Data usage on your phone can be decreased , thanks to new mobile tools that condense downloaded data. Onavo (onavo.com) a new Tel Aviv-based start-up, has an iPhone app that compresses users’ Web, e-mail and application data. The company states that customers can triple the data by using Onavo.
Opera, a Norwegian browser maker, offers free data compression for Internet surfing (but not downloads or videos) via a downloadable mobile Web browser called Opera Mini, which works on more than 3,000 phones, including Android, BlackBerry and iPhone models.
A simple way however exists to ensure you use the least amount of data when browsing – use the website optimised for mobile use (known as mobi sites). The most popular mobi sites in South Africa (as monitored by Nielsen) in May were:
- SuperSport Mobi – (supersport.mobi)
- 24.com Mobile – (24.mobi)
- IOL Mobile – (m.iol.co.za)
- Soccer-Laduma Mobile – (soccerladuma.mobi)
- The Grid – (thegrid.co.za)
- Junk Mail Mobile – (junkmail.mobi)
- Webmail Mobi – (m.webmail.co.za)
- Football365 – (f365-za.com)
- Job Mail Mobile – (jobmail.co.za/mobile)
- Times Mobile – (timeslive.mobi/)
If you can’t plan your next overseas trip around Internet cafes, hotel lounges or other free Wi-Fi spots, consider renting your own pocket Wi-Fi device. This unique mobile service allows travellers to remain completely mobile and connected, paying local rates. International data roaming is no longer dependent on Wi-Fi hotspots! MyFi is perfect for on-the-go connectivity.
MyFi offers a pocket-sized Wi-Fi device that connects automatically to any available mobile data network, from GPRS to HSPA (7.2Mbps download and 5.76Mbps upload) speeds to enable Internet connectivity in 16 European countries (USA & Australia imminent and more to follow shortly) and allows you to connect up to five devices simultaneously.
Rates begin at R99 a day for three days (the longer you rent, the cheaper it gets) and include shipping to your home/office/hotel and pre-paid courier labels for returning the device.
If you are traveling in a single country like Spain, Italy or Britain, there is no limit on data use. For those touring Europe, execMobile has a pocket Wi-Fi device that works in multiple countries but limits data to 50 MB a day (EU Regulated).
Details of how to get the service are on our website at http://www.execmobile.co.za
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) recently indicated collaboration to improve Wi-Fi roaming & data offload.
The WBA and WFA outlined plans that would enable mobile users to connect automatically to Wi-Fi hotspots using SIM-based authentication and security protocols. The aim is to enable a SIM based mobile device to authenticate automatically at a Wi-Fi hotspot, using cellular-based authentication.
What does this mean to the consumer? Mobile users would be able to roam into a Wi-Fi hotspot and without having to enter new login details or buy credit, gain connectivity. The device would connect automatically to the hotspot with authentication using access details provided by the mobile operator, who has a roaming agreement with the hotspot provider.
The WBA is calling this the Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) programme, however as we see it there are more than a few issues to be resolved and more cynical questions to be posed:
- Wi-Fi hotspots – older infrastructure may need to be replaced or as a minimum require software upgrades which must surely be reflected in access pricing
- Device manufacturers – will need to support the new protocols, which as we have seen with LTE will involve a lengthy timeline. Older handsets will simply not work.
- Timeline – the certification process will only be ready by the middle of 2012.
- Session mobility – roaming & sign-on are addressed, however a VPN session between a Wi-Fi hotspot and the cellular network will fail as a user moves between the two (i.e. a VPN connection will drop due to the IP address change).
- Pricing – will data be priced at current Wi-Fi rates or will it command a premium?
- Wi-Fi hotspot dependence – unless cellular data roaming is left on to allow continuous connectivity (at exorbitant data roaming rates) roaming is again limited to hotspots.
- Dilemma – will local operators in a country be willing partners, dumping data to reduce costly network expansion & capacity constraints at the expense of mobile data roaming profits – which have been fiercely protected for a long time.
BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) allows SA mobile operators to offer fixed-cost unlimited browsing & e-mail packages, largely due to efficiencies offered by BB handsets over rival smartphone brands.
Craige Fleischer, RIM’s newly appointed regional director for Southern Africa indicated that the efficient way BB handles data could become even more important as network congestion increases, and states “BlackBerry is twice as efficient in terms of network use for browsing and social media than equivalent smartphones, and about four times more efficient for e-mail”.
BlackBerry devices prioritise data and are network aware enabling them to prioritise tasks based on network status, loading only crucial data first while the rest caches in the background.
Cynically, it should not be surprising then that 77 other operators also offer RIM fixed-price plans in 35 African countries as they struggle with capital expansion & capacity constraints and must look for alternative ways of handling the data explosion.
Ever wondered how much it costs when roaming or how these costs are determined?
- Sending an SMS when abroad costs around R2.75 per SMS
- Sending an MMS when abroad costs as little as R2.50 (size limit of 300KB) or up to R4.80 per 100KB
- Using mobile data when roaming costs around R51-160 per MB!
Sending and receiving SMS or MMS when abroad – Price paid reflects several cost elements:
- the wholesale charge for using the visited network,
- costs of handling and routing the roaming SMS/MMS back to the home network,
- costs for sending the SMS/MMS to the receiver’s network,
- data clearing house fees,
- signalling fees between the networks and other costs (e.g. commercial costs, IT costs, prepay checks),
- the home operator’s retail costs and taxes, such as VAT.
Most operators do not charge for receiving an SMS while roaming. The sender of the SMS also only pays the usual price as if the receiving customer were on their home network. Hence mobile operators bear the additional costs of handling the received roaming SMS without charging customers for it.
When the roaming customer receives an MMS, the retail price includes the MMS cost plus the cost of an SMS sent to notify the receiving handset that an MMS is ready to be downloaded. Some operators do not charge for receiving an MMS while roaming and therefore bear the costs of delivering the MMS without passing these on to customers.
SMS costs are normally fixed. A fixed cost MMS will have a size limit imposed whilst a variable cost MMS will be charged at an applicable data rate determined by the network operator.
Using mobile data services when abroad – Price paid has the following elements:
- Signalling network fees to keep the data session active,
- the wholesale charge for using the data connection on the visited network,
- costs for the international transit of the data,
- costs for connecting to the internet from the home network,
- data clearing house fees, other costs (e.g. commercial costs, IT costs, prepay checks)
- the home operator’s retail costs and taxes, such as VAT.
The wholesale price charged to the home operators is based on the IOT (Inter Operator Tarriff as agreed with the foregin network) and is dependent on the data volume used. The IOT constitutes around 80% of the total data charge, with the local operators marking this up by 25%
Mobile data costs are determined by data volume usage, which is highly dependent on the type of device and services used. Simple use of emails etc will nomally consume around 10MB per day, however social networking (Facebook etc.) & media streaming (e.g. YouTube) may increase usage to 50MB per day (or R5000 per day at R100/MB)!!