On Saturday I went to London. I was going to have a play with the N900 at the Nokia flagship store on Regent street. Unfortunately they didn't have one, else this post would be about my hands on time with it. Instead I am given cause to consider switching network provide for my phone. Currently I use 3. When I was looking a little over a year ago they seemed to offer the best combination of price, and terms for someone like me wanting unlimited web use with a relatively basic call/sms allowance. I'm not a heavy phone user, just a heavy Internet user.
Choosing involved reading through all sorts of small print in the various 'unlimited' offers and comparing the very real limits involved. (Seriously trading standards, are you asleep? Have you not noticed that these people basically lie to the public with 'unlimited' when it is no such thing? Isn't it your job to do something about that??) I chose 3 because they placed no real limits on what you were allowed to do with the bandwidth, Skype is positively encouraged, where others expressly forbid any kind of VOIP.
However, I immediately had one draw back, which is basically no signal at work. I knew this would be the case going in, it is a minor irritation which has not gone away. I can stand in certain places and get signal, but certainly not in most places.
I'm going to call that Strike 1
Yesterday, in London I was sitting in a coffee shop on Regent Street, wanting to look up exactly where the Nokia store is. I hadn't written down the address, because I knew I'd just look it up when I needed it. I had full signal on my phone (E71) so I fired up the browser, selected the 3 connection and let it connect, but then fail to actually give me any data. No gateway reply, or some such. I tried several times, but despite apparently having great signal, and apparently being connected to 3G, it wasn't actually working. That's extremely annoying. And I recall other times when this has happened to me. My unlimited data plan seems pretty limited when it's not working.
Later that same day I was sat in a pub with a friend, not far from Regent Street. I was expecting Kat to come join us at some point, and wanted to make sure she hadn't gotten lost or anything. I checked my phone to find I had zero signal. In a pub, next to a window, in the middle of London!! At first I figured maybe my phone had crashed or something, it seemed far more plausible than getting no mobile signal in the heart of our countries capital city. But after a reboot, still nothing. I walked into the street to see if the pub had lead lined walls or something. Still no signal. The friend I was with, had perfect signal for T-mobile. And when Kat arrived she also had perfect signal for O2.
Strike 3, you're outta there.
I still have something like 6 months to run on my 3 contract, but I am now officially looking for the deal I want next. I'm almost tempted to get an iPhone from O2, sell the iPhone and stick the sim in my N900 when I get it. I'm not sure if they give such a good contract deal outside of the iPhone. But I think I might go ask.
I think back to the first mobile phone I owned, when coverage was a big factor, who had the best etc. That was a really long time ago. I honestly can't understand why every carrier does not have perfect coverage everywhere by now. The UK is hardly a big place, in the grand scheme of things. Can somebody wake up and kick the mobile carriers into shape? Is it too much to ask in 2009 that I get perfect signal regardless of which company I pay for coverage? That when I buy an unlimited dataplan, it actually *means* unlimited?
Apparently it is.