I'm On The Train...


Yet more extensive travelling and lack of Internet (I can’t rate McDonald’s free WiFi very highly based on recent experience – like going back to 2.4kbps dial-up – but now I am with, not one, but two mobile data networks (Vodafone and 3) as part of our new Mobile Test Labs stuff; so I’ll be finding out just how bad (as you can see, expectations not too high at this point) the experience is, or otherwise.

Well, actually, it is my father who is mobile-broadband enabled. Not being a UK resident, I was not allowed to sign-up for myself at the local PC World in Wakefield (or anywhere else for that matter) so my dad did the honours… So he gets the paper work through yesterday and, having read it diligently, rang me to say “Aye up lad, tha’s not going to use this when tha’s abroad are tha? Have you seen how much it costs?”

I replied that I knew the associated costs and that these dongles would indeed only see use in the UK. That said, the day rate in France (Vodafone) of £9 is actually cheaper than most French MNO’s charge in their own country anyway. To use it in Andorra would be £27 however, which is a tad steep, especially when you consider that, in same country, that much money buys lunch for four including wine, in a restaurant.

So – how has it been to date? At best, it’s been like an ok WLAN connection, at worst, essentially useless, a bit like McDonalds WLAN for that matter. And here’s a tip – anyone who fancies a browse over a pint at the excellent Ossett Tap hostelry and home of Ossett Brewery – forget mobile broadband. The signal for Vodafone, 3, and T-Mobile is as weak as a bottle of American Bud.

Tunnels very quickly become the bane of your life. Especially if you’re try to place a bet with your online bookies at the time.

Had a very interesting meeting with Ixia, one of my test equipment partners today. Turns out they have support for the iPhone as a client for their IxChariot performance software wot I use. Since the client end is a free download, let me know if you are an iPhone user and would like to take part in an ongoing experiment to test iPhone performance around the UK.

More tomorrow, including load-balancer on a stick and other delights, so do tune in…