For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about GPS tracking and the technology available to us to do this cheaper than it used to be. Amazon and Ebay are selling matchbox size devices that take a PAYGO SIM card and when you ring the device, it answers (silently) and you can listen in. When you hang up, the device will send you a text message with it’s location. An SOS button on the device will call home in an emergency – This costs £19!
I’ve been thinking about the emergency mobile phone (on a different network) that I keep in the campervan, it’s on PAYGO and has had £10 of call credit for the last few years. Every six months I turn it on and check it’s still active. If this was an Android smartphone, I could use the Google device manager to locate the van if it was stolen. This would mean that the phone would probably be hidden and be wired to the leisure battery to always be on. I currently use “Find My iPhone” and “Find My Friends” on iOS, but iPhones aint cheap!
I’ve been thinking about my Three MiFi and that it’s currently costing £19.64 a month to have 15GB of data. I only really use this when I’m away in the van for TV streaming and general internet on the iPad(s) and rarely it’s used for meetings @fishmedia.
Then I heard Documentally podcast (listen below) about a new SIM that he purchased, It’s £19 on a rolling month contract (no tie in) and has “All you can eat data” you can also tether this meaning that it can replace the MiFi. I assume Three let you use the personal hotspot capabilities of iOS and Android to connect other devices.
I started re-looking at the SpareOne (emergency mobile phone powered by ONE AA Battery) and noticed that now it includes Location & Alert Services. Then I moved on to looking for low cost Android smartphones with GPS on PAYGO for under £50. Some mobile networks don’t expire their credit once you have added a tenner and this combination provides a pretty decent emergency phone with location abilities.
I made a bit of a U-Turn a couple of days ago. I thought that If I could find a monthly contract with a free Android phone and some data allowance, I could consider some of the following possibilities:
- Android phone running a remote IP camera app to allow viewing of the surroundings
- Motion detection and image capture for campervan security
- GPS location with the Google device manager or an app that will periodically send it’s location using data
- GPS navigation using Waze
- Base station WiFi with unlimited data. Link it to a travel router to create an “in van” network using Bridge Mode and a new SSID
- External (or hidden) antennas to improve GSM and WiFi range
- Pass the phone to a vulnerable individual to allow emergency contact but also GPS tracking
- Strap it to your cat or dog for a laugh 😉
So, I cancelled my £19.64 a month MiFi and dropped it onto PAYGO for those times when I’m away and I want to just add 3GB of credit for the week. I then spent a few evenings on the iPad looking at the different networks and what they could offer and I found this:
A FREE Sony Xperia M 4GB (usually £149) with GPS and a pretty decent spec on price plan called Ultimate Internet 100 which provides All-you-can-eat data. This came in at £14 per month! (you do need to commit for 24 months, but I’m happy with that)
Now, the extra exciting bit is that you can add a £5 Tethering Add-on that will allow you to link your laptop or iPad and
share some of that lovely unlimited data! get 1GB of data – this is on a monthly rolling basis, so maybe I’ll only add this on when I know I’m going away in the campervan. Even if I added this on every month it’s still 64p cheaper than my current MiFi
PLUS: Three have now launched “Feel At Home” which lets you use your current UK plan’s allowance, or an Add-on allowance, to call and text the UK and get online in 11 destinations around the world – just like you would at home and it won’t cost a penny more. AMAZING!
I’ll make updates below if I find my real world experience differs from the expectation.
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I was inspired so much I blogged. Looking forward to learning about Android and unlimited data tethering 🙂 http://t.co/sWyqgbhcpB
— Richard Mackney (@richardmackney) January 18, 2014
UPDATE 23 JAN: I tested the speed of the Three SIM in the SONY in comparison to an O2 SIM in an iPhone …
Three = 6.0Mbps Down / 2.25 Mbps Up
O2 = 1.72Mbps Down / 1.57Mbps Up
Then, Just out of interest I wanted to see what would happen if I put the new unlimited AYCE SIM into my Huawei E586 without purchasing the Tethering Add-On and used the iPad to connect …
I’m not sure that even if I buy the £5 Tethering Add-On it will let me use the MiFi?
So then, I tried to use the Android personal hotspot and connect the iPad …
So it looks like Three have got the basics covered. I’ve read that there are ways around this, but I don’t want to break the terms of the contract so my next test will be to purchase the Tethering Add-On and see how I get on. More soon.
UPDATE APRIL 2014: I logged on to add Tethering and noticed that there’s a data limit of 1GB per month. I don’t feel that this was made clear to me even after all of the research and reading from the Three site. Ultimately, as an emergency phone/tracker with unlimited data for £14 per month it’s not an issue, but it still grinds a bit 🙂