The Lost Mobility

Today, we don’t think a great deal when we pick up a mobile phone to call somebody while in the car, or a train or moving otherwise. The network, if properly designed, ensures that the connection is handed over from cell to cell as we move. With most phones, this works rather well, probably because the protocol stacks have been refined for this over many years and it is tested intensly. After all, it is the main purpose of the device.

With the rising use of mobile Internet connectivity, one would assume the same would be true for devices that have an IP connection established while being carried around. However, over the past few years, I have observed now that this is not really the case and I have to admit that I am a bit frustrated by hanging and rebooting mobiles while being connected to the net while moving. At first I thought this was due to the immaturity of the technology. However, UMTS networks are around for several years now and the situation has not really improved. Here are some examples:

My Sony-Ericsson V800: This is the first 3G mobile I bought several years ago and I never managed to get hold of a firmware that would not reboot when the mobile was used in a train as a data modem. O.k., it was one of the first usable 3G phones so I give it the benefit of doubt.

The Motorola V3xx: I use this device exclusively as a 3.5G data modem and in general it works quiet nicely. It’s quite stable even in a train or other moving vehicle but does reset at least once an hour, too when moving.

The Nokia N95-8GB: This one is a notorious ‘rebooter’. As soon as I launch OperaMini and move, even when just on foot, it reboots…

So this rebooting while connected to the packet network during cell reselections is not a one company, one device issue, it seems to be a universal phenomenon. It shows that comlexitiy has risen beyond a point where such things can be tested well enough before devices are shipped. Or is it just the companies that don’t (yet) care?

But there is a little hope: Today, I tested the Nokia N82 and OperaMini while in the car and it didn’t reboot like the N95. That’s good since this device just went into hands which are even less forgiving when things don’t work.

4 thoughts on “The Lost Mobility”

  1. With my Nokia E61 and N95 8GB i seldom see reboots. BUT:
    x Often it takes ages to initiate a connection, even if i have good signal quality or even if there is always a previous connection on hold
    x My mobile phone is often not even reachable for calls though it shows three or more “bars” for signal quality.

    Instead of rebooting i often use the trick to switch the profile to “offline” and then to “general” (allgemein in german) – most of the times i get a proper connection afterwards.

    I use the german o2 network and i travel two hours on the train a day. Is this a network or a device problem?

  2. I finally got my ‘3’ (UK) HSDPA ZTE USB modem working with my Xandros powered eeePC. However, on the Eurostar in Kent at 300kph it just won’t work. The connection light is on, but no data gets through. With so many tunnels and cell boundaries I suppose that’s just asking too much. So back to my reliable GSM buddy on the BlackBerry!

  3. Hi Christian,

    I would say both sides would say they are compliant to the standards…
    Might be worth considering another operator or other mobiles depending on
    which you prefer keeping over the other since that behavior is not normal.
    Since I roam in many networks, I’ve observe things like these regularly.
    Some networks just work better with my NSeries phones than others. It all
    depends on the network vendor and the software version…


  4. Hi Martin,

    thanks for the answer. Until i might switch to a umts iphone, i definitely prefer Nokia n- and e-series. And for me O2 germany has the perfect data plan. Still i wonder why they can not fix this.

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