Bird news on your mobile phone
20 April 2006 (updated 26 April 2006) | Marek Walford
It is possible to get Berkshire bird news on your mobile phone as text messages or by browsing the mobile site. Both of these methods have advantages and disadvantages. I believe that getting bird news sent to your phone as an email is going to become an increasingly popular means of getting news whilst in the field. This brief article explains a couple of ways of getting Berksbirds emails on your mobile phone.
Many mobile phones have a built-in email program to send and retrieve email. This can be used to get bird news in the field. However, not all phones have an automatic retrieval facility, and for those that do there is one significant problem - bandwidth charges. Every email you download on your phone uses a certain amount of bandwidth to connect to the email server and to download the emails. On my Nokia 6680 a "retrieval" uses c.1.5kb plus the bandwidth of the email itself. If you want to automatically retrieve email every 15 minutes you will use 144kb of bandwidth per day. In addition every email you download will use more bandwidth. The Berksbirds website generates an average of 8 emails a day so if each email is c.4kb then that is an additional 32kb per day. Therefore the average total bandwidth usage per day is 176kb which equates to c.5,456kb per month. My carrier, Vodafone, charges £2.35 per megabyte so getting bird news in this way will cost me £14.10 per month.
The alternative is to get a "push email" service that automatically sends emails to your phone and uses compression routines to keep your data usage to a minimum. The most well known push email service is Blackberry. However, this requires a Blackberry device and the monthly cost (with Vodafone) is £15.
For the last month I've been trialling Seven's Always-On Mail Internet Edition on my Nokia 6680. I've been using c.23kb per day which is five times less than using the phones built-in email program. This equates to less than 1 megabyte per month and therefore £2.35 in bandwidth charges. Bandwidth charges will differ depending on your mobile carrier. There is an annual fee for the Seven service of $49.99 (c.£28) so the total cost is £4.65 per month.
The Seven service could also be used with Birdguide's Email Alert service (£25 per year) to get national bird news on your mobile phone. My experience is that the Seven service uses c.15kb per day + c.1kb per email. Therefore, if you have a tariff that gives you five megabytes of bandwidth per month you will be able to receive c.4353 emails!