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Amazon Cracks Down on Kindle Web Browsing

When the Kindle launched in late 2007 it came with an experimental web browser as well as free web browsing over the 3g connection. As nice as that was to have, all good things come to an end. There are reports over at MobileRead today that Amazon has imposed a 3g bandwidth cap on some users. MR user Chamekke was surprised earlier this week while using their Kindle 3G:

I was using the browser when it popped up a message to say that I’d hit my 50 MB monthly limit of 3G Web access on my Kindle 3G. When I clicked the 'OK' button (which was my only choice, really), I got a second message saying that I’d have 24 hours of grace to continue to use 3G for Web browsing, but that after that I could use 3G only for visiting, Wikipedia, and the Kindle Store. Otherwise I will be obligated to use Wi-Fi.

From what I can tell, this new bandwidth cap was imposed at the start of July.

Now, as you probably know, the Kindle Touch lunched last fall with browsing over the 3g completely blocked, both in the US and without. This has led some to continue to buy the K3, which until recently didn’t have any restrictions imposed on the 3g connection (aside from when it simply wasn’t available). This was one of the K3’s nicer features (especially once we learned that the Kindle Touch lacked it), and it led to the Kindle being regarded as a precursor to you-know-what:

But it is only fair that I point out that Amazon has had this policy in place for some time now, even though I’ve never heard of it being enforced before. Here’s the relevant section of the K3 support pages:

The Experimental Web Browser is currently only available for some customers outside of the United States and may be limited to 50MB of browsing over 3G per month. This limit does not apply when customers are browsing over Wi-Fi.

Some are saying that this rule is being enforced because of the instruction on how to hack your Kindle and get free 3g data connection for your laptop. They were posted back in February, and I’m not sure they had anything to do with this.

That free web browsing was an expense that Amazon took on so they could get more people interested in the Kindle. It was a promotional item which cost Amazon money everyday. It was a constant drain on their purse and like all freebies it had to go away at some point. That’s simply how things work.

image by Try Stan

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Timothy Wilhoit July 24, 2012 um 10:14 am

As far as I know, 3G usage within the US has not been restricted (yet). I’m sure that’s coming.

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ipopic July 24, 2012 um 12:39 pm

I haven’t received a warning yet but I only use 3G relatively rarely. However, when I use it Usually just to check my e-mail or train schedule but it has proven to be invaluable when abroad.

Connie Brentford July 24, 2012 um 2:56 pm

I’ve not used the browser much as it’s clunky and I usually have better choices available to me for surfing but I’m outside the US right now so I’ll see if I run up against the limit. Thanks for the heads up!

Name (required) July 24, 2012 um 3:26 pm

Perhaps you should emphasize that this is for users outside USA.

cookie July 24, 2012 um 3:48 pm

You mean the restriction does not apply to people outside the U.S., which is a small percentage of the ownership base.

Nate Hoffelder July 24, 2012 um 4:36 pm

I thought the second clipped text was enough to show that.

darwin July 24, 2012 um 3:29 pm

Not very smart right when Google comes out with a Kindle Fire killer in the Nexus 7.

The Commons July 24, 2012 um 5:04 pm

The Nexus 7–or the Fire, for that matter–are irrelevant, since neither have 3G built-in.

The Commons July 24, 2012 um 5:37 pm

Per xkcd’s license (, you should probably at least link that comic to the page if you’re not going to credit it directly.

Nate Hoffelder July 24, 2012 um 5:40 pm

Didn’t I link it it? Damn. Will fix it in a second.

The Commons July 25, 2012 um 3:19 am


Mike Schryver July 24, 2012 um 11:57 pm

I’ve owned a couple of Kindles with 3G, and I don’t think anyone who uses the browser is going to get to 50MB in a month. It would be excrucating.
This must be targeted at tetherers.

Nate Hoffelder July 25, 2012 um 12:13 am

If you downloaded a lot of free ebooks you could easily hit the 50MB limit.

Vikarti Anatra July 25, 2012 um 7:42 am

Err, I thought you _pay_ 0.15US$/Mb for books via Kindle Personal Documents. or you mean downloading free books via browser?

Nate Hoffelder July 25, 2012 um 7:46 am

I’m talking about downloading free ebooks via the browser, yes.

aam September 7, 2012 um 10:19 pm

yes but the 50 mb limit does not apply to the kindle store, why would they stop you from buying books? thats commiting suicide

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deborah rowland November 2, 2014 um 8:20 pm

as a kindl 3 user i agree the free web browsing was promo for intrest in kindle.It was a gift and my first experience with the web and digital media.Ive LOVED my kindle dearly but the honeymoon is over.I had wanted to get another kindle but now…..Amazons little stunt has cooled my arder.I resent manipulation

Heather C December 20, 2014 um 10:45 pm

I haven’t had any notice like that, but I’m getting a "Can’t establish a secure connection" for the main site I’m on the kindle’s browser with, and 400 – bad request for another site I haven’t tried to go to before. Google, however, works fine.

(Kindle support says it’s probably a bad security certificate for the first, and the admin for the other site can’t figure out what’s up)

One problem with the article- Kindle Touch has a 3G variety. Not that they would send it out as a replacement for a bad 3G kindle with keyboard. Nor would they do anything to fix it without charging even more for another "Upgrade".

Amazon, you’re trying my patience.

AndySuth April 11, 2016 um 1:07 am

Sorry for reviving an old thread, but I was forced to do an update before mod March 2016 on all my Kindle (that sounds worse than it is, my daughter’s Kindle and wife’s Kindle are on my Amazon account).
Now in the middle of rural China and unable to access Wikipedia even. This is using my favourite Kindle2 international.
Previously I’d used Wikipedia in China, and my phone with a 4g I’m can access most sites (no Google sites though!). So I can access Wikipedia via my Chinese sim card.

Has Amazon blocked all 3G content except store and item download or is this a new Chinese policy?

Frank April 11, 2016 um 11:53 am

Amazon blocks everything except the Kindle Store and Wikipedia on 3G. You can access Wikipedia by looking up a word in an ebook.

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