As many of you reading this blog will know, last month I went on a holiday with my family that involved travelling thousands of miles to Canada and America where we spent just over three weeks seeing sights that were breathtaking, and doing things which were once in a lifetime opportunities. My full, day by day account can be viewed on my travel blog (click here), however I wanted to do a post on what the technology was like whilst away; what problems I encountered, and I how I went about solving them. A few weeks before we left I had set up the above website and a dedicated Flickr set for which I could upload photos and blog posts to either from my iPhone, iPad or MacBook Air. It was my plan to get data for my iPhone allowing for uploading and tweeting on the go, and then use wifi when available for my iPad and MacBook Air. My twitter feed, flickr set and tumblr blog were integrated onto my family section of my website and dedicated holiday site for work colleagues and family to view. When I arrived at London Heathrow I did one blog post and switched off international roaming for data. I did this before boarding the plane as I have heard horror stories of people going abroad and returning home to find a £300+ bill from their network for data usage. As soon as we landed in Toronto I switched on my phone to see which local mobile phone networks were available, Rogers was the only one I could find so they would get my business. The hotel we stayed in had wifi, but only in the lobby, so I headed off to the local Rogers shop to purchase some Pay As You Go Data. This was my first ‘taste’ of the Canadian people and the people who assisted me in Rogers were fantastic. They knew exactly what I wanted and needed for my iPhone 4. I had the option of buying a PAYG SIM card, choosing the amount to credit my account, then activating data for either $2 for 20MB day pass, or $7 for 125MB week pass. As this was my only source of data to which I tended to upload photos I chose the 125MB week pass, and found myself buying two of these for my weeks stay. Data for the week cost me under $20 (£20.30) for the week; however this allowed me to carry on as normal, and in my opinion worth every penny. Moving over to the USA was more of a challenge. As we crossed the boarder I used my Rogers SIM until the data ran out. As I was technically Roaming the data only lasted a few days (if that), however the hotels that we stayed in during our trip from Canada to New York City had free Wifi in the rooms, this wasn’t too much of an issue. There are three main options for networks in USA; AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. The first network reseller we found was an AT&T rep. He was very helpful and honest. He said that for some reason he said that the iPhone 4 simply wouldn’t work with Pay As You Go data, and blamed Apple for this. I trusted that it wouldn’t work, however didn’t believe his reason behind it. After all AT&T were exclusivity parterres with Apple for the first view iPhone launches – so kind of think that AT&T were living up to their reputation which I had heard. Kudos tho to the AT&T rep, he didn’t try and rip us off, he was honest, however I do feel for americans who want PAYG data on AT&T on an iPhone 4. The second network provider we found (in the same mall) was Verizon, however as they operate on CDMA and not GSM, the frequency which virtually all phones operate on these days, it would mean me purchasing a new phone – which to me wasn’t an option. So I needed to find a T-Mobile store. It would turn out that T-Mobile isn’t as popular in the rural areas of New York state, so I had to wait until we arrived in New York City. I did a google search on where a store would be in relation to our hotel, and to my delight one was on the same block, a few minutes walk from the hotel. As soon as I had dropped my bags I walked to T-Mobile. I asked the question, could I get data on Pay As You Go, the rep said yes, however their was a catch (which I kind of guessed there would be); the iPhone 4 would only allow data at edge speeds on PAYG, not 3g or 4g. Slow data was better than no data, so I opted for their ‘Unlimited’ plan, of unlimited data, and unlimited local texts/phone calls for $50 (£30). This was just slightly more than my O2 contract at home, so was quite happy with that. Reception unlike Rogers, was a little patchy in some areas, however I was still able to browse a Web site, send emails, and tweet without too much stress of waiting for the page to load. After our stay in New York City, we got a plane to Naples where would stay for a week in a villa. The villa itself had broadband, but no wireless, meaning that we couldn’t connect our iPads or iPhones to it. The broadband came in the form of a cable modem. I had my MacBook Air with me so there were two options, I could either buy the Ethernet to USB adaptor and then broadcast the signal using my AirPort built into the Air, or get a router. The first option meant me having to leave my MacBook Air on all day and plugged into the wall, something I wasn’t too keen on, so getting a router was the only real option. A ‘normal’ router would have to be configured using Ethernet initially, so we would have had to […]
For over a year now I have owned a MiFi from 3. At first I intended for it to be used on a daily basis, as a way of keeping connected on the move, however when the required task couldn’t be completed on my iPhone, WiFi has been readily available at either University or at home allowing me to use my iPad without forking out for an additional data plan. The times when I have needed to use my iPad when out have been few and far between, meaning that the most economical way has been to purchase a daily allowance from O2 giving me 200mb of data for a nominal fee of £2. With the areas I visited most covered by free WiFi I have enabled data on my iPad a handful of times since it was purchased, and only used my MiFi time times of emergency internet outages. As described in my original blog post, I am one of those people who have fallen in love with the internet. In fact so much so that the idea of being disconnected from the world is a thought that really does fill me with dread. Everything is done online, with ordering a birthday card for your grandmother, to finding a local rate number to avoid paying premium call charges; very few people today rarely give an always connected broadband a second thought, until it goes down. Therefore I have always made sure that no matter where I am based for an evening, I have at least two of my three internet enabled devices; iPhone, iPad and MiFi. Broadband, just like any utility can suffer outages, which has been the case in my student house today. I am moving out on Friday so whilst it would be nice to have it fixed im not going to lose too much sleep over it. The reason being is that I could still remain connected either via my iPhone, iPad or dust off my MiFi. I started weighing up my options. My iPhone whilst it does have 3G connectivity already paid for under my current contract, using twitter browsing the internet and replying to emails on such a small screen for a few days would be quite a challenge; especially as I am used to using a 27-inch iMac with duel display. The iPad was discounted at this point for similar reasons, with the addition of it meaning me have to fork out additional cash to purchase data. The only option was my MiFi. This is where the fun began, connecting my iMac to the MiFi was easy. My iMac found the WiFi signal and all I had to do was select the MiFi rather than my Airport Extreme base-station and I was cooking with gas. The reason for purchasing my MiFi from 3, was that last year credit didn’t expire, and the data you had purchased remained until used, the perfect deal for someone who would use the MiFi once in a blue moon. I purchased 1GB of data a year ago, and had approximately 50mb remaining when I switched on this morning. An hour later my connection went dead, as to be expected really, so a quick phone call to 3 technical support to activate an additional £10 worth of credit (already stored on my account) gave way to a mixed bag of emotions. First was relief that I had got through to someone who was happy to help and easy to understand (he wasnt based in a UK call centre, but still two out of three isnt too bad), second was anger. I was now told that whilst the cost of data hadnt gone up, any data not used within 30 days would expire! Personally I think this is a very cleaver ploy by the network providers, they offer you data packages which work out rather cheap on a £/mb basis, knowing full well that the average user will use around half of their allowance in the time frame given, in affect doubling their profit. For example 3 offer 1024mb of data for £10.49, costing 35p a day, not a lot by anyones standards. However if you only use half of your data for that month, it wont be brought forward, if you use half of your allowance it costs 70p a day, and if you only use a quarter of it you are set back £1.40 per day, not as cheap as it first looks. Is there any reason why my data should expire after a given time? I don’t think there is, it is not perishable and as I am charged based on usage the networks cant claim that by one person using 2gb is affecting the experience of others, as its a service that is being specifically paid for by one party, and not the other. Surely if I pay for data, I should be allowed to use that data, and not subject to time restraints and be pressured into using it prematurely. We in the UK live in a 1st class technological country, the cost of gadgets are getting lower, however the costs to run them are increasing. In the case of mobile technology, mobile phone contracts may not have increased in price significantly, however for the same price the service you receive will have decreased. Looking at mobile broadband, it was once ‘unlimited’ data for all, however things then changed with data being capped; now not only data being capped, but given a timeframe of which it is to be used or it will be forfeited. Once again the technology of a 1st world country is being priced at 3rd world prices.