What you need

Mobile data services are available from Orange, Cellnet GSM and Vodafone GSM. Mercury is also developing a network.

Data calls (including fax) are handled differently from voice calls, so existing mobile subscribers must have their line data enabled (there may be a charge). In addition, only a limited number of phones, from Nokia, Philips and Motorola, support data. Data cards cost about pounds 450 and work in any laptop with a PC Card slot.

Our tests found that the cards worked well with Macintosh and PCs. Installing the data card in the Mac was simple; configuring an IBM laptop to recognise the card took half a day, although this was more the fault of Windows than of the hardware. Some companies offer pre-configured laptop and mobile combinations, and these could be worth looking at. One is Lerryn Data Technology (0161 486 0319).

Some of the most sophisticated personal organisers can also send data. The Psion 3a can be connected to a Nokia digital phone with a Telnote Link (pounds 50-pounds 70). This, however, sends only brief messages via Vodafone's Short Messaging Service. The new Sharp ZR5000 can send faxes and data via a plug-in card.

The cheapest network for data is Orange, which has a standard charge for voice or data calls. This varies between 25p a minute and 14p (excluding VAT) a minute during peak hours, depending on the service package chosen. Orange bills by the second, which can bring big savings, especially with e-mail.

Vodafone's GSM business tariff charges 25p per minute. Billing is in six-second units for data, and 30-second units (after the first minute) for voice and fax. Networks can also offer additional services: Vodafone, for example, provides a fax mailbox as part of its package.

Digital mobile coverage is not quite as good as the analogue networks. Vodafone has the best coverage; Cellnet is slightly less comprehensive, but is catching up; Orange now covers 85 per cent of the UK population.

Subscribers to existing analogue networks have two options: switch to GSM or Orange, or upgrade their handsets.

Manufacturers, including Mitsubishi and Motorola, make data cards for analogue phones. Data is slower, typically 4,800 baud, and the cost of a new handset means this might not be worthwhile.

Analogue cards do have one advantage, however: most can be connected to a conventional phone line.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Cover Supervisor

    £75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam