Life without Broadband

Since the move down we have been without broadband. In fact without a fixed line we are subject to the whims of the mobile phone networks. Hopefully (landlords assent and trees permitting) I’ll be able to get super-fast broadband through my works test network in Cambridge. However we have managed in the meantime with other alternatives.

I currently have the T-Mobile’s “Unlimited”* Web’n’Walk package which adds about �7.50 a month to my monthly contract. I predominately used it for phone browsing using the rather excellent Opera Mini. However it is possible to connect to my phone over a PAN. Once paired you can simply hop on an off at will. On the Mac it’s a pretty easy drop down menu “Join Alex’s K800i Network” and only slightly more involved from my Linux box. Once connected to the PAN and running a normal dhcp client you get assigned an RFC1918 10.0.0.0 address which I assume it NATed somewhere in the mobile network.

The network filters some ports (typically the ones used by IM clients) but normal web browsing works fine as does ssh which I use to access my email host. In the house we get a 3G signal so we can stream stuff from the BBC’s Listen Again service. Measuring a download on my machine I maxed out at around 20kb/s which is perfectly good for audio streams and can handle low res YouTube if you pause it and give it a bit of time to buffer up. I suspect however iPlayer will prove too much for it.

* The only real downside is the persistent use of the word unlimited for a service that quite blatantly is. Since I reset my data counters a few days ago we have already clocked up around 113Mb of data downstream so I can see us hitting the 1Gb “Fair Use” limit if we are not careful. The next price point is 3Gb which doesn’t seem much better. Having said that I have yet to get a warning so it could be T-Mobile aren’t yet enforcing these limits.