Singapore and Mobile Internet Data Plans

I’ve noticed that more than a few of my local Twitter contacts update via text message to the UK, which is a pretty inelegant way of doing things, seeing as how the mobile web interface allows you to do so for far less money (and more geek cred).

It is a sadly little-known fact that all 3 Singaporean cell providers now offer near-unlimited data plans for very low prices, and there’s no reason why anybody with a fairly modern phone (that is to say, equipped with GPRS/3G/HSDPA connectivity and a web browser) shouldn’t be hooked up with one. The providers have done a pretty good job of obfuscating the availability of these plans – i don’t know why, perhaps to protect their margins from consumer overuse, or just because their marketing departments suck – but they are there if you know what to look for.

Part of the problem is that they sell these services as meant for use with portable computers, along with HSDPA modem dongles that plug in via USB. But they are fully compatible with phones too, after all, these ARE cellphone service providers.

Singtel calls their service “Broadband On Mobile”, and plans start for about SGD$22/month, giving you 50GB of bandwidth. That is a lot for any phone. I’ve been unable to use more than a couple hundred megabytes a month myself, and I am constantly on my phone. Note: They claim you need a 3G-enabled phone to use this service, but that is rubbish. I used it fine on my old Sony-Ericsson K750 with GPRS.

M1’s offerings are even better, giving the use of unlimited bandwidth at similar price points. They call theirs “M1 Broadband” to one-up Singtel on the confusion front. It’s easy to see why people don’t associate it with their mobiles; it sounds like a purely desktop internet solution. Starhub’s “MaxMobile” plans are the most expensive, with the unlimited coming in at about SGD$70/month, but so-called Hubber customers can get 50% off that by signing up for cable TV and internet with them.

There’s a lot that having the internet on your phone can do for your life, if you like to be as constantly connected as I do. You can use IM networks like Gtalk and MSN with apps like ebuddy, check your gmail, update Twitter and Jaiku, browse Facebook, and of course, catch up on your RSS reading while on public transportation. “M” subdomains aside, if you have a good enough browser like Opera Mini, or the S60 Webkit browser that comes on high-end Nokia devices, you can pretty much visit any of the websites you’re used to. That the iPhone really shines when you have a mobile data plan goes without saying.

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