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Mobile WiFi


Tony Jones

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Among my many amazing gifts (no, not "Talents," we'll discuss those on another thread! I mean the presents I got for my birthday) was a Huawei E586 Mobile Wifi ("Mifi") unit, with a "3" PAYG sim card.

 

It creates a very good Wifi "hotspot," which will serve laptop, Kindles, and anything else as long as there's "3" phone coverage.

 

But when we go to France, we'll need a local PAYG sim. Can anyone suggest a network with good coverage over most fo the country? And will I need to get it "unlocked" or can I just pop in a different sim?

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Thanks Martin (or is it Sylvia?).

I'm not planning to watch movies etc, mainly keep up with (family!) e-mails, and a weather-eye on the bank account. Also, when we can get free Wifi we'll use it in preference, so I hope that with a French sim card we won't end up spending too much online!

 

What's Orange's reputation for national coverage like over there?

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Hi Tony, its Sylvia, we found the coverage ok except in our house as the walls are 2ft thick, had to stand by the kitchen door to use it. We only used it for emails sending and receiving. There are 4 providers in France - Orange, SFR, Bougytel and Virgin, it may be worthwhile having a look on line at each of their Paygo services, eg how much per hour. With our Portugese dongle it cost us 1 euro 7cts an hour and we had no problems with that in the 3 months we were away, still got some credit on that. With the French Paygo if you put 35 euros credit on this lasts for 3 months and any credit left after that you will lose, this is the only problem with French Sims, you have to keep putting credit on or you lose it. Our mobile is Orange France and when we put 35 euros on we get an extra 10 euros of credit but again this only lasts for 3 months. If you don't put credit on then the sim will be valid for 6 months only, then the purchase of a new sim is required. That's about all I can tell you.
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Hi Tony - don't know if this will help, and apologies if it was already blindingly obvious to you, but:

 

Do be very cautious about using the mobile phone network, especially if "roaming" for internet rather than phone calls - 'cos when you look at web-pages what you are actually doing is downloading what your phone provider regards as vast amounts of data........and downloading data via mobile phone is usually VERY pricey, especially outside of the UK.

 

Obviously surfing the internet when using wifi it's free, but via mobile phone network the cost can be REALLY scary.

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Hi Tony

I don't want to scare you, but can only reiterate BGD's comments.

 

I know it was an extreme case but watching "Don't get done get Dom" last week, he highlighted the case of a young lady who had lost the use of her "smart" phone whilst on holidaty & returned home to a bill of over £2000 for a 10day holiday. When they analysed the bill, her account had actually been stopped when it hit the £2000 mark & that amount had been reached in only 2 days.

 

Her holiday was outside the EU, where roaming charges are capped, but it does illustrate the problem can arise.

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Thanks for the warnings, both of you - that's why I want to find out if I can get it unlocked, so I can put in a local SIM card rather than be "roaming." My UK SIM is pay-as-you-go, and that's the only kind I'll entertain in France too - that way no nasty surprises.

 

In any case I only plan to use it for checking e-mails (and occasionally the bank account), but I won't even do that abroad on a UK SIM card.

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Tony,

 

my research is a little out of date on this one, as I've resolved after checking a few years ago to use free and campsite wifi rather than try mobile broadband, with reasonable succes, and thus haven't bothered getting up-to-date.

 

I've done a quick re-check, however, and the small amount of trawling I've done indicates similar problems exist in France to when I first looked, viz: it can be difficult to buy even a PAYG sim in France without a local residential address, and other French identity papers, and the PAYG system tends to work differently, with your top-ups expiring quite quickly if you don't use them.

 

There are suppliers who will provide you before you go with a sim that will work in France, but, for data at least, this is rarely a cheap option.

 

You may want to look at sites like:

 

http://www.lefrenchmobile.com/

 

http://www.0044.co.uk/france/data-sim-card-pay-monthly.htm

 

Aplogies if my research has been overtaken by events, and it is now more simple, but I think you should double-check before you rely on buying in France.

 

.....and, unless your dongle is already unlocked, it will need to be so before using one of these sims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Im pretty sure it is now EU law that you can never come back to a massive data bill anymore. I think the cap is €56 or something like that and you have to opt out with your provider to go over that. So if you bust the limit they just cut you off.

 

I just use Vodafone Data Traveller on my iPhone. £10 a month on contract or £2 a day PAYG for 25MB a day. Works for me.

 

 

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  • 8 months later...

After this thread last year, I contacted "3" who SEEMED very helpful.

They didn't want to talk about unlocking, but lifted the "roaming bar" and explained that I'd need to buy some "cash credits" before sailing.

They also told me which French network (Orange) I'd need to connect through to get the (reasonably good) rate they quoted.

 

Sadly, the actual story when we got there was very different.

Throughout a circular tour of France, we never once found a signal from Orange, the most common was Byougtel (have I spelt that right??) and it drank credit at an alarming rate, even just checking e-mails and bank account.

 

Since being back in the UK, I've asked in the nearest "3" shop if they can help, but it seems all they can do is sell stuff!

 

However, a bit of digging on 3's own website has finally unearthed the fact that they can and will unlock the device officially, for a one-off fee of about £15. Understandably, this facility isn't advertised very loudly! So I've applied for that, and I'll let you know how I get on. The website promises to phone me within 2 working days with a code and instructions.

 

So when we're in France next time, based on coverage I found last year, I'll probably try to find a Byougtel PAYG SIM - unless you well-travelled (and well-connected!) folk have better suggestions?

 

This year's trip will start with a week or so in northern and eastern Spain - Bruce, or anyone else, any advice on network coverage in those regions?

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Hello, Tony.

 

My portable is with Orange France and I can only say that I have never failed to find a signal, even in our house which, like our Charente resident, also has 2-foot thick walls. I also emphasise the loss of credit after the set time period, UNLESS it is topped up before the expiry date. In my case, I am slowly building up my credit as I never seem to use the full value of the top-ups purchased. The larger the top-up the longer the time limit, plus the higher the bonus given.

 

J

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If you have a home internet contract with Orange France, you can pay about 1€ per month extra for a dongle which gives you 100MB per month. It can also give you free access to hotspots which are part of the liveboxes of other users in the scheme. I think BT does something similar in the UK, so maybe they have a reciprocal agreement. I have not yet failed to get an Orange signal.
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Tony I have used a MIFI on 3 for about 2 years now. If you use 3 whilst abroad they used to be the cheapest UK provider for data but O2 at £1.99 is quite good. Like you, I asked 3 to unlock my phone but without success so I cancelled the request, had an argument with them and eventually got my £15 back. My S-I-L went on the internet and unlocked it in a few minutes - no cost! I have Orange internet in France (I have no choice in this - in preference I would have chosen SFR) and I made a mistake and added a dongle on an annual contract for 5€ month. The data allowance is poor and I did not find a free Orange hotspot so will not renew when the year is up. More annoying was that the dongle would not work (the computer said no drives), I complained so they sent another dongle and that didn't work either. This is when my MIFI was unlocked so I used that. Even more annoying was that the site had free wifi but I found that my extender would not work with Windows 7 (another waste of money!),

 

It was possible last July to buy an Orange SIM card for 8€ then buy a data card for €20 which lasted 3 weeks. I think that was a better solution. As I ordered it I am not sure whether you have to have a French address. I have bought a Mobicarte SIM whilst in the UK - this is for phone calls (like Sylvia) but I have a feeling there is some data allowance on it but I am not sure. When I have time I will look on the Orange site and see what the offers are at the moment and report back here.

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Not used a MiFi but have used a 3 Dongle for the last 3 or 4 years. As it is PAYGo I normally top up with around £25 before I go and then use as required. If I want to browse I use the 'Euro Internet Pass' for £5 per day unlimited access see

 

http://support.three.co.uk/SRVS/CGI-BIN/WEBISAPI.DLL?Command=New,Kb=Mobile,Ts=Mobile,T=Article,varset_cat=roaming,varset_subcat=4157,Case=obj(6018)

 

But if just trying to find a weather forcast pick up e-mails or similar then I just use as normal.

 

Bas

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Tony Jones - 2013-01-30 4:40 PM

 

The website promises to phone me within 2 working days with a code and instructions.

 

UPDATE:

That was Wednesday - so two working days would be close-of-play Friday.

It's now Sunday afternoon.

Not a peep so far - I'll try phoning the helpline tomorrow!

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Helpful chap at the call centre this morning took an interest and did a bit of digging.

Turns out they haven't got full "account details" for me (surprising that, since it's PAYG and was bought as a present!).

Although the form I filled in included e-m and phone contacts, it seems that it just disappeared into the ether because they'd no record of my existence.

That's now been corrected, but he couldn't organise the unlocking himself so I've had to resubmit the form. All will be revealed come Wednesday then!

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The phone call arrived this afternoon - while I was walking down the street. It took a minute or two for the guy to realise that I couldn't do the security questions, let alone deal with the unlocking, out in the middle of town!

No, he couldn't call again in an hour, but gave me a number to call back - which I m,anaged to scribble on the back of a till-slip!

Called back from home, and the helpful lady took my card payment, THEN told me she had to get the code from the manufacturer, and that his would take up to 5 days!

I pointed out that she'd taken my money before making this clear, and suggested this detail should come a bit earlier in the "script." To be fair she immediately offered a refund, but I'm going ahead, let's see what happens.

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Sorry Tony but I think you have fallen into their trap. They had me on a piece of string for over two weeks and I had to insist on getting my money refunded (which I had to wait for again as they deducted it from my bill).

 

There are several websites that offer to unlock immediately, for a fee of course (but much cheaper than 3). However, my son-in-law unlocked mine within minutes by downloading from the internet - all for free.

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Hi Tony,

We are with Vodafone [mobile phone] and they offer for daily use a £3 charge meaning any day you use the phone for e mails /internet etc the charge is £3 whether you use it for one minute or for all day,just paying for the days you use it. So if you can work around this it may be worth checking what sims they sell. In saying we just use wifi on sites with the facility. Good luck, I will be interested to see how you get on.

cheers

derek

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  • 2 weeks later...
Patricia - 2013-02-05 9:04 PM

 

Sorry Tony but I think you have fallen into their trap. They had me on a piece of string for over two weeks and I had to insist on getting my money refunded (which I had to wait for again as they deducted it from my bill).

 

Seems you're quite right Patricia. After waiting 8 days (remember I was promised a call, from the same person, in 5) I chased them up.

"We 've heard from the manufacturer, it will only be another two days now."

 

So I called a halt and asked for a refund. Although this had been offered instantly last week, suddenly now it needed a supervisor, who couldn't be found. "He'll phone you back within the hour."

90 minustes later, having found a freephone number ("NOto0870" - terrific website) I chased again.

This time the operator thought she COULD process the card refund.

"That's good. I'll get my bank account on screen and we can watch it arrive."

(few moments later) "Oh, sorry. The system won't let me do that. We cna send you a cheque!"

"No thanks, I have no confidence in your company keeping its promises now. I'm on a Freephone number and I've got all day. Please find me someone who can get this payment made while I'm on the line, however long it takes."

Stalemate. then the bright girl said "I can put the refund on your 3 account, to use whenever you want."

"Literally 'whenever,' no expiry date?"

"OK, let's do that, and I'll watch it arrive on screen."

Which we did, and it shows on my 3 account as cash credit (marked "does not expire") which can be used to buy top-ups as an when. Not ideal, but I don't mind using it up on bits of UK touring, and at least I've seen it arrive, I'm not waiting and wondering.

 

To be honest, I just don't believe the stuff about needing the codes from the manufacturers. Even if it's Hauwei who locked it, that was at 3's request. Huawei have no interest in which network is used, and I can't imagine any reason why they wouldn't give 3 full access to all the codes from the outset.

 

Now I've got my money back (after a fashion) I'll start investigating the suggestions you've made about other ways to get it unlocked. Thanks for those - and be warned!

 

ONLY GET A 3 DONGLE IF YOU'RE HAPPY TO STICK WITH 3, AND ONLY GOING TO USE IT IN THE UK.

Whatever they say, don't expect to be able to use it at reasonably rates abroad, and don't believe any talk about them unlocking it.

(Unless, of course, there really IS someone out there who has had one unlocked by 3 without any problems?)

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