Just a 4G quickie. Catching a busy commuter time train back nowf and couldn’t even get a sniff of a connection on the on board wifi. Almost certainly a good thing – if it can’t hook up using DHCP then there are so many people trying to access it that the performance will be so bad as to effectively be unusable.
Sat on the train and can’t get anything done. Some bloke behind me talking very loudly on his phone. Keeps ringing up to try to invite “CEO”s to a dinner in a month or so. He is a former CEO apparently. None of the people he is trying to reach are in and he only gets their PAs. Very distracting. I could move seats I suppose but the train is fairly full and I can’t be bothered.
Also the internet connectivity on this train is totally rubbish. The WiFi is like sludge and the cellular connection no better.
Usually I like to use train time to get stuff done. Rant over.
On the plus side it is a beautiful spring day and Mervyn King has told us all not to worry and that everything is going to be ok with the economy. He has nothing to lose of course but I am inclined to believe him.
I spoke with a customer this morning who said that things had started to move forward at their end. I think he is right. Having been to ISPA and ITSPA council meetings recently I note that membership is on the up and businesses in the new industries are growing. You do wonder how much of the recent recession is down to the negative hype of the media.
Anyway I’m not going to solve it all. I’m just going to wait until I get a signal and upload this post.
The only sensible way to travel to central London is by train. Whilst it isn’t cheap it is fast and has the benefit of allowing you to usefully use the time doing work and of course tweeting and writing blog posts.
I was tweeting away during one such trip and one of my pals, @HmmmUK, suggested I write a post on the connectivity on board the train. This is that post (said in a dramatic booming sort of voice).
Finding out all about the service was easy. Icomera, the company that provides it, proudly boasts about it on their website. I had thought it was satellite based but surprisingly it is based on a combination of satellite and 3G.
The connectivity is based on the good old “Moovbox M800” which you may not have known “provides a central network connection for all the real-time communication needs of urban and suburban rail systems…
…combining up to eight cellular WAN radios with an aggregated downlink speed up to 28Mbps (in our dreams). The Moovbox will automatically change between network types including HSPA, 3G UMTS, EDGE and GPRS to deliver the best connection possible depending on network availability. The M800 can also be configured with a DVB-S satellite module for connectivity in areas where terrestrial networks and unavailable. Each cellular radio supports two SIMs allowing it to switch between different cellular providers and thus the best available network. Where a track-side or depot Wi-Fi network is present the Moovbox will use this as a preferred backhaul alternative at speeds up to 54Mbps.”
Icomera is a Swedish company which explains why I’ve occasionally had Swedish language adverts pushed to me when using the service. The ground station is in Sweden with a Swedish IP address.
To make this post a little more interesting I decided to test the on board WiFi against the O2 sim in my phone. I did this on a 2 hour 20 minute journey between Lincoln and London Kings Cross (the train was late – it shouldn’t take more than 2 hours 5 mins 🙂 ). After Newark I did continuous testing using speedtest.net on both laptop WiFi and phone sim.
Although I tried to start each test at the same time in reality one normally took longer than the other so the finishing times do not coincide. I managed 88 cellular tests but only 55 using the WiFi which suggests that the WiFi tests took longer to perform.
This is borne out from the average results which were better for O2 than for the WiFi.
|Average Download Speed bps
|Average Upload Speed bps
|Average Latencys ms
|O2 mobile data
|On train WiFi
The recording process was not perfect. We have to remember that I was hurtling through the English autumnal countryside at 125mph for much of the time (must have been less than that seeing the train was late) and there were times when the speed test stalled due to no connectivity and continued when it picked up a signal once again.
It felt like it did this more often for the O2 sim which you could understand losing connectivity in parts of the countryside whereas the satellite should have had a continuous connection. That said the fact that I was able to perform more speed tests with the former is telling. Of course it may have been down to more people on the train using the WiFi than their cellular connection but I can only report my own experiences. The numbers speak for themselves.
|Fastest Download (bps)
|Fastest Upload (bps)
Although I do use the on train WiFi I have on occasion resorted to the cellular connection in my laptop (O2 in phone, Vodafone in laptop) and whilst this test used O2 not Voda I suspect what it is telling me is that it makes more sense not to bother with the onboard WiFi and just stick to the mobile networks.
It also makes me wonder what sort of cellular connectivity they have on the Moovbox M800. I guess must have a lot of people hooked to it on that train!? They must use some sims because the latency seems low for a satellite only connection. In fact thinking about it I wonder if they used a satellite at all on my trip?
Icomera looks like it has established a nice little niche in transport based connectivity but I suspect that passenger expectations in the UK have overtaken what Eastcoast is providing.
That’s all for now – click on the header image for a full size graphical representation of the test results. You will see that there are many more “good” results for the cellular connection than the WiFi. Also it’s no surprise that the best cellular readings come when the train is in or near a station.
Drove four 18 year old girls to Derby yesterday morning. They, along with three other pals were catching the train to Newquay for
a week on the lash a week of post A Levels recuperation. They deserve it.
We had originally booked them on a low cost flight from East Midlands but the operator cancelled it and a hasty change to rail was needed. The best route was Lincoln – Kings Cross – Paddington – Newquay. £65 all told in second class. I did suggest they treated themselves to first as it was still cheaper than the costs of the flights but that didn’t get universal approval.
What’s more amid the pre-Olympics hype about London transport congestion the party grew nervous about going anywhere near the capital and opted for the Derby route which was £20 more expensive but perhaps a safer bet. They had a date with a cocktail in Newquay they didn’t want to miss.
With hindsight there have been no transport problems in London, due mainly to the hype that has scared anyone not going to the Olympics away from the place. So the girls could have gone in more comfort for less money!
As a footnote, I have a big jeep. The girls had a lot of luggage. It all fitted, just, into my car. I think the parents might collectively have to review the return travel arrangements as the person lined up to pick them up next Monday night was doing so in an Alpha Romeo!
Also it’s a good job they didn’t fly. The excess baggage charges would have paid for a limo to take them all down in luxury. They even took a laptop with them!
The suits are sweating buckets and wishing it was acceptable to turn up for work in shorts. The ladies are looking lovely in the summer sun.
Most people are complaining about the heat. Those that aren’t are taking the mickey out of friends just packing for their annual holiday in Marbella or Benidorm or Lanzarote or Torremolinos – you know – places less warm than London.
School’s out. Urchins run wild in the radiatingly hot city streets, shrieking under plumes of water escaping from broken fire hydrants. Their parents, sapped of care, languish in the little shade afforded by the concrete tenements they call home. There is no breeze. There is no letup from the infernal heat.
In fact neither is there any air conditioning on this train – the 18.30 Eastcoast from Kings Cross to Edinburgh stopping briefly to let me off at Newark to get my connection to Lincoln. I’m on my second can of diet Coke and second bottle of sparkling water with ice!
This must be what it is like on the Chennai to Bangalore Express (dep 13.00 arr 14.45 daily). At least those in steerage can catch a little breeze sat on top of the carriage
Yes please love – another bottle of mineral water with plenty of ice. Thanks…
PS I realise there are no fire hydrants in London. These are images more typical of New York in summer. Also the choice of Indian train service was purely random. However they both made the cut for artistic effect. Final answer.
Today I’m headed for LINX77 in Laandan. if you’ve never been you need to go, assuming you are in the networks game. It’s a great opportunity to meet people – network actually.
To get to Laandan I have to catch a train. Driving into Central Laandan isn’t practical. This morning I worked from home first thing and caught the 11.35 from Lincoln Central, due to connect with the 12.16 from Newark.
I had plenty of time when I got to Newark. A train pulled in. Apparently it was the 9.06, running a smidgeon late. Uhoh! I don’t know whether I’ve ever told you but me dear old mam is from Mohil, County Leitrim and one thing she has passed on to me, apart from a love of (warm) Guinness is a bit of the “luck o’ the Irish”.
Click on the header to reveal more. A train pulled in (very late)
On my way to a series of meetings in London and sat on a train. This train ain’t going anywhere. There has been a fatality on the track at Biggleswade. Not good, especially for the deceased. Delays of at least an hour expected.
Not the end of the world for me as I have plenty of time before my first meeting. I like to get somewhere with plenty of slack in the schedule – in case of delays (QED). Also I am getting on with some work on the train. Preparing a talk for a Retail Technology Conference if you’re interested. I am presenting with my friend and customer Umar Bajwa of Murco Petroleum.
The talk is going to cover a number of things including the Timico Mobile Access Management service. This is the multitenant mobile APN service that allows mobile devices to sit within a corporate MPLS network and has much better access throughput than normal because you don’t need the packet overhead for VPN1. Also great as a backup in case the primary broadband line goes down (Plan B).
It is getting hard to concentrate though. There’s a party of kids in the same carriage and they are getting
The British Transport police are up ahead. We have some police forces as customers. They use an application of ours called hand-e-pix. When they get to a crime scene they take photos using smartphones which then get filed against the appropriate crime number and can be used as evidence. The photo is automatically GPS and time stamped. Perhaps I should mention it to the British Transport Police as we eventually get moving.
The guard on this train is very good at keeping us informed: “The train wot as struck a person is stopping us from moving” fair play to him.
a few minutes later…
The train is now moving, albeit slowly and we have just passed some men in hi viz jackets carrying flags. Funny how we live in a world filled with technology but when it comes down to it it’s the old fashioned analogue technology that prevails. Always have a Plan B.
1 notice how I slipped in a quick advertorial there – perhaps you didn’t 🙂