DST and bmobile’s Revised Mobile Plans

Posting this up because I couldn’t find the DST revised plans on their website. All I can say is that this is what competition is all about: in the end the customers win. Now lets just hope Telbru gets competition for eSpeed

DST Revised Prima Plans

$35
Essential Voice Plan
$55
Extra Voice Plan
$55
Extra Text Plan
$85
Executive Voice Plan
$85
Executive Text Plan
$165
Elite Voice Plan
Free Voice (minutes) 300 2000 500 4000 2000 Unlimited
Free SMS 100 200 600 400 1200 Unlimited
Free MMS 20 55 55 85 85 Unlimited
Free Data 1.5GB 5GB 5GB 10GB 10GB 20GB

Source: Brunei Times E-Paper (view newspaper promo advert)

For good measure I’ve throw in bmobile‘s revised rates too

Bmobile’s Revised Plans

Smart $35 Smart $45 Smart $55 Smart $65
Free Voice (minutes) 300 500 1000 1200
Free SMS 100 200 300 500
Free MMS 20 30 40 40
Free Data 1.5GB 3GB 10GB Unlimited

Source: bmobile website (view screenshot)

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DST Go! + Netbook promotion

After stumbling across this complaint on DST’s promotion of bundling an Acer Aspire One with Go! subscription I went down to DST to find out whether the complaint was valid. The promotion banner is shown below

DST's Go!   Netbook Promotion

The complaint basically says that the $543 up-front payment advertised is for the laptop + modem and not the 6 month subscription which would add up to the same amount. If this was the case it would have been a real scam and after my findings that Concepts is not recycling and also Sheraton pizza issue makes me wonder if we need a consumer rights / better business bureau in Brunei to monitor and catch any businesses doing any sleight of hand tactics or wordings that will misled customers.

So I went to DST in Delima and asked if the promotion was still valid. I was told that it was no longer valid so my hopes were dashed to find out if the complaint was valid. So a few weeks later I went to pay my mom’s DST bill and thought I would ask if there were any laptop promotions for the Go! subscription as previously had and I was in luck. The lady at the counter told me the offer of the Acer netbook was still valid, though low on stock (about 6 units left). So after she explained things to me I found out that the complaint that $543 was to pay for the laptop and modem is not true for the current promotion. Now things could be different now than what was previously told to the customer when they made this complaint. It could have also just been a staff member who did not understand the promotion or was simply trying to personally scam the customer or it could even be DST changing the promotion. But that aside, according to her the lady basically you are just paying $78 x 21 months for the regular non-student Unlimited plan and that the only extra charges is for the deposit ($50 for locals, $100 otherwise) and license fee ($25). The $543 is an advance for the last 6 months of the subscription meaning you pay ($543 + deposit + license fee) up-front and 15 months of $78 (or 24 months of $58), starting from the month after purchase. This means locals will pay in total $1713 ($543 + 15 * 78) for the regular package or $1815 ($423 + 24 * 58) for the student package (foreigners add $50 due deposit of $100 instead of $50)

So in essence you are signing up for a 21 (or 30) month contract and you pay a flat rate of $78 (or $58) a month and you get a free netbook and modem which is a pretty darn good deal. As with all contracts you are tied down to the provider and in this case it’s for 21 (or 30) months which may seem long but you could easily get a 3G wireless router (eg. Prolink 3.5 mobile broadband router) to connect the modem to and use it for Internet at the office or at home. A very viable option for office use without having to pay commercial prices for an E-Speed line.

So DST has this offer going for their mobile broadband while bmobile has their iPhone promotion. Being somebody who is looking for an unlimited 3G broadband plan both these offers seem enticing and will be something I cover in a future post as I decided which one to take, if any at all.

bmobile Zoom! (+ E-Speed, DST Go!) Findings

Ever since bmobile and DST launched their mobile broadband offerings (Zoom! and Go!)I was interested to see which one offered the best deal. I’ve had a few weeks with the bmobile’s Zoom! service using the older modem with 3.6Mbps max speeds and did some speed tests and real world tests. In the real world tests it got frustrating at times with quite a few timeouts and YouTube videos loading only to stop loading half way. Real world download tests weren’t fantastic, typically under 512kbps which is even slower than the lowest tier E-Speed plan. My regular locations were at home in Jalan Kebangsaan Lama, and at the old airport road which is basically just across Telbru Headquarters. After a while I found out that doing a regular speed test at Speedtest.net was not giving optimal results, I would get less than 300kbps (~40KB/s) download speeds but in actual fact when I download podcasts I would get over 500kbps (~60KB/s) easily.

I found that if I do multiple downloads/connections I would be able to get faster speeds. I was able to roughly max out the modem to the full 3.6Mbps connection (but that was close to Telbru, not at home). At home torrenting some music off Jamendo managed to get up to 100KB/s but it was not consistent. Below shows a torrent downloading at over 200KB/s.

Jollicloud torrent getting over 300KB/s download on bmobile's Zoom!

I know location and people/connection saturation are important factors for any mobile broadband connections and honestly I’m pretty jealous of David Cheok’s reports on his Go! getting good speeds in Subok

“actually.. have been getting avg 500KB daily.. last night was good coz it broke 700KB..”  (via Twitter)

He also went on to say the following statement which I totally agree with:

“if downloading is your thing, Go for GO. If good response time/less lag, Zoom. Even better, espd.” (via Twitter)

That also brings me to another important fact that Go! seems to have pretty bad upload speeds (up to 20x less than Zoom!). If you’re planning on uploading photos or doing some streaming video from your webcam or even Skype, Go! may not be the answer you’re looking for. For anything to do with uploads, stick to E-Speed or Zoom!

Zoom! speedtests: Behind MOE (Old Airport), Jalan Kebangsaan Lama, Desa Cafe (Delima), Aman Complex, MOF

Go! speedtestsBehind MOE (Old Airport), Jalan Kebangsaan Lama, Giant

Using your phone as a Bluetooth modem in Linux

Software Package Requirements:

  • wvdial
  • bluez
  • bluetooth

Install packages for Ubutun/Debian systems
sudo apt-get install wvdial bluez bluetooth

Steps to get your Bluetooth modem working

  1. Turn phone’s Bluetooth connection and set to discoverable mode
  2. Scan for your device:
    sudo hcitool scan
    Result:
    Scanning ...
    00:11:22:33:44:55 MyPhone
  3. Search device to see if supports Dial-Up Networking (DUN) for use as a modem. Look out for RFCOMM channel
    sdptool search --bdaddr 00:11:22:33:44:55 DUN
    Result:
    Searching for DUN on 00:11:22:33:44:55 ...
    Service Name: Dial-Up Networking
    Service RecHandle: 0x1000f
    Service Class ID List:
    "Dialup Networking" (0x1103)
    Protocol Descriptor List:
    "L2CAP" (0x0100)
    "RFCOMM" (0x0003)
    Channel: 4
    Language Base Attr List:
    code_ISO639: 0x454e
    encoding: 0x6a
    base_offset: 0x100
    Profile Descriptor List:
    "Dialup Networking" (0x1103)
    Version: 0x0100
  4. Bind the modem on the RFCOMM Channel to a device
    sudo rfcomm bind /dev/rfcomm0 00:11:22:33:44:55 4
  5. Dial and connect (ensure your wvdial configuration is correct, for sample see below)
    sudo wvdial dstbt
    Result:
    --> WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.60
    --> Cannot get information for serial port.
    --> Initializing modem.
    --> Sending: ATZ
    ATZ
    OK
    --> Sending: AT+CGDCONT=,,"dst.internet"
    AT+CGDCONT=,,"dst.internet"
    OK
    --> Modem initialized.
    --> Sending: ATDT*99#
    --> Waiting for carrier.
    ATDT*99#
    CONNECT
    ~[7f]}#@!}!} } }2}#}$@#}!}$}%\}"}&} }*} } g}%~
    --> Carrier detected. Waiting for prompt.
    ~[7f]}#@!}!} } }2}#}$@#}!}$}%\}"}&} }*} } g}%~
    --> PPP negotiation detected.
    --> Starting pppd at Wed Aug 19 23:45:04 2009
    --> Pid of pppd: 17558
    --> Using interface ppp0
    --> local IP address 10.84.2.128
    --> remote IP address 10.6.6.6
    --> primary DNS address 202.152.64.27
    --> secondary DNS address 202.152.64.28
  6. You’re connected! Surf and enjoy the Internet!

Sample wvdial configuration file

  • Stored in ~/.wvdialrc
  • Change “dst.internet” to your provider’s APN

[Dialer dstbt]

Modem = /dev/rfcomm0 # modem device
Baud = 115200 # 921600 / 460800 / 115200 / 57600

Init = ATZ # far card with no PIN
# Init = ATZ+CPIN=”0000″ # for card with PIN, replace 0000 with your PIN

# If you know your ISP’s APN, specify it instead of YOUR_ISP_APN below.
# There’s also an APN table at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NetworkManager/Hardware/3G .
# use one of the following 3 options. change to your providers APN
Init2 = AT+CGDCONT=,,”dst.internet”
#Init2 = AT+CGDCONT=1,”IP”,”YOUR_ISP_APN”
#Init2 = AT+CGDCONT=1,”IP”

# Most services/devices dial with *99# . A few seem to require *99***1#
Phone = *99#

# These often suffice, but your ISP might require different details. They’re
# often dummy details used for all users on the ISP, frequently the ISP’s
# name, but some ISP’s do require you to use a real username and password.
# any details possible
Username = internet
Password = internet

PS: bmobile customers change APN to “bmobilewap”

Mobile Internet (DST) in Ubuntu with a Nokia E51

I heard about Ubuntu’s 3G support quite a while back, but yesterday was the first time I actually tried it out. This was done using a Nokia E51 connected via USB with a DST Easi card with Ubuntu 9.04. Please note of the importable troubleshooting note below

  1. Connect the phone and set connectivity mode to “PC Suite”
  2. A configuration wizard should pop up as shown below:

    New Mobile Broadband Connection - Welcome screen 

    If the wizard does not show, start it manually by following these steps:

    1. Go to the Ubuntu Menu: System > Preferences > Network Connections
    2. Go to the “Mobile Broadband” tab and click the “Add” button
      Network Connections - Add a new Mobile Broadband Connection
  3. Select the any setting as they will be manually edited later. For this example I chose Albania and Vodafone as the country and provider respectively as it has minimal configuration changes
    New Mobile Broadband Connection - Select Service Provider
  4. Give the connection a name: “dst.internet”
    New Mobile Broadband Connection - Name it / Summary
  5. Go to Network connections (System > Preferences > Network Connections) and edit the newly created connection
    Network Connections - Edit new connection
  6. Ensure the configuration is as follows:
    • Number: *99#
    • APN: dst.internet
    • Username and password can be left blank
    • If the Albania > Vodafone settings were used, only the APN needs to be changed

    Edit connection - Mobile Broadband Tab

    Edit connection - PPP Settings Tab

    Edit connection - PPP Settings Tab - Configure Methods...

    Edit connection - IPv4 Settings Tab

    Edit connection - IPv4 Settings Tab - Routes 

  7. Left click the network manager applet and connect to the newly created “dst.internet” connection

    Connect to dst.internet via Network Manager applet

  8. Enjoy your mobile broadband =)
    Connection Information 

Now I wonder if this works for the DST Go! and bmobile Zoom! modems….

Troubleshooting Note

If you have a problem connecting please note this bug that causes the connection to timeout if there is a shell running as root. So close all terminals open. It took me 2 hours to figure this out so I hope you won’t have to suffer the same.

Using your phone as a modem via USB

image35

Though Bluetooth is a nice wireless way to use your phone as a modem, Bluetooth has it’s issues and sometimes it’s just not worth it when you can connect your phone via USB easily and without fuss. Using a USB cable would ensure faster transfer speeds over Bluetooth, if the maximum Bluetooth speed is capping your speed, and would also utilize less battery from your phone thereby giving advantages if you don’t mind the wires flowing around

Requirements:

  • Ensure your phone is configured to be able to connect to the Internet (example for DSTCom Brunei)
  • Drivers for the phone to be recognized as a modem on your computer (should be on CD that comes with the phone, or in the installed software, or possibly find it online)

Notes:

  • Following guide is done on Windows XP, if you need a Mac version, do lend me your Mac and I can tried make 1 for you =)
  • To obtain maximum connection speeds, the modem’s maximum speed to maximum as detailed here

 

For All Phones

  1. Connect the phone and install necessary drivers to recognize phone as a modem
  2. Open up “Network Connections” in the “Control Panel” and a new connection should be created
    image41
  3. Use that connection and dial *99# to connect to the Internet
     

For Nokia Phones

Continue reading “Using your phone as a modem via USB”

Using your phone as a Bluetooth modem

As a follow up to “Configuring your phone for mobile Internet (DST)”, in this post I’ll detail how to use  your phone as a Bluetooth modem freeing you from the mess of wires and also providing a way to utilize tethering without installing bloated phone software like the Nokia PC Suite. Using this method also allows DST users with 3G SIM cards and 3G/3.5G capable phones to enjoy the great speeds of DST’s Go! without having to subscribe the the DST Go! service or buying the Go! SIM card or buying the USB modem.

Requirements:

  • Phone with Bluetooth
  • Computer with Bluetooth
  • SIM card with credit (duh)

Requirements for high speed Internet over 3G/3.5G

  • 3G/3.5G phone in 3G mode (3G only or dual mode is acceptable but not GSM)
  • 3G SIM card
  • 3G phone signal (for Nokia phones it is shown with a little “3G” icon under the regular signal bar)

Note1: if phone/SIM does not meet 3G requirements or no 3G signal is available, the phone will fall back to slower GPRS / Edge connection, but the Internet will still be accessible.

Note2: Not all 3G/3.5G phones are created equally and each have a maximum 3G speed that it can obtain. This can hinder These details can be obtained online from places such as GSMArena.com. E.g. Nokia 6680 max 3G speed of 384 kbps, Nokia E51: max speed of 3.6 Mbps.

My current configuration setup:

  • Windows XP Professional
  • Using “dst.internet” as the access point
  • HP Compaq nx6320 notebook
  • Nokia E51 / Nokia 6680 / Nokia 3110c

The following is the brief outline of the procedure utilizing “My Bluetooth Places” software provided by WIDCOMM preinstalled with the notebook, however the concept stays the same over any computer / Bluetooth software:

  1. Pair phone and computer
  2. Configure phone as a Bluetooth modem
  3. Create network connection dialing *99#
  4. Optional: set extra initialization command to:
       +CGDCONT=,,”dst.internet”
           where “dst.internet” is the access point to connect to

Despite the maximum speed defined in the modem settings is 921600 bps (= 900 kbps) which is less than 3.6 Mbps or 7.2 Mbps offered by Go! and typical phones, I have managed to get 1.5 Mbps connections using this Bluetooth method my previous speed tests so I’m not really sure what’s up with that.

Nokia Phones with Nokia PC Suite

Refer to this post. It is for USB connection, but follows the same concept

Detailed Pictorial

Continue reading “Using your phone as a Bluetooth modem”