This morning’s BBC breakfast was full of hype for the launch of 4G data. In theory this sounds great: mobile data has changed our world, from smartphones and tablets to remote telemetry, data logging, and security applications without the need for cabling. We can, at least in theory, stream movies or music, read our email, telework, and tweet a load of shite from anywhere. The networks are now crowing about their superfast performance, their fibre backbones, and anything else they can spin into saying how great they are.

One problem: this is all still radio. Radio needs masts, and residents hate masts, even before the electrosensitivity loonies get going. Without masts, and even with them sometimes, depending on environment, coverage suffers. Plus of course, masts, and the backhaul all cost cash too.

This means that, practically, in some areas, the current 3G/2G connectivity is non-existent or so slow to be practically useless: down the road in WS9 9LR coverage is so poor for Vodafone that voice calls and SMS messages barely work, and data is unusable. Walsall Wood may not be a huge metropolis, but it’s not a rural backwater either, and the same applies to suburban Pelsall and Rushall, where you can find similar holes.

I was complaining about this seven years ago, when 3G data was a niche product.

If you go into the centre of Birmingham, you can easily see 3Mbit/sec: faster than some home broadband, and fast enough to run an entire office from (trust me, I have done it), but outside the city, coverage can have some huge holes: this is why, for example, NXWM’s trial of wi-fi on buses didn’t catch on: the only way to backhaul the data from the bus is over 3G, and by the time you have a busful of people, and the router keeps dropping out, it becomes painful- the same applies to the West Coast Main Line, and that has a fixed route.

In summary: Phone networks: stop bullshitting us. Cut the shiny marketing, bullshit about fibre optics and other tech terms littering the adverts: just make the existing 3G service work before you try to flog us the replacement. Let me be able to tweet bollocks from the pub, or fire up my VPN from a house in Pelsall that doesn’t have broadband.

NB: I’m only picking on Vodafone here because I have more experience of them, and because they’re ‘Best Network’ of the year as voted by Mobile Choice Consumer Awards. They all have the same problems, in different places.

4 Responses to “Gee-up”

  1. Species5618 Says:

    you have missed the joke tariffs

    we going to give you superfast mobile data, unlmited sms and calls, and fuckall data allowance
    but i can get calls and SMS from 2G…….

    Personally I will stick to GiffGaff (O2 MVNO) SIM ONLY, £12 /mth,250 mns, unlimited SMS, unlimited Data, and I regularly exceed 2.5Gig / mth watching netflix on the bus…

  2. stymaster Says:

    I also forgot that, in theory, you could blow your 500GB data cap in under 5 min on 4G….

    Personally, I don’t come close to my data cap, but most of the time I’m a light user, and near wi-fi.

  3. Willenhall Lad Says:

    I’m with O2 and it’s a joke. I have to stand outside sometimes to take a phone call and the Internet is just non-existent. O2 openly admit that the 3G coverage in Essington isn’t good “but we have good 2G coverage”. Thanks. We’re 4 miles from Wolverhampton Town Centre for crying out loud.

    I think they should concentrate on making the phones work first.

    On the radio point, this media is never going to be as good as wires as the physics is different. Radio signals contained in a wire are always going to suffer less attenuation than radio so why is mobile computing always hyped up so much? It really annoys me.

    Wi-fi standard a+c will offer 1 GBit/s to the client soon but we’ve been doing 100 GBit/s + for donkeys using wire and fibre.

    Too much marketing types and sheep involved in this technology (and we sell it! lol! )

  4. PigBlog » Blog Archive » Drowning in Superfast 4G Hype Says:

    […] than 24 hours have elapsed since yesterday’s rant about the 4G hype and already there’s some bullshit piece in tonight’s Express and Star showing the […]