Sunday, June 19, 2005

WhyBother with WiFi when there's 3G-PS ?

I've got a 3G (WCDMA) phone at the moment thanks to the nice folks at Three who are sponsoring BigBrother. It goes everywhere with me with it's handly little USB cable and my shiny Vaio.

Before I had it if I was out and about and needed to get online to fix an emergency (or use Google to win an argument !) I had to try and find a WiFi hotspot which either only demanded I buy a cup of coffee or had a roaming agreement that would bill it back to me (why is that so hard people ?! Half a dozen competing schemes with no clear advantage for any of them - so I end up using none of you) or resort to using my Optus GPRS phone (a really nice SE T610... the bluetooth is great)

Now... I've never had a problem getting a signal or a connection that's fast enough to watch video over. I get coverage where iBurst or UnWired don't go (I'm sure there's a reason that one block from where I live there is coverage, yet no plans to move it that one extra block any time soon - why not share infrastructure guys, Three and Telstra are doing it with 3G towers and the rollout is ramping up... so there must be advantages that outweigh the egos) and it's reliable.

But... the downsides are two-fold.

The first... it's not cheap. Those MBs rack up quite quickly and each one costs $s... and for some reason Three with their capped plan don't have one that caps a mix of voice and data at $99/mo yet (that would get me to switch in a heartbeat !)

The second... that handset.... It's ergonomic and quite well thought out but.... I need to carry a seperate charging brick (as it won't charge from my Vaio even when that is running on the mains) and (and this is the killer for all the LG Clam Shell phones at the moment)... it's got no Bluetooth so if I've forgotten that aforementioned little USB cable I'm up the creek without a dongle.

The former problem... well, that may go away as the competition grows and the other carriers start competing for customers (and WiFi PDA VoIP phones start eating into the profits !) and the latter... well, there are other handsets (the SE Z800i looks like a good all-rounder)

So for now... 3G-PS with someone else footing the bill is a very good option, and I can live with the cable. When the phone goes back at the end of BB05... I'll be back to my trusty SE-T610, but the flip-side is I won't need quite the amount of online connectivity as I do during the season

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