Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Q&A: Is there a catch with Free 3G? A data-transfer charge was mentioned.


A question in the Comment area reminded me that many Kindle owners are unaware of an important feature that allows us to send or place 'personal documents' (any file not received from Amazon) onto our Kindles.  The feature is available for personal documents that don't have digital-rights protection on them.

While this can be done with simple transfers from a computer to the Kindle via the USB cable which is part of the power cord and via other methods (see Guides in the reference section in the right-hand colum of the blog), there is also the choice to have the Amazon servers send (and sometimes convert to Kindle format first if needed) the document "over the air" to the Kindle via either 3G cellular wireless (small fee involved) or via WiFi (free) when you are connected to one.

The below question and reply is from a question yesterday to the blog.  Below it, I'll include an excerpt from an earlier blog article that was written to clarify the differences between WiFi-Only and 3G/Wifi Kindle models, to reiterate how Wifi and 3G cellular wireless capabilities differ, since it remains an area of confusion for many.

' Q: I am curious about the 3g feature (I have a 3g in the mail already, but have a concern).  I understand that the 3g service is indeed free on this model, but I occasionally see a reference to someone paying a charge for some data transfer.  I have been unable to locate exactly what might cause this cost to be incurred.  In short, what catches are there to the 3g service?

The only 3G charge is if you have a personal document or book that you downloaded to your computer from somewhere else but for which you now *want to use 3G cellular wireless* to either:
- 1. 'email' that to your Kindle directly

      *OR* which you now want to

- 2. 'email' to Amazon servers for CONVERSION to Kindle format first and then 3G wireless delivery to your Kindle.

(Conversions are done usually for WORD docs or for PDFs which you want Amazon to put into Kindle format with the text re-flowed rather than seen as images of pages which are often too small to read comfortably on a 6" screen).

  To have Amazon convert a *PDF* to Kindle-reflowed format, you'd need to put the word "Convert" into the subject field.  Otherwise, no words are ever needed for these emails other than the email address that's already in the header.

  With Microsoft WORD documents, the conversion is automatic, and you don't need to use the word "Convert" in the subject field (as you do with PDFs).

  REMINDER: This is if you want Amazon to send a personal doc (or non-rights-protected book from another source) for you over the 3G cellular network *rather* than via the WiFi you have at home or in the office or nearby at a place that has WiFi (like McDonald's or Starbucks etc).

  As a Kindle 3 owner, you'd be given a Kindle email-address that Amazon has made specifically for your Kindle, and you'd see that Kindle address at your Kindle management page in a box near the top left of that page.

  That Kindle address is of course protected from spammers and anyone you don't give specific permission to place documents on your Kindle -- so we don't tend to give out that Kindle address to others.

  The Kindle address is in the form:

You need to specify which of your email addresses are approved for sending documents direct to your Kindle via the Amazon servers.

  You can enter, into the box labelled "Your Kindle Approved E-mail List," any or all of your email addresses that you want given permission to do that.

  If you send a personal document to the [you] address, the document will be sent by Amazon servers to your Kindle over the 3G cellular network and, in the U.S., that is 15c per megabyte of a file. Outside the U.S., that's 99c per megabyte of a file.

  With a Kindle3 (these models have a WiFi component), you'd normally want to get the document via WiFi (instead of 3G), which is then free to you for the sending of personal documents to Kindle via Amazon servers.

  For WiFi sends instead of 3G, you email the document to Amazon serviers for your Kindle address by addressing it instead to


  Then Amazon will then send an email to your correspondence email address (the one you registered with Amazon) that will include a link to your completed file where you can
- 1. download it to a computer (if it's a file that has been converted by Amazon for your Kindle) for transfer to your Kindle's "documents" folder via the USB cord


- 2. accept it on your Kindle3 when you are connected to a WiFi network somewhere.  If you don't have a WiFi network at home, then #1 above is the way you'd more quickly put it on your Kindle rather than wait until you're near a WiFi network.

  With 3G, we are almost always connected, no matter where we are. But the WiFi way to do this is free.

That's the only 'catch' to the 3G service. '

The word "wireless' here pertains to both 3G and WiFi networks.
  If the e-reader is not attached to a computer but it can access online sites, it's using a "wireless network."  I've seen that many use the term "WiFi" when they mean "3G" mobile-wireless, as it's a confusing area to most who have had no reason to even think about these words before.

As the image at the left indicates, 3G Wireless involves huge wireless networks that cover very long distances -- our cellphones access these networks.  This is often referred to as 'mobile wireless' -- or wireless on the go.  Coverage involves very large areas and involves cell towers.

This involves very "local" and ultra short-range wireless networks -- usually in effect for a home or an office or office building, set up by the individuals using them, but increasingly, cafes and shops are offering customers use of their own WiFi networks while there.

The picture on the left is of my 7-year old Netgear WiFi network router.   Mine takes a signal from Comcast's high-speed cable internet service and routes that cable-modem signal via a wire to my main computer and then broadcasts the signal "locally" around my home so that it's accessible without-wires by my printer/scanner and my laptop.
 My neighbors have WiFi networks in their apartments as well, and we all use the normal security of some kind of passkey so that others can't "steal" access to our wee networks and slow us down by sharing them without permission.

 If you're getting a WiFi-only reader and expect to download books directly to the e-reader without having to hook it up to a computer, you'll need to have a WiFi network set up.  They're very inexpensive these days -- it costs about $40 for a good router -- but someone will need to set it up and understand how to maintain it.  Friends can help.  It's not difficult (except for those without experience with computers), and software that comes with the small router can make it almost automatic.

I think the reason that the Kindle reader 'took off' when other e-readers received much less interest is the capability that Amazon built into the reader so that owners can access the cellphone or mobile networks wherever they are (except in some remote areas) to just download a new book on the spot upon hearing about it.

Amazon has said they wanted customers to be able to use the Kindle without need for a computer.
  With 3G mobile wireless, it doesn't matter where you are -- you can usually download a book you want or do a look-up online.  As Amazon's pages point out, there's no need to look for a "hot spot" -- a place that offers a WiFi network that is sharable by customers, whether for a fee or for free (Starbucks and McDonald's WiFi networks are free).

"WHISPERNET" is a term that Amazon first used for Amazon's 3G wireless, and it's been used since then for the 3G wireless service at Amazon.  However, sometimes they use the word for WiFi wireless as well now.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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