Mobile Operators implementing content control, but in different ways

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Some networks, such as Vodafone, have had content control systems for some time, but due to new regulations (see here), some of the UK mobile networks have had to implement content control over the last few weeks.  O2 came up with an interesting solution, but not one that has worked well, whereas 3UK have shown some sense in their handling of a content control system.

O2 put the content block onto all contracts, forcing all traffic through a content control server.  If you pay them £1 on your credit card, they will open up the content control, and then credit your account with £2.50.  This is similar to a similar arrangement on Vodafone, but caused a lot of fuss when introduced.  However, what’s now transpires is that if you don’t pay the money, the content control server sometimes struggles to work, and a few people are reporting a worse browsing experience.

3UK went the other way; although they have enabled the content control as standard on all PAYG phones, they have not enabled it by default on any contracts (given the contract often needs a credit card to purchase the contract, and a bank account to pay the direct debit, this makes a lot of sense); if you have passed a phone contract onto someone below 18, you can contact 3UK and ask them to enable the controls though (simply send a no-cost text with the word ‘Filter’ to 33333).  In a similar way, for PAYG users you can “prove” your age by using a credit card, but another option is to go into a store and show ID proving your age; a nice sensible option and shows a little joined up thinking.

It’s important to realise that all mobile networks must implement a system, but it’s interesting to see the different implementations.

Minor update: 3UK have said the removal of the existing content control options will take up to the end of June to remove for all existing accounts.


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3UK: New phones & updated unlimited data tariffs

Monday, March 7th, 2011

It looks to be a good week for 3UK; they have already announced they will be selling the new Samsung Galaxy Pro, which combines a QWERTY keyboard with Android to provide a Nokia E71 / BlackBerry type experience.  With many people (including me!) moving away from Nokia in the short term, this may well be one device that attracts their attention.

The 2.8″ touchscreen and 3 megapixel camera may not be sufficient for many road warriors, but I think this will be a popular device.  With rumours that BlackBerry will be providing access to their BlackBerry Messenger application from Android and iOS, someone could buy one of these to replace an ageing BlackBerry and not miss the BBM IM support they are used to (once it’s actually made available).  It also features:

  • 800MHz processor
  • 3MP Full Focus Camera
  • Android Froyo+ version 2.2.1
  • 2.8” Capacitive touch screen (320 * 240)
  • 108.6 x 66.7 x 10.6 mm
  • 2GB microSD, expandable up to 32GB
  • Portable Wi-Fi hotspot

If the QWERTY phone doesn’t interest you, and you are looking for a budget Android device, possibly on PAYG, then the Samsung Galaxy Mini may well be for you.  Available in April in either Black & Silver or Black & Green, it features:

  • 600MHz processor
  • 3MP Full Focus Camera
  • Android Froyo+ version 2.2.1
  • 3.14” Capacitive touch screen (320 * 240)
  • 110 x 61 x 12 mm
  • 2GB microSD, expandable up to 32GB
  • Portable Wi-Fi hotspot

However, on top of these phones, 3UK have announced that they are extending their unlimited All-You-Can-Eat data package to a couple of PAYG tariffs too.  Today, the All-You-Can-Eat data (with no limits at all) is generally available on The One Plan (available on contract with a new phone, or on a SIM Only basis), but now it will be available on some of the current PAYG tariffs.

That last point is key; many people are still on the slightly elder PAYG tariffs, which offered lots of extras simply for topping up (the latest tariffs provide a greater range of value options once you have topped up); so you may need to change to the latest PAYG tariff first.

However, if you topup with enough money, and then select either the All in One 15 (£15) or the All in One 25 (£25) then you will get:

  • All in One 15: 3000 texts, 300 cross network minutes and All You Can Eat data (all valid for 30 days)
  • All in One 25: 3000 texts, 500 cross network minutes and All You Can Eat data (all valid for 30 days)

We should point out that the All in One 10 continues to have 500MB of data (valid for 30 days), or you can simply purchase “500MB data” for £5 (valid for 30 days); what the previous tariffs offered was “Internet Max” which gives 2GB for those same 30 days.

A lot of people stayed on the old PAYG deal due to the better data allowance available, but with these new unlimited offers, it may be worthwhile people moving to these new tariffs.  Of course, if you are regularly spending £25 per month on PAYG, you may well be better to look at the One Plan SIM Only (12 month contract) which gives you 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes, 2000 cross network minutes as well as All-You-Can-Eat unlimited data for £25 per month, but does come with that higher commitment.

If you are on the older PAYG tariffs (anyone who had a PAYG SIM from before September 2010 and hasn’t already elected the newer tariffs will be) will need to call 333 from their Three phone, or 0843 373 3333 to request the latest PAYG tariffs.

We also note that Tethering is not supported on the All in One deals, but is supported on the One Plan.

As always, more details are available in the 3Store.

Picture courtesy of Samsung Hub.


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Samsung Galaxy Tab updates

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Whilst Mobile World Congress is going this week, many manufacturers will be launching new phones and devices, and Samsung is no exception.  Along with the Samsung Galaxy S2 (Android phone), they have announced their new tablet; the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. This has a large 10.1″ 1280 x 800 screen, and runs Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). The features include:

  • 1GHz Dual Core Processor
  • Dual surround sound speakers
  • HD recording and Full HD playback
  • 8 megapixel rear and 2 megapixel front cameras
  • 599g
  • Google Services (including Google Mail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Latitude, Google Books and Google Talk video chat)
  • Flash support
  • A-GPS (Google Turn-by-turn navigation)
  • WiFi (802.111 b/g/n)

This is a nice high tech device.  Of course, for many, a 10.1″ device is just too big to carry around, and for those, the existing Samsung Galaxy Tab should suit just fine (with the smaller, but still impressive 7.0″ 1024 x 600 screen).  The smaller Tab is also lighter (380g), but is “only” running Android 2.2 (Froyo).

If you are interested in the existing 7″ Galaxy Tab, then 3UK announced on Friday that they are now selling the device with a very competitive data contract; for £25 per month (24-month contract), you’ll get 15GB of data each month to use on the device (there is also an upfront cost of £199); however, compare that to say, Vodafone, who would charge £25 per month (18-month contract) plus £499 upfront, and you just get 3GB of data each month.

Also, if you are looking to buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000 (the 7″ device) soon; you might want to hurry up; Samsung UK is offering a promotion whereby they will provide you with 50 MP3s (from emusic.com), 15 movies (from Samsung Movies), 7 Games (from Gameloft, although 2 are pre-installed), and £25 worth of eBooks (from W H Smith); however, you need to register your device’s details with Samsung before the end of this month (28 February 2011). I should point out terms and conditions apply to this promotion, which do need checking before you commit to the device solely on the basis of this offer.

If you already own the Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000, 3UK are now offering PAYG Pre-loaded Tablet SIMs, which have from 1GB to 12GB of data pre-loaded onto them for use with a tablet.


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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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3UK expand their PAYG handset range

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

I noticed whilst browsing the 3Store website the other day that 3UK have expanded their PAYG handset range.  Probably the most interesting is that you can now get the Apple iPhone 3GS on PAYG (£399.99).  Okay, it’s only a small discount on buying direct from Apple, but it is a discount!

They’ve also expanded their Android range further by now having the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro (so with a QWERTY keyboard) for £169.99.  That’s cheaper than the HTC Wildfire (£189.99), and it’s nice to see 3UK offering more Android devices.

As always, head to the 3Store for more information.


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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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Vodafone improve PAYG TopUps

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Vodafone have announced a fairly major improvement to their TopUp offers.  Called Vodafone Freebees, you can now get free texts and web each time you top-up with Vodafone Freebees; for example:

Top up                  You get                And you’ll get you this FREE

£10                         £10 credit           300 texts and 500MB of web access

£15                         £15 credit           500 texts and 500MB of web access

£30                         £30 credit           3000 texts and 500MB of web access

These extras last 30 days.

This looks a very nice offer, especially at a time when 3UK are no longer providing a similar range of freebies automatically on TopUp.  Although 500MB of Internet will not be enough for some, it’s certainly should cover the needs of many users, and of course is free.  There are a whole range of other Vodafone Freebees to consider (International Calls, free texts at weekends, and free calls and texts at weekends) but I think many will want the texts and Internet access.

If you are an existing Vodafone PAYG customer, to benefit from these deals you need to:

1. Start by calling 2345 free from your Vodafone mobile
2. Opt in to your chosen new Vodafone Freebee
3. Top up your phone
4. Start making the most of your new Vodafone Freebees


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