The fight for transparency. Pt. 2

I finished the last entry at a rather strange point…. I could have gone on for hours.

I must remember to make these short and pithy, rather than long, laborious, verbal rants at the system.
Picking up on the last comment I made, regarding contract/PAYG differences, I’d like to go into a little more detail.
My brother and I are both proud owners of Nokia N95s, we’re both on the O2 network, and we both love music… I’m on contract with O2, and pay for the Unlimited Web bolt-on, my brother is on O2 PAYG and pays for the Unlimited Web bolt-on, but we don’t both get the same mobile media experience!
During the aforementioned time off work I have scoured the internet for gizmos and gadgets to make my mobile life as windswept and interesting as my home life.  I am a heavy user of Last.fm both as a listener and with my band Morpheus Rising and, after trying out a few, found a reliable app designed for Nokia S60 3rd Edition devices which would enable me to carry the Last.fm experience around with me everywhere! Mobbler is it’s name, and I can’t imagine life without it!
I walk back from taking the children to school listening to a selection of tracks from my music library (some 20-30,000 tracks) without having one track physically on my phone… I can play Artist channels (Similar artists according to user listening habits), tag channels (similar artists by genre or style), my own library or even other peoples libraries and recommendations according to my listening habits!  In my opinion it is the future of music in the modern age, royalties get paid (Last.fm functions like a radio station and artists get paid for on-demand streaming, radio plays etc) and I get to experience my whole collection on the move, and then some.
My brother is as obsessed with music as I am, so needless to say I sang the virtues of Last.fm and Mobbler to him… it didn’t take much, and within a few short minutes he had joined Last.fm, signed up with O2 for the unlimited mobile web bolt-on, installed Mobbler and waited for the confirmation text that his bolt-on was activated… it didn’t come… he had to log on to O2.co.uk and check his account to see that the bolt-on was activated, it was, so he fired up Mobbler.  It didn’t work: ‘Connection failed.  If this fault persists please contact your service provider.” He did, he followed the instructions and downloaded the MMS/Web settings for his phone… woohoo! Web access… but no streaming… Mobbler would now log on, but once he tried playing anything it would line up the playlist and then freeze… the app would still respond, but no streaming.
Now you must understand that I have spent hours, if not days, in the past hacking and tweaking away to get my XDAs and PALMs to work online correctly with O2 PAYG (and contract to some extent in the past), but I had no such issues with my O2 Contract N95, I signed up for the web bolt-on, waited the 24 hours, and bam!  I’ve had no issues with any of the content on my phone, and my brother followed the exact same process I did. He then contacted O2 Customer Service who sent some new settings for MMS/Web connectivity to his phone… another step forward! The YouTube app (installed from the Google Mobile site) now worked flawlessly, but still no Last.fm
At this point I thought that perhaps it was Mobbler, so I pointed my brother to Fring which has a Last.fm add-on available… he installed this, installed the add-on… still no Last.fm!!
As I type this my brother is still unable to stream Last.fm over his O2 PAYG web connection, and yet he’s paying the same as me for the luxury… he’s not the only one, others have posted similar issues on various forums.  My main concern is, surprisingly, not the fact that Mobbler doesn’t work, it is the need for O2 to send different settings to his N95 in order for the mobile web connection to work in the first place!  This is not uncommon, I recently paid for my daughter to have the web on her Sony Ericsson W650i, and despite numerous attempts by me to connect it, I still had to resort to calling O2 Customer Service (who charge for the privilege) to be informed that they had to send ‘new’ settings to the phone! Now, I’m a technophile, I understand how these things work and followed the instructions online to the letter to gain web access on her phone, some apps worked initially (or seemed to) but it was not possible to ‘surf’ you couldn’t even get to O2’s own wap/active homepages!  The O2 site asks for your phone type before it sends the necessary settings, so why should you then have to flail about trying to get it to work before submitting to failure and calling them up?
O2 aren’t alone, over the years I’ve experienced similar issues with T-Mobile, Vodafone and Orange… my point is: All these companies set up the phones prior to them being sold.  They tweak the software, play with the hardware, add their own branding, even with the PAYG versions… is it too much to ask for their own products (which is what they are once they release them) to work with their own networks? I think not! (to be continued…)
Oops! So much for short and pithy!
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