So, this is weird. It’s Tuesday and my headache, I think, has finally gone. Truth is, I got a bit drunk on Saturday and the hangover has only just left me. Why did I get that way? Well, it was all research for this article.
No, honest. Mobile coverage in the UK, even after all the investment, even after the 4G push, just isn’t what it should be. I can, because I’m quite geeky, name you several locations on every UK network where there’s just no signal. I’ll bet some of you guys can too. If you’re good, you can even warn someone when you’re about to go into that well-known “blackspot” before the call comes to an abrupt end.
You can fix it. You can get a smartphone with two SIM slots in and perhaps get two mobile contracts. However, you’ve then got two numbers and two accounts to keep in check. It’s all a bit of a faff.
My solution was to go to the pub. It’s usually a good solution to most problems. However, I went to my local pub, and in that local pub I never get a signal. It’s in a slight dip and, when you go inside, you may as well be on the bloody moon. You get one bar of signal (if you’re lucky) on Vodafone, nothing on EE, a pretty good O2 signal and nothing on Three.
How do you solve that with just one SIM card?
This is a solution from a company based Clitheroe. The Anywhere SIM works on O2, Vodafone and EE. Launching initially on Pay As You Go, it lets you make (depending on tariff) and receive calls on any of those three mobile networks.
They offer three types of tariff…
Anywhere Home – Lets you make call on the Anywhere SIM home network and receive calls on any of those three UK networks. (5p per min calls, 5p per SMS, 5p per MB)
Anywhere UK – Lets you make and receive calls on any of the three UK networks. (10p per min calls, 5p per SMS, 10p per MB)
Anywhere EU – Lets you make and receive calls on available networks in the UK and EU. (12p per min calls, 5p per SMS, 10p per MB)
They also do bespoke business solutions and they look to be offering handsets in the shape of the Doro 580 Secure phone. They also do the Doro 810 as I write.
First though, back to the pub. I’m on my second pint and my usual phone (on EE) has absolutely no signal. This is despite the fact that I’ve got full 4G at my house just a mile away. However, the test phone with the Anywhere SIM is still holding a signal, and it’s displaying “Chameleon UK”. I’m a geek, and I want to know more about “Chameleon UK”. Who are they exactly? Why has that popped up? I find a PDF from a company on the Isle of Man called Manx Telecom which lifts the lid on the technology. I like to know just how things “tick”, so I do some reading up.
These special SIM cards can be used to “automatically detect and connect to the strongest available local network signal anywhere in the UK”. It is, as you’d expect, being marketed to and used by several emergency services, including Cornwall Fire and Rescue and Humberside Police. OK. Good credentials then. It’s actually sold by Chameleon as a “premium mobile connectivity service” and the pricing is actually more expensive than Anywhere SIM. I can only assume that this (according to the details on both sites) is because Chameleon can apparently access all networks (which includes Three).
What seems to have happened is that Anywhere SIM has paired up with Chameleon (which is obviously based in the Isle of Man) and therefore has roaming agreements already setup with EE, Voda and O2 over in the mainland. What you’re doing is effectively becoming a foreigner and roaming in the UK, happily switching onto whatever mobile signal and network has the strongest. However, you have a standard UK mobile number.
In the pub, I have a signal. Great, but things such as data can get expensive if you forget that this is a rather special SIM. As an example, on the Anywhere Home plan you’re going to be paying 5p per MB, so that’s £5 for 100MB or £25 for 500MB. Likewise, it’s £3 per hour if you’re making a call. Also, if you go up to the Anywhere UK plan, you’re going to be spending £10 for 100MB, £50 for 500MB and £6 per hour on calls.
Yes, that’s more than you’re paying now, but you’ve only got one network if you choose a standard provider. Here you’ve got three, and the Anywhere Home plan is actually quite good – ensuring that you receive calls even when your normal network drops out. This plan lets you make calls and use data only on the “Home network”, which is actually O2.
There’s a few little things to consider. For example, there’s no 4G as yet. You also can’t send picture messages (although who cares about that really?) and it won’t switch from one network to another without dropping a call.
The good points? Well, there’s no charge for incoming calls and they should have a pay monthly offering launching soon. A billing manager is just being finished off. They’re pretty honest too, their FAQ page is up front about where they’re at.
This is a good service which does work, but there’s a premium to pay. That premium, personally speaking, would be fine for critical workers who are on call, or those who simply demand a signal in those areas where coverage is incredibly choppy – such as the countryside and rural locations. For others, it’s a big ask – and I think people will just choose to keep paying as little as possible and just switch to a different network at the end of their contract or switch to a pay monthly plan to resolve their coverage foibles.
Perhaps, though, for those of you who want a guaranteed signal, you can buy yourself a phone with two SIM slots. Stick your normal SIM card in one of those slots and put the Anywhere UK SIM into the other one. You’ll pay £10 per month (these Anywhere SIMS have a 30 day service) and you can get yourself around 100 minutes (1 hour 40 minutes) of talk time across three UK networks. When you’re out in an area with notoriously choppy signal on your normal network, that may well prove very useful indeed.
Find out more on AnywhereSIM.com.