Friday, 28 November 2014

The student guide to mobile phones

Once those boxes are packed and loaded into the car, you’ve been driven to your new University and your Mum and Dad have said a tearful goodbye (or not) you’ll be left to integrate into student life, but will still want to call home every now and then to hear a familiar voice.

You’ve probably taken a mobile phone along with you, but now every penny counts and if you want to avoid a diet that consists of baked beans then it’s a good idea to look into saving some money on your phone.

Keep track of what you are spending with a prepaid Pay As You Go SIM card, which lets you top up only what you need and will never result in costly charges. A Pay As You Go service also works out to be five times cheaper than a contract - if you already have a handset.

It can also help you budget properly throughout the month and understand the true value of using technology to communicate. Instead of texting your flat mate down the hall you might actually get up to speak to them, to save a bit of money.

Data is the main expense when it comes to using your phone and to tackle this we offer some great deals on 30 day bundles, such as 500 minutes, 1000 texts and unlimited data for just £15. Just grab a free SIM, you can even keep your old mobile number!

However, if you do use up all your credit you can top up online and receive an extra 10% credit. You also get free voicemails and calls to our customer service, which many network providers charge for.

If you are an overseas student take a look at our International bundles, which allow you to make huge savings when phoning home. You can buy bundles for a range of countries, featuring a set amount of minutes which allow you to speak to friends and family overseas for a reduced cost. For example, for just £10 you get 300 minutes to call people over in the USA.

It might be tempting to get your hands on that new iPhone 6 plus but let’s be realistic, lots of partying plus an expensive (large) phone aren’t going to end well. Plus you’ll be looking at a contract that could cost you £40 a month over 2 years, with the fun added bonus of an upfront cost for the handset.

If you shop around for the ideal contract and you should end up with a decent phone that gives you a good amount of minutes, data and texts but you’ll save a lot more money (which means more nights out) if you buy a cheaper handset and opt for a Pay As You Go service.

Monday, 24 November 2014

How International Calling Works

With mobile phones, the internet and other forms of modern communication, the world seems a lot smaller than a decade or two ago: we can get in touch with someone on the other side of the  globe, and do so more or less instantly.

Because of such speed and ease of service, we probably don't give a second's thought to making a long distance or international call. We just do it and it happens - as it by magic. It's easier than ever before to make an international call and the figures reflect this: 20 years ago, around 200 million international calls were made annually from the USA. That's changed now to over six billion.

But how does international calling actually work?

Well, it's certainly changed from how it used to be. Once upon a time, human operators manning the local phone company's office would manage a switchboard, which was essentially a collection of sockets. There was one socket for each phone in town. When a call was placed the light above your phone's socket would turn on, the operator would plug a jack into the socket and ask the caller who you wanted to talk to. The operator would then plug the jack into the receiving party's socket and talk to the person who answered. A wire between the two jacks would connect the caller and recipient together.

For long distance calls via the same system the phone company would add lines to enable connection to a long distance office.

The next stage in development was to remove the physical operator with a mechanical switch; computers would create the connections and also the billing records. Physical wires still made the connections between towns. Area codes were used and the computers were able to use these numbers to identify where the calls needed to go.

Basically, that system is still in place today but there is a fundamental change. Offices are no longer connected by physical wires - fibre-optic cables are used instead. These are long, thin strands of very pure glass, around the diameter of a human hair, and they carry a digitised version of your voice.

When a long distance call is placed the switch in the local office (now automated, of course, no longer monitored by a person) accesses a database that has a record of every phone number. The database contains a PIC code (Primary Interchange Carrier) which shows which long distance carrier the caller has chosen. The switch looks up the PIC code, connects to a long distance switch for your long distance carrier, and that routes the call to the local carrier for the person you are calling. That person's local carrier completes the call.

The reason international dialling codes are so lengthy is that each set of digits is required to route the call correctly. You need your country's exit code, plus the country code of the country you wish to call, plus the area code and then the local telephone number. For example, if you're in the UK and calling LA, in California, USA, you first dial 00, which is the UK's exit code. Then 1, which is the country code for the USA, then 323, the area code for Los Angeles. Then the personal phone number of whoever you are calling.

It might sound a long-winded process, but of course, it is not. It all happens within a second - an amazing journey of technology which allows us to speak to anyone in the world as if they were standing right next to us.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The mobile numbers game

Let's play a game of 'complete this sentence'. There are more mobile devices than....


Got the answer? You may well have done. There is more than one correct answer - the growth of mobile devices has been so rapid, so accelerated, in recent years that they have literally taken over the world. That's no exaggeration: earlier this year it was reported that the number of mobile subscriptions has now outstripped the population of our little planet!


In October it was revealed that the number of active SIM cards had reached 7.22 billion, while the world's population, at the same time, was 7.2 billion. In fact, there are over one billion mobile subscriptions in China alone. The speed of growth is certainly in mobile's favour. The human population is increasing at 1.2% annually, while the number of devices is multiplying at a rate five times that.


Here are a few other head-turning facts regarding the dominance and far-reaching influence of mobile devices:


More mobile phones than toothbrushes? True, and that was actually the case a couple of years ago, as revealed by Google - the number of mobile devices outnumber the number of toothbrushes by two to one. Is that right? Well, mobile devices are far easier - and more hygienic - to share, after all.


In Uganda, it's believed that around ten percent of the population has electricity but more than a third of the population - around ten million people - own a mobile phone.


Last year, the United Nations reported that there were more people with mobile phones (six billion, out of the total world population of seven billion) than there were with access to clean toilets (4.5 billion).


For every desktop computer there are ten mobile devices, and according to a report published by We Are Social in August 2014, there are 4.4 billion mobile subscribers compared to 4.2 billion television viewers.


The penetration rate of smartphones has already passed feature phones in many countries - two thirds of USA citizens already own a smartphone, according to research from Nielsen.


Global smartphone activations outnumber child births worldwide by three to one.


A study by Juniper Research has forecast that smartphone shipments are expected to reach 1 billion annually by 2016.


Sales of Apple products showcase what has been described as the mobile acceleration affect: compare and contrast how long it took for one million of the following items to be sold: 360 days for iPod; 74 days for iPhone; 28 days for iPad; two days for iPad2; less than a single day for the iPhone 5 smartphone. It's difficult to track the pace of sales for the iPhone 6, released earlier this year - four million of the devices were sold in the first 24 hours of pre-order sales, and ten million in the first three days.


So, to conclude, it's Mobile Devices 1, TV, Toothbrushes and Humans 0. What will mobile devices conquer next?