In reply to 2E0YYY:
I plumped for the 3 network with a HTC Desire, 2000 minutes, 5000 texts,
5000 3 to 3 minutes, 1Gb of Interweb and free Skype…all for thirty quid
On 3, 900mins any network, 5300 3 to 3 minutes, 2053MB internet + plus the free stuff: email to phone, Skype, Twitter rx, MSN etc. etc. for £10/month exc. VAT
If only I could move the XYL and harmonics to 3 but they’re all wedded to other networks for reasons I can’t comprehend.
Now coverage can be fun from the hills. I very seldom used Spotlite, there was always someone listening on 5MHz to spot me. However, when I tried I found getting data connections on 3g from the summits in GM to be difficult even when there was a decent signal strength reported. SMS/phone calls was another matter. They were much more likely to work. That’s why I did the SMS>Spotlite gateway, if I had a signal I could send an SMS but not always get a data connection.
Coverage can be spotty indeed, even at some height up a hill. When I’ve not been able to get a signal it’s been predictable because of the terrain. e.g. Beinn na Gainaimh (NN836345) is 730m ASL. But if you look at its situation you’ll see the main roads (where the networks try to get coverage) are in steep sided valleys. There’s no population centres nearby, nearest are Creiff and Aberfeldy. The cell sites there will be geared to cover the towns not up to the summits. So whilst it’s not remote, you can’t see anywhere the networks target with coverage. So there was nothing, nada, rien, zilch on the top. Move upto Creagan na Beinne (NN744368) and coverage is much better simply because you can see into the Loch Tay basin, yet you’ve moved only 10km. A lot of traffic uses the North Loch Tay road (for the area) so there is good coverage. I’m sure some of the signals are reflected of the likes of the Ben Lawers ridge.
Now the riddiculous is by Ben Stack Lodge (NC267436). This is the middle of nowhere in a dip. It’s got Arkle and Foinaven to the North, Meallan Leith Choire Mhic Dhugaill (grey rounded hill of coire MacDougal!) to the SE. Ben Stack to the S and the North Atlantic to the NW! Here I was able to get 430kbps EDGE connections via Orange roaming on my 3 phone. It was weird to be so isolated yet be able to browse the net with consumate ease. The secret is there is a cell covering the valley as the clients at the lodge include seriously wealthy dudes and they need to be able to calll their flunkies!
So a good blimp at the map before hand will suggest the chances of sketchy or brilliant coverage. Main roads, wee towns are all likely to increase the coverage chance as are places frequent by heads of state!
You can also improve coverage with something as simple as some cardboard covered in aluminium foil. Richard G3CWI made a corner reflector and uses that with the phone hanging at the focus to improve reception. It also helps the network so it only sees your phone at 1 or 2 cells not hundreds! Also, being able to use 900MHz networks will be a plus over those of us stuck with 1.8GHz/2.1GHz phones.