[Gllug] Internet connection through mobile phone

Jason Clifford jason at ukfsn.org
Sat Dec 12 10:58:16 UTC 2009

On Sat, 2009-12-12 at 10:22 +0000, general_email at technicalbloke.com
> Well that's not my experience, other than low speed in some parts of my
> house it seems fine. 

yet it is my experience as I clearly stated and at least one other
person has posted the same experience to the list.

Even when it does work mobile broadband is no better a replacement for
fixed line broadband in many cases than dialup access is.

> Your 'simple fact' is a just a fairly blunt conjecture
> and I refer you to your argument below: "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.". Which is it?

I run an ISP. I have daily contact with others who also do the same. I
know for a fact that the ratio of customer faults to connections is very
low on fixed line broadband services and I know the margins we operate
to. My comment was clear in that it referred to fixed line services.
There was no conflict between the 2 statements I made.

> It's not a fantasy if you don't pay by direct debit and don't cancel
> paper bills. Not only that but it will be going up an extra 50p/month
> next year to subsidise rural connections. It makes little difference
> anyway, being more precise and using your figure gives £122.50 + 12*12 =
> £266.50 a year i.e. still an awful lot more expensive than 3G for
> moderate use and that's not including the cost of a broadband package!

Define "moderate use" please as without doing so your statement is
meaningless. I'd say that for most people mobile services are only
suitable for very light use. 

> BTW, price and quality aren't directly correlated at all. The service I
> have now, the uncapped "Be Value" is only £13.50 a month and is by far
> the best broadband experience I've had in London. The BT connection I
> had to endure before cost twice as much and was utterly shit.

Comparing Be's LLU based service to BT service will always favour Be as
they run a good network while BT are generally crap at every service
they supply.

Be's service is very good. We offer a variant of it for some of our
business customers as well as C&W LLU based service. 

> That may be true but ease of fault finding is hardly worth over £250 for
> most domestic users.

If that were the only benefit you might be right but it isn't and I
suspect you know full well it isn't.

> I have to say I consider this use of "up to" in marketing thoroughly
>  dishonest anyway, I have come across providers advertising upto 
> 20Mb that can't consistently deliver one. I'd like to see them forced
> to advertise their average speed as monitored by an
> independent 3rd party, that would quickly bust the myth that paying
> extra for BT gets you fast reliable service.

Another fantasy. We're able to offer services that are not "up to" on
fixed line broadband services. They are 512k, 1Mb and 2Mb fixed rate
services. Most customers don't want them as "up to" delivers better

The reason it's marketed as "up to" is because that's the honest truth.
Those who want ISPs to market rate adaptive services on some other basis
are simply ignoring the fact that speeds are dependant upon factors
beyond the ISP's ability to control or accurately measure before any
service exists on the line (and even when it does). ISPs are no more
able to change the laws of physics to facilitate such a fantasy than
anyone else can.

Average speed is another fantasy. It's meaningless as it often has
nothing to do with the broadband service itself. Any speed measurement
that moves beyond the connection from the customer to the ISP is
corrupted by including measurements of external networks beyond the
control of the ISP.

> Did I say that they did!? I'm a repair man so I see a lot of setups that
> are struggling, not so many that are working fine. 

So? That just means your experience is limited to poor instances by
definition. It means your perspective is skewed accordingly.

> What I am saying is
> that these problems seem to be fairly evenly spread across service
> providers. I have come across problems on everybody's networks and no
> one provider stands out as being particularly reliable or unreliable.

Because by definition you only ever see the services when there are

> This is one of the reasons I object to BT's repeated use of the words
> "Fast and Reliable" in their advertising, I have experienced a boatload
> of slow flaky BT connections and yes, I have tried swapping out the
> routers and connecting them directly to the master sockets. Even
> factoring in their ubiquity BT provide a pretty dismal service IMHO and
> they have some remarkable chutzpah to market it as "Fast and Reliable"

That's an issue with BT rather than with fixed line broadband service.
BT are one of the poorest quality suppliers in the market. I'd be
inclined to agree with anyone arguing that BT's advertising is dishonest
on the basis that their network management ensures that customers wont
get any real benefit from the higher speeds available from ADSL 2+

> > 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.

> Actually, although it's still very early days, it seems good enough to
> indicate bad service. I have profiled the worlds top 25000 websites for
> over a week and weeded out any that do not respond very promptly to

That doesn't address route management on ISP networks and intervening
networks. It doesn't address the fact that network management policies
are entirely beyond your control and you wont ever know when or how they

> > 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.
> Balls. Just last week it identified I was getting periodic spotty DNS
> service, I contacted my ISP and they identified out of date DNS settings
> on my router (supposedly managed and updated by them). 

A DNS fail is not a broadband service fail. It's a fail at a protocol
operating at a higher level.

> They corrected these by hand and I have had considerably better service 
> ever since. I see no reason why, given a known good computer and router 
> the above method could not generate quite useful results in most 
> domestic/SoHo environments.

Yes it probably could to some degree assuming that all those variables
beyond your ability to measure accurately or control remain fairly
static. My point is that there are immensely better ways to measure the
quality of an internet connection.

> >  It's also a waste of resources in almost every case

> <3MB memory use, unmeasurable processor use and with 350 bytes * every 5
> seconds = 4.3Mb per day, spread across > 20,000 servers its hardly going
> to cause the internet to grind to a halt is it?

No, your math's wrong. That's 5.7678 MB per day. It's over 175MB per
month. A customer with a light usage broadband package may well find
that his is 17.5% of their monthly usage allowance. That's a waste of

The issue isn't whether it's going to cause problems for "the internet"
or uses computing resources but rather it consumes the far more scarce
and costly resource, which is bandwidth, and thus causes problems for
the specific people whose connections you run this on.

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