Tag Archives: 4g

Three (3) UK scraps unlimited tethering and brings in free 0800 calls – and it’s not like we didn’t see this coming!

Wow – surprise post! You haven’t seen me in a while – in fact it was a year to the day yesterday since I last posted. Sorry – uni, work and self-employed work have all taken their toll and I’ve been forced to reallocate my time. Nonetheless, some news did crop up today which I did think was worth some discussion.

Three – well known in the UK as the most generous data provider around – have today made some major changes to their contract offers to bring into place a range of policy changes.

Before you read on, it’s worth clarifying that these changes do not affect existing One Plan customers. Three would naturally want to avoid making such a major change to existing contracts, as customers would potentially have a get-out clause for the remainder of their contracts (in general, customers can pull out of their contract without penalty if their provider makes a change to their contract mid-term that imposes a significant change to the service that they are entitled to). See clause 10.1(d) of the pay monthly terms and conditions:

10.1 You may end this agreement in the following ways:
(d) Within one month of a materially detrimental variation to your agreement. You can end the agreement within one month of us telling you about a variation to your agreement (which includes your Package) which is likely to be of material detriment to you. You must give notice to Three Customer Services within that month and your agreement will finish at the end of that month once we receive your notice (a Cancellation Fee will not be charged).

As of today, Three are no longer offering their immensely popular One Plan contract to new customers – instead they offering a range of new contracts that provide various allowances of data and minutes. All contracts now include unlimited texts, so I guess that’s one thing that is simpler.

The new plans offer data allowances ranging from 500MB to “all-you-can-eat” and call allowances from 50 minutes through to unlimited. Tethering is now allowed on all plans regardless of your data allowance – except where your allowance is “all-you-can-eat”, where you will now be allowed up to 2GB of tethering per month. Three will notify you when you’ve burned through 80% and 100% of your limit to keep you in the know.

Additionally, for new contracts starting today, Three now offer free calls to all 0800 / 0808 / 0500 numbers for all new 24 month contracts. Again, we would have expected this to be cropping up sometime before too long because Ofcom have instructed all providers to do the same before the end of June 2015. Calls to 084* and 087* numbers are also brought down to 5p per minute – which is great to see as in many cases this will be cheaper than your landline (particularly for 0871 or 0843 numbers – which are very expensive to call from landlines and commonly found on service providers websites). Three certainly deserve credit for simplifying the cost of calling national numbers.

If you’re an existing customer, you aren’t, by default, eligible for the new 08 number rates. If you wish, you can call Three and get your plan updated to include the new rates, but be warned: if you are an existing One Plan customer and you request the new 08 rates, you will be moved to a new plan for the remainder of your contract and will be stripped of your unlimited tethering.

In terms of my own opinion – I’m naturally disappointed that Three will no longer be offering unlimited tethering, but in their defence it is very easy to see why. The cost of providing such an offering would be immense. Many people were abusing the service and using it as a replacement for their home broadband, which would have led to excessive consumption of data. I freely admit myself that I’ve had cases where I’ve consumed in excess of 50GB of data in a month through my plan – mainly due to internet outages at home or simply because, up until when I recently switched to Virgin Media, my 3G signal was faster than my ADSL line!!

So fair enough to Three I guess. My current contract runs through to next February, and until that time I’ll continue to use the tethering as I did before. If anything, it’ll only make me consider other providers when I renew now where I might not have done before. To be honest though, when you bear in mind all the perks you now get from 3 – inclusive allowances in many countries abroad, free 080 / 05 calls (for new customers as above), etc – it’s still hard to bear others in mind. Remember the new rules only apply to tethering – Three are likely to remain the only provider to offer unlimited 4G phone data uage for some time; or at least until giffgaff start providing 4G!

To help make this easier to understand, I’ve put together some FAQs. You may wish to confirm any of these with 3 as I’m not a representative of them or anything like that, but all information is based on what’s available on their website.

Can I still get hold of a ‘One Plan contract?
No, they’re no longer available to subscribe to.

I’m already on a ‘One Plan’ contract – what’s happening to my tethering allowance?
Nothing, providing you make no further changes to your plan for the remainder of your contract (see below for more info). Existing ‘One Plan’ customers will continue to have their existing privileges for the remainder of their contract. So, if you’re currently on a contract under the ‘One Plan’, you will continue to receive your unlimited tethering unless you renew or modify your contract.

I’m already on a ‘One Plan’ contract – do I get the new 08 call rates?
Not by default, no. Your plan remains unmodified, so calls are still chargeable for 08 numbers as they were before. You are able to contract Three Customer Services who will enable the new 08 rates on your account at no extra charge or contract extension – however, by doing so, you are modifying you’re contract and, as a result, you will no longer be eligible for unlimited tethering (instead you get a 2GB tethering limit). DO NOT ASK FOR THE NEW 08 RATES TO BE APPLIED TO YOUR ACCOUNT IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THE UNLIMITED TETHERING.

My renewal is coming up on my ‘One Plan’ contract – can I keep my unlimited tethering?
Unfortunately, no. When your contract renews you can no longer have the ‘One Plan’ so your unlimited tethering is no longer available.

I’ve signed up to a new contract on or after 18/03/2014 – how do the new 08 rates work?
If you’ve signed up to a new contract on or after 18/03/2014, you’re automatically eligible for the new 08 rates. That means that you get free calls to any 0800 / 0808 / 0500 numbers and they do not come out of your minutes allowance. Additionally, any calls to 087* or 084* numbers are set at 5p per minute – which may be cheaper than your landline (it’s worth checking).

Who needs 4G (LTE) when DC-HSDPA outruns it anyway?

First of all, I know this is the first post on GEEK! in around 3 months – sorry about that. I have to say, as I start diving deeper into work and education, I’m running out of time to blog. I’ll try to post a bit more once college is over.

Anyway, I recently gave in and returned (after nearly 4 years) to 3. I used to be with them when I had my Nokia 3120 Classic (good times) on PAYG, but times have changed a fair bit since then and I can afford a snazzy iPhone 5 contract. I thought a lot about who to go with, but I have to say 3 quickly sealed the deal with their One Plan. I mean – come on – who would turn down oodles of minutes/texts and, more importantly, all-you-can-eat (quite literally – it’s realistically up to 1000GB a month) data and tethering for £36 a month? Better still, EE and 3 are the only two networks capable of ever providing LTE for the iPhone 5, so with the promise of that later in the year, it’s almost impossible to say no. EE’s £36 a month deal gives you 500MB a month, which almost questions why you’d even benefit from 4G with a limit that small.

Ok, so the awesome deal had pretty much perfected for me – until I got home and actually used it. Now, bearing in mind, at home I get roughly 7Mbps a second on our stone-age ADSL, I was pretty astounded when I started getting speeds such as this through my iPhone…

IMG_0017Ok, that’s only one test. It’s only fair to do a few, so here’s a good sample.



Not bad really? Overall, while at home, I’m averaging around 22Mbps. For me, it questions what benefit there really is to LTE. If I can get these kind of speeds from DC-HSDPA, why would anybody pay such a high premium for 4G?

The speed still holds up fairly well in the city too. My local city is Oxford, and I can happily get speeds of around 10-15Mbps. Given that the network will undoubtedly be under much heavier strain in densely populated areas, it still copes very well.

For me, though, in theory it only gets better. In September/October, EE will hand over a segment of the 1800Mhz LTE spectrum to 3, giving them a very valuable resource. And to top it all off, 3 have told us we won’t have to pay a penny more for it.

3 deserve to be shouting about this way more than they actually are – frankly I don’t think it’s given anywhere near enough credit for what it is.

Nonetheless, I’m delighted to be back with 3. For those that are interested – the plan I’m on is the £36 a month iPhone 5 One Plan.

iPod Touch 4G Review (8GB) – everything there is to know

If you’ve been a long term reader of GEEK!, you’ll probably know that for the last 18 months I’ve been the proud owner of an 8GB 2G iPod touch. Over it’s time it has served me very well and became one of those gadgets I can’t leave the house without. However, this week, I decided that the 128MB of RAM and 533Mhz processor just isn’t enough to cope with iOS4.

So, I ordered a brand new 4G iPod Touch. I decided to stick with the 8GB model as I don’t really listen to enough music to want much more – plus the lack of a 16GB model makes the jump to 32GB far too expensive.

Yesterday, I manned the front door waiting for my special delivery from the postman. It came, and I have to say – I adore it. It is such a huge improvement on the preceding iPod touch models.

I think the thing that takes my eye the most is the new retina display. When Apple announced this for the iPhone earlier this year, I was a bit sceptical. Having never been an iPhone owner, I wasn’t really ever given the chance to be proven wrong that the retina display was some over-hyped piece of technology made up by Apple. Oh how wrong I was. The retina display ups the resolution of iPod touch’s 3.2 inch display from 320×240 to 960×640 – at a whopping 326 pixels per inch. This is very noticeable and makes one heck of a difference when viewing web pages or simply looking at images on the screen. So that got an immediate thumbs-up from me.

The next thing that I noticed was the vast improvement in speed. The new iPod touch 4G comes with the same Apple A4 chip that’s in the iPhone, giving it 1Ghz of power* (up from 553Mhz on the 2nd gen). In addition, they’ve double the RAM from 128MB to 256MB which makes multitasking so quick and simple. They actually disabled multitasking for the 2G because there wasn’t enough RAM – and although I usually disagree with Apple’s choices, they were right in disabling it. Even if you jailbreak the 2G to enable multitasking, it doesn’t work very well and causes frequent crashes. On the new 4G, apps load up so much quicker! In general, switching from app to app is also much less time consuming.

Multitasking itself has also become a fantastic feature on the 4G – not only for games, but also for VoIP apps like Skype. I can now run a Skype call, minimize Skype, and continue writing my emails or browsing the net whilst the call remains active (although I myself am not very good at multitasking!!). Take a look at the screenshot (and yes, click it to admire the beautiful resolution of it!)…

The red bar at the top signals that the call is still active, so I can just carry on with what I’m doing! Win for multitasking!

The built in microphone is also a considerable advantage over older iPod touch models. I can now make Skype calls without the need for a headset and they sound crystal clear. Sadly I haven’t yet had the chance to give FaceTime a go.

However, this does bring me neatly onto the 2 cameras that Apple has fitted on the device. They aren’t particularly high resolution, but do the job fine for casual out-and-about shots. The rear camera can also shoot 720p video which is very cool and looks very decent.

When you’ve had enough of messing with the OS itself, you’ll notice that the device is also considerably thinner than it’s predecessor. They’ve made the back of the device flat which is extremely useful for typing as it doesn’t roll around on the desk any more – a very big problem with the older iPod touch models. They have also changed the design slightly. The built-in speaker is now on the exterior of the device (finally!) and not in the headphone jack. In addition, they’ve switched the positioning of the sleep button from left to right – something that will take a little getting used to.

So, as you can probably see, I love my upgrade. The rather expensive £189 price tag for the lowest model is quite a lot higher than previous models, but to be honest I do think it’s worth the extra few pounds.

The new 4G iPod touch has very similar specs to the iPad and the iPhone 4 – effectively making it an iPad with a smaller screen or an iPhone without the phone.

For a portable gadget without the hassle of a contract, it’s perfect. If you’ve got a 3rd generation iPod touch, this probably isn’t worth the upgrade. However, if you’re still on the 2nd generation, you should really be looking to upgrade. I managed to sell my old 8GB 2G for £65 on eBay, taking a fair chunk out of the price of a new 4G. If you’re a frequent iPod touch user, I advise you to upgrade (and I’m an Apple-basher, so this means a lot!).

Wow. That was a long review!

*Update 16/11/2010: It has come to my attention that this was never actually confirmed. Although the A4 chip is capable of 1Ghz clock speed, Apple never confirmed whether it was actually running at this speed in the iPhone and iPod touch.