Ovi Store now support mobile billing

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Something not many people seem to have noticed, but Nokia have announced that many of the UK networks are now supported for billing within the Ovi Store; before, you had to either strike it lucky with your network choice, or use a credit card, but Nokia have confirmed that if you are a customer of T-Mobile, Orange, 3UK, O2 or Vodafone, you can now select to have any purchases added to your mobile phone bill instead.  It’s not clear if this agreement covers the smaller virtual operators such as Virgin Mobile or GiffGaff, but it’s certainly a good start, and adds an option commonly not available on other platforms.


Everything Everywhere to launch contactless payments via mobiles

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Everything Everywhere (the name of the new merged Orange and T-Mobile companies) has announced that it is going to integrate contactless payments into mobile phones, and launch a payment service (in conjunction with Barclaycard) in Q2 2011.  Of late we’re heard that some mobile phone vendors are secretly (or openly) including NFC capabilities into new mobile phones, and it looks like EE plans to take advantage of these and allow the mobile phone NFC to be used for contactless payments.  This comes on the back of McDonald’s announcing it will be rolling out contactless payment support this year too.

It looks like 2011 may be the year that the idea of mobile phone payment systems truely take off.  The EE solution is being produced in conjunction with Gemalto, who will produce (presumably) new SIM cards with both the SIM and the payment capabilities on the same chip, allowing the phone to provide two functions.

Orange also stated they are planning an Orange Cash card, which will be a pre-paid contactless payment card.  In London, there has been a good take up of contactless payment machines, especially useful for sandwich shops; imagine having the ability to buy your lunch by simply waving your phone near the till! In terms of the current 40,000 machines, they are located at places such as EAT, Pret a Manger, Little Chef, and will soon roll out at Co-Op stores.  In fact, one of my local take-aways already supports contactless payments on their credit card machine, so I expect even more places to support it throughout 2011.

Having said that, there is one problem with the current implementation; in my local takeaway, having been told the amount to pay, I could happily insert my chip’n’pin credit card whilst they entered the amount and then I could enter my PIN; since they upgraded to the new machine, I have to wait until the amount has been entered and the machine will then and only then accept the credit card being inserted; so we’ll all have to get used to paying a bit more attention to the process.

This is the sort of integration UK Gadgeteer has always supported; bringing different technologies together to make a better experience.  More news later in the year as EE prepare to roll out the solution.

Picture courtesy of Orange UK.


3UK make “All you can eat” data available to all new customers

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

When I last mentioned the One Plan (from 3UK), the new “All you can eat” data option was only available to Apple iPhone users.  I see (from the 3Store website) that if you take out a 24month contract on the One Plan today, you now get the “All you can eat” data allowance on any phone.  At a time when other companies (such as T-Mobile) are restricting their Internet allowance, a network that is happy to let you use as much as you can.

However, we do believe this is currently limited to new customers; existing customers will need to check with 3UK as to whether they are able to benefit from this tariff.


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.


T-Mobile reduce Internet usage across all tariffs

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Although it’s not 100% clear, it looks like T-Mobile has decided to reduce the amount of Internet data allowance each handset has to quite a low level (in fact, one of the low levels available from the main networks).  Whereas before T-Mobile had a high fair usage limit (often 3-4GB before they got upset and warned users), or stated a limit around 1GB (but without enforcing it), they have just published this information (here) stating that the limit is now 500MB across all contracts (old and new) as from 1 Feb 2011.  When other networks have tried this in the past, they have often accepted that it warrants a change in the T&Cs, and allowed people to cancel contracts early, however, we are hearing that T-Mobile are not letting people out of contracts over this change.

Let’s be clear, for many users this simply won’t be a problem; 3UK recently told me that over two thirds of their users use some of the 150MB data allowance provided whenever you topup, but most did not exceed that limit, nor needed to buy any additional internet allowances, so it may well equally be that many T-Mobile users will never reach the new lower limits, however, there will be some who use devices such as Android phones, which are constantly syncing data (email, calendars etc.) and using online navigation solutions (such as Google Maps), and uploading photos or videos directly from the handset who will find the new lower limit a struggle.

Other networks seem to offer 500MB on their lower tariffs, moving up to 750MB and then 1GB for the higher tariffs (or specific tariffs, such as for the iPhone), so this does seem to be a rather low limit across all tariffs, and there are still statements on the T-Mobile website implying that there are a range of allowance for Apple iPhone devices.

In fact, if you head to the Fair Use Policy pages (here), these still list figures of up to 3GB as applying to new contracts, so it’s definitely not clear what rates will apply for someone taking out a contract today, but it’s fair to say that it looks like T-Mobile may be reducing everyone’s allowances from next month.

T-Mobile have privately let me know that even if you go through the 500MB limit (and they’ve said very few customers do use more than that on a monthly basis), you should still be able to browse the web and read email even at the limit.  It’s ironic that T-Mobile have introduced these new lower limits only a few weeks after 3UK started to remove limits from some of their high end iPhone tariffs…


Apple iPad and 3UK

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

It’s not a lot of information to start with, but 3UK have just released the following statement:

Three UK today announced it will offer new purchase options for iPad users, including more affordable prices when purchased with a data service plan, for iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G models in the coming months. iPad allows users to connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before. Users can browse the web, read and send email, enjoy and share photos, watch HD videos, listen to music, play games, read ebooks and much more, all using iPad’s revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface. For more information about iPad please visit www.apple.com/ipad/

Although you’ve been able to get iPad data SIM contracts for some while, it’s nice to see 3UK being able to sell the hardware too.  I’m hearing rumours that it’s likely the iPad will be available from other networks too (Orange and T-Mobile have been mentioned), and that it will be a subsidised price (similar to most phone contracts), which may bring the Apple iPad into the reach of many more people as a special Christmas present…


iPhone 4 on 3UK and T-Mobile from today

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Don’t forget that you can now get the Apple iPhone 4 from 3UK and T-Mobile, who have both released the phone for sale today.  If you are thinking about getting an iPhone 4 on either network I wouldn’t hang around; O2 are still reporting having supply problems even now, so I suspect both these networks will have limited allocations, and those are going to go very fast!

I’ve already stated my opinions of the fact that 3UK have been able to carry this phone, but it’s nice to see that instead of being months after all the other networks, they are now considered “important” enough to have the same release date as one of the original big four networks.

Update: In fact, 3UK have stated they will be removing the iPhone 4 from sale from 5pm this evening due to stocks starting to run low.  Depending exactly how many devices get sold in the next few hours will determine whether it comes back on sale on Monday (however briefly until stocks run out completely).


iPhone 4 on 4 networks

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Yesterday, Apple announced the iPhone 4.  Today, all the 4 main networks have confirmed that they will be selling the iPhone 4 from June (24th), with many offering pre-orders from around the 15th.  So, that’s O2 (obviously), Vodafone and Orange (already selling the iPhone 3GS), and now T-Mobile who will all be carrying the iPhone 4 later this month.  It’s nice to see T-Mobile step up and offer the iPhone at last, although with all prices likely to be pretty much identical, even with 4 networks there’s no real competition on this phone.

Still no agreement or update from 3UK on their plans though.


Eye-Fi now supporting Devicescape

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Eye-Fi Pro

Here’s some nice integration between different products…

The latest Eye-Fi card, the X2 range, can now use Devicescape technology to be able to connect to wireless hotspots, and some of the new X2 cards even come with 1 years worth of wireless hotspot access included in the price.  By using Devicescape, it’s possible to configure your Eye-Fi memory card with your BT Openzone, Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile or Boingo user details, expanding the number of wireless hotspots you can connect to.  There appear to be 4 cards in the new X2 range;

  • The 4GB Connect X2, which supports over 25 sites (including Flickr)
  • The 4GB Geo X2, which adds geotagging to the Connect X2
  • The 8GB Explore X2, which as well as doubling the size, has the geotagging support, and also comes with 1 years hotspot access
  • The 8GB Pro X2, which builds on the Explore X2 by adding support for RAW files and supports Ad Hoc transfers too

With manufacturers like Canon and Nikon now building Eye-Fi support directly into the firmware of their cameras (so if you are in range and transferring a file, even if you shut the camera down, it is likely the camera will keep the memory card powered that little bit longer), they are definitely worth considering; yes, they cost more than a traditional memory card, but it’s the convenience factor you are paying for.

In fact, imagine you are out shooting photographs for the day; your camera knows about the Eye-Fi card, the Eye-Fi is connected to your MiFi device, and so your pictures are immediately uploaded whilst you are out and about, so that when you get home the pictures are already being displayed on your WiFi picture frame at home; that’s the type of integration we like here at UK Gadgeteer; it might need 3 or 4 different products, and some magical glue in the middle (such as a Flickr account), but it’s achievable by anyone today.

If you want to be even more clever, don’t forget you can use Pixelpipe with your Eye-Fi card (see here) which would allow you to distribute the pictures to multiple destinations with only one upload.


Orange & T-Mobile merger to benefit 3UK?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

The Guardian has covered some of the business information behind the merger between Orange and T-Mobile (here), but it’s the interesting possibilities that caught my attention…

Firstly, and a real winner for 3UK, is that as part of the merger, the combined company will give up, and pass over to 3UK, 3000 more mast sites, which will increase their planned total for this year to reach 16,000 mast sites.

Also, Orange and T-Mobile will have to give up one quarter of their spectrum in the 1800MHz range.  Now, wouldn’t it be interesting if 3UK bought up this spectrum, and used it to provide a 2G service instead of relying upon Orange to provide that service…

Everything is still being discussed, so these conditions may still change, but it’s good to see that things are progressing, if a little slowly…