Tuesday, 18 August 2009


HANOVER, GERMANY - MARCH 04:  A woman uses the...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Thanks to my decision to start using some of the more advanced features of the *ahem* Nokia Platform, I'd sort of made up my mind that NufNuf would be my SatNav of choice in the UK. She actually works quite well, too. Even in solving questions like the best way to get to Pelcombe from Wolfscastle via Camrose.

But there's a fly in every ointment. I kept wondering about the cost of Internet access whilst roaming. When your mobile keeps telling you that this might be expensive, you start to wonder whether or not there's something to be truly concerned about here.

Five days into our UK sojourn, I get a text from everyone's favourite telco, Etisalat (ah, you use your own version of their name - Itisalot, Itsashite, whatever) that gleefully tells me I can call +9718002300 and ask all those questions not answered by their damn website - like what cost Internet roaming?

The answer, in the UK, is Dhs2.5 per 30kb.

Yup. 30 kilobytes. 30,000 bytes. An average screen of mobile data costs Dhs 2.5 or about £0.50.

When NufNuf gets heavy with the terrain maps, we're looking at chunks of 750Kb and more. When we manage data going into GIGS, let alone megs, 30kb is sort of anachronistic at best. If you want to be less than charitable, 30kb is totally useless.

Yet more circuit-switched thinking from stupid telcos that is helping to strangle advanced technology adoption at birth. Out with the (haha) 'Mubashir' SIM, in with Virgin UK's. Roaming in the Internet age?

Stuff it! Telcos are, yet again, thinking the 'two yoghurt-pot and a piece of string' business model. And it's going to kill 'em.

At least, I fervently hope so...

(BTW, when you DO call the damn number, expect to be stuck holding for 20 mins in a foreign country listening to how important your call is but we're busy helping other customers and then get connected to a total moron. Just in case you thought something had changed around here...)
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Mohamed Elzubeir said...

That's actually 30,720 bytes.. you make it sound like they are cheating you on those extra 720 bytes!

I use data roaming to only check my email when I'm nowhere near a WiFi connection. Anything else would be suicidal.

Besides, do you know how much it costs for 3G 'pay-as-you-go' with etisalat? No roamin.. just plain ol' 3g? AED 20/MB. That's right, TWENTY DIRHAMS PER MEG!

Seriously.. it's absolute insanity. I asked to be put on an unlimited plan, only to be told that there is no such thing (unless I'm on a Blackberry or iPhone plan). Since I am more than happy with my Android-based HTC phone (aka G1), I had to settle with the '10GB/mo. for AED 460'.

So, AED 83.33/Mb (the UK roaming rate) isn't all that surprising.

Reference: 3.5G Data Packages

eric blair said...

you know you can download those maps to your phone using your computer so you don't use any roaming bandwidth, right? the program, provided by nokia, is called nokia map loader.

EyeOnDubai said...

So the holiday's good for the stress levels then?

Mita said...

Buy a map and enjoy the holiday - Shitisalat till you get back!

Andrew Webber said...


Although I prefer Etisalag.. or more recently EtiSPAM.

Seriously if they stopped clogging their bandwidth with useless messages for offers that no-one actually wants.. or at least reduced the repeat ratio of each message to ... well.. 1- Then they might be more disposed to making a solution that is global rather than grubbing at every last over priced kb.

That is of course if your phone works when they say it will.

We went to Cyprus recently, conversation with EtisLIES prior to departure went something like this.

"Hi - can you help me with roaming"
*standard EtisSTONE customer service stare*
"Great - we are going to Cyprus, will our phones work or will we have to activate something/pay more etc?"
"They will work"
"Great.. umm.. really work.. or..."
"They will work"

They didn't.

Well. not entirely true.

We could send texts.

SEND texts - not receive.

Bless them.

Bush Mechanic said...

I second Eric. Download the maps at home. I've got Australia, Oi Oi Oi, Pomsville, Middle East and Asia with plenty of room for Cold Chisel and Midnight Oil. If I'm off to USA, I can dump a map and load the new destination.

alexander... said...

Eric - yeah, but the mapping app uses da Internet too, although I'm not sure quite how 'network assisted GPS' or whatever it is called works, to be honest.

On the list of things to get my head around properly one of the days...

After girls...

KJ said...

Charging you that much earns it the name Etislut

Bush Mechanic said...

The maps are downloaded while connected to wifi at home through my router. My corporate sim card will not even allow anything other than phone and sms and that saves the company plenty. To stop the phone from attempting to connect to packet data, I disabled automatic connections, otherwise it I was endlessly having to press ok to connect yes/no. I also killed the network assisted gps thing. It is supposed to speed it up, but it costs and I can wait a bit.
I can't figure how to change the voice, I don't get the sheila's voice, just the oxford bloke.

Keefieboy said...

Do Itisalot still charge a Dhs 5,000 deposit for roaming?

who is said...

Be careful - aGPS uses cell towers to assist in triangulating your location along with the GPS processor in your phone, which links directly to satellites i.e. it means that even when you're not calling or surfing there's data flowing across the cell network (which will be added to your tally).

guy said...

As far as I know the International Roaming deposit is AED2K. They clearly don't trust people - even after years with a paid-up contract, you need to hand over the AED2K and leave it there (an interest-free loan to this struggling entity, in effect).

I gave up with the costs of data and mothballed my AED3500 TouchPro, replacing it with a "cheap" AED1500 Blackberry and using their AED185/mth unlimited data plan. That way the phone pays for itself in 6 mths and you can view it as a disposable. Why you can't get a similar plan withother phones (like my HTC) is a mystery.

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