Seven days of 3

A little over a week ago, feeling horribly overcharged and dissatisfied with Orange, I terminated my contract and moved over to 3.

The process was incredibly smooth. I ordered a 3 SIM, which arrived the next day along with a free PAYG SIM. Orange sent me my PAC. I called 3, gave them my PAC – but had the usual overjoyed offshore callcentre guy thank me far too much for moving – and two days later, my number moved.

I have had one problem with data in the last week, and I was in a low-signal area and had to restart my phone. I could get a 3G signal when in the middle of nowhere in Kent yesterday, and browsing when in London is really very quick and responsive.

I made a good choice, and it’s £30/month cheaper than Orange.

I am on a train at the moment, updating my blog using my 3 PAYG data connection, which is equally fast and a very usable tool for when I’m out and about.

3, you’ve made me happy.

Goodbye Orange, Hello 3

I can’t remember exactly how long I’ve been with Orange for, but it’s been something in the order of a decade. That’s a long time.

I remember the days of Wildfire, withdrawn because they didn’t develop it and people stopped using it. I remember HSCSD, where I could get a blazingly fast (for the day) 28.8kbps connection out of my mobile. That’s been superseded by GPRS, 3G and UMTS. I remember, and loved, Everyphone, where I could divert all my incoming calls elsewhere if my battery ran out – but that’s just for business users now.

I remember being with a mobile phone network that was different, innovative and fun.

Now they’ve gone downhill in my view. They are slow to offer new phones, and they put special Orange firmware on them which means months of delays getting updates. Their GPRS service was good, but their 3G service is abysmal and I can’t even connect half the time (and I can tell when that is now – Android 2.3 shows the H or 3G icon in green if the connection will give you Internet access, and in grey if it isn’t) despite having good signal coverage. They proxy and filter the life out of any Internet connection you do get, to the point at which proxying my web traffic over an SSH tunnel through their network is *faster*. They tease me with Orange Wednesdays, but I pay a lot for the privilege of half-price cinema tickets. To top it off, they took away my loyalty bonus when I dared upgrade my phone in-store because “the loyalty bonus only applies when you upgrade online” – why!?

Orange, you’ve had your day, and unless you suddenly manage to fix your 3G service for me and reduce your prices drastically, I’m using my “PAC code” and going to a 1-month rolling contract on 3 for a mere £10/month.

Android, Facebook and the undialable phone numbers

For some length of time, I’ve had problems with my Nexus One and the Facebook for Android application. Phone numbers from Facebook are imported in to the Android Contacts application with a country code but without a leading +, for example – 447700952155 rather than +447700952155. This makes them rather difficult to dial, as your mobile carrier won’t recognise them.

If you have this problem, try http://www.253below.com/prefixer (or search for Prefixer on the Android Market – find the 253 Below application). Set up a rule to match 44[0-9]+ and tell it to add a prefix of + to the number. Hey presto, you can now dial successfully.