The Internet On The Go Is No Longer Slower Than At Home

Some reflection on my use of wireless Internet access over the last couple of years: Since I started using the Internet over wireless networks on the go back in 1998 it was always slower than at home. Back in 1998 I still used dial up, but my 64 kbit/s ISDN line at home was several times faster than the 14.4 kbit/s circuit switched dial up connection over the GSM network. Until recently the difference has pretty much remained the same just the speeds have changed.

For every step wireless made, be it GPRS, EDGE or UMTS, fixed line technologies had already made a similar step two or three years before. In most cases it was o.k. to live with the slower speed while not at home traveling the world but I always wished it would be as fast at home. Well, with HSDPA now deployed pretty much everywhere I go these days, access to the Internet on the go is now just as fast or even faster than my DSL line at home. I still catch myself thinking, "no can’t download this, have to wait until I am back home" just to smile at myself afterwards because it makes no difference anymore.

It’s not that DSL hasn’t made progress and is available in flavors of 16-20 MBit/s already in many places, but except for downloading very large files or for IPTV I have very little use for 20 MBit/s right now. I don’t have a doubt, however, that this void will be filled in the next couple of years. Of course by this time both wireless and wireline Internet access technologies will have progressed to even higher data rates.

3 thoughts on “The Internet On The Go Is No Longer Slower Than At Home”

  1. Rather optimistic of you. HSDPA networks are crap compared to xDSL. It’s like trying to burn ice to get any real work done on a HSDPA network. Wireless latencies, variable speed and packet loss sucks.

  2. Dear Zed,

    obviously you don’t have a lot of experience with HSDPA networks. Latency with HSDPA is 100ms, good enough for voice telephony over IP, speed in well designed networks (which exist in practice!) is excellent and consistently over 2 MBit/s and packet loss isn’t any bigger than in a fixed line network.

    I use HSDPA various networks day in and day out and have great performance.


  3. i would like to have internet access for the laptop while i am in the car any location in the nation. any suggestion?

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