Friday, January 21, 2011

How to get connected ... NOT!

Some of you have followed my tweets and Facebook comments on the attempt to find out how to get a Mobile Internet connection during my stay in Sweden this week. The idea was to buy a Prepaid SIM card with a couple os Gigs on, plug it into the phone and start browsing. Nice and easy. So where did I get the idea that this would be possible? Over the last couple of years I have done this frequently in the UK, Portugal, and Denmark among other countries. Comparing my user experience, I would actually say that "3" in the UK so far is the best:
You buy a blank card. Fill up your account from your credit card, and then buy the services that you need. Both voice and data. NICE!

So, when I walked down among the shops in Sweden's Silicon Wally, called Kista, and saw a small booth where the Swedish "3" operator was offering 16 Mb/s browsing on mobile Internet, Wow, I thought I was close to getting blown away by the latest mobile internet offering. I had consulted some specialized blogs before leaving Brazil, and "3" apparently had a good offer for 99 SEK browsing up to 20Gb in a week, which was the time I was planning on staying.
Comparing to some hotels where 24 hours of WiFi will cost you more than that, and the Telia Homerun that cost 50 SEK for 24 hours with much less coverage, the case was clear. The guy at the booth told me that they did not sell prepaid there. :-(

OK, after looking around I found a "3" shop.
So the first question is was asked was if wanted to talk or surf. "Both", i said confidently. "Well then you have to buy a 200 SEK montly voice packet and then fill a data packet on top". Now, the picture suddenly was very different. I was then told that staying for a week, I could choose a data SIM card and fill 99 SEK for a week of use, but not fill a voice package on top. So I would not even be able to receive calls on the card. I was then surprised to see that the SIM itself would also cost 99 SEK. So my expected price for a weeks connection just went up 100%. Well, hopefully I can use the card next time I come back, unless they cancel it due to lack of top-up.

Parly happy I went back to my hotel hoping to get plugged in. Next disapointment. My phone, or the SIM card was apparently loaded with an access configuration profile (APN) with: No access! Actually no nothing. I could not even receive calls. Not event a default link to the operators homepage where I could read more on how to connect.

This worked very well in the UK. I plugged in the SIM and opoened the browser and I was already looking at my "3" account top up page where I could also see my usage what i had left.

Via my laptop I went to the operator homepage, under topup I was only offered to top up via credit card. But I had already bought a 99 SEK voulcher at the shop. Back on the voucher I then discovered a link. Great! The site offered my voucher top up and credit card. The only problem was that the voucher .php-link did not load. Not on Chrome, or Explorer. Dead! The credit card link was working very well. So, I signed into "my 3", and could see that I had no surfing time, and apparently was not going to get some either. I also tried to register to use other customer services like the "3" mail account and other interesting things, but wihout a Swedish social security number that is not possible.

I went to bed. Disillisioned, and 198 SEK less of good Swedish cash.

Next morning i woke up, insisting on not giving up. The voucher top up did still not work, even days after. The card should al least be able to connect. So I asked mother Google for help. A helpfull soul has published the a list of APN's for Swedish operators. It apears that "3" uses different APNs for pre- and postpaid. So I tried with and BINGO! Connction! To any site on the Internet. But it still said that I had not done any top up with my voucher, and that I had one week of surftime left. Which was apparently true because the SIM has been working in my phone for the rest of the week.

I am still left with a number os questions unanswered though:
- Does the SIM initially have 99 SEK worth of browsing preloaded?
- If, so, why did the they claim in the shop that i should buy a 99 SEK top up?
- Why does the Voucher Top up not work?
- Why doesn't the SIM card not load the right APN to the phone. The postpaid APN was automatically loaded.
- Is there a "My 3" WAP page where I can see my usage? The "my 3" web page web page does not show anything.
- Will my SIM work when coming back after 9 months?
- Why is "3" only interested in my identity if I have a Swedish social security number.
- Does "3" consider my type of pre-paid business customers at all?

So today, at the end of the week, I am a connected, but no a happy costumer. My consern is that Brazil will hold worldcup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016. I just hope operators will consider a better reception to temporary mobile customers than what I have experienced here.