Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

More thoughts about 3 Mobile Broadband

After promising I wouldn’t blog too much about the 3 Mobile Broadband dongle that I’m trying out for 3 Mobile Buzz, I then managed to not blog about at all for a couple of weeks, which was clever… Anyhow, here’s another blog post, and, as you’d expect, the dongle is what is helping me post this entry.
Right now I’m on my lunch break in a place that normally has free Wifi. Unfortunately the Wifi isn’t working (DHCP seems to be failing so I get a self-assigned IP address), so it’s a chance to try out the dongle. Here, the signal quality is good enough to get HSDPA, which means I get speeds equivalent to lower-end DSL or cable-based broadband packages. In theory at least.
Wireless broadband does have more issues with latency than fixed-line broadband, and this is noticeable when browsing web pages as it takes longer for images, CSS files and JavaScript files to download. Simple pages load quickly, but complex ones will take some extra time. This does make it appear slower than the Wifi connection that I’m used to here, even though I should have a higher top speed (if memory serves correctly the Wifi is capped at 512 Kbps, whereas HSDPA starts at nearer 2 Mbps).
Although this is a free trial, if I was to buy one of these then I would definitely go for a package with at least 1 GB of included data transfer. Running my computer normally while connected racked up 6 MB of downloads after doing very little. Now this is probably down to things like Firefox updating its phishing and malware site lists, Plaxo synchronising my address books, iScrobbler sending data to etc. If I had been paying 10p per megabyte, which is what many packages were offering recently, I’d have racked up 60p already through background tasks alone. This is one of the main differences between a dongle you plug into your own computer and the internet experience you get on your PDA or mobile phone.
I’m also starting to get a feel for the battery requirements that the dongle puts on over and above normal battery drain. My battery only has about 50% of its capacity remaining, which usually gives me just under 2 hours on a full charge. With the dongle in, I can probably lose half an hour and get about 1 hour 25 minutes. So it does have a noticeable impact on battery life, but it doesn’t totally drain it. Still, older batteries may suffer a bit.

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