UPDATE 7/31/12 8:06 am (Original post 7/26/12 7:14 pm) - Chamekke, the Canadian who made the first known report about receiving notification of the monthly 3G download limit, verified over the weekend that she lives outside the U.S. and was not out of her country (Canada) when she received the alert.
She was then also unable to use the 3G for downloading of Kindle books or access to Wikipedia for the rest of the month, although from wording on the Amazon site, the limit is on 'browsing.'
You can see the details at her post at Mobileread Forums if interested in puzzling out when this applies, but her experience seems to confirm the Amazon 3G browsing limit that is shown only for those living outside the U.S. and which 'may' apply (my theory is that it depends on carrier rates in the various countries, with some being relatively low and some involving expensive roaming charges with AT&T partners).
[Original post of 7/26 follows.]
There are several stories about what would seem to some news writers to be Amazon's new limits on free (and slow) 3G web browsing in general.
This idea was started when a Mobileread Forum member, chamekke, posted on July 23 about receiving a message while she was browsing the web on her Kindle Keyboard 3G, which told her she'd "hit my 50 MB monthly limit of 3G Web access on my Kindle 3G.
"When I clicked the 'OK' button (which was my only choice, really), I got a second message saying that I'd have 24 hours of grace to continue to use 3G for Web browsing, but that after that I could use 3G only for visiting Amazon.com, Wikipedia, and the Kindle Store. Otherwise I will be obligated to use Wi-Fi."
As you can see from the image above, chamekke lives outside the U.S., and roaming charges outside the US with AT&T partners are expensive. The Kindle Keyboard's free 3G web access is so slow that it's not used that much, for the most part, except for more urgent needs such as quickly checking your email or getting step-by-step directions to another location. chamekke later added that although she bought her Kindle from the U.S. Amazon Kindle store, she's in Canada. The Kindle 3G terms are different for those living outside the U.S.
Per DreamWriter, in the same message thread, a Googling of this situation brought up some reports that as of July 1 the Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) 3G web browsing limits had seen a change. She found the one Amazon paragraph about this, on the "Using Kindle Keyboard if You Live Outside the United States" page (emphasis mine):
' Experimental Web BrowserSo there it is. And yet, news sites are showing stories along the lines of
The Experimental Web Browser is currently only available for some customers outside of the United States and may be limited to 50MB of browsing over 3G per month for those living outside the U.S. This limit does not apply when customers are browsing over Wi-Fi.'
"The party's over" for free 3G.
The limit is currently only for some who are living outside the U.S. And 50MB is a LOT when you're using the e-Ink web browser, which could be called a web crawler, but it has come in handy many times for me, for the more urgent lookups (such as step-by-step directions to an address when in a car) and also for checking product reviews and competitive pricing when I'm in a store and trying to decide whether or not to buy something that is suddenly on a big sale.
So, although the limit is stated only for those living outside the U.S., why is Amazon doing it? As many had guessed, it's almost surely because some or someone used the free 3G of the Kindle Keyboard model to tether its free 3G to a faster device like a laptop.
The US-based PC Magazine realized this may affect some living outside the U.S. after exploring the story but still headlined their article, in general terms: "Amazon Limits Kindle 3G Web Use."
The Register, UK article by Simon Sharwood is written for those who would be more affected by it, although Amazon UK is actually fairly liberal in its handling of the free 3G web browser feature and also posts the countries in which the slow free 3G web browsing will work when UK residents (and US residents) visit outside the UK.
Unfortunately, The Register starts its report with "The free ride is over...." It's not of course, it's just a shorter free ride per month.
At least the Register picks up the Amazon language that says the limit "may" be enforced (outside the U.S.), and maybe more likely where roaming charges are exhorbitant.
But chosen headlines and opening lines will make it sound more severe than it is. So far we've heard of just one person who has been affected. It takes a lot of time to do 50MB on an e-Ink text-based e-reader because if you try to load a graphics-intensive website (as so many of them are these days), it would be beyond most human patience.
Here's my downloadable mobile-device oriented file of faster-loading website links, which includes good umbrella sites that specialize in categorizing such links.
So, why the limit?
What caused Amazon to suddenly apply the 50MB limit? (So far, maybe once)
The dueling perspectives of the target audience are interesting to me. Example:
"Is it possible if we take the GPS out Amazon won't know who we are? Or maybe a way to mask our serial number? I really want to do this but it is not worth bothering if I am just going to get caught."
It's, in effect, stealing, because it's actually money for charges a cheater is accruing that Amazon would then have to pay the carrier.
Some of the more long-range thinking commenters:
1. At Lickitung's World (where the hack guide is displayed)
"(May 28, 2012) S... said:
whilst I appreciate the intellectual fun in trying to get this to work you are effectively jeopardising the browser access they give us for free. I really hope that Amazon doesn't end up terminating this service because you have released this information."
2. At Benchoff's Hack A day (which links to the guide and states that Excelangue/Lickitung is "looking into tethering to the Kindle over WiFi so Android and iOS devices can get in on the action," the very first commenter:
February 27, 2012...
I really wish this article had never been posted. Kindle users enjoy free 3G access for our Kindles and I would really hate for Amazon to have a reason to take it away from us.
Then a commenter from Mobileread Forums, which is just a great forum for info and has very responsible moderators, writes, in part:
' R... says
This is a VERY bad idea! All of us kindle developers at mobileread.com are very much AGAINST this sort of information being distributed in public forums such as hackaday.
Amazon must pay the cellphone carriers for 3G traffic. I have seen information that said they paid 12-cents/MB for Sprint 3G used by the Kindle DX and earlier. The newer Kindles like the Kindle 3G mentioned here use AT&T, but it probably has a similar cost.
It is very nice of amazon to provide this EXPERIMENTAL service to us at no additional cost to us. When used on a kindle, it does not generate a lot of traffic because the web browser built into the kindle does not support downloading zip files, and does not do streaming media.
If we tether to an external computer, there is a large amount of extra traffic. Many programs “phone home” to see if they have new versions available. Antivirus programs download updates. Even Windows Update may download many large files when updates are available. In addition, your computer will generate a lot of unrelated traffic for internet protocols other than just web browsing...
The really BAD thing about 3G tethering, and we us [sic] kindle developers are so against it, is that this much publicity for this bad practice of stealing 3G bandwidth from amazon (which can cost them a LOT of money) may cause them to remove 3G service for ALL OF US!
I have been a long-time hackaday reader and poster... I am very upset that links are provided here to a web page that encourages people to STEAL 3G service from amazon, to the detriment of us all!
Please remove those links! Thank you. '
And he goes on to explain many other aspects of what goes on with all this, with Amazon and the user, and to ask "Please do not make it [the 'free 3G that 'works in a moving vehicle (unlike wifi)'] ... go away with your selfishness and thievery."
I find it a fascinating 50-50 conversation in that R. gets a lot of support for his position while the other half think Amazon is to blame for making this hack possible. I'm detailing a bit too much here but thought some readers might be interested in what is going on with attempts to maximize what a device can do at a company's expense (against Terms of Service agreement) and the idea that the information itself should be available on the web and it's up to others to not use it, while some of R's supporters think it's a cool hack and are impressed but also "disgusted all the same from the ethical side of it."
' I’ve been tethered to my kindle for 6 months, using it as my main internet connection. With browsing and utorrent I’ve racked up over 46GB. No disconnection here! '
So, you can see what Amazon's up against when hoping to make their devices and services attractive but also have to think about things like the stockholders and its stock value.
In the meantime, Amazon is said to be working on the software update to prevent this kind of tethering of the Kindle Keyboard 3G. I hope they can do it rather than need to apply new limits.
And they've applied a monthly limit to one hapless owner so far, who's living outside the US where the AT&T roaming charges can be sky high.
Kindle Touch's lack of free 3g web browsing
Just wanted to say that the KTouch has (1) Direct Access to links rather than making us use the 5-way button to slowly wend our way to a link and sometimes miss it due to directional oddities when multiple links are on the same line) and (2) a considerably faster processor that loads web pages much more quickly. I do have a KTouch and a KKeyboard and I would use the free 3G web on the KTouch a lot more than I do on the KKeyboard if it were available on the KTouch -- which would make the free 3G for that model a bad business idea for Amazon.
Keep in mind that currently competing e-readers either don't have a web browser at all now (Nook) nor a free 3G one (Sony, except in Japan) for anything.
Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links
Kindle Fire 7" tablet - $199
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $79/$109
Kindle Touch, WiFi
Kindle Touch, 3G/WiFi - $149/$189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189, Free, slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £89
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi, UK - £169
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $109
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi - $189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources. Top 100 free bestsellers. Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.
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