Monday, August 11, 2008

VerizonWireless, Worthless for Uploading Anything Bigger than 500K

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Based on five months of using a tethered cell phone, and one month of using a Sierra 595 card, I have found that despite Verizon's ability to download updates to anti-virus programs at 800 - 1,000 kBits, they have effectively throttled any uploads at speeds that will NOT maintain a connection long enough to finish the work at hand.

What this means is that any upload will start right off at whatever the last speed was that you were using to surf the net, and then it will fall down to speeds in the effective rate of less than dialup (32 kBit), which causes many servers to time you out, and you have to start all over again. Every now and then you might get lucky, but I've never been lucky beyond the first five megabytes. I have wasted an enormous amount of time on this.

In addition I've wasted an enormous amount of time trying to trouble shoot this.

"How are you today?"
"I'm having the usual connection problems."
"Let's start by trouble shooting your card and computer combination. Are you sure you haven't picked up any viruses?"

"I am running ZoneAlarm, CA Assoicates, and Spyware Doctor at a combined cost of over $200/year, and you never have any trouble giving me those updates at your maximum speed. Does that have anything to do with keeping your network virus free?"

"oh NO!, That's just random chance. Remember, we just promise up to speeds, and every now and then you get lucky and get even faster! Lucky you!"

"Pretty darned amazing it always happens when updating antivirus, spyware, and firewall attack programs!"

Then they will reset the connection by erasing it, they may do a *228 or a *9228 to reset the card, and the BS will continue.

Finally they will declare that "I should take it to the nearest authorized tech center" which is Roseville, 70 minutes away. I have since learned that simply moving to a different tower fixes the problem. Apparently they throttle your home tower, but let you get a faster connection when away from home. There is never anything wrong with my card or computer.

They may also do a speed test, using or any of a bunch of others. This is really cute, because it blasts short files up and down, and gives you a nice high speed reading. It is worthless when it comes to real world activities. Even there they try to fake you out by doing what I call "bursting." You will get one or two seconds of very high speed transfer followed by seconds, and sometimes even minutes, of extremely slow transfer, giving a net speed way lower than what some averaging speed detection devices would indicate.

I cannot recommend strongly enough the software NetMeter, which is free. This program has agreed consistently with the numbers given by Verizon's speedtest of the day, and it shows you in detail, from your machine's point of view, exactly what is happening, and when, and how. It also gives daily, weekly, monthly, yearly totals for up and downloads. Very good program, used it for phone lines and Sat dishes too.

It installs on your machine, and thus it's information is not dependent on any external site, or your connection to it.;dl=item14

It has enabled me to see the "stutter" pattern when you get a short high speed burst, and then nothing, and more bursts and nothing in succession, leading to effectively way lower speeds that the peaks of the bursts.

The tethered cell phone cannot go as fast, but given all the monkeyshines around the pc card, and the fact that you can switch the phone OFF on a monthly basis, leads me to switch back to the phone. Effectively, the card is maybe 20% faster. Eventually ATT will get DSL out here, and I don't want to be stuck in a year's contract when it happens.

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