3G Network Stability: 8h of Continuous Voice, IM and Remote Desktop

This week, I've ventured far beyond my 'normal' 3G use by giving remote support to someone being connected with a notebook over a 3G link for over 8h at a time. During that time, we had a Skype voice session established with excellent audio quality, used Instant Messaging and e-mail to send and receive documents and I had a remote desktop session open to see what is going on and to directly lend a hand when necessary. All sessions were open simultaneously and there was not a single glitch with a single application or the 3G connection.

That's what I call network stability! During that time, around 300 Mbyte of data were exchanged. It's impressive to see that both networks and devices have matured to such a level. On the network side, Mobilkom Austria (A1) has to be congratulated for the stability and performance of their HSPA network and for offering Internet access with prepaid SIMs. On the terminal side, the Huawei E220 modem did it's part. Congratulations to all companies involved, it was a truely great experience!

4 thoughts on “3G Network Stability: 8h of Continuous Voice, IM and Remote Desktop”

  1. Hi Martin,

    I have been following your blog for a couple of months now, and I find your posts very interesting.

    I did a little research, and I found that the Huawei E220 uses a Qualcomm chipset. Now it would be interesting to know who is the Network provider. Probably Ericsson.

    I would like to do a similar test here in Germany using my SE K800i as modem (unfortunately no HSDPA supported) and my prepaid Fonic simcard (O2).



  2. Hi Martin,
    We run several sites with always-connected UMTS/HSDPA service using Ericsson W25. Our telco (Telstra, Australia) has an APN that facilitates authentication and routing directly to our WAN. We push 3-7GB through each site monthly. At most sites, the connection is only dropped during “reparenting” (which takes 5 minutes, occurs at night, and we have advance notice).


  3. Yes Martin, that is indeed good news. Wireless networks used to be unreliable even when used from a fixed location. But is it OK for us to be happy when a mobile data technology gets a good mark when used in a fixed environment?
    I think that if one of you was moving, this post would have expressed frustration. There are many reasons while mobile data is still not mobile: RF propagation, SGSN/GGSN and handover problems. We, the users, don’t care why it’s not working, we just want 3G (this includes all HSPA flavours) to deliver on its promisse.
    How about you ask your readers to do the following test:
    Pick an Internet radio station on your smart phone, which transmits with very low bitrate, some of them transmit at 24kbps. Play it in the car while driving around. Make sure that the driver covers distances long enough for the network to execute handovers from one SGSN to another (there is no way of knowing without the operator’s cooperation). I’m curious if we’ll find a network which plays the radio station uninterrupted more than 15 minutes. A traffic jam where the car is not moving or driving in a circle around the block doesn’t count.

  4. I think streaming radio would not be the best way to test if the transmission is interrupted or not. The buffers used by the media players wont let you know if the TX was interrupted or not (just if it was interrupted for long time).

    Things are changing very fast in this area. Now a days there are networks that would surprise you how stables they are. Remember that not just because a phone/modem is HSPA capable, it means it would be stable. Try to run an FTP transmission of a 100mb file using different devices in the same or similar conditions (mobility, fading environment, etc.) and you will see how different are the results. Good and bad behavior depends more on the Phone-Network relation.
    The mobile companies (service providers) run exhaustive compatibility test on the equipment they are supplying, and mobility are now included in the MUST-PASS list.



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