Mobile Surfing with Firefox

With the right SIM card and a good wireless data tariff such as the prepaid offer of the Italian operator WIND, the mobile traveler can surf the net these days anytime and anywhere. Costs are moderate and a GPRS/EDGE or UMTS networks can be found almost everywhere. While the web surfing experience with UMTS is close to that of DSL, EDGE and especially GPRS can not quite compete with a high speed fixed Internet access. For such slower connections, a number of manual Firefox browser settings can make a big difference.

A very effective method to speed-up the web browser is ‘Pipelining’. If enabled, several embedded elements of a web page, such as pictures, are requested at once after opening a TCP stream instead of being requested one after another. This decreases download times when using GPRS or EDGE, as fewer TCP connections are required to download a web page. Fewer TCP connections reduce the effect of longer round trip delay times of GPRS and EDGE compared to fixed line Internet connections. More detailed background
information can be found here:

Activation of Pipelining in Firefox:

  • By entering ‘about:config’ in the URL line, the browser presents  a list of all configuration parameters.
  • Basic pipelining is activated by double-clicking on the „network.http.pipelining“ parameter and setting the value to TRUE.
  • I achieved the best pipelining effect by setting the value of the „network.http.pipelining.maxrequests“ parameter 8 again by double clicking on the parameter name.
  • The browser should then be restarted to make sure the changes take effect.
  • Additional information on the process can be found here:

The Result:

A test with an extensive web page and previously deleted browser cache at first shows no difference in the time it takes to show the first part of web page. A big difference can be observed, however, in the time it takes to load the complete page. Instead of 60 seconds for loading the complete web page, the modified browser settings decreased the required time to 40 seconds!