Geekzone: technology news, blogs, forums
Guest
Welcome Guest.
You haven't logged in yet. If you don't have an account you can register now.


3 posts

Wannabe Geek


Topic # 66259 16-Aug-2010 11:36
Send private message

Hi there,

I made this post to the Vodafone forum, but having had a good look around, it would seem that this may be a more ideal place to the find expertise and knowledge we need.

Would very much appreciate any feedback on the following... and just to throw a few incentives around, we will hook up anyone who can help us with this issue with a free box of beer, or bottle of wine. 

We currently have an issue with our data connection through Vodafone's network, and I was hoping someone may be able to help. I have tried to find a solution through the Vodafone 0800 number, but I am struggling to find someone with the relevant expertise. 

We operate a ticketing agency, and use handheld scanners to access our server and redeem tickets (scan of 2-d barcode) as people turn up to the event. As such, our connectivity is mission critical to the operation of our business; if we lose our connection, then we aren't able to continue processing tickets until it is recovered. 

We are in the middle of developing a full solution that does not depend on stable connectivity, but this wont be completed for some time. So I have a couple of questions/thoughts, and would really appreciate anyone's input. 


Our devices are Psion Texklogix Workabout Pro 3's, and we connect to Vodafone through a pre-pay SIM Card. The redemption is done through a webpage running on Opera Mobile 5 browser - the scanner populates a simple text field, querying our DB to void the ticket. Typically the turn around time is a couple of seconds between scan and the valid/invalid response. This is not ideal, but not a huge problem.. The real problem is that the devices quite frequently drop connection and time out, this can be anywhere from a few seconds to five or more minutes. This is obviously a big problem, as we are unable to operate during this time.  


- It was suggested to me that the devices may need to be configured for the Vodafone network. Would this be a possible solution - and if so, how could we find the correct settings?


- The scanners also connect through wifi, which is much more stable. Would a product like the mobile hotspot be able to provide a stable wifi connection, anywhere in the country? Or would we be facing the same problem - that the connection is ultimately going through GPRS, and therefore liable to the same timeout problem (this would infact be worse.. because if one scanner on its own simcard drops connection, we can replace it with another. If all scanners are on the same connection and drop, we don't have this option). 


- If this hotspot is not going to provide a stable wifi connection, is there any way or any hardware that will allow us to do this? We deploy scanners all over the country, so it needs to be flexible in setup and ideally not require any hardwired phoneline.  


- Can Vodafone provide any kind of preferred service, or guaranteed connection with some kind of SLA? I imagine there are a number of other mission critical operations using Vodafone, so thought this might be a possibility. 



I would really appreciate any feedback on the above, or any other ideas that may help us with this problem. I can also be contacted on 04 382 9820, or 0212929406, or ashfogelberg @ g mail if it would be easier to contact me directly. 


Thanks in advance, 

Ash

Create new topic
19282 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 2600
Inactive user


  Reply # 368146 16-Aug-2010 11:45
Send private message

Hi Ash

It sounds like you need a managed service called corp connect with a private APN on the mobile network

I will give you a call this afternoon

John



3 posts

Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 368148 16-Aug-2010 11:53
Send private message

Fantastic John, thank you mate.


Ash

BDFL - Memuneh
61506 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 12224

Administrator
Trusted
Geekzone
Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 368152 16-Aug-2010 12:01
Send private message

The PSION only connects via GPRS, which is a very slow, high latency mobile packet data service.

If your devices are connecting through to Vodafone now, there isn't anything else you can do to improve connectivity. It is the way it is. And no, the Corp Connect won't solve bad coverage problems, I am afraid.

However, if you have good coverage, the Mobile Hotspot would probably be more reliable than GPRS, and faster, with lower latency. You can connect to it via WiFi. The problem is that you will need two devices instead of one.





19282 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 2600
Inactive user


  Reply # 368156 16-Aug-2010 12:22
Send private message

GPRS works very well for corp connect for small amounts of data

3415 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 405

Trusted

  Reply # 368157 16-Aug-2010 12:22
Send private message

Hmm interesting. I did some proof of concept work on a very similar setup. We concluded that the best bet was to use laptops instead of hand held scanners as it would be relatively easy to switch out a Vodafone dongle for a Telecom one if there were issues. Also it is easier to keep up to date with the faster, lower latency 3g technology. You could possibly look at using Android phones & build an App that integrates the barcode reading into some kind of API for your website?





BDFL - Memuneh
61506 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 12224

Administrator
Trusted
Geekzone
Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 368161 16-Aug-2010 12:28
Send private message

johnr: GPRS works very well for corp connect for small amounts of data


So why doesn't it work well for non-corp connect? From the description it sounds to me a coverage problem, not if GPRS is on a corp plan or not...







3 posts

Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 368172 16-Aug-2010 12:58
Send private message

@Zeon - So is it that vodems / dongles / mobile hot spots connect through 3G (which is more reliable), and our scanners will be going directly GPRS? We have a full solution in the works with a native app on the handhelds that holds the list of tickets. The scanners then update between themselves frequently, so it means that if we lose connectivity for a short period of time it is no problem. We have considered laptops (and use them occasionally) however the hardware isn't robust enough for field work and well, they aren't very portable : )

@Mauricio - I am not sure if it is a coverage problem or something else... we have the same issues regardless of where we are in the country - the middle of Auckland, Dunedin, Chch or wherever. Which is what made me think the settings on the handhelds may be incorrectly setup for Vodafone's network, because my phone doesn't drop connections in any kind of similar manner as the scanners.


Thanks for all the input everyone, much appreciated!

Ash


BDFL - Memuneh
61506 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 12224

Administrator
Trusted
Geekzone
Lifetime subscriber

310 posts

Ultimate Geek

Trusted

  Reply # 368210 16-Aug-2010 14:33
Send private message

freitasm:
johnr: GPRS works very well for corp connect for small amounts of data


So why doesn't it work well for non-corp connect? From the description it sounds to me a coverage problem, not if GPRS is on a corp plan or not...



There is no difference for the mobile access side, all that happens is that once the data leaves the GGSN (BRAS equivalent in mobile world) for a corp connect plan the traffic will go via a IPsec VPN or dedicated connection from Vodafone to the Customers network. If you are not in a corp connect you will just go to the internet.
So there are some advantages to having a corp connect, especially on the billing side of things but in terms of performance it will be roughly the same, dependent of exact setup.




Any posts are personal comments and not that of my employer

BDFL - Memuneh
61506 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 12224

Administrator
Trusted
Geekzone
Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 368212 16-Aug-2010 14:36
Send private message

pwner: So there are some advantages to having a corp connect, especially on the billing side of things but in terms of performance it will be roughly the same, dependent of exact setup.


Exactly my point...






310 posts

Ultimate Geek

Trusted

  Reply # 368216 16-Aug-2010 14:42
Send private message

a 3G mobile hotspot would sound like the best bet, the only question would be the number of devices going through the hotspot as most are only designed to have 2-5 devices off them, past that they start to have all sorts of weird issues pop up.
The big advantages would be:
1. Only needing to pay for one mobile data SIM per event (or at least less than what you currently do)
2. 3G performance brings down the latency, which will improve performance, reduce timeouts etc.
3. 3G is generally more stable for data connections
3. the Hotspot will stay in one place and give more consistent coverage, it can also be placed up high to maximize coverage

you don't have to buy a Vodafone one either there are lots available from many vendors where you can just plug in a 3G USB dongle or card.




Any posts are personal comments and not that of my employer

393 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 8


  Reply # 368239 16-Aug-2010 16:17
Send private message

how about using some android phones with wifi, version 2.2 supports the mobile being used as a wifi hotspot

this way you would have the benefit of a decent phone aerial and still have the redundancy of multiple connections
(and 3g).. if one dropped out you would just connect to an alternate handset

you could use a mixture of voda and telecom to cover your bases




this is where a signature goes

84 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 1


  Reply # 369549 18-Aug-2010 21:05
Send private message

I find the VF GPRS network really stable and reliable. I have anywhere between 50 and 100 devices connected over private APN using Corp Connect. Based in Auckland and probably have on average around 2 small outages per year - this is usually when some techo in VF changes something in the middle of the night and it doesn't work for a few hours the next morning while they roll things back. Our devices communciate every 15sec from around 8am to 6pm Mon to Fri and hardly miss a beat. When I test off our APN and back on VF APN I get the same reliability.

19282 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 2600
Inactive user


Reply # 369553 18-Aug-2010 21:08
Send private message

wazzab:this is usually when some techo in VF changes something in the middle of the night and it doesn't work for a few hours the next morning while they roll things back.


Yer sorry about that we try not to do this to often




Create new topic

Twitter »

Follow us to receive Twitter updates when new discussions are posted in our forums:



Follow us to receive Twitter updates when news items and blogs are posted in our frontpage:



Follow us to receive Twitter updates when tech item prices are listed in our price comparison site:



Geekzone Live »

Try automatic live updates from Geekzone directly in your browser, without refreshing the page, with Geekzone Live now.



Are you subscribed to our RSS feed? You can download the latest headlines and summaries from our stories directly to your computer or smartphone by using a feed reader.

Alternatively, you can receive a daily email with Geekzone updates.