My Technical Problems With My Orange Mobile Phone on Android

In early 2009 I bought the new Google Android G1 on T-Mobile, in fact, only T-Mobile supplied here in the UK I think? Anyway, a year later I moved to Orange, but had a series a problems. In the process of resolving them, I learned a lot about mobile phones. So, here is the story.

I have owned a Google Android phone for just over 1 year now. I bought the G1 phone myself from T-Mobile and then had a separate contract for the calls and 3G internet connection. This was all working OK, although I was a little disappointed with the quality of the connection at times while in London. However, as my contract approached its end I was thinking of going with another supplier. A friend had recommended Orange with Android so I decided to give them a go.

I opted for a 24 month Orange Business contract. I had always been against longer contracts but this was a good deal and the business customer services line seemed to be pretty good too (and continues to be, although I cannot compare with the retail customer services). When I ordered my phone I did double check that I would be able to use my Android G1 with Orange with no problems? They answered that yes, all I would have to do is unlock the G1 and the put the Orange SIM in, it will work fine. This sounded great.

As an Orange Business customer on a contract I was sent a Blackberry as there was not at the time a suitable Android upgrade (I like the G1 slide-out keyboard). We were all clear that I would not be using the Blackberry as I run my business on Google software using Google accounts in my Google mobile.

I was told that the 3G access would be faster than T-Mobile. I asked them about the Internet package and was told that like T-Mobile it was unlimited InternetSo all I had to do is unlock my G1, get a PAK code from T-Mobile, port the number over to Orange, wait a little while, put the SIM in, boot up and shut down a few times while SIM updates come through, then I would be good to go.

So, what went wrong? What didn’t go wrong?

I received the Blackberry and an Orange SIM card and decided to try the card out in the Blackberry. It worked. But I only had GPRS on the phone. I called the mobile company and they explained that the Blackberry was not 3G (I did not know this) so it would all be OK once I get my G1 unlocked. I got it unlocked a few days later and then put the SIM in. Was this easy? Yes, a small business called Chelmsford Mobile Phone Unlocking works out of a shed (well, a little larger than a shed) next to the local antique centre of all places! Brilliant. Got my phone unlocked in a few minutes. But ……

Still no Internet!

I called Orange. They at first gave me the APN details to allow me to access the Internet using my G1. All well and good. I tested on Google and BBC News and it worked OK. At this stage I did not notice it was still only 2G. I then called Orange again, this time I was told that it would cost me a fortune to access the Internet using the APN I was given as I did not have an Internet package. This almost knocked me over. I was told that I would have a package equal to the one T-Mobile gave me. It turned out that I had been set up with a Blackberry Databundle and sent a 2G card.

Fortunately Orange quickly got this sorted and sent me a new 3G SIM card to use instead, and updated my account to give me Internet access. But, it turns out that Orange do not do unlimited Internet any more, usage is capped. Orange once called their 500Mb capped Internet bundle “unlimited”. Their idea of unlimited is that you can use it “a lot” but not too much. A bit vague. Update – I now have two 500Mb Internet bundles from Orange and this is enough for me, for the moment. Who knows what new mobile Internet projects I will be working on this year?

OK, so a few days later I received my new 3G SIM from Orange. I popped it in my phone, and it all seemed to work great. Except that I could not access my Google account (cannot remember the errors, mostly just blank white pages I think), which meant I could not use it for business. I called Orange, they said that they could not help! Suddenly their line became “we do not support your phone so cannot provide you with any settings to help you access the Internet“.

I reminded them that I made it crystal clear when I agreed to the contract that I would be using my G1 and not any other phone. However, I was sure that this was something that could be fixed, and Android phones are pretty good at allowing you to adjust settings. Some frantic Googling lead me to AndroidBloke who provided the Orange APN to allow me to access the Internet. This information has been in the public domain since 2008, but Orange were unable to give it to me, as I do not own one of their branded phones….. (poor show Orange!).

So, after updating the APN settings again, I had a fully functioning Google G1 with Orange 3G. Great. Everything was wonderful. Until….

Over the weekend Orange issued a couple of SIM updates. Now, I did notice while out on Saturday night that I could not access Google Maps (I almost got lost in Basildon). I assumed that it was a poor connection in the area.

During the rest of the weekend I was at home mostly. I did go out for Sunday lunch, and again had no connection, but I put it down to the country pub being too far from a mast (my dad was always complaining about not getting a signal in the area), and was not bothered as I was having lunch. On Monday I was at home, and my phone was picking up the wireless connection so I did not see any lack of service.

Today, I popped out to town and realised that I had no Internet access. Even if G or 3G was displayed I still could not access the Internet.

I called Orange, waited 20 minutes, then hung up so that I could drive home. I then called again, and this was the start of the nightmare.

Orange told me again that they do not support my phone. Furthermore, my only option was to use an Orange branded phone instead. I asked why I lost connection after having it for a couple of weeks and man on the line said that he does not know what the SIM updates involve. I asked if Orange do any tests before updating the SIMs to check that the customers will still be able to use their services. He was totally uninterested in this topic of conversation. It was becoming clear that my phone was now useless!

I asked Orange how I go about cancelling my contract. Oh, you cannot do that……

I now find myself with an excellent Google G1 Android phone, a 2 year Orange contract, no mobile Internet from a service provider who say that they do not support my phone. I have emailed AndroidBloke to see if he knows of a solution. It certainly is not right that a business client with Orange is expected to seek solutions from random people in the Internet to get his package working though!

To summarize:

  • I was told by sales that the Orange mobile service would work with no problems with my Google G1 (from T-Mobile)
  • I was told by sales that the 3G Internet service would be better, both in terms of greater coverage and speed
  • I was told by Orange customer services that they do not support the Google G1 and cannot help me in any way with regards to getting my service working on it.
  • I was told by Orange customer services to use one of their own branded phones for my mobile Internet
  • I wish I never left T-Mobile!!!

So, How Did I Resolve It?

I was all ready to cancel my contract on the grounds of being mis-sold, but decided to Google it. It must be possible to access the Internet (secure sites) using Orange! And it is. As mentioned, I found Android Bloke, the UK’s first blog which is 100% dedicated to Android problems.

He already has a post on Android APN and Data Settings for Orange UK and my answer was there, still. The original settings that the business team gave me were for GPRS access, which does not include secure sites. When I first threw in the information that Android Bloke provided I included some other fields, such as Port and Proxy. This is what broke the connection.

Access Point Names (APN)

To get full Internet access on my G1 I just needed to do the following:

  1. Add New APN
  2. Give it a name – eg. Orange Internet
  3. Set the APN as orangeinternet (all one word, all lower case).
  4. SAVE

That was it. No ports, no proxies, no usernames or passwords, no server details. MCC and MNC are left as they are (MCC:234; MNC:33).

Everything works!

So there you go. Thank you Android Bloke!

Update (March 2013): I have now been with Orange for over 2 years. And they are great. Soon, I hope, 4G will be rolled out and it will be even better.

And yes, it is 2013, and I am still using the original Google T-Mobile G1 phone. Launched in 2008!

And it still works fine!