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Mobile broadband - recommendations/warnings please!

(10 Posts)
InmaculadaConcepcion Fri 24-Jun-11 14:31:04

We're just about to move into a house which doesn't have a phone line or cable connection (as far as I know) and as we won't be needing either and don't know how long we will be staying (it might be a couple of months, it might be a year or more), some kind of dongle arrangement seems to be the best idea for servicing our current internet needs.

We aren't mega users - mainly FB/MN/email etc. plus a bit of i-Player.

The guy who lives in the house at the moment uses a T-Mobile dongle and is quite happy with it. Unfortunately, it doesn't support Skype, which is our main "telephone" (apart from our PAYG mobiles).

It's in the Bristol area.

Any thoughts? TIA!

InmaculadaConcepcion Fri 24-Jun-11 14:31:52

Hmm...don't know why this posted twice.

Please ignore the other thread!

NetworkGuy Fri 24-Jun-11 15:49:39

Not sure how much you'd be able to use iPlayer (unless for RADIO) because a 30 minute TV show is often around 300 MB, and the allowance on many PAYG schemes means it often costs 10 quid per GB

If Skype is something you use a lot, then you might want to check for network coverage of Three in the area because they have a number of handsets which can handle Skype voice calls and they seem to allow for Skype to be used without it counting against any data allowance, so you'd have Skype calls on a phone you could take out of the house, and it would cost the price of a top-up every 3 months or so.

(Don't have a handset from them at present, but do use their broadband service with a dongle but this is on a contract started at the end of August 2008 (only got phone line installed last year and used mobile broadband exclusively before, now both dongle and the landline all the time.)

InmaculadaConcepcion Fri 24-Jun-11 18:08:14

Thanks NetworkGuy!

The other option we're considering is getting a router installed if a company would agree to let us move and take the contract etc. with us rather than tying it to the address.

I'm a bit bamboozled by the fixed choices available as we don't want cable/tv/phone landline - just the straight internet..... confused

TBH we've lived without i-Player thus far (we're currently living on the continent where it isn't available) so it wouldn't kill us not to have it. I just thought it would be nice if it wasn't too expensive for extra bandwidth etc. - but from what you say it probably is.....

NetworkGuy Fri 24-Jun-11 22:00:34

You need a phone line (even if making no voice calls) in 99.99% of cases for any broadband apart from with Virgin Media cable.

Not sure on current policy from BT on them installing (well 'enabling' if any line exists) a phone line and then you moving to another location, but they tend to have a minimum 12 month rental period and if you skipped off they may try to get the remaining months payment from you (and blackmark your credit rating, or keep any deposit, if they take one) if you [for example] left the country.

I had a phone line installed free last year on condition I pay rental to BT for 18 months and make 10 calls per month (which includes the uncharged calls at weekends), so I have paid for hardly any voice calls but kept to the small print of the contract, if not exactly what they expect [ie giving them some income from speech calls].

For internet access, there are quite a few ISPs which do not require a 12 month (or longer) contract but there would be setup fees of say 50 pounds, plus the cost of a router (which might be free if signing up for 12 months) to add.

All told, a dongle for internet use (excluding iPlayer) would perhaps be best option. If you only have a single machine then a single USB stick would do. If you have a few items such as Kindle, mobile phone, laptop, that all use wireless, then a Three network "MiFi" at about 70 quid would work for up to 3 months or 3 GB of data (whichever came first) and then you'd need to pay for top-ups after that.

If you know soon after moving in that you would be there for 10+ months then I'd suggest going for some phone + internet deal (and pay any penalties for not completing to the end of 12 months) as it won't knock the costs up too much (compared with the initial costs for flexibility of monthly contract). You would probably get significantly faster connection to a wireless router, get the router for a nominal sum (delivery cost) and the biggest cost might be for getting BT to reconnect the line.

No TV included in options above - if you had a landline and some ISP deal, you could download with iPlayer overnight to time-shift programmes and would then need no TV licence (licence small print stipulates that watching live TV or recording it yourself for later viewing, does require licence but watching it from the web 'later' does not). I'm using PlusNet as ISP and they don't count any of the traffic from 00:00 to 08:00 so I download 60-80 GB of TV a month in the night. During the 08:00 to 00:00 'peak' hours they have two tiers, either the 'value' account allowed 10 GB or the 'extra' account (which I use) allowed 60 GB. Other ISPs have other offers.

Hope that isn't too much waffle smile

InmaculadaConcepcion Sat 25-Jun-11 06:59:47

NetworkGuy the quality and extent of your technical advice is breathtaking. Thanks SO much for all that.

I'm pretty certain there is a phone line, but yes - it may well need "enabling".

Lots of food for thought there.... cheers smile

niceguy2 Sat 25-Jun-11 10:14:04

It sounds to me too that a 3G Dongle is your most flexible choice.

Three currently offer an all you can eat package with truly unlimited data usage. The only catch is that I've found their coverage is quite patchy. That said, I know a couple of people who love three, so I guess it's each to their own.

Regardless of who you may decide to go with, I suggest you ignore what the salesman says and get yourself a cheap pay as you go SIM (most will send you one free if you go to their website). Pop it into an unlocked phone (assuming you have one) and test what best signal you get before committing to any contract.

If you watch iPlayer then you will need a decent signal to support streaming and allowances will soon rack up. As Network guy says, one episode of something on iPlayer will take up 300MB so a few shows a month and you are busting any allowance you may have.

The other alternative of course is to get friendly with the neighbours and offer to pay towards their broadband costs if they share their wifi password with you!

InmaculadaConcepcion Sat 25-Jun-11 10:34:12

More good suggestions, thanks niceguy2.

We'll be in a terraced house, so there's a good chance we'll be able to hook up with the neighbours, if they're friendly types. Our MacBook is very good at detecting networks.

NetworkGuy Sat 25-Jun-11 13:05:52

> SamKnows.com < allows you to check for nearest exchange and what amount of competition from other phone services (O2, Orange, Sky, TalkTalk) and cable (Virgin) might be available. Look for UK Broadband (it started off exclusively UK based but seems to have adopted America for comparisons now).

> Ofcom 'Site Finder' < allows you to research the cell network towers near you. You can enter your postcode and click on nearby markers to see what's offered. 2100 UMTS is one of the 'significant' items to look for as that's definitely used for 3G data networks (eg from Three). I hope someone else can identify suitable information for the other mobile networks that hint at 'data services' being on offer.

I've only used Three so far, via a dongle. I know they allow you a brief time window (2 to 3 days from first powering it up and connecting) to decide if you will stick with it, and if not you need to cancel and return it immediately. You've not mentioned if there are multiple wireless items you use, but the MiFi 'sharing' unit might be the best, and even if you are only there for 2 months, selling the 'used' MiFi unit on Ebay or Gumtree would recover a good 50% of the cost (clearly you would have used the 3 GB of data, so assume the hardware is say 50 quid, getting 30+ to 50 for it would mean you had the use of it for quite a low cost per month...

Assuming you would get the latest from Three if bought now, so it might be one with an OLED display rather than 5 LEDs (check Ebay and you will find MiFi units from 30 to 70 pounds [without data] depending on being s/h or the latest units unlocked from being used with Three.

The 'share the wi-fi' option is a good one, if you make friends when you move in, and if you find someone on Virgin cable, where they may have a 10 Mbps connection, then your browsing (and even the odd bit of video watching) should not be noticeable for them smile

InmaculadaConcepcion Sat 25-Jun-11 19:48:03

I feel positively enriched with information now...!

Another Big Cheers for taking the trouble to help me out. smile

I shall do some research along the lines you've suggested.

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