[Gllug] Internet connection through mobile phone

general_email at technicalbloke.com general_email at technicalbloke.com
Sat Dec 12 08:31:47 UTC 2009

JLMS wrote:
> On Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 4:09 PM, felix swart <felix.swart at googlemail.com> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I have moved into a flat which is not connected to the local exchange and am
>> loathe to hand over roughly £120 to BT for the connection. Does anyone have
>> experience with mobile internet used for a home connection; no streaming or
>> downloading distro images, just general surfing.
>> Related to that: Has anyone played with the Nokia N900? Any comments on its
>> suitability as a mobile internet modem?
>> Cheers,
>> Felix
> Get a package with Virgin Media if you have coverage.
> If you do but don't wish to use Virgin Media, call back BT and tell
> them that Virgin Media are doing installation for free and that you
> will sign with Virgin Media if BT does not give you a good discount
> for the installation. They would be dumb to lose a client inste
> I used to have Virgin Media (NTL, whatever) cable connectivity and it
> was superb.
> Sorry to say, but relying on mobile internet only is something you
> wish only in your worst enemies, and even then it would be with a
> heavy heart.

Funny that's what I'd say about Virgin Media these days!!!

NTL & Telewest were great back in the day but ever since Virgin
assimilated all the London cable companies their service seems to have
gone down the toilet. Their helpdesk are often immoveable even in the
face of hard evidence of failures on their part ( I speak to them on my
customers behalf on a fairly regular basis ). Worse still is that if you
get a cable connection with them, rather than ADSL, you are locked in,
at least with a BT line you can switch broadband suppliers if you aren't
satisified. Also there's the extremely blunt and harsh bandwidth
throttling (don't go downloading ISO's in office hours or your
connection will be throttled for the rest of the day!) and the recent
announcement of the DPI traffic snooping project. They were dying to get
into bed with Phorm and are reputed to be quite open to the idea of
prioritising partners content (i.e. slowing non-partners content). Oh
and Branson's a bit of a prick.

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!) 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!

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. I would say definitely avoid BT, talktalk as they consistently
under deliver. Bethere (my current provider) consistently provide the
advertised bandwidth and don't engage in traffic shaping although I have
heard they have recently signed deals  to provide service on behalf of
other providers which might dilute their network capacity a bit. I have
found their helpdesk excellent, it seems to be staffed with eastern
block hacker types who really know their stuff, don't patronise you like
almost all the others and, most importantly, they pick up the phone
within tens of seconds - not tens of minutes. Also worthy of mention on
a customer service note are Waitrose. On a technical level they're just
resellers but their call centers (free to call) are South African and
their operators have very crisp clear English. Thick accents don't
bother me but I know it seems to bother a lot of people I talk to.

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.

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?

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