly how this would work).

T-Mobile have updated their webpage here to reflect their updated plans.


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TiVo finally going to be available soon

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Virgin Media have this week announced more details of their TiVo plans.  Although the roll out will start in mid-December, for most people you won’t actually get service until early 2011 (it’s not clear whether the rollout is location based, or just limited stocks).  However, I can confirm that although the box will ship with a two tuner capability, it will be enhanced early next year to have a three tuner capability.  Even better for early adopters, this will simply need a software upgrade to enable (ie the hardware is already there), and not an actual hardware upgrade.

The Virgin Media TiVo box will be provided with a dedicated 10mb connection via the fibre network, which will not impact the customer’s own broadband connection, and will not count towards any limits or throttles.  Virgin Media also confirmed:

“The service launches initially with apps from major web brands including catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, videos from YouTube, shopping from the online marketplace eBay, Tweets from Twitter and photos from sites such as Facebook, and the app line up will expand over the next several months.

The service will be supported by a brand new set-top box offering 1 terabyte of storage – up to 500 hours of standard definition programming – as well as access to 4,600 hours of TV shows, movies and music on demand. In due course, there will also be the facility to set recordings remotely via online and mobile devices.

Featuring cutting edge hardware design, the Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo box will have three tuners [UKG: once the software update comes next year], allowing viewers to record two channels whilst watching a third so recording conflicts become a thing of the past. The future-proofed service will automatically be updated with new features and functionality as they become available.

Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo will begin to roll-out from mid-December. Standard price of £199 [UKG: plus £40 installation charge], plus £26.50 per month [UKG: when taken with a phone line too; else it’s £32.50 per month] for the XL TiVo package which features over 160 channels, an unrivalled TV on demand library and access to all standard HD channels.”

For further information, or to register for interest in getting the new TiVo service, visit: www.virginmedia.com/TiVo.


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Vodafone improve data roaming deals

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Although some details are still a little sketchy, it appears Vodafone has now launched some much better data roaming rates, and if you are a frequent traveller, then the rates appear to be even better.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that the data roaming rates only apply to certain countries (most, but not all of Western Europe); if you want to know more, then access this map which shows all the details of which countries (and which rates apply).

So, in many countries (including France, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Austria) you can benefit from 25MB of internet data per day for just £2 per day.  In most other European countries (including Isle of Mann, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Finland) that same £2 per day gets you 5MB of data per day.  If you are a frequent traveller, then you can pay £10 per month to get the same amount of data per month.

You’ll need to opt in to the Vodafone Data Traveller, although if you are a PAYG customer, you can utilise it for free.  Equally, if you are on a recent price plan that costs £40 or more and get at least 900 minutes, then you can automatically get 25MB of data roaming per day at no extra cost.  For others, you’ll need to call 40062 from your phone to opt in.

These rates and deals will apply from 1 December 2010, and only apply to using your phone to access the Internet; they do not apply Mobile Broadband or using your laptop.

With the proliferation of people using their phones for data, and travelling abroad, it’s nice to see Vodafone offering some inclusive data allowance whilst roaming, which will benefit many people.  Of course, last year we saw 3UK remove their “3 Like Home” offer, so it’ll be interesting to see how they respond…


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3UK offering access to The Times

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

When The Times newspaper started to charge a subscription for their online content, a lot of people stopped accessing the site.  Now, 3UK are offering a way to continue accessing it…

From today, if you sign up to a Mobile Broadband package, 3UK will give you 3 months of free access to The Times (and The Sunday Times) websites.  At the end of the 3 month period, it’ll depend on what sort of contract you have.  For monthly contract customers, you can continue paying via direct debit for £2 per week, but PAYG Mobile Broadband customers who top up every 30 days will continue to get free access to The Times and The Sunday Times for the following month.

I have to say this seems to give PAYG Mobile Broadband users the best offer; top up your Mobile Broadband dongle every month, and you can continue to have free access to The Times website; that seems a good deal.

Update: 3UK have confirmed that the free access is for 3 months and the offer ends 31 March 2011.  You can request an access code (here) and it will be sent, although it can take up to 14 days to arrive.  3UK have also confirmed this offer only applies to Mobile Broadband Dongles, and does NOT apply to the 3UK MiFi device.  Also, after the 3 months is up, even with a regular TopUp on PAYG, you will no longer get free access to the Apple iPad Application (which you should be able to access for free during the 3 months).


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London Underground trialling Wi-Fi on platforms

Monday, November 1st, 2010

It appears that from today, London Underground are starting a trial of Wi-Fi, which will cover both the station and the platforms.  Before you get too excited, firstly it’s only one station (Charing Cross Station), and it’s not free either (being part of the chargeable BT OpenZone system).

Having said that, it will offer free travel updates to all Wi-Fi users, and of course, many users (most but not all BT Broadband customers, and many iPhone owners) have some inclusive OpenZone minutes as part of their contract, so it will be very useful for many.

The trial will last 6 months, although it’s likely to expand (in my opinion) and become a key feature across multiple stations.  There are no plans for coverage within the tunnels.

More details on the TfL website.  Picture (c) Transport for London 2005.


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3UK add new daily Mobile Broadband option

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Do you only occasionally use your Mobile Broadband dongle? Do you want to have a nice chunk of data, but only occasionally.  Well, 3UK have updated their daily Mobile Broadband option and now you can get 500MB for the day at a cost of £2.  Now although £5 will still get you 1GB spread over 30 days, the old daily option used to offer a lot less data (although it was cheaper too); ultimately if you only use a really small amount of data each day, you may now find your overall cost has gone up (whether you now buy daily or monthly), but you will be getting more data for that price, allowing you to be less strict with your browsing in the first place.

As always, more information is available on this new pricing change at 3Store.


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3 MiFi – Final Looks

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I’ve already covered many of the key benefits to the new 3 MiFi unit (in my first looks), although I will restate that it’s a joy to use now it’s a single power button to set everything up, and the wireless encryption key being only numbers makes it easier to quote to people to share the connection.  For the full review, click on the full article below.

(more…)


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