Sunday, 31 October 2010

Problems connecting your Kindle 3 to the 3G Network in South Africa?

Update: 9th November 2013 - the all new Kindle Paperwhite has been released for international shipment - check out this post for more: 

However if you are just trying to fix you Kindle 3 - read on:

So after 5 days of having my new Kindle 3 3G/WiFi e-reader I started to wonder why it would never connect to a 3G network when I wasn’t connected to a WiFi network.  It would connect EDGE even when in a clearly de-marked 3G coverage area and even when my iPhone showed that there was a 3G network available.
Dread suddenly filled me as I thought that maybe my Kindle, which after only 5 days already I had become inseparable from, could be faulty and after reading the warranty I realised that this could mean sending it back to Amazon for them to assess this before sending me another.  That was not an option and with my technical head screwed on I got to work on Goggle looking for an answer.

There were few recorded instances on the internet of people whose Kindle exhibited the same problem and all of those were in obscure places like Switzerland, the back end of the bush in Australia and one in Canada to name but a few and all were fixed with slightly different solutions.  I was hoping that I might something more specific to my own country: South Africa, especially as the problem was related to the connection of the 3G which would include a local network and service provider.

After trawling some blogs and forums I started to understand that the problem could be self-‘troubleshooted’ by digging into the GSM settings.  Now when you get your Kindle you will note that access to this and other types of ‘techie’ or administration options are not visible to the user so I started to wonder how one was supposed to access these.

Finally I started upon the concept of the “311” menu.  The 311 menu gives you access to the 3G settings and allows you access to decide which network to connect to. But all the blogs seemed to present a way of navigating to this menu that wasn’t possible on my Kindle 3 (latest generation).
So this blog entry is to tell you, if you are having problems getting your Kindle 3 to connect to a 3G network, how to get into the 311 admin screens to self select.

Make sure your Kindle 3 has a good charge – you don’t want it to power off half-way through.

  • Turn on your Kindle 3
  • Press ‘Home’
  • Press ‘Menu’
  • Scroll Down to ‘Settings’ and click the 5-Way selector
At this point we are now going to press 311 to get access to the menu.  If like me you can’t get the text/numeric entry field to appear to get access to the numbers, then you must do the following exactly:
  • Press ALT+E
  • Press ALT+Q
  • Press ALT+Q

[The QWERTY Keyboard represents 1-9 on the top line]

A dialog box, see below, will appear telling you that you are about to ‘Switch Wireless Providers’ and that you may lose connection through the process. 

  • Click OK.
It will then scan for the available networks in your area.   
Now bear in mind if there is no 3G network in your area it won’t show one!   

This takes a minute or two, don’t panic and don’t turn the device off.
The ‘Automatically Switch’ option did not work for me – clearly, as this was what it was set to.

You will see a list of 3G and 2G (GPRS/EDGE) networks listed, Cell C, MTN and Vodacom are the ones I see.  The shot below was not exactly what I saw, but you will see something like this:


 Choose a 3G network that you want, I chose Vodacom 3G as I think they have the best coverage. Once selected, navigate down to ‘Close’ and then Press Menu and Select Restart.

The Restart will take about 2 minutes, when it comes back up you should be connected to a 3G network.  If not try the process again and select another.

Bear in mind that if you now go abroad, you will need to change this to Automatic again for it to roam.

Postscript 7th Feb 2011 Since posting this, I accepted that I wasnt going to get 3G at home or anywhere, I always got Edge however. Then my Kindle died on me !! So I called Amazon and they diligently sent me a new one free of charge - as long as I sent the dead one in return. The new one got a 3G link the day I turned it on. So my latest advice is if your kindle cannot get 3G anywhere chances are its faulty. Call amazon and ask them to replace it.

Postscript 5th Dec 2011 - Thanks for all the comments and feedback below - if I helped please let me know, if you have a question, please ask, but please either login or leave me email details, otherwise I cannot respond.  Hopefully I have solved many frustrating hours !!  

Postscript 9th January 2012 - If you are reading this in Australia - this should also work on your local 3G networks - some people who have left comments have confirmed this.

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