UK - choosing 3G supplier

Discussion in 'iPad General Discussions' started by sjleworthy, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. sjleworthy

    sjleworthy Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi guys, first post here!

    I'm purchasing an ipad2 when they arrive. i'm totally new to 'go-any where' internet, so i have a question or 3 please


    1) I live in the Cardiff and South Wales region (uk). What provider gives the best and strongest 3g connection to this area, or how can i find this out? i'm more interested in a stable fast connection rather than the cheapest deal.

    2) I'm pressuming different providers give better/stronger coverage in different parts of the country/UK. Is it feasable to get a micro-SIM from each provider and use this, together with their appropriate month's (or more) data plan, for wherever i might choose to travel to?
    ie, if O2 is better near Manchester then i'll use my O2 micro-SIM and data plan whilst i'm up there, and if Orange gives better coverage when i then move on to London i switch over to my Orange micro-SIM and data plan then. see what i mean?

    3) I travel abroad a lot. Then what happens?

    4) If 4g happens to be on the books when ipad2 is released, what does this mean exactly? im not very familier with what 4g does.

    5) Whichever pay as you go plan i choose from whichever operator, i pressume i'll always have free wi-fi at home with it? how does my ipad know whether to use 3g or wi-fi? does it automatically detect the signal and choose accordingly, or is it a manual thing i must do?

    I like the current data plans from all providers which allow you to pay on a month to month bases with no ties. I ask these questions because i do travel around with business a few times a year.
     
  2. azstinger11

    azstinger11 iPF Novice

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    see above
     
  3. Prasius

    Prasius iPad Enthusiast

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    Ref: best areas - if you google search UK 3G coverage I think OFCOM (the UK telecommunications regulator for 'international' types) or another public body creates maps of 3G coverage. I would imagine Cardiff is fairly well covered. Personally, I'm on Orange, which seems to give me coverage in all but the most remote areas - I seem to have 3G in most of Norfolk which surprised me. You could really do with talking to friends/family in your area about the signal really - although I would suggest the ipad is more successful than a phone with 3G (comparing my 3Gs to my iPad) presumably due to a larger antenna.

    I really wouldn't worry about 4G yet, it's someway off having useful coverage for most...
     
  4. sjleworthy

    sjleworthy Super Moderator Staff Member

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    thanks chaps. another Q.....

    how does the normal mobile phone connection differ to the 3g one? i know the difference, but are they connected or implimented in the same stream?

    reason i ask is that my mobile phone provider (no 3g) is Orange. i get terrible signal issues. does it follow that Orange 3g will be the same or is it something completely different?
     
  5. Prasius

    Prasius iPad Enthusiast

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    I believe they are different signals (actually, I think its even a different antenna on the masts). It's strange as my 3Gs often shows T-Mobile as the network (as they share their coverage) but I am rarely without a Orange 3G signal on the iPad.

    Ref: international roaming - I travel abroad a lot as well, and tend to just get a PAYG sim wherever I am for my phone and then use international calling cards. I intend to do similar with my iPad.
     
  6. sjleworthy

    sjleworthy Super Moderator Staff Member

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    is it that simple? is it that easy as to just change your SIM over? will the ipad need any input from myself of changes to be made in itunes?

    i'm curious - is there nothing stopping my obtaining 3 or 4 free micro sims, buying a single day's data for each (keeping costs down), then switching sims over just to do coverage tests? will the ipod allow this?
    what if my wife wants to use the ipad for the day, can she take my sim out and put hers in?
     
  7. azstinger11

    azstinger11 iPF Novice

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    You may need to change some of your APN settings. Go to this webpage

    http://modmyi.com/wiki/index.php/Carrier_APN_Settings

    and figure out what your carrier needs to be set.
     
  8. Prasius

    Prasius iPad Enthusiast

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    It *should* be that simple. (other than the possibility of APN settings as mentioned above). There's nothing stopping you doing as you say - get the selection of sims and test them out (depending on the T&C's of the networks of course). I cant think of any changes which would envolve iTunes. Some sims can be set up on the iPad itself, others need to be registered over the phone, but that's really a one time thing. Once that's done, just jot down the settings, swap a sim over and see if anything changes, jot the settings down for that etc.

    Much of it should auto-config from the sim though, much in the same way as an unlocked mobile phone does when you swap a sim. It is really just the same - your iPad even has a phone number, although its not used for anything.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011
  9. Tomo1971

    Tomo1971 iPF Novice

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    If your currently on orange and have a 3G phone already and get poor coverage then you can strike that one off.

    T mobile and orange now share 2g signals, they plan to share 3G sometime this year.

    Dont worry about 4g in the uk yet, still in trial, long way off.

    Personally, im with Three (with a mifi) and finding the coverage superb.

    I have 02, orange and vodafone sim cards for data and have never had to use them as always have three signal on my travels.

    Steve
     
  10. Prasius

    Prasius iPad Enthusiast

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    Now Three coverage is absolutely awful in the east of England.. You'd think they'd try and all get evenish coverage ;)
     
  11. azstinger11

    azstinger11 iPF Novice

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    Sorry to kind of thread jack but does anyone know if I can pick up a SIM card at Heathrow? I'll be flying there in a few months and will be wanting to pick up a pay as you go sim.
     
  12. Prasius

    Prasius iPad Enthusiast

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    I don't know about Heathrow itself but I suggest you get a SIM from O2 (O2 | Tariffs for the Apple iPad). Mainly because it's a simple PAYG per day tariff which you can set up right on your iPad. O2 has stores in most shopping areas (where the sim will likely be free) or you can pick up an O2 sim from an Apple store for a couple of pounds.
     
  13. Tomo1971

    Tomo1971 iPF Novice

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    I agree that having an o2 sim as a spare is a good plan, the tariffs can be topped up daily if need be.

    As a telecoms engineer myself, and worked on or used all the uk networks I would still say that three gives the best overall package for data.

    For voice calls I'd say Vodafone and o2 offer the best coverage uk (that includes the highlands in that too). Although orange and now t mobile ain't far behind.

    S.
     

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