Random rants

100% Mobile Broadband - 1 Month Later REVISED & EDITED

, posted: 20-Sep-2009 18:14

I promised this review, in response to my blog post "Breaking my unhealthy & unsocialable Internet adiction'...

I took what some people suggested was a radical step, and disconnected my home ADSL on the 14th of August, to leave me only with mobile broadband, provided by Vodafone on my Nokia N97...

Nokia N97:

Well it has now been well over 1 month, and I have since received 2 monthly On-Account bills from Vodafone, so I can now detail my experience and data consumption.

Now to answer some questions... 

Have I achieved the goals I initially set out?

Yes and no...

I initially planned to use the Internet less, get outside more and be more healthy and socialable...

I can say I have achieved that to a limited extent, as I now do use the Internet on my HTPC big screen allot less, but this is because I now get allot of my Internet fix on my Nokia N97, although I did expect this.

Am I going outside more, being more healthy and socialable?
That is going to take more time, and more work to de-program a lifetime of bad habits.

How has it changed my life, my daily routine?

As expected, I now get the majority of my Internet updates using my Nokia N97...
Twitter, Facebook, Geekzone, Stuff, email...all via my N97 
Because of that, I have little need to use my HTPC and its big screen.

Of course the big screen can still be more enjoyable at times, but I also find the N97 far more enjoyable and easier to use when it comes to sites like Twitter...I simply use the app Gravity, its excellent.

Now I find myself getting updates 24/7...on the road, at work, at home, on holiday...anywhere, anytime.
So while it could be argued I now actually am on the Internet more, my usage is far more selective, targeted and brief.

Previously, when I had fast ADSL available, I would cruise the Internet for hours, aimlessly, searching for anything and everything of interest, just wasting time...
Now, I find myself being much more selective and efficient in my Internet usage. 

Detailed experience

Here are some quick stats about my situation, conditions I am using this mobile broadband in:
Mobile: Nokia N97
Network: Vodafone
Tethered address: 43a August Street, Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt

Speeds I am currently getting, with my Nokia N97 tethered to my PC at home:
Speedtest to Auckland:

Speedtest to LA:

My data consumption, for the period 13th August to 12th September, was 1.7GB, according to my Vodafone bill.
And my Nokia N97 says over a 30 day period, I have used 2.1GB, which is based on the last 30 days rather than the month my Vodafone bill started and finshed...
That said, Vodafone's 3GB data plan is obviously sufficient for my needs, considering I have another 3GB available using double data, should I need it.

What I have only recently found out (since writing this review) is that my speed and data usage during this time was constrained by less than optimum settings on my Nokia N97, which has now, been corrected.

Previously, I had set in the network settings, 'dual mode', meaning the mobile uses both 3G UMTS, and 2G GSM...I have since found out that it is better to only use UMTS.
I thought, that by having selected 'dual mode', the mobile would use 3G UMTS all the time, except when out of range, and then when out of range, it would simplly fall back to the slower GSM...this was incorrect.

It appears by selecting 'dual mode', the mobile simply used the much slower 2G GSM for data all the time, so I expereinced poor speeds all the time and bandwidth heavy sites like YouTube took forever to load, and in most cases, I just gave up...not any more.

That said, I beleive even with these increased speeds and ability to chew more data by using sies like YouTube, I would still easily come within the 3GB or 6GB data quota, which is wha I inially thought.

Final thoughts & recommendations

Will I stick with Vodafone mobile broadband?
Because I am moving forward, not backwards...

Being stuck at home tied down to a physical connection does not appeal to me...
Nor does paying for 2 Internet plans, 1 for ADSL, 1 for mobile...thats just illogical and expensive.
And like any technology, it can, and will, only get better with time (speeds, prices and data quotas)

I like the flexibility being mobile provides...I can choose to still use my home HTPC to go online, or I can use my N97 anywhere, anytime.

If I only had a PC or a laptop, I would not even contemplate such thinking...
But I currently own the Nokia N97, an 'uber-connected' mobile, which really needs its own mobile broadband data plan to justify its cost and be fully utilized...
And having sold that, I am next getting the Nokia N900, which further embraces the always-online lifestyle...so mobile broadband is the only way for me...my only current choices are who offers the best price, best quota and best speeds.

Nokia N900

I would not recommend mobile broadband to the majority of people, for the following reasons:
- Its more expensive than fixed-line broadband such as ADSL
- Its slower than fixed-line broadband
- It has far smaller data quotas
- Its not suitable for gaming/poor latency
- Its not suitable for sharing in households with several people

But if you have simular circumsances as me:
- Not required to share internet connection with family or flatmates
- Not into gaming
- Not a prolific downloader, don't bother with torrents
- Don't normally bother with high bandwidth sites like YouTube (as they will blow your limited quota) 
- Have an expensive mobile or laptop that really requires and/or deserves its own data plan
- Love the freedom mobile internet offers

...then mobile broadband is for you.

Its the way of the future, everyone will have a pocket gadget to go online and stay connected eventually...its not a mater of if, its just a matter of when.

I'm not just moving with the times, I'm staying 1 step ahead...are you?

Hope you enjoyed this post, thank you.

Other related posts:
Motorola Nexus 6 Review
Nokia N900 - Initial Review
Kiwibank 'heaps'

Comment by sbiddle, on 20-Sep-2009 18:51

Did you have the N97 locked to 3G only? I'm really surprised your speeds were so bad, you've not located very far at all from the main Stokes Valley VF site which is located on the hill by the water tower.

Comment by johnr, on 20-Sep-2009 19:04

Something is wrong with those speeds either a fault or you live in a bad blackspot

Author's note by TheBartender, on 20-Sep-2009 20:04


Thank you for your comments.

I am not 100% sure, but I don't think its locked to 3G only...
Looking in the network settings, the 'Network mode' is currently set to 'Dual mode' (UMTS and GSM)

Should I set it to UMTS only, will this improve speed performance?

If I did that, my understanding is that should I be out of 3G ange, then I would have no signal to fall back too, which is basically the purpose of 2G GSM...

That said, I virtually never leave the Wellington region so maybe that would not be such an issue, providing there is complete 3G coverage of Wellington and the Hutt Valley?

Thank you for your comments.

Its reassuring, in a way, to be told my speeds are not normal and there is an issue somewhere...gives me the possibility of fixing or figuring something out that may improve my situation...rather than waiting for an expensive network upgrade.

If its a fault, how would I know, how could I find out?

If I live in a blackspot...that I can test easily, and I will do so...I will run multiple speedtests at home and at various locations, and will report back here the results.

Comment by johnr, on 20-Sep-2009 20:11

Lock the handset to 3G only and try again

Comment by johnr, on 20-Sep-2009 20:17

That should be UMTS only sorry

Comment by kobiak, on 20-Sep-2009 20:40

wimax... i would wait till wimax and then switch :) but sure, price should be right as well :)

Author's note by TheBartender, on 20-Sep-2009 20:41

Ok John, will do.

I will see how that goes for the last week I have the N97, and let you know.

Comment by johnr, on 20-Sep-2009 20:44

@kobiak would love to see you connect a Nokia N97 to a wimax network.....L

Comment by kobiak, on 20-Sep-2009 20:48

@johnr, easy wimax to wifi hotspots are already there :)

Author's note by TheBartender, on 20-Sep-2009 21:14


I am going to have to do a follow up review, as I have just expereinced a revelation...

John and Steve boh pointed out there was something wrong with my speeds, and they were correct, my Nokia N97 did not have the optimum settings selected...and 1 simple change, and I can now watch YouTube...the speed increase is dramatic.

Especially a big thanks to John of Vodafone, forever helpfull.

Comment by johnr, on 21-Sep-2009 14:04

Now I would check if HSDPA is enabled on your handset under settings packet data high speed packet access and enable this function

Author's note by TheBartender, on 21-Sep-2009 14:25

Are you sugguesting it can get even better?
I am taking note of all I am learning here as I will do all this on my N900 once I have it. 

Seaching around the settings, the only place I can find anything regrading packet data, is if I (temp) disable my current data connection, go into 'Connectivity', then 'Destinations', then 'Internet'...and that shows my one internet access point, 'VF NZ Internet'...

If I select that, it then displays all the settings for that access point, including 'Data Bearer'....that currently has 'Packet data' selected...if I choose that and try to change it, it comes back with a message saying 'Unable to change data bearer once defined. Define new access point.'

Does this mean I have to make a new VF access point?

Comment by Raj Krishna, on 21-Sep-2009 14:31

I have a question for you - my company is working on giving faster speeds on current generation mobile broadband networks - the only catch is, you have to may more for more performance. Would you be willing to pay 3 times the amount you pay now for twice the speed? What about twice the amount? What about 1.5x the amount? What is your pain and price point? Would you want 3x the speed, 4x the speed? If you could answer this it would be immensely useful for my product development team..

Author's note by TheBartender, on 21-Sep-2009 14:34

Ah...I just found another setting screen with Packet data...
Settings > Connectiviy > Admin. settings > Packet data > High speed packet access - Enabled

Looks like it is already enabled.

Author's note by TheBartender, on 21-Sep-2009 15:30

I have just tested the speed difference beween tethered to the PC, and just on the mobile itself, using the Vodafone NZ website speedtest...

Using Vodafone.co.nz speedtest:

On the mobile itself:
Ping: 397ms
Download: 914kbps
Upload: 278kbps

Tethered to the PC:
Ping: 184ms
Download: 976kbps
Upload: 356kbps

Using Speedtest.net:
Tethered to the PC: (Auckland)
Ping: 213ms
Download: 0.89Mb
Upload: 0.34Mb

Tethered to the PC: (LA)
Ping: 240ms
Download: 0.91Mb
Upload: 0.33Mb

Improved again...my othe speedtests must have been the time of day I ran them.

Comment by nate, on 21-Sep-2009 15:31

Great post, interesting what you mention about internet and being on the go.  I have data plans on both my Nokia E71 and my data card, and I would be lost without both, especially since I use my laptop at client meetings all the time.

Do you think you could do another blog post with what settings you changed, and what the speed improvement was?

Author's note by TheBartender, on 21-Sep-2009 15:56


Thank you for your comments.

I think I covered the settings changes I made above...it was only a really simple one...

I changed from 'dual mode', to 'UMTS' only...so it forces my N97 to use 3G only.

I made the mistake in thinking that having dual mode meant my N97 would use the faster 3G UMTS whenever available, and only fall back to the slower 2G GSM when out of range of UMTS...but what actually happened when dual mode was enabled, is my N97 actually jus used the slower 2G GSM all the time.

The speed increase was dramatic to say the least...(I wish I keeped those old speedtest results now)
If I can find the old speedtest results, I will do another short blog.

Author's note by TheBartender, on 21-Sep-2009 16:57

@Raj Krishna

Thank you for your comments.

Faster is always better, but would I pay extra for it?
At the moment, no.

2 reasons:
1) Becuase current mobile broadband speeds are more than acceptable for basic use, eg. internet browsing, IM, email, even bandwidth heavy sites like YouTube
2) Because the faster you go, the quicker you chew through data, the larger data quotas you need.

And that said, in my opinion, speed and data quotas are not seprate issues.
If you are going to offer faster internet...you must suplliment that with larger data quotas/packages.

Provide larger data quotas/packages with the faster intenet, and then yes, that would be worth paying more for...how much extra, I can't say.

Comment by nate, on 22-Sep-2009 16:42

I've changed my E71 to the settings you recommended, should be interesting to see how this affects the speed.

Author's note by TheBartender, on 22-Sep-2009 22:51

@Nate Let me know the outcome...if it anything like my experience, you should instantly notice dramatically faster speeds....although i find it most noticable on my PC when its tethered...test it on YouTube....it went from taking forever to load to being almost a live unbroken stream.

Comment by heavenly_wild, on 24-Sep-2009 13:30


I changed the settings on my phone from "dual mode" to "UMTS" only and boy the speed went from a lousy 50kbs to 300kbs!

Such a good find, it is amazing how most people and telecommunications operators don't know about this.

PS -
I hope you can help me out with a problem with the N97 which I have posted onto "N97 Owners Questions".

Author's note by TheBartender, on 24-Sep-2009 16:59


Yup, the speed increase is dramatic, and I too am surprised such a setting was not documented or blogged about anywhere...I would have never ever realised if not for this blog post, and those in the know who read it, pointing it out to me.

Glad it helped.

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euanandrews's profile

Euan Andrews
Lower Hutt
New Zealand

I'm a 32yo male, living and working in the Wellington region.

I currently work as a manager for Interislander, having worked in the Hospitality industry for about the last decade.

I have interests in computers, gadgets and information, and love to be 'in the know', hence I read vasts amount of information online, anything from tech news, gadgets to current events and history.

Being a movie buff and having an interest in computers, I setup a wiki about Home Theatre PC's, and have recently built my own HTPC.

I was also heavily involved with the setup and design of the NZ Connections Wiki, having been invited by Cokemaster to help, as a result of my extensive and ongoing interest in ISP's. 

NZ Connections Wiki
My profile (TheBartender)

Compaq Pressirio 5000
Case: Silverstone LC16M, CPU: Intel Quad Q9400 2.5GHz, Motherboard: abit IP35 Pro, PSU: Corsair 520HX, Optical Drive: Samsung SH-S203D DVD Writer, Graphics card: Leadtek WinFast PX8500 GT TDH HDMI, Hard drive: 2 x Western Digital Caviar GP WD7500AACS Hard Disk Drive, 750GB, 5400rpm, Wireless: D-Link DWA-547 Rangebooster N 650 Desktop, TV tuner: Blackgold BGT3540, Keyboard: Microsoft Remote Keyboard for Windows Media Center
Nokia N900