In my article Amazon Kindle 3G-The Perfect Travel Companion, I talked about how useful I found my 3G Kindle while travelling overseas. One of the comments left on that article pointed to a blog that said that Vietnam was one of the only places that the author couldn’t get any 3G signal. This confused the heck out of me, as I had full coverage (and also full web access) from North to South for the 3 weeks I was over there. What was going on?
I went to Amazon.com to look at the 3G coverage map. Huh? No 3G coverage in Vietnam? Had I slurped back too much Pho, or had the sun addled my brain, or was it just like an episode of Dallas and it was all a dream?
Then I remembered there’s actually two versions of the 3G Kindle , a US one that is only available in the US and uses an ATT sim card and also an International model that uses a Vodafone sim card. Now, Australia being NOT being part of the US meant I had an international model. So I went to Amazon.co.uk and check the Vodaphone 3G coverage map there.
So you can see while the US (ATT) Kindle 3 offers ZERO 3G coverage in Vietnam, the International version (Voda) gives almost full 3G coverage. The same applies for Cambodia.
For interest sake I then had a look at Australian coverage. I live in Tasmania, that little island just underneath Victoria, but couldn’t get my screenshot to include in the map above, so I added separately. (We hate being left off the map of Australia :)). You can see that there’s dramatically different coverage between the International and the US Kindle 3 3G . Looking at the maps above, in reality I’d be much better off with a US Kindle 3 3G than the International model. Vodafone has notoriously bad coverage in Australia and I can tell from the ATT coverage that they’re partnering on the Telstra 3G network. It’s a bit ironic that a US Kindle would give me better coverage than an “International” version. But of course if I had a US model, I’d have NO coverage while in Vietnam.
A quick comparison of the maps shows some obvious areas where coverage is different, Morocco (I), Namibia(I), Ghana(I), Belarus(I), Malawi(I),Ecuador(U), Tanzania(U) and Bolivia(U) amongst others, and the degree of difference in coverage varies.
I’m guessing that this “anomoly” has to do with the partners that the respective Telcos have in the different countries. The long and short, if you’re intending to use your Kindle while travelling, it’s worth checking out if the US or International will give you the best coverage in the countries that you’re going to visit. Be aware though that it’s not possible to get a US Kindle 3G directly from Amazon internationally and conversely an International Kindle 3G in the US, but there are ways of doing it.