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Saying Goodbye to Telkom

Here is some information and ideas of cost factors if you are thinking of switching for dial-up to using a mobile phone to access the Internet. Prices are more or less current, but will like everything change

Goodbye Telkom Dial-up, a lot of us have said that given half the chance we would drop you, even if it meant giving the same money to someone else it would be better than handing it over to what a lot of people see as an over grown school bully. Getting on-line with a mobile is a cheaper way and a friendlier way. I have seen people wasting money trying to get on line during the day to get pictures of their Grand Children, then get disconnected half way and then having to start all over, or people that need to do their banking, people in rural areas, or in places were they cannot get a fixed line service, or the cost is too high, the list goes on As from May 2007 I will not be using dial-up to access the Net, I have done trials for two months and feel the time has come for the switch and report the results as they come along

HERE IS THE PLAN: Out goes the old 56K modem and in comes a Motorola v360 on Virgin Mobile - The object of the exercise is to how well users can cope without Telkom, Virgin Mobile was chosen because they offered the best data rates on pre-paid 50c per one Meg - while Vodacom and MTN currently charge R 2,00 per Meg

Looking at the money side of it: If you are on say the Telkom closer 3 plan with Internet, you are paying R 80,00 a month or R 2,63 per day - With Virgin Mobile the cost per Meg is 50c - so for R 80,00 you get 160 Megs of data (appox 5.2 megs per day) - You do not need to pay an ISP - So this is another saving of say R 70,00 per month or R 2,30 per day - This then gives the user an extra 4.6 megs a day which takes the daily total up to 9.8 Megs a day - If the user does not have a Telkom fixed line this is another saving of R 111,90 a month or R 3,67 per day - Now this adds a whopping 7.34 megs a day to the total, giving us a Grand Total of 17.14 Megs a day

The Big Issues: PLUS Like ADSL time is not an issue, you can go on-line and stay connected and only pay for what data goes through, so if you are reading posts on MyADSL which has cost say 60c - you can go off to the movies and when you come back it will still be 60c that you have used - The user can go on anytime of day and pay the same price, none of this callmore, curfew BS - This is great if you have to do banking and stuff, in fact I have tried it out already - going on-line, collecting two invoices via email, logging onto my banking, transferring the money, sending the email with the transfer details, all for the cost of 27c - That's right, 27 Cents - Done during the day, when I would have had to pay Telkom 59c per 90 seconds - Now you can do your banking, have a cup of coffee, and not have to burst a blood vessel when the line is slow, or worry about when people pop in and your money pops out and goes to stay with Telkom - On Pay-as-you-go what you do not use rolls over to the next month - Using Opera Mini on the V360 allows the user to access to the web on the move, and because Opera Mini thins the data down, the cost is even less, a typical morning for me entails reading the paper and looking through posts, all for the cost of a meagre 10 – 20c - You can get a free POP3 email from Google or Yahoo UK which are very good a dealing with spam, also you have an email for life, this then allows you the freedom of moving from ISPs without losing your email address. You can also check your email on line and delete any emails without downloading them - The V360 will work on Windows 98 - Using Motorola Phone Tools, which makes ideal for people on a small budget

MINUS – Big Up-dates can a problem, both for Windows, Virus, Spyware Etc - One work around is to up-date via Media (CDs etc) But this also applies for dial up users, in fact if you were to download an eight meg file or email on dial-up it could take over an hour, even in callmore time this could cost you over ten Rand, with Virginmobile it would be only R 4,00 anytime of the day - Flash, Pictures, Banner and Animations can be a problem as they gobble up data, sometimes it is better to turn off images and stuff in the browser to stop this, Also there are some sites that are geared more for people with Broadband, and have pages that can take up two megs to load, there are also some sites that are more friendly, like the BBC news Low Res site - Virus and Spyware can leach bandwidth as they have a chat to their on-line friends, the user needs to check that when they are on-line their modem is not ticking over while they are not doing anything, this can be live up-dates for software, hardware and OS, but it can also be spyware or hacking, also read the article Silent Running - Mobile Data connections can be a bit spotty at times, normally (with GPRS) it works twice as fast as Dial-up

At the moment it is not for the bandwidth hungry, the target users would be a small or micro business, families on a tight budget that need access to the net for email and information - And people that just want access to the net and email without paying a small fortune, when you start thinking of what it costs you per day, every day, 365 a year the reality dawns on you - A typical set up of fixed line (R 100,00) ISP Charge (70,00) and Net usage / Phone calls (R 80,00) works out to R 250,00 a month, or R 8,22 every day - this does not include the cost of the PC and any other like expense - The whole idea of it all is that it is supposed to be quick and much cheaper, but at this cost you might as well buy the newspaper and go back to snail mail, in fact snail mail is so rare these days you should stand a better chance of getting your letter read... LOL

As said, the whole thing can be run on Windows 98 - Which means an affordable starting point of anything from 486 and upwards, one gig hard drive... that sort of thing. The majority of people in South Africa do not have the capital outlay to enter the market at mainstream level, but do have a need to access the net. Looking at another cost factor, the mobile phone. The Motorola V360 was found to be the ' Best Buy ' - It is very easy to hook up to the PC - it uses a Standard Micro USB cable, same as you get for cameras and MP3 players - it also charges the phone while it is on USB - You can normally pick up a V360 for just over R 900,00 new, which when you consider that Telkom now asks for a R 700,00 deposit up-front for new users, it is not such a bad deal. What up-sets me about the deposit story is that AFAIK you do not get any interest on it (a submission was made to DOC that this should be the case, ie you do get interest) and with inflation over the years you know that this money will be devalued - Best price for a Virgin Starter pack now is at the C N A for R 4,99 and then buy what Air Time you need

Tomorrow, tomorrow... touching tomorrow Anyway tomorrow I shall make my way to Telkom and tell them that their Internet is no longer needed - And then two weeks later: Well it has been two weeks now without Telkom and I must say I am doing just fine with out them, in fact it has reinforced what we know and say, that is - Telkom have priced themselves out of the market For example - I had a customers PC in and it had to do a download of Five megs, this took half an hour... which on Telkom Callmore time works out to about R 5,00 (excluding Line rental and ISP charges) Now on Virgin that costs R 2,50 - Half the price, also I can do it any time of the day, which is great for out of town customers A great thing about being on-line with the a Mobile, you are not charged for the time you are on-line, but for the data that goes back and forth, so going through post on a BBS is great, you can take your time, it is also nice to see emails popping in every now and then as they are sent to you. Doing the banking is a pleasure now

The switch to Virgin has been great, I have been Very, very happy with them. I do have back-up plans should they go down, Mrs Dragon is on MTN - I have Dial-up on stand-by and I can use two ADSL services nearby. You have to have a back-up plans You also need to make back-ups Having stopped Dial-up for a good few months I am very happy with the result, and would recommend that people give Dial-up a miss - I have been able to do two months with a total cost of R 35,00 a month - Which is half the price most people would pay just for ISP subs - also I would go as far to say that some people could get by on R 15,00 a month - In fact this makes it ideal for a lot of people, for example the elderly living in budget retirement places, that might find it difficult or too expensive to get a Telkom line. Also they might not get as many visits from their family, and this gives them an affordable lifeline

My phone bill has never been lower, you will be amazed how much a bit of Internet can push your bill up. the last two months it has been R 127,00 and R 143,00 respectively - and I am weighing out the pros and cons of perhaps going prepaid Telkom

Using Virgin Mobile has worked out for me, they can be a bit spotty at times, but their 50c a meg takes a lot of beating, also I have done tests on other services, and they also have their off moments, including top of the line Vodacom HSDPA

Also another big cannon in affordable connection is using only your mobile phone for Internet, running Opera Mini not only cuts your data flow down, but if you turn of the images you do not have to see all those stupid ads and banners.  A long time back there was a debate going on about having ads on the Internet (I kid you not)  -  I was testing a system the other day (on HSDPA) and the front page of Yahoo UK took up two and a half megs!!!  This was so I could watch two Yeti walk across the page, and have a Harry Potter ad in my face - With Opera Mini such things don't even get a chance to get out their box, and any page that does not support Old School Web browsing can drop off and die They say that most Roads lead to Telkom, but if you are paying less a month to whoever, then they must be getting less as well - I would say there needs to be an awareness campaign in this direction, and people who are using Telkom Dial-up should get a Gmail or Yahoo address and go for a mobile connection, even if they spent R 100,00 a month on airtime they would still be saving, and as said you can go on anytime of day, none of this callmore Curfew - But for me the big plus has to be the fact that you check your email on your mobile and send a reply for the cost of two cents, 2c people

One last up date, it is now over a year that I have been on the mobile phone for my Internet, My phone bill has never gone much over R 150,00 a month – I have also help other people get away from the dial-up money madness, and one of them said that it has changed their life and saved them a fortune, and why don't I tell everybody about it... well... hopefully you are reading this

© Copyright 2007

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