Now that the iPad WiFi+3G version is available and reviews of the device starting to fill the Internet. It appears that the iPad is not locked to the AT&T network.

The information about how to activate the AT&T 3G tariff plan on the iPad is a bit unclear. Screen shots of the Cellular Data Account screen and the process after the required information is entered are shown by iLounge, but how these information are validated and how some people are able to activate the iPad on T-Mobile data network is unknown.

Presumably activating the iPad on any cellular networks other than AT&T will not allow the self activation of tariff plans from the iPad, similar to the lack of Visual Voice Mail for iPhones on non-Apple partner carriers.

So in theory, to use the iPad WiFi+3G in Hong Kong all one has to do is to get the iPad from US, sign up for a cellular data only plan from one of the carriers, and then follow one of the many instructions online to resize the carrier SIM to the Micro SIM specifications. Good Luck! If you planning to do just that please leave your experience in the forms of comments below.


Operation ChockholdLast weekend the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs proposed a way for disgruntle iPhone users on the AT&T network in the USA to protest against the behaviour of AT&T. This also sparked the creation of a Facebook Fan page. Although I do not agree with Operation Chokehold. From what I know of the quality of service AT&T customers receive in the USA, I do agree that AT&T needs to improve their network infrastructure.

3G GSM networks requires a dense cell configuration and AT&T may not have enough cell towers to cover the vast areas that their network serves. On the other hand, playing the devil's advocate, AT&T's 3G network, like the ones in Australia, is still immature compared to other 3G networks around the world, so the US population needs to give the company time to build up the network to a more mature level.

All the user complaints about the iPhone in the US and Australia are not specific to the iPhone, but the iPhone just exposes these deficiencies in the respective networks due the ease of use of its data capable applications.

In comparison, we in Hong Kong has a very mature 3G network (over 5 years) and the GSM network has been around for almost 10 years. There are 7 mobile carriers serving a population close to 7 million in an area smaller than Manhattan, NY.

Having cellular signals in subway stations, subway trains, parking lots 6 - 7 levels below ground are expected by all HK cellular users. As I recall this is not the case in North America. Most people only expect "good" cellular signals when they can see the sky.

Having said that. I think AT&T needs to be more up front with their customers, accept the fact that their network in inferior compared to other 3G GSM networks around the world. Their network is not yet ready for the iPhone and its users. AT&T had underestimated the data demand of iPhone users.

Instead of blaming iPhone users or trying to restrict iPhone users from using AT&T's data network with increased data tariff plans, AT&T needs to acknowledge these deficiencies in their network and focus on improving the network, rather than spending unnecessary money on marketing or PR to improve their company image. As the saying goes, delivering good service to customers is the best marketing and will speak for itself. Case in point, Apple Inc.


Jarrett Rush of The Dallas Morning News posted the short post in the Opinion Blog of the newspaper web site titled, Should AT&T be allowed to be the iPhone's exclusive carrier?. This sparked 65 comments on the newspaper web site, several hours ago it made it to the front page on Digg, which collected 191 more comments; as of this writing. The last comment on Digg being mine, which I had copied here as I did not have enough time to edit my original comment.

I think AT&T or any carriers should not have an exclusive on hardware.

Yes, if we do not have exclusivity, mobile handset prices will go up, but I think the market will take care of that.

We in Hong Kong had enjoy this free market for years. Mobile phone handsets are not locked to any particular carrier. GMS became the only network platform 9 years ago, and the last of the CDMA network was phased out by with the last carrier 8 years ago.

Yes, prices are relatively higher compared to those in North America, but because of the heavy competition among the mobile handset manufactures, these prices are adjusted to survive the market conditions. In Hong Kong low end handset at less than HKD1000.00, higher end handset between HKD2500.00 - HKD4000.00, top of the line handset at HKD4000.00 and above. With the average being between HKD1000.00 - HKD2500.00

A study showed that there is an average of 3 mobile phone per person in Hong Kong, and most of the major manufactures launch their newest handsets in Hong Kong first as test market. Some times even before they launch the handset in their home country.

Mobile phones are prevalent, everyone in Hong Kong has one, from age 12 and above. The only ones you see using pay phones on the streets are tourists.

As a result of this free market we also enjoy SIM unlocked mobile phones for years. With every features of the mobile phone as designed by the manufacture available to the consumers. Most of the mobile carriers offer contracts for their tariff plans but most also have monthly pay-as-you-go packages.

There should be a freedom of choice for the consumers. Each consumer should have the choice to purchase the least expensive to the most expensive handsets. This choice should be based on the consumer's budget and desired features. None of this should be determined by the mobile carriers.

Categoriesiphone, opinion

iPhone 3G With 3.0When I the create the post, To iPhone 3G S or Not?, I was not able to enable the MMS function on my iPhone 3G. Before I explain how to enable MMS on an iPhone 3G running the iPhone 3.0 firmware, let me explain my context.

My iPhone 3G is the officially "SIM unlocked" version of the iPhone 3G directly from Apple Online Store Hong Kong. It capacity happens to be a 16GB version. I installed the iPhone 3.0 firmware "Golden Master" version onto my iPhone.

The following applies to any carrier situations, no matter whether the carrier in question is an official carrier partner with Apple in the country.

[Update: 12:10, June 18, 2009] Added MMS settings for PCCW. Please note that these settings had not been tested on the iPhone. Please leave a note in the Comment section if you're a PCCW customer and tried it on your iPhone 3G.

[Update: 13:01, June 18, 2009] Thanks to reader Jon for pointing out the typo in the MMSC for Smartone-Vodafone.

[Update: 14:01, June 18, 2009] I just received some news from Smartone-Vodafone that contradicts the information I received from them in two separate occasions, which is the fact that they do not charge their customers for receiving MMS.

The latest information is that they will charge HKD0.04/KB; a maximum of HKD12.00/MMS, to receive MMS.

This comes back to my original point I always had with MMS, the technology will not get wide adoptions and acceptances by consumers until the carriers remove these ridiculous pricing.

I for one will not use it!

I encourage all to not use it and ensure you do not pay the fees to show our disgust.

[Update: 17:11, June 18, 2009] Thanks to reader Karay who pointed to a person calling himself "markmall_hk" on, I have now updated the MMS settings for all mobile carriers in Hong Kong.

[Update: 01:10, June 20, 2009] Added settings for CTM in Macau.

[Update: 01:20, June 20, 2009] Thanks to reader Niels for the China Unicom 3G settings in mainland China.

[Update: 01:30, June 20, 2009] Thanks to reader Ju for confirming the settings for PEOPLE.

[Update: 15:10, June 20, 2009] Thanks to reader Todd for confirming the settings for CSL

[Update: 22:00, June 23, 2009] Thanks to the folks at we now have a set of instructions for our US friends who are stuck with AT&T.

[Update: 12:15, June 24, 2009] Thanks to reader Filipe for supplying the settings for CTM Macau non-prepaid SIM card customers.

[Update: 16:00, June 25, 2009] I just double checked Smartone-Vodafone's web site and it clearly states that "3G SmarTone-Vodafone customers" can receive MMS for FREE.

So I do not understand why the previous Customer Service representative claims that I have to pay the HKD0.04/KB when I clearly told her that I was on a 3G plan, plus she had my account opened in front of her.

[Update: 12:00, June 26, 2009] Added the instructions to enable to the "Cellular Data Network" option within the Network settings pane.

How to Enable MMS on iPhone 3.0

  1. Ensure you have a 3G plan with your mobile carrier. A data plan is not necessary with regards to MMS.
  2. Ensure the carrier had not blocked the MMS function from your account. In Hong Kong most carriers would not do so, unless you request them to do so.
  3. On your iPhone go to the Settings -> General -> Network -> Cellular Data Network settings and input the MMS settings specific for your carrier. The exact values for each of the fields will depends on your carrier. Do not worry if your carrier representative tells you that they do not support the iPhone. Be assertive and obtain the MMS settings: APN, Username, Password and MMSC. Most carriers would not have a Username or Password.

    If you do not see the "Cellular Data Network" option within the Settings -> General -> Network settings you can do one of the following depending on which OS you're on.

    Operating System Steps
    OS X
    1. Close iTunes.
    2. Start the Terminal (found in the /Applications/Utilities folder).
    3. Execute the command:
      defaults write carrier-testing -bool TRUE
    Windows 32-bit
    1. Close iTunes.
    2. Go to Start then Run and type CMD.
    3. Execute the command:
      “C:Program FilesiTunesiTunes.exe” /setPrefInt carrier-testing 1
    Windows 64-bit
    1. Close iTunes.
    2. Go to Start then Run and type CMD.
    3. Execute the command:
      “C:Program Files (x86)iTunesiTunes.exe” /setPrefInt carrier-testing 1

    The following are the settings. Note that the APN is case sensitive.

    Carrier Settings
    Smartone-Vodafone APN = smartone-vodafone MMSC = MMS Proxy =
    PCCW 3G APN = pccw MMSC = MMS Proxy =
    PCCW 2G APN = pccwmms MMSC = MMS Proxy =
    3 HK APN = MMSC = Username = 3 Password = 1234 MMS Proxy =
    CSL APN = hkcsl MMSC = MMS Proxy =
    New World APN = mms MMSC = MMS Proxy =
    Peoples APN = peoples.mms MMSC = MMS Proxy =
    CTM Macau APN = ctmprepaid MMSC = MMS Proxy =
    CTM Macau (non-prepaid SIM) APN = ctmmms MMSC = MMS Proxy = MMS Max Message Size = 307200
    China Unicom 3G (China) APN = uniwap MMSC = MMS Proxy =
    • The "MMS Max Message Size" settings is optional but Smartone-Vodafone has a size limit of 307200 (300KB) where they charge HKD3.00/MMS.
    • For the PCCW settings you may want to try it first without the MMS Proxy settings.
  4. After these information are entered, you will need to restart your iPhone. Hold the Power button until the slider comes up asking you to slide to the right to shutdown the iPhone. Go ahead and shutdown your iPhone and then restart it.
  5. When the iPhone had restarted, on your iPhone go to the Settings -> Messages settings and ensure MMS is turned on. You can optionally turn on "Show Subject Field" if you like.

You should see an extra Camera icon when you compose a message in the Messages (previously known as "SMS") application.

In the Photo album application you will see an extra option to share your photo via MMS.

Please feel free to leave settings for your respective carriers in the comments and I will update the table above.

Today I ready the following report from iPhone Hacks...

Some analysts have reported that the problem is with the Infineon chip that Apple has used in iPhone 3G, while there are others who believe that the issue is with the carriers such as AT&T who has a relatively young 3G network...

... They concluded that the results were completely normal...

... A difference of 4 to 6 dB could have indicated that there is a something wrong.

Read the full story.

I think the critics need to be a little bit less harsh on Apple on this whole iPhone 3G reception thing.

Yes, the reported iPhone 3G reception issue is not restricted to the USA, iPhone 3G users in Australia also have similar issues.

The thing is that both these countries do not have mature 3G cellular network cities, let alone national coverage.

Here in Hong Kong, all 5 cellular carriers: CSL, PCCW, Three, Smartone-Vodafone, People, have 3G network coverage for over 5 years.

You should see the number of cellular antennas here in the city, much smaller than most Australian and American cities.

It is expected to receive perfect cellular coverage within office buildings, malls and subway trains.

I personally have not use the iPhone 3G, because I am very happy with my "2G" iPhone (unlocked and jailbroken). I also had not heard of anyone I know who owns an iPhone 3G in Hong Kong complains about receptions either.

It is good that Apple tries to take responsibilities on the ultimate user experience of iPhone 3G owners, but the carriers (especially the less mature 3G operators) need too also.

PS: carriers in India is selling the iPhone 3G at very high prices even when compared to the rest of Asia, and they don't even have a functional 3G network.


As with everything that Apple does in the past 24+ years, everyone tries to copy what they do. We saw it with the removal of a floppy disk from a computer (1990s). Initially the critics were criticizing Apple for removing the floppy disk being a stupid idea. Then manufactures begin to imitate what Apple does. Eventually we saw the death of floppy disk and drives.

Apple added Firewire (IEEE 1394) ports (late 1990s) to all their computers and "uneducated" critics thought that it was a proprietary port that Apple force upon consumers and was a waste.

Apple promoted the use of CD-R drives on all their computers, again critics claims that that was a stupid idea as CD-R media was too expensive and say that no one will need such large amount of storage for personal use. Apple does not listen and sent out all their Developers Program media on CDs only.

Apple took the MP3 player, redesigned it and released the iPod in 2003, the same critics come along and claim that Apple is just imitating manufactures like iRiver and others who had MP3 players in the market for years. What Apple did instead was reinvented the mobile music concept with the 3-prong team of the iPod, iTunes audio jukebox and the iTunes Music Store.

Competitors try to imitate what Apple had done, by coming out with what they claim "iPod killers", which are devices that look like the iPod superficially but does not have the usability, nor do they have iTunes or the iTunes Music Store.

Others also try to over throw Apple's lead in the online music retail by launching their own online music stores to compete with Apple's iTunes Music Store, but again they do not have the iPod or the iTunes music jukebox.

In 2007 Apple released the iPhone 2G and changed the mobile phone industry. What they had done was to push the envelop of mobile phone design. They did not try to just create an extraordinary mobile phone, they also wanted to create an ultimate mobile connected information device. In doing so caused all the competitors to rethink their own mobile phone design directions.

Some critics criticizes the fact that the iPhone is not comparable to most high end smart-phones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG, HTC, etc., but what these critics keep missing is what Apple claims the iPhone 2G is capable of and that Apple is using the iPhone 2G as the first-device for the platform.

Can you remember what the iPod was like back in 2003? Could you have imagine the "3rd generation iPod nano" or the "2nd generation iPod Shuffle"? Can you image what the iPhone will be like in 5 years?

Over the years Apple had mostly been successfully in setting the expectations of their customers and audiences for Apple products and services. With the launch of the iPhone 2G on June 29, 2007, Apple released numerous amount of information; including videos, of what the iPhone is and the various things one can do on it.

Similarly, AT&T wanted to do the same expectation management with the launch of the iPhone 3G, and created the AT&T iReady program; including videos. What the iReady program and accompany videos did was to highlight the complexities of purchasing a mobile phone from a carrier and how poor a shopping experience it is.