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Mobile Phones

A while back we looked into how mobile phones could be used to access the Internet, we thought this would be of particular importance because of the sheer number of people with mobile phones in South Africa. After a few months we found out quite a bit. The first thing we noticed is that there was very little project knowledge out there. To get the Internet or use your phone it needs to be WAP enabled, have at least GPRS or EDGE – If you do not know the exact specs of your phone and cannot find the book it came with, then do a google search, for example type in: Motorola v360 specs – you should see a good few sites with info on your set. There is an advertisement about how someone can look up if a snake is harmless on a phone that has a google search, but how many people know that they could be easily be doing this on their existing phone by just loading Opera Mini. Please note that at this moment we prefer the older Version 3 of Opera Mini Click on this Link for a list of phones that run on Operamini

I should stress that we have no involvement with Virginmobile at all, we are a non profit Computer Club and basically we tell it as we see it, and the way we see it Virginmobile is doing a great job of getting the Masses into the communications loop, while there might be the odd problem here and there and at the moment it is not the fastest, we have found them to be a good alternative to dial-up, in most cases, less expensive and quicker. Please note, if you are going to be using your mobile as a PC modem, it is important to set-up the phone first. For notes on the Mobile as PC Modem click the link, the advantages of connecting to the Internet this way are great, in fact the people that we have helped with this service have all said how much better it is and how much they have saved... they have also said that it would be great if others could get out of the mess that has been made of the Internet connect cash cow

Back to things mobile, it is now possible to read (and reply) to emails for a few cents, using your mobile phone. There is another advertisement were people can SMS a Dictionary for R 2.00 and find out what a word means, but do they know that for a few cents they can find out what words mean on www.dicionary.com

Running a browser on a mobile phone has up until a short while, been a bit of a disaster. The reason being that most mobile phones that have WAP tend to have pretty poor browsers, the idea is that they are only really good for browsing sites that are written for WAP - This was until Opera Mini came along

Opera make a Web browser which competes toe to toe with other browsers like Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox. It is often said that true understanding is when you can put things into a nutshell, and what Opera have done is to make a web browser in less than 100K in size, not only that but it does a lot of things that you want it to do that other browsers cannot, it can filter out pictures (including Adverts) and flash - but more importantly it cuts down on the size of the page you view, so were you would normally view a typical webpage of say 200 - 400 K you now have it reduced to 10 - 27K (pictures off / on) So this makes it ideal for low end users, truly a valuable tool to help bridge the digital divide

We found that Virginmobile to be the less expensive service by far for the average pre-paid user, as you will see below they only charge fifty cents per meg for data, while you can get better deals per meg if you buy a bundle this is going to cost a few hundred Rand a month, and it does not rollover to the next month, that means that if you purchase a 500 meg or one gig bundle, you have to be careful not go over your limit, otherwise your service will stop, also what you do not use does not get carried over to the next month, one wonders if the Merchant of Venice did not have a hand writing up these Draconian conditions

Anyway, thankfully Virginmobile have made it simple and inexpensive, you can do most of your Internet and email on a mobile phone these days, as you will see you will need a phone that is WAP enabled, we found best on test to be the Motorola V360 which can cost you anywhere from R 760,00 to R 900,00 – Which if you take into consideration how much a second hand PC or Modem would cost you, this is not a bad investment.

Below is an article we wrote and distribute freely about mobile phones and how best to use them for connecting to the Internet you can download the ELIAC Mobile phone info and distribute it freely

Also Have a look at our MOBILE HELP page or Mobile Trouble Shooting page

Here is the Article:

Having a phone with WAP & Internet is fun, while waiting for something you can now access the Internet, read the newspaper or look something up, no more boring books in waiting rooms, or vacant looks in queues - Virgin charge 50c (fifty cents) per Meg (others are R 2,00 per Meg) – Day or night, no more worries about Callmore time, you only pay for Data used, not time spent. Do on-line banking during the day, take as long as you like and pay a few cents. Virgin airtime covers your ISP charge, some service providers charge R 79,00 PM – get a free email address for life from Yahoo or Google

Getting started and the Help Desk are written on the SIM card: To get started, put in your SIM and *124*1*yournumber # then press Phone - Contacting Virgin Help / Info dial 123 and press phone – Pre-paid Balance *101# phone or use Virgin settings page

When loading the SIM If asked to accept Virgin settings (for WAP & Internet) it will /may override settings you might have, say no if unsure, you can always do it later by calling 123 or from the Virgin settings. We found Virgin by far the easiest to setup for Wap / Internet

Internet and WAP: Your phone has to be set-up, a few ways to do this: On your phone you will now have a Virgin Mobile Menu, select it, select the Virgin settings, this will then contact Virgin and they will SMS instructions, reply to that, then they will SMS the settings to your phone. Alternately phone 123 and tell them you want WAP and Internet, the help desk people should be able to guide you through each step – e.g. on a Motorola V360 – The message that needed to be saved was in a Browser Message

If you have Internet access goto http://www.virginmobile.co.za they have a comprehensive help guide – Your PC can connect to the Net via your phone, the Motorola V360 works (even on Win 98) with Phonetools 4 software & USB or Bluetooth. Great for people were getting a phone-line is a problem, on the move, sick of dial-up, Small businesses, or living in a home – Excluding rental Dial-up can cost over R 150,00 PM (ISP and call charges) You can get by on Virgin for about R 15 to 50 PM

An eight Meg file will take over an hour to download on dial-up during callmore, costing over R 10,00 – with Virgin it would cost R 4,00 (no callmore) and it is faster

Goto http://mybroadband.co.za/vb the MyADSL Forum webpage, half way down are CellC & Virgin, lots of info & and tips on Virgin settings – Most software for the phone sets it up for you. NB for Virgin access change the APN to vdata (normally has Internet)

Opera Mini: One of the best browsers for Mobile phones and it’s free!!! Apart from being very easy to use, it optimizes websites to be seen on mobile phones, and by doing so it uses much less data, together with the savings you get by using Virgin, you can save a lot, checking the news, email and browsing costs a few cents – Gmail and Yahoo email work fine – Most of Standard bank Internet banking works

To get it use the browser on your phone and goto www.operamini.com download it and install, The older Version 3 still seems to work better. It will set its self and if all goes well it will do a network test, before using you are asked to agree to the terms and conditions & away you go. It’s a Java App so you will find it in Java, Apps or downloads. For the inquisitive mind a phone, Opera Mini & Virgin could change the world – check the Operamini site for compatible phones

Topping up Airtime: Dial *102* the pin number on voucher # then press phone

Buying Airtime: CNA – Woolworths – Edgars – Clicks – Jet – Checkers – Engen (not all) Musica - Check with your bank or call 123 (normally get to talk to someone quickly)

Switching to Virgin, but keeping your number: Buy a Virgin Starter kit, load the SIM – Happy with Service, call 123 and ask to port your number, at the moment there is no charge for doing so, it takes three days before the number changes, you also have to give your details – If your phone is still on contract, there can be problems

© Copyright 2007

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