Mobile Data Travel Tip – Manual Network Selection

There seem to be two Operators here in Dubai (DU and Etisalat) and while both offer voice service only Etisalat seems to have data. It took me a while to figure this out actually and for most of Monday I was convinced that my phone was dropping into some sort of limbo state when the carrier switched to DU.

I am using a T-Mobile Blackberry SIM in my E71 and N82 while here and I found that regardless of which phone I was using the data service would simply die on DU. I though the issue was Blackberry related and so I switched over to the BB, saw it work and then would switch back. It was not until Tuesday morning though when the BB actually switched over to DU and then I realized what was happening … Once I manually selected the network I wanted data returned and messaging has been very reliable since.

In a related note, I was hoping to get access to the Etisalat HSDPA hispeed network but it seems they have vastly overpromised what is really here. While the site claims they offer 7.2 Mbps, I have been seeing between 100 and 500Kbps which is less than I get at home on the ATT system. Disappointing for sure, but the coverage is quite consistent at least and it works everywhere but on the elevator in our hotel. I switched the N82 over to UMTS only (yes I know it’s not HSDPA) but just think the speed is over-promised. In the N78 (with hispeed activated) which I also have here I am seeing similar network performace. I supposed it is possible that the ever sucky and limited TZones data service is forcing me to second class over the more expensive internet service, but that’s all I get on this TMO SIM.

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