Until recently, doing away with my broadband supplier was an impossibility – and it may well still be impractical but I’m investigating possibilities – feedback is most welcome.
So, to start the ball rolling, here in rural Southern Spain where we have NO landlines on the outskirts of our village – we use something like WiMax – that is, the local service provider (Habland) has an aerial in town which supplies broadband wirelessly to properties on the edge of and out of the village.
Only a couple of years ago, this solution was somewhat impractical for all but email and watching low-quality TV – but things change and here in our village we now have up to 30Mbps download (on a good day) and a (somewhat pathetic) 2Mbps upload capability. I understand that Habland’s dishes are optimised for this arrangement as high download speed, low upload speed suits the majority of users. This works for lots of people where most of their Internet consumption is watching TV and movies (30Mbps is easily capable of supporting HD TV and computer use at the same time) but when it comes to, for example, uploading video to YouTube (I do that sometimes when writing reviews) the 2Mbps upload is hopeless. Indeed, most creative endeavours involve 2-way data transfer… images, video etc.
We’ve been promised that fibre is “coming” to the village but the timing on this is still somewhat vague.
Meanwhile we have fairly decent mobile connections here in Andalucia – in my case from a company called Simyo (who use the Orange network). On a typical day my 4G mobile connection can provide up to 50Mbps download AND upload to my phone. As most of you will know, most if not all mobiles offer (provider dependent) “tethering” – my Xiaomi Pocophone X3 will let me tether the 4G signal via WiFi, Bluetooth or USB.
Here’s where I started this morning… I turned on the phone’s wireless hotspot, disabled our normal broadband connection and ran up speedtest.net on both my PC and the mobile phone. Initially despite the above mentioned mobile connection, I could barely manage 6Mbps up and down on the PC. But first, why would I even CONSIDER using a mobile signal for PC/domestic use? Here’s why…
Only months ago, the Simyo mobile offered a maximum of 25GB a month for around 16 Euros (no fair-use nonsense). All of a sudden this has changed and the highest rate they offer is 35GB a month for €15.50 a month and this trend will hopefully continue. Better, unlike many providers – unused data can be rolled over for up to 3 months… so really we’re possibly looking at having 40GB or more available. Right now that might be limiting for those who watch a lot of TV or lots of movies over broadband. Today I watched on Netflix “The Day after Tomorrow” in high quality on my PC vis the mobile connection – that used up 2GB but a typical TV show would use WELL under half of that.
So will I be abandoning my broadband supplier? Not quite yet. Let me say this… when I originally tried the tethering to provide a connection to my PC, I got no more than 6Mbps each way on the PC (according to Speedtest.net) despite the high speed 4G data. I did a spot of reading and it seems that most mobile phones when using WiFi tethering, by default use 2.4G WiFi. It turns out that at least on Android phones there is a simple setting you can change to enable the phone to prefer 5G WiFi (see the cnet link above). That didn’t help much – improving the data rate just a little – so then I hooked my phone to the PC by USB and enabled USB tehering on the phone – WAY better, taking the connection both ways up to 30Mbps.
For now that will help immensely with my YouTube uploading but I’m not yet convinced that 30-40GB a month will be anywhere near enough for general use around the house including TV (and hence movies). I do however expect that Simyo will soon increase that maximum cap. Let’s see how this goes – and if your service provider doesn’t allow carry-over of data from one month to the other – isn’t it time to consider changing providers? I have no connection to Simyo and I’m not sure in what other countries they offer a similar service but they won’t be the only ones doing this. Persumably any other company piggy-backing onto the Orange network could, if they wish, offer a similar service. At the same time of course our Internet provider is promising 300Mbps fibre within weeks or months (all a bit vague) so who knows…
So, for my next step at experimenting, I took the SIM out of my phone and put it into the GL-iNET MUDI mobile router I looked at here some time ago. The SIM went in no problem and the router told me to enter my PIN – I connected the MUDI router to my PC via 5G WiFi and went into the router ADMIN panel and entered the PIN. Almost immediately I was up and running with an Internet connection, sad to say, 7Mbps download, 6Mbps upload according to Speedtest.net – next step – Ethernet to my PC. 21.6Mbps down, 17.4Mbps up, 35ms ping. Far short of what I might’ve expected but far better uploading than my current broadband. At this point I noted that the MUDI had an upgrade available and went for it. All of this worked well, but I am convinced I’m getting no-where near the incoming 4G speed and so any input from others welcome.