Is BT Total Broadband & 3UK iPhone the best deal?

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Yesterday I mentioned that the 3UK Apple iPhone 4 tariffs didn’t come with the 500Mb – 1GB of BT Openzone WiFi access of their competitors, and suggested you needed to take that into consideration when choosing the best tariff.  Well, BT have gone and changed the whole marketplace now…

BT have said that those BT Total Broadband users who used to have a limited number of minutes on BT FON and BT Openzone access points can now have unlimited access to all 1.5 million hotspots, in fact, BT went further and said that this change was the result of networks like O2 limiting the 3G data usage.  BT also make a point that you’ll be able to use this access on your phone, iPad and other tablet devices.

So, although your 3UK iPhone doesn’t come with any WiFi access, if you are a BT Total Broadband customer, you actually have more access to those hotspots than an O2 iPhone / Broadband customer does, and this, for some, might make this a better combination.

Also, BT announced that they will shortly be offering a downloadable application that will help locate the BT FON and BT Openzone hotspots.


HTC Hero 2.1 definitely coming soon

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Although it’ll be no surprise that a firmware update was coming to the HTC Hero (we covered it here), and last week the Android v2.1 update started to roll out in Asia, HTC have now confirmed that the Android v2.1 update for the European HTC Hero will start (but not complete) this week.

The firmware update will be a two stage process.  The first stage, a small minor update, should start appearing on HTC Hero devices over the next few days, and will be followed by the main update “towards the end of the month”.  This second update will wipe the phone (so you’ll need to backup your data beforehand) and is sufficiently large that HTC are recommended you use a WiFi / Broadband connection to download the update.

Overall, this is good for the HTC Hero, and will of course allow access to many application which are Android v1.6 or higher, and give access to many of the latest applications of which some even require v2.x, however, what is currently unknown is how quickly the operator specific firmwares will be released.  I would hope to see these be available in a similar timeframe, but as with Symbian branded firmwares, you may see a delay between the HTC release and the update being available for any individual device.


The return of 3UK’s 15GB MBB deals

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

A while ago, 3UK dropped their 15GB per month contract tariffs for Mobile Broadband.  Well, if you felt that 5GB per month was not enough, then we’re pleased to let you know that the 15GB per month deals are available again on the 3Store.  In fact it seems for many options, the 15GB per month replaces the 5GB per month option at the same price, so this is even better value than before! It should be available for Mobile Broadband, 3UK MiFi and laptop deals (and even the 3UK iPod Touch Bundle), although as with many things 3UK -related, you are likely to find these are all 24-month contracts, and not the more traditional 18-month ones.


3UK now has 10,000 3G mast sites!

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

3 logo

INQ1 Silver £15 per Month, Free 3 to 3 calls at 3M

I’ve been providing a fair bit of coverage over the planned network outages over the last few months, which are part of a long term growth strategy by 3UK, and today they have announced they now have 10,000 3G mast sites.  As well as that, 3UK have confirmed their target for 2010 is 13,000 3G mast sites.

I like the fact that they are both expanding coverage as well as providing additional capacity within their current coverage areas, which is key as more and more people are using Mobile Broadband, and equally, just using the internet directly on their devices.

Congratulations to 3UK for hitting 10,000!


Do you have any questions for 3UK?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

3 logo

INQ1 Silver £15 per Month, Free 3 to 3 calls at 3M

Later this week, I’ll be meeting up with a number of people from all different departments within 3UK, so here’s your chance to get any questions you have asked direct to people within 3UK who may be able to provide feedback for you…

Obviously they need to be general questions about the overall service, or plans for the future (although I doubt they will magically reveal their future product / phone handset plans), as I won’t be able to deal with specific individual problems, but if you have any questions, please add a comment and although the comment may not appear on the public site, I’ll read it and pass on the question if appropriate…

I already have 3 or 4 questions to put to 3UK, so I’m hoping this event will provide some useful information for you when I writeup the event.

In attendance at the event there should be 3UK staff from Customer Services, Handsets, Mobile Broadband, and Products & Services, so whatever your question, I’ll try to pass it on…


3UK roll out faster Mobile Broadband to all

Monday, January 25th, 2010

3 logo

INQ1 Silver £15 per Month, Free 3 to 3 calls at 3M

Last week 3UK made some changes within their network, such that the maximum possible download speed has increased from 3.6mbps to 7.2mbps.  Now, not every USB Mobile Broadband dongle can take advantage of these faster speeds, but if your dongle can, you may find an increase in speed (you may never get the maximum, but at least the speed should have increased).

It’s nice to see 3UK continue to innovate within their products.


Vodafone Sure Signal

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Vodafone Sure Signal

In a move designed to make it clearer what the purpose of the device is, Vodafone has rebranded their Vodafone Access Gateway as Vodafone Sure Signal; ie a device that should guarantee you a good signal in your own home.  The Vodafone Sure Signal (which we covered at its launch here) is now a lot cheaper than it was (£50 to buy outright for many contract customers, compared to £160 for outright purchase at launch), and still needs a minimum 1mbps broadband connection, although most people now have well in excess of that.  To clarify that £50 price; you need a monthly contract of £25 or more to qualify for the £50 price; if your contract is less, or you have a PAYG contract, then the price is £120 to buy outright (although for all customers there is an option of a £5 per month contract instead with a minimum contract term).

So, if you live in a marginal signal area and you have a Vodafone contract (or PAYG phone), you might want to consider whether £50 (or £120)  is money well spent to ensure a good voice (and 3G) signal for your own personal use…


3UK announce more network upgrades

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

3 logo

INQ1 Silver £15 per Month, Free 3 to 3 calls at 3M

A while back, we covered 3UK‘s plans to update their network in London, which would result in small interruptions to their service as they replace equipment necessary to allow them to proceed with their major infrastructure merger with T-Mobile next year (allowing both networks to share the same infrastructure for the benefit of all customers).  Well, 3UK have just announced some wider plans in the South (in a variety of locations from Torquay to Ipswich, and from Milton Keynes to Folkestone).  If you want more information on the areas affected, when they will be affected, and the ability to sign up to receive text alerts (to 3UK or non-3UK mobile numbers) then head here for more information.

Thanks to 3mobilebuzz for letting me know about this new information.


Novatel MiFi 2352 First Looks

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Novatel Mifi 2352

Let’s start with the first issue; actually, it’s not called a MiFi in the UK, it’s called the Novatel Wireless Intelligent Mobile Hotspot 2352, as 3UK own the trademark MiFi in the UK (although Novatel Wireless own the MiFi trademark in the US).  So, the device competes with the 3UK MiFi device, and in some ways is better, and in others, not quite as good.

Firstly, the downside: it is currently only available SIM-free (for around £200), which is a lot more than the 3UK MiFi, which can be picked up for £50.  Of course, the 3UK is locked to 3UK, and only works on 3UK, whereas the Novatel MiFi is not locked, and will pick up the internet access point from whatever SIM is put into it, making it more suitable for anyone looking to use a network other than 3UK.

In terms of ease of use, it has one advantage over the 3UK MiFi; when you turn it on (by pressing and holding the power button) that’s it; it sorts everything out, and “just works”, whereas the 3UK unit needs you to then press and hold the 3G button as a second step.  The Novatel device also gives you access to the microSD card slot via the web interface, whereas the 3UK device only allows access to the card slot via the USB cable.

There are other minor differences; eg the 3UK device comes with the wireless encryption key under the battery inside the unit, but also on a piece of card to allow easy setup, whereas the Novatel only has the code attached to the inside of the battery cover.  This, at first glance, seems better, as it allows the device to remain powered whilst you connect a new device, but I discovered that every time I took the battery cover, my natural instinct was to turn the unit back the right way up (to allow you to see the status lights to see whether the new device had connected), and the battery would loosen enough to switch the unit off.  A minor point, and obviously once everything is setup, not a problem in real usage.

Another minor difference is that the Novatel device will work on 2G as well as 3G; whereas 3UK only offer a 3G-only Mobile Broadband service (although their handsets can roam onto Orange’s 2G network, their broadband devices can’t), and although I wouldn’t want to share a 2G connection to multiple devices, a slow connection may be better than no connection…

I’ll be continuing to trial the device for a little while, but at first glances it looks a nice unit, although everyone I speak to says the 3UK MiFi has one of the best 3G radio components available today, so it will be interesting to see how the Novatel device works under the same conditions that I tried the 3UK MiFi under…


TiVo returning to the UK!

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Virgin Media

Good news: TiVo is returning to the UK!

Not so good news (depending on where you live): It’s with Virgin Media

Probably the only company that could realistic bring TiVo back to the UK has done just that; Virgin Media and TiVo announced this week they will be working together to produce Virgin’s next generation HD boxes.  TiVo is providing the software to allow this, which will include Video-on-Demand and Broadband delivery of video too.  The TiVo functionality will be in both Virgin’s DVR and non-DVR boxes, which is all good news.

Given Virgin offer both their traditional Cable Modem service and ADSL, it’s not clear whether you’ll need to be within the 50% of the population covered by Cable TV, or whether it will be possible to get access to the TiVo features via an ADSL connection, but this is still very good news for those of us who have supported TiVo for many years.

Of course the other interesting situation is that Virgin already offer BBC iPlayer on their set top boxes, so assuming they don’t intend to remove that functionality, we may see the TiVo solution supporting BBC iPlayer (and even the other networks’ alternatives too, creating a very compelling solution, and one that can truly rival Sky).