Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mobile Update

So last week went slowly... this one has flown past. I simply can't believe it's Thursday, and Dan will be flying to Tanzania tomorrow. Or at least to Dubai, the first leg of the journey.

I wrote in this post about the problems we were having trying to arrange a mobile contract for Dan with international roaming that would include Tanzania and Mozambique.

We thought we had a solution: Dan to take Richard's CYTA card and number, Richard to have a new Areeba card and number.

The Areeba number didn't get activated by 2pm Saturday, but we weren't too worried. However no offices work Saturday afternoons or Sundays here, and Monday was a public holiday for Kataklysmos (a special Cypriot occasion which combines Pentecost with the celebration of Noah's Flood. We hardly noticed it this year, life is so hectic. Perhaps I'll blog about it next year).

But by Tuesday lunchtime there was still no sign of the Areeba number working. So Richard called them, and after several unhelpful conversations it finally started working in Dan's phone. So far, so good.

So Richard unloaded the many phone numbers stored in his card onto Dan's phone, and then copied them onto the new Areeba card.

But the Areeba card didn't seem to work in Richard's phone. We wondered if it was too old, but it worked fine in Tim's ancient Nokia. So he tried again, but all he got was an endless 'searching for network'. By the time he had decided it really wasn't getting anywhere, it was 7pm and too late to call them. However he went online and found that his phone does sometimes have trouble recognising cards. The solution they suggested was downloading some new software, and completely resetting the phone. Rather like re-formatting a computer, I gather, so rather drastic. It's an organiser-phone in one unit, so much more complicated than a regular phone.

Anyway, Richard did the re-set, having backed everything up onto his computer. And downloaded the software, and waited.

And waited.

Wednesday morning, he tried again but there was still nothing. No network recognised at all. So he phoned Areeba again, and someone more helpful than most suggested that he might need a simpler card. It wouldn't have video conferencing facilities but he never uses that anyway. So he went down to the Areeba offices, and they tried a simpler card... and a simpler one still... but nothing happened. His card did eventually recognise the CYTA network, but not Areeba's.

By this time Richard was very frustrated and annoyed with the whole thing. He went into work. A friend who helps out one day a week offered to help: this guy is a Brit, but is a permanent resident of Cyprus who owns his own home. He said he'd go down to CYTA with Richard, if he wanted, and could then arrange one of their contracts on our behalf without the £1000 deposit problem.

So that's what happened. He met Richard there at 8.30 this morning, and by the time he got back again about 9.30, the CYTA card was working and recognised. It seems to be better value than Areeba too. The start-up charge was £10, and since Dan uses phones very little he opted for the 'light' contract, which costs all of £1 per month, including 30 free text messages. Any calls are on top of that, of course, but at only 4c (roughly) per minute for local calls it's hardly extortionate. It has full international roaming facilities, and after the first year will cost only 50c per year.

Which is all fine as far as Dan is concerned. However Richard had to spend several hours re-installing everything on his phone, which wasn't easy and wasn't entirely successful. Then he found that his charger wasn't working. He found a connection broken which requires some very complicated fine-detail soldering, so he's gone to get his soldering iron from the office to mend it. We hope.

As for the Areeba contract which won't work in Richard's phone... well, he does need an extra contract for an office phone, so he'll use it for that. But whereas he was quite keen on Areeba before all this started, he's now coming round to thinking they're less helpful than he thought, and also not such good value. Indeed the only thing significantly in their favour is that they allow contracts to people who are not permanent residents of Cyprus without a huge deposit.

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