Home Search First Look Rules Help TheDaddy.org BlogLogin/Register
By bye hackers
How much is a BT GPRS? / mobile broadband - 1 to 8
Return To Techy Corner

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Wed 10th Dec '08 6:44PM
4678 Posts
Demian's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
Well according to all my googling and wikipediaing, gprs is a system used by mobile phones. Yet when organising some mobile broadband from BT I got the option to upgrade from 10gprs per month to 500 for a fiver. The advisor on the phone couldn't tell me how many megabytes of download either of these amounted to, and neither could her colleagues, other than 10 is only enough for browsing, and her best guess was somewhere between 3 and 5gb a month for the 500gprs option. So I went with the upgrade But if it turns out that this represents only a few extra mb I'll cancel it again.

Also - no mobile broadband web-n-walk dongle thingies for laptops unless I'm a business?! What's all that about then? The advisor was of the opinion that registering a plc would be enough to let them give me one, but a) she didn't seem very certain and b) it costs between 50 and 140 quid Has anyone tried this? Or is this just a BT restriction which I could get around by changing ISP? I'm very happy with my home hub and fast & reliable unlimited downloads etc, so I don't really want to switch unless I have to, but mobile broadband internet on my laptop would be worth it if I can't do it with BT.
  

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Wed 10th Dec '08 10:21PM
4213 Posts
General's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
If you want mobile broadband you will probably need to go to a mobile operator. Vodafone and 3 do reasonable deals, but make sure you get coverage in your area.
O2 do home broadband so you might want to try them.
    

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Thu 11th Dec '08 9:01AM
4597 Posts
Spanners's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
What an odd rule of BT - Loads of other companies happily give out USB dongles with their packages - http://mobile.broadbandgenie.co.uk/
    

Malcolm*
My ape goosed a Bishop. Who are you?
Thu 11th Dec '08 1:58PM
1673 Posts
Malcolm's Avatar
Member Since
3rd Jun '03
(*trumpety noise*) Malcolm to the rescue!

I've spent a total of probably weeks looking into this kind of thing over the last couple of years, as I do a lot of my various jobs on trains, in cafes etc.

A few definitiony-things first, to do with mobile data:

1. In the really really old days, it used to work exactly the same way as a traditional modem - to send data, the computer just dialled a normal phone call and sent the info to and fro via a series of beeps and crackles like a fax machine. This was very very slow, because mobile phone networks are designed to compress the sound according to the characteristics of the human voice -not at all suited to data transfer.

2. Then came GPRS (which I believe stands for something like General Packet Radio System or something similarly unhelpful). This is a system that works over a mobile network at the same time as the voice calls. It's a bit like a home broadband connection, in that when you instigate a data session, your device just switches GPRS on, but otherwise carries on as normal. It's faster and less annoying than the old method, as there's no waiting for a number to dial, no ringing/answering, etc. GPRS is still in most mobile phones today (assuming they have internet/data features).

3. After that came EDGE, which is basically just a refinement of the old systems - it's a bit faster but not very interesting so isn't much trumpeted at all. Again, it's in many modern mobiles if they have data features. The first-version iPhone was limited to EDGE, and was thusly widely criticised because everyone assumed it would have something better than that.

4. Then there's 3G (simply meaning Third Generation, because it's the third major method for mobile data, given that EDGE and GPRS aren't much different from each other). This was the major revolution that enabled things like mobile TV, video calling and so on. The 3G network was the thing that was auctioned off for billions a few years ago - companies competed to have the right to launch the first 3G network in the UK. Hutchinson mobile won it, and launched the Three network (so that's where the name Three comes from). Nowadays, though, it's been opened up so that all networks have a 3G service. It's also worth mentioning that 3G isn't a specific technology in itself; it's a cover-all term for a number of high-speed systems, so you might see it called HSDPA or something similar. There's no need to worry about the differences though - basically if it's sold as 3G then you can potentially get near-broadband speeds wherever you are. I say "potentially" because it depends on your coverage - in York it's much, much worse than in London, for example.

So, with that out of the way, back to the question. Firstly, there's no such thing as "10gprs" because GPRS is a system, not a measurement - it's like saying "10English" or "10 Alternating Current" or "10 JavaScript". So, the advisers clearly had even less training than I do - which, of course, is none at all - and I'd therefore completely disregard everything they said!

But if there is such a thing as a mobile internet dongle that's GPRS only, I'd ignore it as it won't be "broadband" at all - from my run-down above, GPRS is not new, not at all quick, and really you can do much better. However, probably ignore this paragraph as they were almost certainly using the wrong term and confusing everyone.

In terms of what is available, it's worth remembering that a mobile internet dongle is simply a small mobile phone, but without any speakers or buttons. It connects to a mobile phone network and you get a mobile phone bill for it. Increasingly these days, they're capable of using all the above technologies - it'll try for the fastest, and if that's not available it'll try for the next fastest, and so on. So, even if BT do offer such a thing, there's no reason to assume it's the one to go for - especially since they seem to be offering such ridiculous lack of expertise and very high prices. As for the "business only" thing - well, again, it sounds as though the adviser had no idea what they were saying to you.

It's difficult (or impossible) to get a properly pay-as-you-go mobile broadband stick. They nearly all bill you a standard amount per month, and for that you get a certain amount of data you can download. For mine, I pay 5 a month to Three (usually 10 a month but I was an existing customer and got a special offer) and this entitles me to 1 GB per month. There's a small programme that runs and monitors my usage, and will alert me if I approach the limit, but I've never got anywhere near because mobile broadband still isn't nearly as good as wi-fi, so I'll usually use wi-fi if I possibly can. THere's an increasing number of free wi-fi spots around anyway. (and since you're with BT internet you can have access to a really large range of them free of charge if you opt into their BT FON system. That's another discussion, though...) Note that this is only for web browsing - I don't download/share anything especially large over it, because it's just too unreliable anyway. I wouldn't recommend anybody get a mobile thing as a replacement for proper broadband.

One final point is that it's almost never a problem to upgrade your monthly allowance anyway. So there's probably nothing to lose by going for the cheapest, lowest-limit mobile broadband thing. On the whole I'd recommend Three - although they theoretically don't always reach the same maximum speeds as some of the competitors, that's not very relevant because none of them ever reach the stated maximum speeds anyway. (It's like home broadband in that respect.)

There's a little guide with some estimates of how much you can do with a GB, 3GB and 10GB monthly limit here: http://www.three.co.uk/personal/products_services_/mobile_broadband_/price_plans.omp . I don't know for certain but the estimates do look roughly realistic to me.

And finally, if I "recommend a friend" then we both get some free credit... just thought I'd mention it

Good luck!
   

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Thu 11th Dec '08 6:04PM
4678 Posts
Demian's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
Wow, what a fantastic amount of helpful info. Thanks, Malcolm!

Yeah, I was pretty sure that GPRS wasn't a measurement, but I thought maybe BT had some sort of unit of download size they'd confusingly named a GPRS too. Guess the advisor was even more clueless than I had realised.

My first plan was to use my laptop for wireless online gaming, as well as IM/browsing, but I'm starting to realise that may still be slightly unrealistic. I happen to be sitting in an unsecured wireless network at one of my current workplaces, but the reception is terrible and I drop connection entirely once every hour or two.

If I end up signing up with Three, you'll certainly get my referral
  

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Thu 11th Dec '08 11:26PM
4213 Posts
General's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
http://shop.o2.co.uk/promo/o2mobilebroadband/tab/Pay_and_Go

O2 do pay and go mobile broadband now
    

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Fri 12th Dec '08 8:25AM
4678 Posts
Demian's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03


General was bold enough to comment:
http://shop.o2.co.uk/promo/o2mobilebroadband/tab/Pay_and_Go

O2 do pay and go mobile broadband now



Um... but it says that the package offers access to 6100 wi-fi hotspots. That means it's not really mobile, doesn't it? Or is this so you can boost your speed when you happen to be in range of one, and mobile the rest of the time like the BT FON thing?
  

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Fri 12th Dec '08 10:09AM
4597 Posts
Spanners's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
That just means it will do wifi as well/instead when you're in range of a hotspot.
    

Bookmark With: Post to DiggDigg   Post to DeliciousDelicious   Post to RedditReddit   Post to FacebookFacebook   Post to StumbleuponStumbleupon
Return To Techy Corner

Time Zone is Greenwich Mean Time You are Visible
Html Tags are On Smileys are On
Anonymous Posting is Not AllowedSwoop is The Daddy