Thursday, June 12, 2008

My WiMAX Experiment - Part 3: Speed Tests

As I mentioned in Part 2, the Portable Internet Basic I have from Rogers is slow, but usable. Slow is a relative thing. They advertise 512 Kbps download and 256 Kbps upload. I found it hard to get a reliable speed test using the WiMAX modem since many of the speed testing sites I would traditionally use on a DSL connection were too slow to load and relied heavily on flash.

I did find a mobile version on DSL Reports that was advertized for use with - ahem - the iPhone. Well, it turned out to be the most workable speed test site to use in this case.

I found that the download speed was heavily dependant on the reception of the modem. Today, my reception ran anywhere from 1 bar to 3 bars of service. A little fiddling with the modem placement and orientation allowed me to gauge the speed of my connection as a function of the number of bars of reception I had.


Speed (avg – Kbps)







Table 1: Average Download Speeds as a Function of Reception

I wasn't expecting much of a correlation, but it seems relatively linear.

Most of the time, I was running at 3 bars of reception. The spread in my connection speed ran from 114-224 Kbps.

Figure 1: An Example Speed Test Result from

The spread in latency was large - ranging from 94 ms to just over 1000 ms. The IP for is somewhere in the USA, and the domain is registered in New York. That level of latency is large for a server a few hundred kilometres from me!

Many of the mobile-optimized sites worked quite well, loading relatively fast. I tried out the following: (using the Mobile II theme)

The mobile facebook site worked quite well, and allowed me to do all of the things I normally do on facebook. That mobile site, in my opinion, should be benchmarked by Google for their mobile optimized GMail. The mobile version of GMail had a pretty poor interface. The Inbox view is OK, but the Compose view isn't. The body of the message that you're typing is very narrow. There is an iPhone optimized GMail site, but it doen't work consistently on my N800, or at least, I could not get it to work consistently. I resorted to using the basic HTML view for GMail, and it didn't get bogged down by my WiMAX connection.

Stay Tuned for Part 4, where I will review the quality I get using VOIP - pumping the calls through WiMAX...

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