What? No visual voicemail!

no visual voicemail

My work iPhone was recently switched from O2 to Vodafone. Initially I didn’t notice too much difference, true tethering has been useful now and again. However one big difference has come up that is slightly annoying. It would appear on Vodafone you don’t get visual voicemail as you do with O2. As a result if you get voicemail you need to dial 121 to see who has left you a message and how many messages you have.

I believe that the only way that this can be fixed is at carrier level and if the “complaints” on the Vodafone forums are anything to go by then Vodafone aren’t in any hurry to add this feature.

Is this a critical flaw? No but it an annoying one!


I noticed on the O2 website that tethering on your iPhone or Android phone is now “free”, well free on the assumption you stay within your data limits.

Whilst my work iPhone is now on Vodafone, I still have my home iPhone, a 3GS model on an O2 simplicity contract. However in order to get “tethering” I would need to sign up to a new contract and they are more expensive than my current rather cheap monthly contract I have now.

I usually use tethering on my “other” home phone an Android device which I now use instead of a 3G dongle or MiFi. The 3G dongle was limiting as I could only really use it with my laptop and not with other devices (read iPad). Also my MiFi has stopped working properly, but I think that’s because the battery has died. So as I have tethering on my Android phone, I am probably not going to change the contract so I can have it on the iPhone. However it is nice to see that if you got a new iPhone or changed contract, tethering is now seen as “normal” and it’s up to the user to decide how they use their data allowances and tethering is not seen now by O2 as something special they can charge more for.

What I would warn though, is though 500MB is enough for most people for internet on the iPhone, you will go through that data very quickly if you use your allowance through tethering using the web on your laptop.

Making the Switch

Due to some changes at work I have switched my work iPhone from O2 to Vodafone.

It was a relatively painless process. The phone needed to be “unlocked” by O2 and my number ported to Vodafone. I think I was without service for about an hour, but no more than that.

Using Vodafone now means I get coverage at the Forest of Dean campus at Gloucestershire College, which had minimal to zero coverage for O2 and T-Mobile. Working in the forest has made me realise how difficult it can be for rural communities to utilise mobile devices as the connectivity can be very poor or non-existent.

One of the advantages of having the iPhone unlocked is that if I ever take it abroad I should be able to now use a local SIM.

Another advantage is I can now use my iPhone for tethering, however due to the additional cost, I won’t be using that, that often, but it’s useful to have it “just in case”.

So far a week into the new service, I’ve not noticed too much of a difference. I have had a few connectivity issues, but nothing that much different when I had O2.

BT Openzone-H

Well though I am guessing that BT didn’t read my blog about BT FON, however a comment posted by Matt says that BT are aware of the problem i discussed and are changing the settings on the BT Homehubs so that instead of broadcasting the BT Openzone SSID they have renamed it to BT Openzone-H.

This will mean (if my neighbour updates their hub) that my iPhone problem will go away, as my iPhone will no longer connect to the wifi hotspot thinking it has free access as it was broadcasting itself as BT Openzone. The different SSID can be used by BT Openzone customers, but owners of devices such as my O2 iPhone won’t “recognise” the BT Openzone-H SSID as a BT Openzone SSID and so won’t connect. In my case that means my iPhone should connect to my home wifi network instead and I won’t get annoyed.

However it is slightly disappointing that rather than actually provide access to iPhone O2 customers through BT FON Hubs, BT are merely changing the SSID so that they don’t need to.


I don’t like BT FON

I am sure most people who complain about BT FON are actually on BT Broadband… well I am not on BT Broadband and neither do I actually want to use a BT FON wifi hotspot.

So why don’t I like BT FON?

Well it’s an iPhone problem.


Well…. according to my contract with O2 I have unlimited wifi access (or near enough) and I can use BT Openzone wifi hotspots. I will admit that though I like this useful feature, nine times out of ten it doesn’t work as it should and I fall back on using 3G. I think part of the issue is BT, and I will admit part of the problem has to me. Why is it my problem? Well…. it’s much more about my web usage patterns on the iPhone when out and about. When I use the internet on my iPhone as I suspect most poeple do this, I want to use it quickly and for short periods of time. In theory what the iPhone should do is when I take it out and attempt to use the web is, connect to the nearest wifi hotspot, authenticate and then allow me to have access to the web. I can then check that e-mail, check for train times, tube problems, use Google Maps to work out where I am and where I should be. However I find with BT Openzone is that it takes longer than I think it should to authenticate and allow me access to the web. Sometimes I even have to go via the browser first, before I can use an app. As a result most of the time I have tried to use BT Openzone it seems to have taken ages. So fine if you are based in a coffee shop, not much use when just checking the phone in the street. Sometimes I have found that my app isn’t working, realise that I am connected to wifi, so I turn off the wifi, use 3G and everything is much faster and easier.

So what’s this got to do with BT FON then?

Well as you might know if you have BT Broadband you can configure your router to allow others access via BT FON, thus allowing you to use BT FON hotspots and BT Openzone when you are out and about. It’s a ploy or feature of BT to increase the availability of BT Openzone beyond it’s own network of hotspots and use home broadband connections too. Now this is annoying if you are out and about and want to use your iPhone and there is a BT Openzone in the area, yay… well tough! As if the BT Openzone is actually a BT FON hotspot then this won’t work with your iPhone, you won’t be able to use the hotspot and no internet! So for many people they think yay lots more hotspots that I can use with my iPhone. However the reality is that unless they are “official” BT Openzone hotspots which do work with the O2 iPhone, if it’s a BT FON BT Openzone hotspot then this won’t work with the O2 iPhone, these extra hotspots are basically useless.

I am guessing that many of my BT Openzone connection issues are in fact down to these faux BT Openzone BT FON hotspots rather than specific problems with BT Openzone itself. Really it should either be fixed, or don’t use the BT Openzone SSID with BT FON routers.

Is that it?

Well not quite, a recent problem for me has arisen. The problems with BT FON and BT Openzone of course (as you might expect) happen in the main when I am out and about. But last month a neighbour (and I don’t know which one) must have got BT Broadband and is now broadcasting themselves as a BT FON wifi hotspot. As a result when I get home from work my iPhone fails to connect to my wifi network and connects to the faux BT Openzone network instead. I would just stick with 3G, but 3G speeds are not as fast as they should be where I live, so depend on wifi. So as a result I use my iPhone and find that things aren’t working, e-mail isn’t been delivered, etc… then I remember the BT Openzone glitch, go to settings, “forget this network” and my iPhone connects to my wifi without any problems. Of course once I am out and about and connect to BT Openzone in the wild, when I get home again the problem comes back.

Solution, I don’t have one. It’s just annoying really, so I don’t like BT FON…

Of course if you know different… is it just me?


Today was one of those days when I needed some decent connectivity and I didn’t get it.

I was at lunch in Worcester discussing various iPhone, iPad and Android apps (as you do). However, maybe because of our location and the building we were in, my connectivity to O2 and T-Mobile were very poor. There was still a connection, but not quite what I would expect from 3G and in some cases dropped connections. This meant that the apps were not working as they should or failed to make a connection to their server.

It made me realise that many apps are very web dependent and do not work unless you have a decent connection. Sometimes with a good connection, they work great, but without it the apps are basically useless.

O2 WiFI Authorisation Error

One of the reasons I like the iPhone (and my O2 contract) is that it gives you free wifi access when you are in the vicinity of a wifi hotspot.

From O2

You can use Wi-Fi at home or in your office if you have it, or at any of BT Openzone and The Cloud’s hotspots.

This has the potential to be really useful, especially with data limits when using 3G.

The problem is too often these days this happens.

So what’s the solution. Well you have to revert to 3G.

Get Twitter by SMS on O2

First Twitter turned off SMS notification in the UK…

Then they turned it back on for Vodafone subscribers in the UK.

Now they have turned it on for O2 subscribers too.

Full, two-way interaction with Twitter over SMS is now available for everyone who uses O2, the largest mobile operator in the UK. 

Easy to set up

To Twitter over SMS with your iPhone or any other mobile, head over to your account settings and activate your device. The Twitter shortcode in the UK is 86444 if you want to save it in your address book. 

Not sure impact on me as the iPhone and Twitterific makes it very easy to keep in touch with Twitter. However if you have a “standard” phone, or a phone without a data contract for the web, then this does make sense and will be useful.

O2 Tethering on the iPhone

Despite some issues with JoikuSpot with some mobile devices, it is still one of my most useful applications on my Nokia N95 and I use it a lot.

I have considered getting an iPhone 3GS and this (alongside the iPhone 3G) now (eventually) comes with tethering, the ability to use your phone as a modem with your laptop. I have done this for years with various phones including the Nokia N95.

The only downside is the cost!

I have tethering included as part of my T-Mobile deal which costs roughly the same per month as the O2 iPhone deal, however O2 want an extra £15 per month for a 3GB limit for tethering.