Update – 14 April 2012
From the comments and my own investigation, it appears that the issues are between Freedom Talk and Three and A1 Tech Store are one of a number of suppliers left in the lurch.
One thing that does appear to be clear, they are paying out on refunds for failed SIM’s which, although it’s a bad situation, is as much as you could hope for. So good for them in that respect.
As for Freedom Talk and Three, they appear to be blaming each other on an integration issue with regards the customer databases. That is that Freedom Talk provided Three with a list of activated SIM’s and Three are saying they didn’t (or didn’t do it correctly). So now they are working to reconcile the data.
But Three isn’t the greatest company in the world when it comes to customer service and you should be aware that the 72 hour support turn around is THEIRS and not Freedom Talks.
Having had to deal with Three in the past on a technical issue, I do have some sympathy. Hopefully it will all get sorted quickly.
But it has to be said, Freedom Talks price per GB does seem to be too low for sustained growth. Fingers crossed eh?
Important Update – 10 April 2012
Since publishing this review in January I’ve received a number of comments from people who are having issues with their Freedom Talk SIM’s and the A1 Tech Store are not able (or willing) to resolve the matter.
As the number has hit a significant number, I’m therefore going to remove my recommendation for this provider.
You might want to consider Giff Gaff who are offering 3GB for £12.50 (and it doesn’t expire at the end of the month).
Three offer a PAYG option of 3GB for £20 or 12GB for £70.
But bizarrely they also offer 1 month contracts for 10GB from £15. If anyone can figure who makes up Three’s prices and how they come up with the figures, let me know. It makes NO sense.
Other options for road warriors is to stay at a hotel that offers free unlimited WiFi. For the last few months I’ve been staying at Days Inn hotels around Bristol and I can confirm that not only is the WiFi free, it’s also fast, unlimited and pretty good. Admittedly, not helpful if you’re not near one; but something to take into account should you have the option.
About a month ago I purchased a Freedom Talk Data SIM from a re-seller on eBay. Since then I’ve been testing and playing with it, using it in various locations and testing it’s speed. So here’s my review.
Freedom Talk is one of the UK’s latest MVMO. Yeah, I’d not heard the term either. But to explain, a MVMO is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator. In other words, it’s a pseudo mobile telephone network. So the company operates the billing and customer service, whilst piggy backing their “network” onto a larger provider.
Now you might find that a very odd idea and perhaps a little dodgy, but when you look at a list of names of people operating as a MVMO, you might change your mind. Here’s a list from Prepaid MVMO online with some familiar names;
Virgin Mobile opened in October 2000 and has 4.1 million customers who are blissfully unaware they are actually using a combination of Orange and T-Mobile (now the same company) mobile network infrastructure.
BT Mobile customers as similarly unaware they are connecting to Vodafone.
Whilst 3G Amazon Kindle users are getting their data only services via Vodafone (which explains a lot!).
Talk Talk operates on Vodafone.
Tesco Mobile on O2.
ASDA mobile opted for Vodafone.
.. and the list goes on.
Freedom Talk operate their voice and data services via 3. Which clearly gives them a decent discount that they can then pass onto their customers. Which is nice.
What do you get for £12.95?
Pretty much what you’d expect. A SIM card in a box with some basic instructions. I also bought a cheap 3 USB modem, which is what you see in the picture.
The card itself is authorised the minute you connect to the network (it IS pre-paid after all) and you get 3GB a month per month for 3 months or to put it another way, you get 9GB of data spread over 3 months. After which, the card expires and you either get a new one or… don’t as case might be.
If you want to see how that fares against other providers, I suggest you go back to my previous post on UK Mobile Broadband. It’s an outrageously low price, and I’ve held back reviewing it because I was skeptical it was actually true.
I should point out that I purchase my card from eBay seller A1TechStore who seems to have an unlimited number available. Which might be just as well, because I need to get another one before the month is out.
So how well does it perform?
Well, it’s basically 3 mobile broadband. So it’s not that bad… with some caveats. Firstly, you need to be in a reasonably built up area. Don’t expect to get great access half-way up a Welsh mountain. But if you can get 3G or HSDPA access, you are laughing.
On average I’m getting around a very useful 70kbps down and about 15kbps up, which is nothing to be sneezed at, trust me. I’ve had “faster” mobile broadband solutions that struggled to get 10kbps down and about 0.7kbps up. That was the performance of my old iPhone 3G tethered on O2 in rural Buckinghamshire.
Oddly yes. On day two of using the SIM the USB Modem wouldn’t connect at all, despite having signal. Then at midnight the 3Connect software blurted out a message about an update (which ran) and then it worked fine. But here’s the odd thing. It didn’t update the version of the 3Connect software and I’m at a loss to explain why a test 3 data card worked fine.
Clearly 3 had done something on their network, but I’m at a loss to explain what.
I guess the point I’m making is that this could have effected other, perhaps older 3 SIMs and wasn’t a reflection of the actually Freedom Talk SIM itself. I’ve not had a single issue since. My motivation, incidentally, of mentioning this is in case you have a similar issue. Leave the thing switched on and in the machine… you never know.
What devices does it support?
Well, the Freedom Talk SIM is a full sized SIM. So it’s supported by all USB Modems, the original iPad and many other similar devices. If you want to use the SIM in an iPad 2 you will need to use a cutting device to get it down to MicroSIM size. But that’s at your own risk!
You could contact A1 Tech and ask if there’s an option for a MicroSIM. That or get a tool of eBay, I think they are pretty cheap.
Despite my usual skepticism, this turned out to be on the level and an excellent solution to medium/heavy mobile data users who don’t want to spend a lot of cash. At £13 every 3 months it’s very cheap compared to the alternatives and only FON proves to be cheaper (at £34 forever). Of course, if you can’t get access to FON, this is a perfect alternative.