Roughly a month and a half after my lament that MTN still hadn’t launched its 3G offering, MTN has finally gone 3G! I have seen the little ‘3G’ icon active on my phone’s screen for a few weeks and have mostly associated it with problematic sms transfers and dropped calls (one Friday afternoon my friend had to call me about a dozen times just so we could have a conversation). In the last few days the dropped calls seem to have stopped although there has still been a problem with sms’s not going through first time around.
So anyway, I received an sms from MTN yesterday promoting video calls at R2 per minute as well as new 3G stuff like videomail and all the other wonderful stuff network operators usually promise with 3G (and which will likely only begin to become a reality with the next step up, HSPDA). Part of the process of using the 3G network is upgrading to a new SIM card called a ‘USIM’. Here is what MTN has to say about the new USIM:
3G SIM Card
- Why Upgrade
- You can run 3G services so long as you have a 3G phone/data card and are within 3G coverage – but we advise you upgrade to an all-in-one 3G SIM card, called a USIM. This will ensure that you have trouble-free use of 3G services, and can roam across international networks easily.
- The USIM will allow you to roam on 3G W-CDMA (non-GSM) networks and GSM networks, allowing you to use your phone in all countries where MTN has roaming agreements.
- In addition, the USIM supports an enhanced phonebook with up to 250 entries and advanced fields to allow you to manage you SIM contacts more efficiently.
- Increased storage capacity (128 kilobytes of storage vs 32 kilobytes).
- More reliable for 3G international roaming (other networks may not provide full support for 3G on a standard 2G SIM).
- Better security
- Extra fields on the address book (for example e-mail addresses).
So I will be heading off to my service provider a little later today to pick up my new USIM so I can start making use of this whizzbang technology in my pocket. As you can see, I am a little sceptical. I have been told that Vodacom’s 3G offering is less than sterling (certainly the bandwidth is nowhere near the rates promised when 3G first came to the public’s attention and is sometimes worse than a dialup connection). If it turns out to be all it has been promised to be (interesting that the MTN site doesn’t mention bandwidth or download rates for 3G) then this could move closer to my preferred broadband (or pseudo-broadband) connection.
I went to MTN Service Provider only to find that they don’t have the USIMs yet so don’t rush out just yet.