Good News: Abolition of UK Mobile Phone Roaming Charges in Europe from 15th June 2017

Abolition of UK Mobile Phone Roaming Charges in Europe from 15th June 2017

New EU Regulations come in on 15th June this year which mean that throughout Europe's member states mobile roaming charges are (by and large) eliminated.

Countries Covered:

Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey,    Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg,    Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

For most people and businesses on standard tarrifs this will automatically come into effect.

You will be able to use your UK minutes, texts, and data in the Europe Zone (subject to any relevant data fair use policy). This means many O2, EE, Vodafone, Threecustomers will no longer see roaming charges on their bill – enabling them to work flexibly without worrying about additional charges

Most Bolt ons will apply equally in UK & EU. If you have unlimited calls and / or data then you'll enjoy the benefits of this throughout the zone. Until now many providers have been charging £1.66 / £2 / £5 per day while roaming for access to bundles so this will save you money when you travel for work or pleasure. If you subscribe to bolt ons that provide an equivalent service then these will likely dissapear from your bill on the next relevant bill after the change.

Exceptions to this are if you have a bespoke tarrif from a provider, or for service which are not covered (be careful of Emoji like smiley faces making your text and MMS or picture message).

Also beware that outside of the EU - so popular destinations like Turkey / Egypt / USA etc. are not covered so you have to beware of roaming charges from these destinations. If we all get used to zero roaming charges in Europe it is easy to forget that countries like Turkey are not in Europe so could catch the unwary out. In any case it is usually best to use WIFI when you can so that you preserve all your quotas for when you are out and about - if your mobile device is not already set to connect to your home and secure office Wifi then now is a good time to rectify that.


Thanks to Alec Wilson for the photo of Rockwell Commander G-ROAM featured in our page banner.

Microsoft Exchange 10 Device Limits and Focus for Productivity

Like many things, sometimes you don't know there is a limit until you hit it, or at least are reminded what you learned long ago that things are not unlimited.

In my case, I've just hit a limit of having 10 mobile devices connected to sync to my email account with ActiveSync / Outlook on mobile or iPad devices. Of course, whilst like many, I do like my gadgets, I don't actually have 10 phones or iPads!

What has happened is that every time you add a device to sync to your Exchange Mailbox (this is true for MS Exchange on premise and also for Office 365 Hosted Exchange email), a new device partnership is created and there is currently a reasonable limit of 10 devices as a maximum. The Exchange server has to keep track of what the last messages you've had are, so it knows from when to push you the latest messages etc.

You can access the list of phones / mobile computer devices via the Outlook Web Portal for your email (or Exchange control panel). If you connect you can then choose Options -> Phone, from where the list will then load.

The view allows you to see what devices you are syncing with, when they last did a sync, and, should a phone ever be lost or stolen, you can attempt to initiate a remote wipe from here to protect your private data, even if the phone is lost.

In my case the list reads as a recent history of my mobile phones, showing the dates the respective device was last synchronised and hence retired. Thus I can see that I had an HTCAce (Actually an HTC Desire HD) until Jan 2013, an HTC One X Plus, an HTCOneM8 and now the Samsung Galaxy S7 etc. Is it me or is the life of a phone generally getting shorter these days as we use them more?

Once you have 10 phones in a partnership with your mailbox, you can't have any more. Thus it is probably good to get into the habit of removing old phones when you add a new one. Note that if you use the MS Outlook app for iPad / iPhone / Android phone, then this will take a second slot alongside the native Mail ActiveSync connection if you use that. The Outlook Mobile app is pretty good but we tend to recommend sticking with your native mail app in most cases, so that you have:

  1. All your mail in one inbox,
  2. More flexibility on sync schedules (and hence battery life) and
  3. Less data use abroad if you travel; the native mail apps are much better at being roaming aware for now.

So removing phones or devices no longer used is good for security, reducing server resource load and allows you to add more devices when needed i.e. if you are at the limit and your current phone dies, then you can't configure a replacement until you clear an old phone off the list.  This could cause some small delay at the time you need to get going with work / trips / other things you might need your phone for.

And now for a slight, but very relevant, digression: 

Of course, if you are in the office or trying to get some focused work done then one of the best things you can do is to turn your mobile phone off. Research such as that conducted by Kaspersky Labs shows that your productivity can be 26% better without the distraction of a mobile phone - see  for details on this particular example.

You may know that I like to make use of odd moments of time or travel on public transport etc. to listen to audio books (generally from Audible) as well as useful / relevant podcasts so as to make better use of time. Currently I'm listening to Deep Work by Cal Newport. This also reminds us that Facebook / Twitter / What's App and other social apps and services might be great, but they're also a massive form of distraction. Each tweet has the ability to take your mind off task and we all know that there is likely a 20 minute recovery time to re-focus fully again. At Onega, we aim to turn off our mobiles in the office (you are welcome to call us at the office on the phones here of course!) and we've blocked Facebook access for our own good for years, after I started to browse Facebook one morning and then realised 'crikey it is nearly past lunchtime already.'  I recommend that book highly and they also touch upon one of my favourite topics of eudaimonia in one section, in relation to architecture applied to provide a focused environment for deep work.

If turning your mobile off in the office can make you 26% more productive, think how much more focused and efficient you can be if you avoid Twitter, Facebook etc. With a logical extension you could easily get to 100% here and your results may soon reflect that. Likely you may be reading this and thinking 'I could turn my phone off anytime but I choose not to' and think of 100 reasons why you must, must, must keep it on... but this is also addictive behaviour. If you consider it, modern smartphones are designed (actively designed) to hold our attention and app developers work very, very hard to tune the experience to encourage you to indulge in more 'screen time' as every minute of screen time has a dollar (or pound or euro) value. It can be hard at first, but turn your phone off and the world does not fall apart; you'll likely get a lot more work done.

Other things you can do to help yourself focus are to turn off the pop up for new email notifications and just check your mail from time to time. This way you are in control of your focus rather than it being in control of you. Again, this one can be hard initially but you'll also find you soon get used to it. If there is anything urgent there is always the phone, which is generally the best way to have direct, focused attention, immediately.  You can also achieve more in a 5-minute call than 10 days of email back and forth on a subject which would take a lot more cumulative time.  You might notice that I'm not often on Skype either - this is for the same reason again. Nothing wrong at all with Skype, but If you have 10 different methods of contact then you risk simultaneously splitting yourself between IM chats on Skype, phone calls / emails / Slack Messages / Sametime / What's app / Linked in and Facebook messenger etc. and thus not focusing on any of the simultaneous conversations with the attention they deserve.

Onega Authorised to sell Microsoft Surface Computer Range.

Microsoft's Surface range consists of the SurfacePro tablet computers (the current line-up includes the SurfacePro 3 and SurfacePro 4 series) and the SurfaceBook which is a convertible laptop that can run in traditional laptop or folded screen only mode. They were originally introduced by Microsoft as much to point the way to the rest of the computing industry on design and what could be achieved, as to an actual product to sell to users. Given that Microsoft produce the Operating System for the majority of computers in the world it is not good form to be seen as competing with your clients.

In the object of taking direction, Lenovo have done so with their successful Yoga range which includes a series of convertible computers and Fujitsu (who have always been strong in tablets) have brought out new convertibles in the form of the nattily named Stylistic R726 which has been well received. However, the success of the SurfacePro range has taken even Microsoft by surprise and they sold over six million units in 2015 with 2016 likely to be double that.

Onega have been working with Microsoft products since MS-DOS 3.2 and although Microsoft is primarily known for its software, they have, for many years, made hardware which is known for being at the premium end, but reasonably priced for what it is. For example you'd always find a safe and dependable choice in a Microsoft keyboard and mouse. The SurfacePro computers are definitely at the premium end of the market and are very slick computing devices which have had very good feedback from users.

Until now, availability of the computers has been quite limited so you'd have to go to John Lewis or other big retail providers, or buy direct on the MS Surface website. Microsoft is expanding its channel to selected partners and we're happy that Onega have been accepted in the latest round as an authorised reseller. This means that we can provide clients with best pricing and support on the Surface range.

In another innovation, Onega and Microsoft are also making it easy to access the benefits of the Surface range. You can take the traditional route and buy a SurfacePro or SurfaceBook, but we can now also offer the choice of 'Surface as a Service' which allows a bundle of Surface hardware, software (if needed) and services to be made available for a monthly subscription. When the hardware and the warranty services are bundled this way there is no barrier for obtaining the very latest technology, with the peace of mind of a full warranty including accidental damage cover and a very reasonable monthly investment - you should, in any case, make sure your computers are covered under your general business policy for loss or theft.

The Surface as a Service scheme offers same day finance acceptance and we only need basic details to get approval in principle.

What do we think of the Surface and why would you consider this vs competitors? The Surface is a very slick computer which provides a lot of computing power at your fingertips and runs full MS Office and other Windows apps. If you try the touch and pen interface for handwriting or just drawing on the screen then having only a keyboard again can feel limiting on any other laptop. Potentially the Surface can save you from needing to carry around both a laptop and an iPad.

Any computer is a compromise between cost / weight / capacity / build quality / speed / expandability / badge / serviceability etc.  We often think of a laptop as being the 'sports car' of the computer world in that they are great machines but you have to make choices (unless you have an unlimited budget) to get things right for your needs. The SurfacePro ticks most boxes. The one 'gotcha' with it is that, due to the focus on ultra slim build, the spec you buy is the spec you'll finish with, in that the case is glue sealed, so you cannot upgrade memory or storage. So it is important to specify enough up front for your foreseeable needs. The comprehensive extended service warranty means that any service problems are dealt with by an advanced swap out if you have any hardware issues.

Competitors like Apple also go for the sealed device approach (seen any screws on the back of your iPad lately?) but others like Fujitsu do allow for upgrades and servicing at the slight (very marginal) expense of size and weight.

Post Brexit the British pound has been dropping in value against both the Euro and US Dollar so computers have been going up in price lately but a good computer, at whatever price, is still excellent value, especially if you get a good few years' use out of it (big hint - best money - from £10 - you'll ever spend on a computer is on the case that protects your laptop).

Onega's aim is always to find the best fit for clients and to recommend the appropriate device for your needs - so please feel free to run any requirements by us and we'll be happy to discuss.

Happy computing.