Mobile Data Performance in Lebanon, IN

I found myself at the Starbucks in Lebanon and decided to run the mobile data performance tests again. Same setup as before, but with some slightly different results. This time, both T-Mobile and AT&T could only manage an EDGE connection, while Verizon was able to supply a 3G connection.

For ping time, lower is better. This is the amount of time that it takes for a packet to travel to the server and back.

I think the T-Mobile upload rate on test one must have been a fluke. I've seen the tool report incorrect results like this when the connection is lost mid-test.

Given these results, if you use your mobile data near SR39 and I65 in Lebanon, IN, Verizon is your best choice for a provider.

Mobile Data Performance in Castleton

I had an interesting opportunity to do some mobile data performance testing. I have a Motorola DROID on Verizon that I carry around, and I recently got access to a Nexus One with a SIM good for both T-Mobile and AT&T. I did a little testing to see how these different carriers performed in my location. I used the SpeedTest.Net Android app. I ran the test 5 times, all to the same server (Carmel, IN - nFrame). I ran the test from my client's office in Castleton, IN. I ran the test five times each on each network. The results were interesting. Both T-Mobile and Verizon reported 3G service, while I was only able to get EDGE service from AT&T. These results are very location specific, and should not be considered a blanket reference. If you regularly find yourself in the Castleton area, these results may be useful to you.

Cutting the Cord

Last year we cut the cord to our cable provider, not out of desire, but out of necessity. We moved to a rural location that didn't offer cable services. Still, this was something that I had wanted to do for some time, and was glad to have my hand forced. My current setup is as follows:

- Win7 running Windows Media Center
- PlayOn Lite
- HDHomeRun Dual Tuner
- PS3
- Wii
- Netflix

I'm not a big TV watcher, but my wife is. She was quite surprised to see how much of the TV she really wanted to watch was available OTA. Sure, she missed being able to scan for the background noise of guilty pleasures on traditional cable networks, but not so much that we've missed paying the $100+ per month to watch them. We have a very limited "broadband" internet connection through our rural wireless provider (~1.4M down, 512K up) but it is enough that we can stream one show from Netflix. This has been a boon for our kids, who definitely would be missing Nick, Sprout, and Disney.

We setup our recording through the Win7 HTPC, and those recorded shows are available on our other sets via the PS3 using Windows built-in DLNA support, and on the Wii using PlayOn's MyMedia, which is currently in beta.

Another big project during this switch was to make all of our DVD content available on-demand. I used a combination of DVD Shrink, Handbrake, and MetaX for this project. Just like our recorded TV, that content can also be called up using the HTPC, PS3, or Wii.

It isn't a perfect solution. Bad weather knocks out both our OTA TV reception as well as our internet connection. Even with good weather, online content and services have a long way to go before it is a true competitor to what the major cable operators can offer. Asking my wife and kids to switch between Clicker, Hulu, PlayOn, Netflix, and a variety of other apps in the hopes of maybe finding the content they want to watch is non-starter. Keeping it simple is key, and that is something the cable operators have much better control over.

Jade Mason