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I remember the days of Wildfire, withdrawn because they didn’t develop it and people stopped using it.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 That’s been superseded by GPRS, 3G and UMTS.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.

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