Answering my own question ...
Mobile Broadband Network Ltd is a joint venture between Everything
Everywhere and Three, so that network effectively consists of 12,000 3G
masts formerly belonging to Orange, Three & T-Mobile, with a further
5,000 redundant masts having been decommissioned.
Three's phone support is shit. I did call it once - took 1/2 hour talking to
a stroppy indian lady who knew fuck all about anything.
I was at least making the phone call from the Three shop so at least it was
However, their data packages are good and in some parts of East Sussex, they
are the only operator with decent coverage. O2 is utter shite and even
Vodaphone are a bit dodgey south of T Wells.
Well, it starts by providing an on-line payment system that is designed for
top-ups to ones account if one gets near the credit limit. Rafter getting
through to the final page, it won't accept debit card details. If you ring
support you then enter a labyrinth of decision trees which lead to the
inevitable call centre. That is actually the worst call centre in
existence, believe me it's much worse than the Orange call centre. Trained
monkeys could do better.
They don't actually know what the web is or how their own payment system
I expect your usage pattern is very different to mine, since I am a
fairly light user, I receive more calls than I make, and don't need to
spend significant time using the phone for data. So the occasional bit
of web access, email etc is enough. Much of the time I am in wifi range
IIRC I paid just under £200 for the phone (SE xperia mini pro), and have
no ongoing contract. The SIM deal I went with (Ikea family mobile) would
be pricey for significant data use - however it very cost effective for
my particular pattern. I have my phone SWMBOs and daughters on the same
account, can manage everything from their web portal, and don't expect
to pay more than a tenner every couple of months for the lot of them!
Get an Orange Monte Carlo from Argos (change from £100)
then unlock it, repartition and install CyanogenMod 7.
I must admit that for me it's as much a toy as a phone but CM7 is as solid as a
and you have a full Linux system which you can program in Python, Ruby, Rexx etc
Most of the network operators will unlock for a fee - once the handset
is out of contract. Also some handsets are easy to unlock with freely
Cost me £15 to extract my previous SE W595 from virgin's clutches. After
that I reflashed it with the generic firmware to debrand it.
I have an OSF and an OMC, both bought from Argos and unlocked, and now running
The Skate (OMC) is a far superior phone and actually runs CM7 better than the
Both are rock-solid in that they will run for weeks without problems, but
seems a lot better on the Skate, and of course it's faster and has a lovely big
Blade is running Xmas day KANG, o/c to 729MHz
Skate is running CyanogenMod-7-11132011-NIGHTLY-Skate, o/c to 960MHz
I've lost my Virgin broadband twice in the last few weeks and each time I started
tethering on the Blade as a wifi hotspot and connected my laptop to it to get to
the internet. An hour's surfing used less than 6MB of my monthly allowance of
3G and Market work fine but I don't use bluetooth so can't personally say, but
I haven't read anything in the forums to say that it doesn't work.
Battery on both is fine - about 48 hours between charges (tethering is expensive
though!). I use the kindle app a lot on the skate.
There are several other very good ROMs for the Skate : I tried and liked Atomic.
I doubt you will get a skate at Argos now - someone posted this just this
"Using http://icheckstock.co.uk /, there's 2 left in Harwich (CO12 4EN), 1 left
in Ramsgate (CT11 9AG) and 1 left in Kings Lynn (PE30 1DL).
If you type in your postcode and what you're looking for on the website it can
check up to 100 stores nearest to you, so hope that helps."
Orange shops should be able to help though.
BTW my son has a Samsung Galaxy S running the stock ROM (he's afraid to put CM7
on it, though it is rooted) and his GPS doesn't work!
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