I’m sat in a café on Upper Street in Islington trying to blog. I’m ‘connected’ to the internet with a newly purchased Option Icon 225 USB dongle, connecting with Orange 3G. Only the pace here is slooooow, despite a signal strength of 3 out of 6 bars. I can just about load a single webpage at a time, but not much more than that. Earlier today close to Victoria station things were very different – 5 out of 6 bars of signal, and download speeds of 150Kb / sec. I even managed to blog a bit from the upper deck of a London bus on my way to Islington. So essentially my experience so far is mixed – previously I had to hunt out wireless hotspots in London; now I might be hunting for a good 3G signal.

Plus all of this comes after a dire experience trying to sign up for a 3G data package in the first place. I tried T-Mobile first of all, but their credit check system first crashed and then completely blocked my application. Orange allowed me to setup the account, but it took 24 hours for them to get around to activating the dongle and allowing me to connect for no reason other than being inefficient.

I seem to be a glutton for punishment when it comes to telecommunications firms.


  1. they’re not very good by all accounts. see this posting by onionbagblogger.

    Have you tried the iPhone? Much better, though international data roaming charges are still very high. Come on, Commissioner Reding, stand up for the rights of cross-border freelance techies!

  2. And now a bit more on the topic itself (from a normal computer with wired connection): I also had the experience of very different connection speeds and sometimes nearly no connection at all (despite having signal).

    For example with BASE in Belgium you cannot really connect to the Internet on Gare du nord in Brussels, despite the whole building being named “Centre de Communication Nord” 🙂

    And speeking more generally of trains: I have the feeling that mobile internet connections are still bad on several high speed train connections. It seems with mobile internet the usage behaviour has completely reversed: for GSM connections, highway deployment of antennas were far more important than rail tracks, but with mobile internet its exactly the opposite, as probably close to nobody uses mobile internet while driving on the highway but you can already see loads of laptops in trains).

  3. Brusselsblogger

    Just couldn’t resist leaving a comment via my mobile phone while reading your article on Brussels metro 🙂

  4. I tried one of the T-mobile dongle things for a while, and had much the same experience. When I managed to get a connection, the speed was really good, and I had a happy 20 minutes working in the sunshine in the middle of The Regent’s Park. But then it cut out and singularly failed to reconnect for more than a minute at a time. In the end I had to take it back and give up on the idea. The technology just doesn’t seem to be there yet.

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