Monday, August 15, 2011

Free 3G Kindle Access globally, to Amazon-store and, in some areas, to the Web


This blog entry is an added copy of the Reference page information just revised for describing 3G Kindle web access globally.  This one is a normal blog entry for today, which I hope will be useful, describing what is possible now.  A copy that will be updated as new info appears is at

KEY POINT to remember:
In any of the countries that don't have free 3G Kindle web browsing enabled for their own residents (due to no lower-cost Agreement with a 3G carrier in place), a 3G Kindle owned by customers whose Kindles are enabled for their own countries will still retain free 3G web-browsing access in the more restricted-3G-use countries.

ALL with
(1) global-access Kindles (Kindle 3's and some later editions of earlier models
(2) who are residents in one of the 100+ countries WITH 3G Agreements for general Amazon Kindle Store Book downloads:

  They will generally also have free 3G access to Wikipedia.

Of the above:
  If they are residents of any of the 60+ countries WITH free 3G web-browsing enabled for its residents, their Kindles will also have free 3G web browsing enabled for 100+ countries (when traveling).

  If they are residents of any of the 40+ countries WITHOUT free 3G web-browsing enabled for its residents, their Kindles will NOT have free 3G web browsing enabled for their own country. (SOME of these find their Kindle's 3G web browser will work in other, non-restricted countries.)

Because of the above:
  A customer residing in one of the 60 countries with free 3G web browsing enabled, and who has an internationally-capable Kindle, WILL have free 3G web browsing capability wherever there is 3G access for Amazon Kindle Store book downloads.

A few paragraphs below, you'll see an Amazon UK website listing of 61 countries in which UK residents -- and residents in other 3G-web-browsing enabled contries -- can use their Kindle  (UK: K3)  3G experimental web browsers to slowly access (for free) websites other than Wikipedia.  The listing or table was brought to our attention by G. Javor of France in an Amazon UK forum thread.

Nine key countries with no official 3G web browsing capability currently (outside of Wikipedia and the book store) are
Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

  Best of all, the table's information also matches forum reports from U.S. and UK residents traveling abroad who find they can use their free 3G browsing in those 60+ listed countries AND even in the other 40+ countries for which the 3G web browsing feature has not been enabled officially for their own residents (due to no lower-cost 3G carrier agreements with Amazon, apparently).

These speak to the last point above ("Best of all..."):
  The same type of unexpected added access is described in the UK forum thread which lists countries in which traveling UK Kindle owners actually have been able to do 3G web browsing, and those reports also included countries NOT on the official 3G web-browsing-enabled list, such as France, Germany, Netherlands, etc.

  Also, a post on the 3rd page of an U.S. Amazon Kindle Forum message thread, from T'Mara in Austria, reports that although the 3G web browsing isn't enabled for residents of Austria, at least some Austrians traveling to other countries CAN use the 3G experimental web browsing feature in countries where that IS enabled (via Agreements with cellular network carriers).

That is good news but also reminds us that if the feature is used "too much" Amazon might not be able to continue offering it in some regions, so I use my WiFi capability whenever I can, instead, to minimize the cost to Amazon, in hopes of their retaining/continuing the free feature.

Here is that TABLE of 61 countries at for which Amazon UK shows currently (last re-checked on 6/13/11] - and all emphases mine) :

International Web Browsing

The experimental web browser is free to use over Kindle's 3G or Wi-Fi connections. If you are travelling outside the United Kingdom, you can access Wikipedia in over 100 countries anywhere you have a 3G connection (check the wireless coverage map here).  You can browse other websites globally via a Wi-Fi connection.  Access to other websites while travelling abroad is available via a 3G connection in the 61 countries listed below.
  [Actually, U.S. and UK residents travelling in countries where 3G web access isn't allowed for its own residents due to carrier-agreements, find that they can use the 3G web-browsing access in those countries as well.-- ab]

BrazilBulgariaCanadaCayman Islands
ChileColombiaCroatiaCzech Republic
Dominican RepublicEcuadorEl SalvadorGrenada
HondurasHong KongHungaryIceland
Puerto RicoRomaniaRussiaSaint Kitts and Nevis
Saint LuciaSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSouth AfricaSlovakia
UkraineUnited States of AmericaUruguayUS Virgin Islands

Access to the web browser within these countries may vary and is subject to change.

Kindle's new web browser is based on WebKit to provide a better web browsing experience. Now it's easier than ever to find the information you're looking for right from your Kindle. Click here to learn more about using Kindle's experimental web browser.

  As I've said on the Kindle forums, 3G web browsing is probably a financial minefield for Amazon.

  Also, they likely have complex contracts being negotiated currently, and in some cases really may not be able to say anything without possibly affecting talks.

Amazon, unlike Barnes and Noble, sells its books outside the U.S.  It also is the only e-reader maker with 3G web-browsing to external websites, as the other e-book vendors keep the 3G access (if their models have it at all) to their stores only and certainly don't offer free-3G Wikipedia, which Amazon offers for free 3G-access EVERYwhere in the world that they have any cellular wireless arrangements.
 This is a real boon for students of any age and IS an expense for Amazon.

With over a hundred countries in which Amazon offers free 3G wireless to download books to their Kindle and browse Wikipedia from their books, Amazon, for all my nagging of them, is way ahead of the field in this important area.

  That they offer free 3G web browsing in 61 countries now is actually hard to believe for some, seen on forums almost daily asking if the 3G web browsing access on the experimental web browser can really be free.  The answer's Yes, for now, in 61 areas of the world, but the feature has been "experimental" for 4 years and there are no promises that I've seen.  The fine print in their Agreements with us say they can charge fees at some point.  With a balky e-ink web browser (even if it's more capable than in earlier Kindle models), any charges would not be a winning proposition either.

  And, for the first time, in July-August 2010, their marketing ads stressed the "Free 3G" in the titles or headers, so they wouldn't be changing that very soon.

  On the general International product-marketing pages, they include in their listed features:
      New WebKit-Based Browser - Free 3G web browsing (experimental)
Abandoning that too soon when it's featured in the marketing would not have been good business and even a year later would not be, because that advertising continues.

Time will tell, as they say.  It's a great experiment though.  As I've said in other threads, I often use mine for step-by-step directions when lost, as a passenger in a car.  The fact that you can access information for free almost wherever you are (bus, car, beach, park) is just a Huge benefit, in my opinion.

This is something most would never have to know, but I hope that my earlier article on this will help.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's)   K3 Special ($114)   K3-3G Special ($139)   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.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. I confess to being slightly confused by your note "[Actually, U.S. and UK residents travelling in countries where 3G web access isn't allowed for its own residents due to carrier-agreements, find that they can use the 3G web-browsing access in those countries as well.-- ab]"

    Do you mean that a UK Kindle 3G owner could, despite what Amazon implies, use the web in countries other than the 61 listed?

    Although 61 sounds quite a lot, it excludes almost the whole of Europe including Germany, Turkey, France, UK, Italy and Spain - the 6 most populous countries in Europe excepting Russia. The inclusion of Liechtenstein is small compensation!

  2. Stephen,
    You might have read it quickly, going straight to the table and not looking at the rest of it after finding so many European countries missing.

    What I meant was covered by the paragraph "FORUM DISCUSSIONS OF WHAT HAS BEEN DOABLE" (sorry, original heading is in caps) where I give links to a couple of forum threads where people discuss exactly what you asked about.

    Kindle owners mention or 'log' for others the countries where they were able to access the 3G for web use.

    I also list 9 countries where 3G web access has long been not enabled for their own own residents, and I have those listed in orange. They cover most of Europe.

    I also explain why some countries wouldn't be covered yet since it's quite obvious that Amazon wants to do this where they can get rates that allow them to pay for it while not upsetting stockholders.

    (News stories were actually quite active about the situation in Germany where the 3G carrier apparently would not offer a better deal.)

    Also see the paragraph "AMAZON U.S. AND THE FREE 3G WEB BROWSING ACCESS GLOBALLY" re the negotiations thing.

    I also recommend we go easy on the 3G when we are able to use WiFi, avoiding excessive use of it so that the 'experimental' feature remains (as it has for almost 4 years). Since the access is relatively slow and quite clunky on a 6" screen and on a slow e-Ink device, it is probably not used 'too much' by most of us although I use mine often when out of the house.

    I'm mainly reporting what I've noted, as this has been an area for which there is little information and people ask about it often on the forums.

    It may be that the UK sentence on the table about travel-3G access in other countries is how it is intended to be but that the 3G access is probably determined by settings that can be made from Amazon servers but that changing them could be disruptive for vacationers who go in and out of areas that are enabled/disabled.

    A decision was possibly made that vacationers have short-term use relative to the long-term use by residents -- and of course IP hosts can be determined by Amazon server programs and they are equipped to use that capability, which is put in play from time to time when people residing in another country try to buy books that publishers may not have the rights to sell in other countries.

    This goes in tandem with the settings that exist (and which are key in what you can buy) for country of residence and where your main credit card is issued.
    While some have tried to change those settings in and out, to get an e-book, Amazon has emailed them if they did it more than once or twice.


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