Mobile Internet access

3-mobile-broadband.pngI try to check my sales and support emails at least twice a day, every day. I managed this 362 days in 2007 (I took a break for Christmas day and 2 days I was in Germany at a conference). But providing this level of service can prove to be a problem for a one-man software company when it comes to taking holidays. Last year I restricted holidays to places with broadband Internet access. But finding child-friendly accommodation with broadband access proved to be quite a headache.

I have considered getting a Blackberry, but I really need something that can run my application to do proper support.

After some dithering I have now finally got mobile Internet access for my laptop through 3 Networks at £10/month. This provides 1GB per month of free data in the UK. You can get a higher data allowance with a more expensive contract, or a pay-as-you-go contract. But 1GB/month will hopefully be sufficient for my needs. Data costs outside the UK are a frightening £6/MB, so I will probably have to look for alternative arrangements if I take a holiday abroad. Vodaphone offer contracts with more reasonable roaming rates, but the contracts are much more expensive (£25 – £99/month).

Installation of the USB mobile modem and software was very easy – it took me about 5 minutes from opening the packaging to being connected. Only time will tell how good the coverage and service are. Watch this space.

Having mobile Internet access could also be a useful back-up if I lose my landline broadband connection. This is quite reassuring after several website outages and a failed harddisk in the last couple of weeks.

19 thoughts on “Mobile Internet access

  1. Edward

    I’d be interested in hearing how you get on with this as it’s something I’ve been considering too. Please keep me posted!

  2. Tim Haughton

    I feel your pain. I was hoping to have my 1.0 released by now, so we’re off to Center Parcs with the kids at the end of the week. We’ve got an executive Villa with Spa, Sauna etc. + WiFi :)

  3. Andy Brice Post author

    Tim, I will be testing it out at CentreParcs Elvedon at the end of January. We are slumming it in a “comfort plus”. I think upgrading to a villa with wifi would have cost more than I am paying for a year of mobile Internet access. A Sauna would have been nice though…

  4. Thomas

    Thanks for you post, I’ve been having the same problem in the past years. It’s even more difficult if you plan to travel abroad (where the mobile internet rates are steep) and things are quite different in many countries. In Ireland many internet cafes allow you to connect your laptop. In Spain this is usually impossible, but they have many unprotected wireless lan’s (which they don’t have in Ireland).

    BTW, McDonalds announced last year in october to provide free internet access in the UK in their restaurants. Might be useful if you used up your 1GB…

  5. Andy Brice Post author

    It’s worth paying £10/mo not to have to eat at MacDonalds. I only ever use MacDonalds for their toilet facilities (known as taking a “MacDump”). I wonder if you will be able to get wifi in the toilet? ;0)

  6. zvikico

    While you’re roaming, you may wanna check out the option of using a prepaid local SIM with data plan. I’m not sure if these are widely available, but it’s worth checking.

  7. James

    You can’t be serious!

    I think your advice is always spot-on, especially for a UK ISV like me making around the $50,000 mark (perhaps similar to you?).

    But you are mental if you dictate your holiday depending on broadband availablity. MENTAL!

    Go away somewhere, anywhere for 2 weeks. Go where your want to, you will be some return much more mentally refreshed than if you composomised your location. There is nowhere where you can’t get at least dialup 56K, or an Internet cafe. Leave your computer at home, and check your emails every 1 or 2 days. Your business won’t end, your family will thank you, and so will your sanity in the long term.

  8. Andy Brice Post author


    Internet cafes aren’t great for me as I need to access the key generator and licence database on my laptop (not to mention security issues). Also much UK self-catering accommodation doesn’t have outgoing phone lines. Mobile access should mean I am much less restricted.

  9. James

    Fair enough, perhaps it may be worthwhile investing some time into being able to access your admin tools remotely. In the long term, that would open up your leisure options.

  10. Tim Haughton

    Andy, I did the Center Parcs thing this last weekend. Our villa, for all its newness, was a disaster. It was so new, it wasn’t finished. The Sauna wasn’t in, the Wifi consisted of a bare phone cable hanging down from a roof, and a huge wall mounted mirror fell off and shattered in one of the bathrooms, we mentioned something about trading standards and the health and safety executive, and they’re giving us the same holiday again in July :)

    But I digress. At the Sherwood one at least, all the communal buildings had Wifi. So the information centre, sports halls etc.

  11. Andy Brice Post author

    >It was so new, it wasn’t finished.

    That is very poor. Centre Parcs isn’t exactly cheap.

    >they’re giving us the same holiday again

    Hopefully not exactly the same.

  12. Anna-Jayne Metcalfe

    Hi Andy,

    We’ve done exactly the same, albeit on the £15/month plan (3Gb data/month). You didn’t get the idea from me at the conference by any chance, did you? ;)

    The only issue we have had with it is a complete dead spot (no 3G, and barely any GPRS) at one of our customer sites in rural Hampshire.

    Aside from that, it’s been a very worthwhile investment – even managing to hold a 3G connection most of the way from Waterloo to Dover on the Eurostar last year. The only thing missing are reasonable roaming charges, of course…but that’s a bugbear with all mobile solutions at the moment.

    Go and take a decent holiday. You’ve earned it!

  13. Andy Brice Post author

    >You didn’t get the idea from me at the conference by any chance, did you?

    Quite possibly. I will steal a good idea from anyone. ;0)

    >Go and take a decent holiday. You’ve earned it!

    I am supposed to be on holiday today. Unfortunately my son has a really nasty stomach bug. So we aren’t going anywhere. :0(

  14. Andy Brice Post author


    Some useful tips, thanks. Looks like data roaming charges are pretty horrific. If I go abroad I will probably have to buy a SIM card locally.

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    I have also taken Reliance data card and till now spent Rs. 5000 on the modem and on paying the bills extra. They had given me a white data card which was returned and also the executive said that many of them complain on its use and the cost and the accesbility. Instead of this i was replaced with a ZTE model which was an open piece. I requested for a close box , new piece but the executive said as ur piece was open and used he had to give me an open data card modem. I used that for around 3 months but always getting disconnected. After complaining, the guy says he will help me with it but as far as my experience is with reliance, Ambani was very true in what he said….karlo duniya apni mutthi mein…” Sabka maal apna mutthi mein”…
    I would request everyone not to ever go for any reliance data card…or reliance mobiles…they are utterly rubbish…
    I have invested so much on this data card instead i could get gold for me which would alteast be genuine with me.

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