Monday, July 30, 2012

Kindle News: Misleading info re a max monthly free-3G Browsing amount on Kindle Keyboard outside the US for some UPDATE

Headlines re any general Amazon crackdown on Kindle Keyboard 3G web browsing are misleading

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, 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 Browser
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.'
 So there it is.   And yet, news sites are showing stories along the lines of
  "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)
In February 2012, Brian Benhchoff, posted at, in the "Tethering a Kindle for free 3G" entry, about a posting by excelangue aka "lickitung" aka Jason (to which Benhchoff links) on how he jail-broke his Kindle and applied a USB network hack to connect his laptop to the Internet through his computer via the 3G from the Kindle.  They both say that Amazon knows who is breaking the terms of use, as the key is tied directly to one's unique Kindle.
  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:
  E... says:
  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 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."

HackJack brags:
' 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
- $99/$139
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
OTHER International
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.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button 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. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!


  1. Speaking of browsing the web on my Kindle Keyboard, does anyone have a particularly good link for reading their GMail? It kicks me over to a page that the font and layout is just smaller, fancier (i.e. slower) and it's just annoying. I just want a more basic plain way to check my mail occasionally (and have the font a little bigger).

    And speaking of using their data, I'm not doing it to save data on my phone (my phone has probably pulled it down to my phone using the data already), I just want to be able to easily read it while outside.

    1. Gary, Yes, I think I might need to update my mobiweb file (that I mentioned in the blog article) for this much-faster version:

      The Kindle doesn't need input of the "http://" portion as it puts it in for us. Let me know if this works better for you. To get the font larger, do it in landscape mode.

    2. Well, Adam Smith knew it in the 1700's with Wealth of Nations. If consumption is not constrained by cost, then consumption will grow. And grow. When the iPad was first introduced, they had an unlimited data plan for a reasonable price. I recall wondering how long they thought they would be able to do that. Turns out it wasn't long. At work, for years our accounting department would run an accounting report each month that ran 2 million lines and 20 boxes of paper. This was printed in our central data facility, which was centrally funded. We begged them to do everything on cdrom, and even set up a system and workflow for them to do it. The problem was, they didn't see how it would benefit them, and continued to demand the paper report. Until the day we did away with centralized printing, and the departments had to provide for their own printing. Almost overnight they switched to digital format. I find Amazon's data policies very generous, and unsustainable. Perhaps Jeff Bezos should have taken a lesson from The Prince and been a bit more Machiavellian about it. Had he never offered free wireless, no one would have been surprised. But if he has to now take it away, some will be shocked.

    3. Blackbeard, very funny about the millions of lines and 20 boxes of paper!

      As for the free 3G on a Kindle Keyboard model -- looking it at it another way, I know many people with Kindles. I know not one person but me who has used the 3G web browsing more than once or at most, twice... I was an avid user and even then it was only a few times a month and never for long. Only for as-needed lookups...

      But during travel, definitely a plus for some who write that they would miss it.

      Offering the free 3G for web lookups, beyond Wiki and Amazon shopping, would never work with the Kindle Touch because with the direct access to links and faster processor, it -would- be used. Bezos probably took all of this into consideration. I don't think of him as generous so much as balancing benefits vs costs...

    4. I do use the K3 often when traveling to check email (as a passenger in our car, not while driving :) ). Once in awhile, I use Google Reader, too, on the K3.

      Today, I needed to check directions given by the GPS navigation system in our car. I could not get directions with Google on the K3. What is the best site to use from the K3 for directions?

      Thank you,
      Edwina O'Toole

    5. Hi, Edwina - Long time... Your use of the K3 3G web-browser is very similar to how I've enjoyed it.

      I do use google directions -- they have a text version that works very well. It actually uses larger fonts on a Kindle 2, but you can use the zoom boxes with Kindle 3 to make them more readable.

      See and I think you'll like the results. I have often been (as a passenger too) lost while looking for an address and it comes in really handy. I now have a Samsung S2 to do that but if I want to save battery life on the cell phone I use the Kindle.

  2. hi I am a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa and I just got the message that I have reached my data cap. I know data is very expensive here, that is why i use the kindle to browse. I usually have very poor signal anyway so I don't think the cap will be a big issue,but it was still dissapointing to see this message.

    1. Yes, disappointing. Sorry to read this but thank you for reporting your experience. I guess the only good thing is it's almost July 31. The Canadian person reported today that she cannot use 3G for downloading books or going to Wikipedia either as those are also affected by the limit though I don't think that was intended.

  3. Hi Andrys, Thanks for the informative blog and post.

    I'm a bit confused...I think :)

    I have a Kindle 2 International version 3G here in the US. I understand the 50MB cap does not apply to me while in the US using the Experimental Browser for sites outside of Amazon and Wikipedia.

    BUT if I travel to Brazil which does have 3G for the Kindle the New 50MB Cap would apply.

    BUT...What if I changed my residency to actually move to Brazil (Permanent Residency) and updated my location and address on Amazon. Would that delete the 50MB Cap restriction?

    The Help page says the 50MB restriction applies to those living outside of the US. It doesn't differentiate whether they are visitors or residents or even more complicated being Dual Citizens.

    The begining of the post gave the impression that if you are an actual resident of a country outside of the US that has 3G access (as opposed to a US resident traveling abroad) the 50 MB Cap would not apply such as the Canadian Resident (Unless Canada residents are treated like US residents by Amazon as far as use of the Experimental Browser goes).

    I did use my Kindle in Brazil in 2010 quite alot even in small towns when there was a thunderstorm that knocked out other wifi hot spots temporarily. I said ..this is pretty handy for a global traveler to have free 3G surfing for life but figured the honeymoon would come to an end one day :). Well at least it's still free Wikipedia-Amazon Kindle store surfing for life Outside of the US (60 countries).

  4. Anonymous (April 13, 2013 at 4:06:00 PM PDT)
    Sorry I'm not clear enough in this post... Here's more to see if I can make it clearer.

    First point... As a US citizen traveling in Brazil, the 50MB cap doesn't apply -- their own language mentions only this: "...may be limited to 50MB of browsing over 3G per month for those living outside the U.S..

    And a traveler is not living outside the U.S., just traveling.
    The only examples we've seen so far are of a couple of people who do live outside the U.S. "Living" normally means some kind of official residency that differs from staying in hotels or even a mansion for a length-fixed trip.

    I'm not sure what you meany by the beginning of the post. The beginning refers to the earlier original post and states that this happened to a woman who was living in Canada and that it happened to her. One other person living outside the U.S. reported this also, on a forum I was visiting.

    What might have confused you is that this was a follow-up post and she is confirming something asked in the previous original post on this new max of 50MB per month that she received notification about.

    She had used up 50MB of web use and could now not use anything but the Store and Wikipedia for the remainder of THAT month.

    But at the start of the next month she could use the other web access again until she reached her 50MB/mo. limit as someone living outside the U.S.

    There's nothing in the post that I can find that says the 50MB would not apply to her (since Amazon gives only one instance where it does and that involves the example given -- someone outside the U.S. and the 50MB definitely applying).

    If you changed your residency to actually move to Brazil, however:

    First, as a U.S. resident until then, you'd see no 50MB cap restriction involved, so there's nothing to be deleted. You wouldn't see a cap on amount used until you moved there.

    Second, you'd be living outside the U.S. if you moved there and changed your residency to Brazil, so I think the 50MB/mo. restriction would apply, but I'm no lawyer. :-)

    I don't understand your last paragraph either. "At least it's still free in..."

    3G web'g is STILL free in Brazil for that Kindle whether you visit it or live there, but if you live there it would be restricted to 50MB a month but you wouldn't be restricted to Wikipedia and Amazon store until you reached your max.

    ALL 60 countries' residents can STILL use the entire web. Anything but mainly-text web-reading is painful, so we haven't seen cries of alarm that people went over 50MB...
    Upshot - if you moved to Brazil, you'd still have the other access, but would have the cap of 50MB in a month... (Hope that's clearer...)

  5. Hi Andrys,

    Thanks for your thorough reply. Seems I got things backwards ha! :) which is great news. I was actually applying for residency in Brazil but stayed out of the country past the 2 year limit and lost my permanent visa (which is a pathway to permanent residency).

    I think my confusion is cleared up.

    So the lady in Canada I assume will retain unlimited experimental browsing surfing (outside of Wikipedia-Amazon Kindle store) because she is not living outside of Canada (although outside of the United States BUT she is under Canadian Amazon rules??).

    There are alot of us (some Dual Citizens..not me though) who in reality maintain residencies in 2 or more countries traveling back in forth between the countries during the year unlike many ex-patriates who stay in the foreign country for the most part.

    I assume for us frequent fliers unless we change in our Amazon profile our country of residence we can remain primary residents of the US. I wonder what else may trigger Amazon to assign you to another country such as extended residence in a foreign country using the 3G networks or making payment for kindle books with a Visa Debit Card from a Foreign bank....Just wondering here...

    Alot of gray area here which future real life experiences will only reveal I guess. One time I was with family at the Beach in Brazil using my Kindle on the Beach browsing various Blogs and articles happy as a clam consuming a virtual buffet of content way past 50 MB then one day no connection at all so I had to break down and get a TIM usb 2G wireless thingy although Kindle regained connection when we visited the next Beach south of us.

    This brings up another question. Sorry if you covered it already. If you were living outside of the US and your address with Amazon reflects there any advantage? such as access to a different store or books, magazines, newspapers not offered to American Amazon members...or different prices. I've read Japan has it's own Amazon Online Kindle media store but I don't think Brazil does

    1. The lady in Canada *lives* there and has received the restrictions because she lives outside the U.S. She was The Example of when the unusual limit applies...

      If you preferred books in another language it would be best to claim that country as residence... That's an advantage. Some books are available only in some countries etc...


NOTE: TO AVOID SPAM being posted instantly, this blog uses the "DELAY" feature.

Am often away much of the day, and postings won't show up right away. Posts done to use referrer-links may never show up.

Usually, am online enough to release comments within a day though, so the hard-to-read match-text tests for commenting won't be needed this way.

Feedback and questions are welcome. Thanks for participating.

Technical Problems?
If you're having problems leaving a Comment, Google's blogger-help asks that you clear the '' cookies on your browser's Tools or Options menu bar and that will fix the Comment-box problems (until they have a permanent fix).

IF that doesn't work either, then UNcheck the "keep me signed in" box -- Google-help says that should allow your comment to post (it's a workaround to a current bug).
Apologies for the problems.

TIP: There's a size limit. If longer than 3500 characters or so, in a text editor, make two posts out of it.

[Valid RSS]