19 posts • joined Wednesday 22nd August 2007 11:23 GMT
Is that "110 miles outside M25" a city of some sort or a complete middle of nowhere? I've recently been to Oxford and discovered that O2's 3G coverage along M40 is a joke. It's London, then around Beaconsfield and High Wycombe some 3G scraps and then nothing up until Oxford itself. Yes, 2G coverage is all along the road but 3G is virtually non-existent.
37 hours without service from giffgaff
I was one of those affected users of giffgaff mentioned in Bill's article. My SIM card has been rendered invalid by the network for approx. 37 hours in total. So yes, outage was actually the real thing and looking through gg's forum thread there are still people who are down. That's unprecedented and frankly embarrassing outage to deal with.
I have obviously been very unhappy with the outage but on average I must admit that giffgaff's official response was pretty good after all. Despite they blamed O2 for the outage, they kept people up to date and even if these updates didn't immediately fix anything for anyone, I couldn't think of any other provider offering similar openness in the outreach to its users. That doesn't obviously excuse them from the problem in the first place, yet is still very nice to see.
Now, as a giffgaff user for past few months (migrated from TMUK) I can only say that cannot really blame it for anything in particular, maybe apart from their mother network, the dreaded O2. Their 2G coverage is OK'ish but 3G coverage is a joke, especially anywhere outside M25. I thought their 3G900 rollout hype is real but I quickly realised it's pretty much limited to Central London only. Also, when I was experiencing evident network issues at home and tried to submit the case to someone relevant in the O2, I usually couldn't get past through first-line idiots at customer service. Thankfully my problem has resolved "by itself" as they have built a new NodeB just outside my balcony few weeks ago.
When it comes to giffgaff's "community customer service" I must admit, it is filled with sh*.*t loads of morons whose only aim is to post as much content as possible to gain poin... ekhm, cash, regardless if it actually make sense or not. Sadly, that's a disease of giffgaff's community and it should be tackled somehow, I think. But on the whole I can only praise the community and all people involved there, as well as gg's employees. I really value their openness, also on "bad" things like price increases. They at least seem to care, which is quite rare nowadays.
Silly that is
Few years back Ofcom's equivalent in Poland has publicly released full database of all official permissions they gave to network operators to build their sites - GPS coordinates included. Funny thing is that there are lot of cases where permission has been issued to the operator but site has not been built (yet). Having said that, we now have pretty good community-made Google Maps mashup visualising both existing and *planned* base station sites - all conveniently for free. http://mapa.btsearch.pl - although site is Polish, clicking through the map using English-speaking mice should suffice.
Now, that is in Poland, so I am quite surprised that Ofcom here in the UK still has problem with a) enforcing operators to share their station locations; b) releasing all that data free. And btw, EE (or NN rather) arguments are, well... silly at best. Base stations aren't just invisible or hidden somewhere deep underground so both thieves and/or terrorists should have no hassle robbing/exploding their gear without a map, right?
How cool that new rates apply to not-always-so-loyal prepaid customers, while post-paid contract punters are still charged 70p a minute to call an EU country, unless they're ready to pocket out additional £5 a month (!) just to get 4p/15p rates - still worse than prepaid rates.
As I said, FREAKING RIDICULOUS!
Top idea but...
...local rates are slightly disappointing. 15p to every network in the UK is more-or-less fine, but making a call to say Poland costs 8p to landlines and 20p (!!!) to mobiles. It's even more pricey than similar payg offerings form "big" networks like Vodafone or T-Mobile (both 5p/15p), not to mention MVNOs like Lebara (2p/9p).
Having used Truphone Anywhere happily on Symbian-based handset before, this offer is quite disappointing to me, unfortunately.
I must agree with twelvebore (first comment) here. I think Vodafone has quite bad website and indeed their account management side is on of the worst I've been using so far. Although I only keep a copule of pay-as-you-go numbers with them, and maybe pay monthly users get better experience (doubt it), I can already tell it's a piece of crap.
T-Mobile, on the other hand, is constantly improving its My T-Mobile section, and although it's not perfect, I'm getting nicely surprised every now and then when I can see new features implemented on the site...
Omh, why is this such a secret?!
That's a shame that there no official and freely available database of GSM/3G transmitters in the UK. Ofcom's Polish equivalent released that data quite a while ago, and they post reagular, monthly updates (!) with locations (including GPS coordinates) of sites where they have released a permission for a BTS/NodeB for given operator. That doesn't mean mobile operator actually do have a working transmitter in place, but it's pretty much accurate. It's no-brainer that Google Maps mashups has been put online nearly instantly after releasing such data, including mine: http://mapa.btsearch.pl. I'd really like to do the same for the UK at some point, just give me a data and it's going be up-and-running in no-time.
I simply don't understand why is this such a secret anyway, base stations are clearly visible in most cases and are fairly easy to identify their owner (assuming appropriate software in mobile phone and a hint of extra-terrestial knowledge ;). Having said that, with enough man-power and willingnes, it basically possible to create an Ofcom-and-any-mobile-operator-independent list of transmitters all over the UK - so what gives?!
C'mon Ofcom. Give us a data, please.
Oh yes, network config
Anonymous Coward has asked important question - what network was used for test and were conditions exactly the same (or at least similar) to test all handsets? Very often the case is that not only terminals are bad - networks are too.
E71 has crap radio, confirmed
I have Nokia E71 myself, bought as unbranded, sim-free handset, and I'm using it with T-Mobile UK primarily. Although it's pretty damn good mobile overall, it has quite poor radio, unfortunately. That not only affects voice calls, but also - perhaps mostly - mobile web usage on the handset. Dropping data sessions, even when 2G/3G signal is strong, isn't rare on E71. Also, in places with poor coverage, you bet that E71 among other terminals using same network will loose it first and then take quite a while to re-gain it after entering area with strong coverage again.
Really bad radio, unexpectedly, is the most significant flaw of E71 imho, although you won't figure it out from any review widely available online. In fact, I've never seen a good review of mobile phone that would focus on things other than shiny icons and menus or that new-super-duper browser featuring that ass-kicking multitouch technology etc etc etc...
T-Mobile coverage, you're asking?
Although I'm not too happy about T-Mobile's being possibly taken down from the UK market, I think Vodafone taking it over would be the best option of all. But anyhow, time will tell.
In regards to T-Mobile's coverage, I've seen my phone (E71 on T-Mobile's contract) without a signal in the Nokia Flagship Store (!) at Regent Street and couple of other indoor locations around Oxford Circus. It's not a brainer that 1800 spectrum is somewhat fussy in terms of providing solid indoor coverage, unless network is really dense, but that is not always the case with T-Mobile. While I generally don't like O2 (just don't, but still better than Orange!), I like their strategy of building quite dense network of microcells in town centres, and Voda does that too, but T-Mobile - well, rather rarely, at least from my observation.
I am also commuting regularly on Piccadilly Line between Heathrow and Central London, heavily using (or at least trying to) web'n'walk on my phone. There are few dead spots, that I wrote a piece about and sent out to CS a while ago (vide: http://adl.pl/tmobile_coverage.phtml), but as you would expect - no thank yous directly from RF departments were received, just a plain, automated CRM's reply from CS. Btw, Voda's coverage on that track is *way* better than T-Mobile's (this is where 900 spectrum kicks in, really).
Oh, and StreetCheck. Who actually believes in such things? These are usually useless, marketing tools to show how great we are. Go figure if you get a decent coverage within Nokia Flagship Store in the middle of London, using StreetCheck facility...
Simplest application possible...
...is to not charge for mobile data usage AT ALL while I'm on my femtocell. If that device is already attached to my broadband, which I am already paying for, then why should I pay additionally for data usage from mobile? I could just use my home WiFi instead for no additional charge and that's it.
Voice calls should be somewhat discounted too. Femtocell takes the network traffic off the nearest base station, so why not to give some nice discount on this too?
As a long-running base stations freak I am looking forward how this technology develops, hopefully in right way. And also now I am tempted to switch to Vodafone as soon as my T-Mobile's contract expires!
I gave Ovi Store a try yesterday on my E71, and unfortunately I have to confirm all concerns that Bill has in this review. Application is quite slow to navigate, UI is not very intuitive and well thought-through, and selection of apps is rather poor. After seeing Android Market for a first time just few days back, I cannot be impressed with Ovi Store at all.
But, at the end of the day the success mostly depends on developers and their willingness (or not) to publish their apps through it... Time will tell.
Hang on, I think they've already announced that quite a while ago (like a year or so).. Moreover, the closest to my house Orange base station has been removed shortly after, so I've figured that could be an effect of that agreement, as there are three other Vodafone stations pretty close. But today they are announcing the same thing again.. I don't understand sth here. Deja vu? :-o
Tesco Mobile also uses O2's 3G
It's not true that Tesco Mobile only uses 2G coverage from O2. I've bought Sony Ericsson K610i from Tesco some time ago, and it had no problems using O2's 3G network, including video calls, which I personally did. Even SIM card pack had a little '3G' label on it, suggesting it is actually a SIM card designed to use 3G services.
Not only Vodafone...
T-Mobile's 3G problems are quite common lately, at least in London area - and I'm a little bit surprised that TheReg never mentions it. For example, yesterday and before yesterday 3G data was virtually unusable, while voice calls were ok. If I wanted to acces Gmail in my mobile's browser, or any other mobile site - phone actually DID set up data session, but page was never loaded. Friend of mine, with different handset on T-Mobile had the same issues. It all came back to normal yesterday afternoon, but it also proves T-Mobile has serious (but still quiet) issues with their 3G sometimes...
I'd rather say iPathethic
This is ridiculous. Pay the full price (aka hundreds of £££) for the phone with contract? Not sure whether it has 3G, not to mention HSDPA? Only one operator to work with? Please, Apple, give me a break. If iPhone was sold just like any other phone, that I could buy in any shop without contract, or with any operator's contract for free or less than £100 - that would be a GREAT success. But now I can only tell it's just iPathetic...
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