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Cellphone internet

by KO on October 8th, 2010

I have been doing flood relief volunteer work all over Sindh, and below is a short writeup on the best internet solution I found. I was pleasantly suprised by the fact that Telenor cellphone service and internet worked just about everywhere in Sindh.

I have both Telenor and Mobilink postpaid edge, and the Telenor one is about a million times better.

I’m in rural Sindh right now, near Shikarpur, using telenor edge (through my cellphone to laptop):

Telenor also works better in Karachi as well, to the extent that I’m now going to switch over to them and drop the mobilink one altogether, as I use more internet than phone calls now.

For Mobilnk results, divide the above by about 5-10 depending on the area, and in many places in Sindh it just doesn’t work either. So while empirically Mobilnk is only 5-10 times slower most times, it feels a million times slower. And no, I can’t post a Mobilink result even though my other phone is also a modem and active cause the edge network is too slow.

I asked a couple of telco networking guys why such a difference, cause both networks are gsm edge, and the answer was that mobilink has older equipment and their backend internet links have issues, which they don’t particularly care about. I assume the other newer Edge networks could be decent as well, but the research I did all pointed to Telenor being Pakistan’s best network for Edge.

Some advice: Don’t bother buying their 4000Rs usb stick, you can buy a chinese version for a few hundred which is the same. If you’re tech savvy enough, don’t bother buying a usb altogether and just buy a used nokia, update the firmware and use that as a bluetooth or usb modem. Your existing phone will probably do anyways…

That way you get a much smarter “usb stick”, complete with it’s own computer and long battery life. You don’t even need to install the bloatware piece of crap which is Nokia Ovi suite, just set it up as a generic bluetooth modem. Windows 7 or Ubuntu or Mac just work with one click.

Reasons not to use USB: Millions of people use nokia phones (and others) as modems so the better companies have really sorted out the modem part of their phones. All the usb sticks here have crap drivers which a chinese guy pirated from somewhere and badly ported to his companies usb stick which they never developed in the first place and hence don’t even know how it really works. Thus you get crappy speeds which isn’t really the telco’s fault.

Unlimited, bah! What the heck will you do with a unlimited edge connection? You can sit on it all month and use up hardly a gb or two, and thats if it works well. If you’re on mobilnk, which has a unlimited edge for 500Rs, it will be a great acheivement just to hit 100mb in a month. Whichever company you go with, with a edge connection don’t even bother looking at the limit becuase its a nonsensical marketing number. Forget about torrents on edge, your usb stick will overheat and melt anyways, and even the nokia phone won’t last much longer.

But what about all those corporate blackberry customers so happily using *random* edge: Firstly, they don’t know internet speeds even if it came and smacked them on the head, and here I include all the upper levels of all the telco companies I’ve ever talked to, let alone the other corporate types who use them. The way blackberry works isn’t really real time - updates and email slowly wind their way through priority channels to the actual phone, so the user never knows how slowly the damn thing is actually working. Blackberry users don’t ever manage to figure out how to use the internet on their phones anyways so they are in no position to judge - it’s a bit like asking a caveman about which car to buy.

Latency is more important than speed, on EDGE The latency on edge networks varies tremondously, from as low as 300-400ms to 4000-5000ms. Forget about bandwidth, since it’s all low, look at latency. Sadly, hardly anyone in the telco’s understands latency so take a nice cartoon diagram of what latency is to explain it in case you need to talk to them. Now if you have a dsl connection which is primarily used for downloading stuff, than bandwidth trumps latency.

Just to not badmouth the Pakistani telco ppl: There are six guys which worked here that understand networking which I know of. Five of them of course got cushy jobs in the western world where technical knowledge is an asset. The sixth I dunno where he is…

From → Internet

  1. Joker permalink

    you’re weird man :S

  2. Malik permalink

    Hey buddy i m agree wid u tht telenor is best in edge bt d problem is tht thr is limit on dwload which u mentioned above n for ur kind information g want 2 tell u that i hav zong postpaid wid unlimited downloads through which on avg i m downloading 22 gb per month using frm last 7 month n i cn say that for data service zong is best gives me 28 kb speed

  3. When I ever I go to Jacobabad ( my hometown ) I carry a nokia 6230i. Why? It has a cable and a charging pin altogether so I can charge it without disconnecting modem and I carry a Telenor connection. It always provides edge connectivity in areas near Jacobabad like fateh Pur and Sheranpur which are towns neat shikarpur district. 40Km to Jacobabad.
    I have even tested Zong but unfortunately they were not providing Edge service and I tested that while even staying several places between shikarpur and Jacobabad but I must admit there GPRS speed was much better then MOBILINK.

  4. OFF TOPIC!!!!
    Forgot to add that you should consider adding some theme or make this theme atleast match your forum.

  5. The unlimited EDGE isn’t as trivial as you make it sound. Given that rates /MB tend to vary anywhere between Rs. 10 to 18 on most providers, even if you end up fetching 100MB in a month you could end up with a dent of nearly Rs. 1,000 to Rs 1,800 for just data ! For metered usage to be cost effective, the providers would need to charge less than Rs. 4 or 5 / MB

  6. the theme is good but all need to do is to fill it with more options.

  7. I think Telenor Edge is best

  8. I have Zong 2gb and I use 700mb to 900mb and u use only 10mb why u use unlimited 500+tax if u use normal package 15+tax*10mb= Rs150+tax
    Hai na cheap

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