No, the coverage is still too poor to be of any real use to most people, especially coastal regions. Most 3G networks bump you off to GPRS network when you are out of range, which is not up to real internet usage
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Can they liberate you from the landline, especially for Internet access?
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I use a GPRS PDA for mail and web (although looking up specific info rather than just surfing), and a 3G/GPRS card in the laptop for heavier usage. If you look at Vodafone's site for instance you'll see that 3G coverage is just like very early GPRS, mainly large cities and some parts of the motorway corridors - although they show 3G coverage in the Thames estuary and some South coast area.
3G on its own isn't enough to liberate you from the landline yet I wouldn't think unless you only need it in the existing small coverage areas. I get connection speeds of 384K while in coverage. If you get knocked down to GPRS of course you can do the same stuff - just takes longer!
Ignoring the technicalities though, the cost will ensure you want to use a landline/ADSL if you can, beats dialup speeds though. And of course the coverage and costs will improve as time goes on.....
I have a Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G card in my laptop which allows internet access pretty much anywhere in Europe but as Brendan says the 3G system is very patchy at present and is really only available in major conurbations, airports and stations etc. Otherwise the system defaults to GPRS which is quite widely available but the speed is equivalent to modem dial-up so internet use and data transmission is slow. Charges are based on how much data you intend to transmit per month
My mobile contract allows 300 free minutes /month to other vodaphone or landlines 1900 - 0700 hrs I connect direct to my ISP (but not through GPRS) - this is fine for a clean email service and very limited browsing without pictures and doesnt cost anything!
I have a major complaint with 3 G Hutchinson Ltd., assume its the same company, their signal coverage thoughout the uk is quite poor (I do go lots of places) its okay in major cities.
However, their admin appears to be very very poor, I returned one phone to them in April last year as you just couldn't plain use it, an IT worker I know did the same, so wasn't just me. & 3 didn't cancel the direct debit so I have ended up paying for the old and the new phone, (which is okay apart from the signal)
Thought okay mistakes happen, BUT they didn't respond except to say go to your bank, course the bank said no way we will refund you, without 3 saying they would refund them. Cancelled both direct debits as they owe me almost £300, and as particulary concerned as they were taking money from my account as the old phone was being used. Even got a load of other peoples bills sent to my address.
Have written to Oftel who said don't complain to us & here's a booklet, and a named person in 3's customer care, but got absolutely no where, & they are strongly threatening to cut off my new phone. such is life !!
Anyway on a positive note I have a laptop vodaphone card thingie costs about £100, and yes it does somtimes have signal problems but seems to be getting better, and its bit slow (think you can get faster ones) but works very well. You also pay a monthly subscription, not sure how much as my company pays, I do keep asking them though. The signal on this is only bad where all phones are.
In the UK, the 3G coverage by Orange is very similar to Vodafone, and is confined to major conurbations, motorways, airports etc at the moment. Vodafone has rolled out in many Mediterranean countries, but not much coastal coverage yet, so not that much use to forumites who have boats there
I use my IPAQ via Bluetooth to my GPRS mobile to surf to usefull sites - tide times, shipping forecast, inshore forecast, coastal observations etc that I have stored as favorites, so its all quite quick and usefull
A few marinas have now installed Wireless LAN access points (Wi-Fi) such as BT Openzone or simular. This would seem a better option than GPRS or 3G if you just need to use it in the Marina - and would work out much faster and cheaper too if you are transfering much data.
If the marina hasn't got an access point how about asking them to install one! - you never know