[Gllug] Internet connection through mobile phone

Jason Clifford jason at ukfsn.org
Sat Dec 12 08:57:58 UTC 2009

On Sat, 2009-12-12 at 08:31 +0000, general_email at technicalbloke.com
> OP, as I mentioned in an earlier post I don't think mobile broadband is
> all that bad if your needs are modest (I don't think LUG members
> generally have modest demands of their technology!) 

members have referred to serious problems with connections dropping, the
speed being practically non-existent and other problems on mobile
services. I've experienced all of these. These problems are not to do
with excessive demands but rather the simple fact that mobile broadband
services are just not fit for any kind of regular use - even just basic
web browsing.

> and it's certainly
> cheap to try so I'd encourage you to give it a go. £120 + £15 /month
> line rental = £300 for your first year of landline ownership and that's
> before your broadband bill!

Yes activation can be expensive but £15/month line rental is a fantasy.
The usual price is less than £12/month. A decent broadband service on
top of that will cost more. How much more will depend upon how good a
service you want.

> If you do go with fixed line broadband it's hard to recommend anyone as
> being very good, I see frequent problems with pretty much every
> provider.

More often than not the problems are specific to customer's having
unrealistic expectations (do read the "up to" as meaning just that!) or
to customer wiring or equipment but it's certainly true that problems
can occur. When problems do occur with a fixed line broadband service
it's a lot easier to determine where the problem is than on a mobile

> It's hard to find any objective data on the reliability of various
> broadband providers but I suspect they are all fairly equally flaky,
> they certainly seem to be. This would make sense as the vast majority of
> the electronics and cables involved in anyone's ADSL connection are
> BT/Openzones, not the broadband companies.

And the vast majority of people simply don't have problems with the
service. If they did ISPs would not be able to operate as the margins
are so low.

> With more objective data gathering in mind I recently wrote a basic
> reliability monitor in Python. I occasionally get a client who seems /
> claims to be experiencing above average dropouts so I figured this would
> be a good way to test. It periodically pings various public servers and
> logs the results. Turns out my connection isn't quite as rock solid as I
> had thought it was! Anyone fancy trying it out on their connection /
> helping me develop it?

You're not doing a reliable test. Ping to remote sites cannot be relied
upon to provide an accurate indication of how good or bad your
connection is as ICMP is often blocked or marked for low priority in the
event of any congestion anywhere on the network and you cannot know if
that is being done or where it is being done when measuring connection
to a remote site.

To test a broadband connection you need to be using LCP to test between
the end point and the ISP network. That's the only way to measure the
broadband connection. To my knowledge only A&A do this routinely and
it's something that only the ISP is in a good position to do. It's also
a waste of resources in almost every case.

Jason Clifford

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