* Posts by xpz393

137 posts • joined 25 Apr 2013

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Scre-EE-m if you wanna go faster: BT's mobile network reigns supreme in UK-wide speed and latency tests

xpz393

Mixed bag

I use a dual SIM iPhone. EE and Vodafone, so have played around with the two networks in a real-world scenario.

Both SIMs are always "active" and show a signal. If someone calls me on either number, the phone rings. When I make an outgoing call, I can toggle which number to call out from.

Data, however, has to be set to one SIM or the other as the phone can't handle two seperate data connections simultaneously. I've found that EE has a slight advantage over Voda, so usually leave it set to use this.

However, a neat trick of the phone is that if the EE signal drops altogether, it'll automatically activate the data on the the Voda SIM (if it has signal), and even better, the EE goes into a VoWi-Fi type mode, using Voda's 4G signal to make/receive calls and texts.

Now I'll get to the point...

Generally, I concurr that EE have the better performance, but I still regularly find myself in situations, usually indoors, where EE's service drops completely, yet I still get a couple of bars' 4G with Vodafone, which is perfectly usable.

On balance, if I didn't have the luxury of a dual SIM phone and had to pick one network out of the two, I'd rather sacrifice a wee bit of the top-end speed performance I get with EE, and switch to Vodafone for the better indoor performance.

xpz393

Re: What about?

Orange merged with T-Mobile about 10 years ago under the holding name "Everything, Everywhere".

Everything Everywhere duly began amalgamating their networks, by first allowing automatic roaming between the two networks for their customers as a quick-and-dirty win, then moving on to more graceful/transparent measures.

After a few years of background tinkering, Everything Everywhere launched their third brand, EE, which was the only one of the three to offer 4G.

After the launch of EE, Orange and T-Mobile continued to trade as individual brands, and existing customers were coaxed into "upgrading" to the EE brand. Orange and T-Mobile eventually stopped selling to new customers, and AFAIK, any remaining customers were eventually automatically shipped over to the EE brand.

For an extra upvote or two... T-Mobile UK was previously One2One from when it launched in 1993 through to the early 00s.

Smoke on the Tyne: Blaze at BT exchange causes major outages across North East England

xpz393

Re: Well.

0118 999 881 999 119 725 3

(Apparently, the post must also contain letters)

That's how we roll: OWC savagely undercuts Apple's $699 Mac Pro wheels with bargain $199 alternative

xpz393

Brace yourselves for some wheely bad puns in the comments

Well, someone had to start :-)

Bored binge-watchers bork beleaguered broadband by blasting bandwidth: Global average speeds down 6.31%

xpz393

"Overwhelmed"? "Broke"? Really?

Considering the unimaginable overnight shift in how we use "The Internet", a dip in average speeds of just 1.7% is a pleasant surprise in my opinion.

Aye, I know it's sacrilege to publicly praise a UK telco, and I know we should expect a healthy level of resiliency baked-in for “unforeseen events” in our critical infrastructure. Arguably, this situation has tested and proven the infrastructure to be not nearly as bad as we all suspected it to be.

I can’t help but feel we should be praising their engineers/teccies who kept this all going (despite years of poor manglement), with only a slight dip in performance which the vast majority won’t have even noticed in practice.

EU General Court tears up ban on Three slurping O2. Good thing the latter's not set to merge with Virgin Media, eh?

xpz393

Vodathree UK

You read it here first.

HTC co-founder Peter Chou's new startup picks great time to tease super-social VR headset

xpz393

Pikachu?

Admit it... I'm not the only one whose mind-narrator pronounced it as Peter Chew.

Coronavirus didn't hurt UK broadband speeds in March. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, on the other hand...

xpz393

Argh! You've conflicted my vote-button-pressing :-O

I agree about your first point that this was spun as "doing good" but clearly an opportunity for them to save costs = upvote.

But I disagree with you that the effect on Netflix has been unnoticeable = downvote.

I thought something was wrong with our TV or broadband connection until I did some digging and found the article confirming they had reduced the streaming rates.

Wall Street analyst worries iPhone is facing '2nd recession' after 2019 annus horribilis

xpz393

Too bl**dy expensive now to upgrade every 2yrs

Right up until the iPhone 8, I could stick £20-£25 per month into a savings-pot, and know I'd have enough in that pot to buy a new iPhone every couple of years. This worked fine for the 3GS, 4S, 5S, 6S, 8, paired with a well-negotiated SIM only deal @ £10-£15 per month.

Then the iPhone X came along @ almost 2x the cost of all the flagship models which came before it. That was way too much of a price jump for most folks to simply absorb, so the result is that most folks now just upgrade less often. I'm now aiming at once every 4 years instead of once every 2 years.

The good news is that iPhones do now seem to comfortably perform well for 4+ years if kept up to date and not abused too harshly, and Apple do seem to commit to 5+ years of iOS updates from when it was first released.

Probably not a bad thing from an environmental perspective either.

Not so good for Apple's figures though, if others are now halving the number of iPhones they purchase over a 4 year period!

Ofcom waves DAB radio licences under local broadcasters' noses as FM switchoff debate smoulders again

xpz393

Re: Complete the migration to DAB+ before faffing with FM

Ha - yes, I think you're right there DuncanLarge :-D

xpz393

Re: Complete the migration to DAB+ before faffing with FM

I didn't know that, Pete 39 - backwards compatibility, where possible, does generally give the best of both worlds or at least eases transition for the majority of end-users/customers.

I guess it could be argued that the <10yr old DAB radios which already support DAB+, even if the customer isn't currently using it, is a form of backwards compatibility. The morning after RadioX was moved from DAB to DAB+, I was quite pleasantly surprised that it "just worked" on my in-car radio. I was expecting to have to re-scan or re-select the station at the very least.

xpz393

Re: Complete the migration to DAB+ before faffing with FM

I can sympathise as I also had a 1st-Gen Pure which can no longer receive the stations which recently migrated from DAB to DAB+

A cracking little set which has served me well, and it annoys me that Pure didn't include end-user-upgradable firmware in our particular radios; an oversight which for most “digital” equipment would ensure future obsolescence.

The good news though, is that some DAB radio manufacturers do seem to have learned from their previous mistakes and have evolved. Whilst our 15yr+ old 1st-gen Pure sets are sadly destined for the electronic waste pile, I was able to firmware-upgrade an approx. 10yr old PURE radio to enable DAB+, and do the same for a similar-age Roberts radio used by my parents.

In more recent years (about 7 years ago I think?) the leading DAB manufacturers committed to supplying all new DAB radios with DAB+ compatibility built in, ready to go. Google “DAB Digital Tick” if you’re interested in reading more.

I think (hope) that you, me and the other early adopters of DAB will be in the minority of folks who end up with an obsolete radio once stations fully migrate to DAB+. On the flip-side of the coin, the majority of DAB listeners, whose existing equipment can already support DAB+, will at last benefit from the much improved service.

xpz393

Complete the migration to DAB+ before faffing with FM

It's not surprising there has been a "meh" attitude from the general public towards DAB, considering that the vast majority of the UK's Radio stations still broadcast on legacy DAB's lossy and cumbersome MPEG-1 format from the 1980s. On a decent receiver, music often sounds hollow/tinny compared to FM. When driving, the complete loss of audio vs. FM just getting a bit crackly from time-to-time is particularly frustrating.

There was a reasonable fix announced in the mid-00s, but progress has been painfully slow in the UK.

What's commonly referred to as DAB+ in the UK uses a much more efficient codec (a variant of AAC IIRC?). At the right bitrate, music will sound much closer to the depth of FM quality, and the much improved error correction should reduce the frequency of signal-drops whilst driving or in a low-reception area. Another bonus is it's much more spectrum-efficient. A 48kbps stereo stream on DAB+ should sound better than a 128kbps stream on legacy DAB.

As a working (but still rare) example, Global Radio recently switched some of their DAB 80kbps MONO stations to DAB+ 40kbps STEREO stations. The station I regularly listen to now sounds *much* better, and several of the spots I drive through which consistently used to drop the signal no longer do. This is on the same car stereo as I was using before they switched.

So, for a better end-user experience, and a more efficient use of spectrum available for digital radio, I believe a full DAB to DAB+ migration must be achieved before FM is switched off (if ever).

BT providing free meals to coax its healthy customer support staff back into office as calls rocket amid pandemic

xpz393

Re: Am I the only one ...

#MeToo

Broadband providers can now flog Openreach's new IP voice network in bid to ditch UK's copper phone lines by 2025

xpz393

Re: The real world

@Derezed

Such optimism.

Wow.

El Reg tries – and fails – to get its talons on a Brexit tea towel

xpz393

Got Brexit Done = A Tea Towel now costs £12

In other post-Brexit news:

Box of 240 "Yorkshire" Teabags now £35.

Hospital hacker spared prison after plod find almost 9,000 cardiac images at his home

xpz393

Re: Differences...

I've always felt uncomfortable seeing folks' home addresses splashed all over the media in relation to a trial. It's irrelevant to the general public at best, and at worst it facilitates acts of vigilantism.

I wonder how long it will be before a defendant challenges the practice as a GDPR breach?

Smart speaker maker Sonos takes heat for deliberately bricking older kit with 'Trade Up' plan

xpz393

Re: What great value does Sonos-phone-home add?

Think of the Sonos speaker as being a dumb terminal which uses WiFi for connectivity, rather than Bluetooth/Airplay as other "wireless" speakers tend to use.

When you use the smartphone app to start a radio stream from Radioplayer/TuneIN or a track from Apple Music/Spotify, Sonos' cloud service establishes a direct connection between the stream source and your Sonos speaker.

Your smartphone app is merely a glorified remote control. Your smartphone is *not* used as a gateway device in the same way as it would be if you're using Airplay or Bluetooth etc.

I find this approach gives several advantages:

1. Syncronised grouping - you can play the same radio station/music track through several speakers, and they're all sync'd perfectly. So, no more going from room-to-room with the same radio station being played several seconds ahead/behind the neighbouring room's speaker.

I believe the Sonos achieves this by presenting the same source stream to all grouped speakers rather than needing to open a seperate stream for each speaker.

2. No drop-outs caused by your smartphone and speaker becoming out of range of each other.

3. Alexa/Google Home integration - probably doesn't need explanation.

Hope that helps?

Close the windows, it's coming through the walls: Copper Cthulu invades Dabbsy's living room

xpz393

Labour: Free British broadband for country if we win general election

xpz393
Unhappy

Broadband's free, but the leccy meter has just run out of credit again.

Sighs and lights a candle.

Weird flex but OK... Motorola's comeback is a $1,500 Razr flip-phone with folding 6.2" screen

xpz393

Re: as a piece of design it was hard to beet

@MiguelC "Maybe it'll come with Beets by Gardner Dre?"

I give you one upvote, only because I can't give five :-)

xpz393

"This [original] post has been deleted by its author "

Looks like Symon is as broken as our sarcasm meters supposedly were this morning.

Peace and love to you Symon xx

xpz393

"FFS., has everyone's sarcasm meter broken this morning?" - @Symon

No ;-)

xpz393

@Symon - The Reg's domain suffix dictates that it's actually spelt "laser".

Additionally, "should of" rather than "should have" is incorrect regardless of your preferred English language variant.

Hugs xx

TalkTalk says WalkWalk if you've got a mouldy Tiscali email address, or pay £50 a year to keep it

xpz393

Re: Breathe takes its last breath

100% @RegGuy1 :-D

I count myself fortunate that I got almost a year out of it!

xpz393

Breathe takes its last breath

Anyone else remember early-00s ISP Breathe's offer for "free freephone-dialup Internet forever* for a one-off £120 (ish)"?

*Forever = Until we realise we launched a wholly unstainable product and get slurped by Tiscali.

Another legacy e-mail gone. No flowers please.

Blindly accepting network update texts could have pwned your mobe, say researchers

xpz393

Re: Blindly accepted??? , mostly people do same ....

Looks like the warning came too late for Soni Singh :'-(

10 months of Jeremy Kyle later*, ex-BT boss Gavin Patterson shacks up with Salesforce

xpz393

Meh.

The purple SIM of fail: Virgin Mobile punters left in the dark with batch of borked cards

xpz393

Re: Am I the only person i nthe world who doesn't have problems with Virgin services?

No, you're not...

I'm into my 11th year with Virgin Media as my cable broadband provider (well, technically NTL in the first year or two) at three different addresses as I've moved around the county.

Speedtest.net has always reported at or above my advertised speeds, and the small number of outages have been fixed quickly and without fuss.

I've certainly never experienced the horror stories that BT/Openreach friends and associates have experienced, such as long lead times for connection, randomly disconnected services which aren't fixed for days/weeks, or fluctuating speeds.

We're not going Huawei even if you ban our 5G kit, Chinese firm tells UK

xpz393

Re: uh ?

".. have you looked on the ingredients list of UK supermarket bread recently ? Plam oil is the latest addition."

Is that a direct replacement for Palm oil?

And we're back live with the state of the smartphone market in 2019. Any hope? Yeah, nah

xpz393

Re: I dropped my telephone

I still believe that if "Nokia" re-lauched the ORIGINAL 3310 and the ORIGINAL 6310i and charged no more than £100, there'd be decent buy-in as the re-imagined versions are cheap and nasty both physically, and in terms of the OS.

Only things they may need to consider are a shift to the li-ion battery for the 3310 (6310i was already li-ion IIRC?), and support for 4G + VoLTE, considering 2G will eventually disappear.

While US ban hit Huawei and inventory overload clipped Apple, Samsung quietly stole smartphone market share back in Q2

xpz393

An Apple a day keeps reality away

"Cook previously blamed sluggish demand in China and consumers holding onto their devices for longer. "

Meanwhile, everyone else blamed Apple's ludicrously* high prices first introduced with the "X" range.

*Ludicrous even after applying "Apple tax".

Just one in five UK constituencies receive 4G from all four mobile operators – research

xpz393
Facepalm

When the best is rubbish

Each time the celebratory trumpets sound the “success” of EE coming out top (again), I shake my head in disappointment that “the best” means:

1. No indoor 4G coverage in many buildings I frequent within 3 miles of a large city centre

2. No data or calls during power cuts

Will be interesting to hear our Police Chief’s response when EE instruct him to inform his officers it’s unlikely to be a network issue, and they just need to reset their device’s network settings. Again. To no avail. Again.

UK Home Office: If we want Ofcom to break the law, that should be perfectly legal

xpz393

CLOSE THE WINDOW! (Ignore the wide-open door)

"A spokesperson for the Home Office told The Register: "We have been clear that the operation of commercial multi-user gateways can have the impact of masking the identities of suspected terrorists and criminals which threatens our national security."

Yet deliberate CLI spoofing via other methods is still OK.

Not sure whether to call bullsh*t or stupidity?

UK comms watchdog mulls 5G tweaks: Operators want moooooar power

xpz393

Behold the beamforming arse!

...because I refuse to believe I'm the only Reg reader who reads the AAS acronym this way :-D

The bigger they are, the harder they fall: Peak smartphone hits Apple, Samsung the worst

xpz393

Re: Profit Share & Invention

I was 100% going to upvote the OP's comment, right up until the end of "(B)".

I was still kinda onboard up to the "invented elsewhere." point.

Then it all got a bit Trump, and it takes a special kind of person to thumb that. <sigh>

xpz393

"But a stronger retail presence and brand has swung the market towards the challengers"

No, a p*ss-take RRP set by the market leaders for their flagship products has swung the market towards the challengers.

Go, go, Gadgets Boy! 'Influencer' testing 5G for Vodafone finds it to be slower than 4G

xpz393

Re: 5G are the burger chain?

That sounds “familiarly Three” :-(

Amid polar vortex... Honeywell gets frosty reception after remote smart thermostat tech freezes up for a week

xpz393

Local cache FTW!

I still have an early device from Honeywell's Total Comfort Connect range, which in addition to the thermostat on the wall, also has a "gateway" box which is connected to my LAN, communicates with the wall thermostat via a proprietary wireless link, and holds a local cache of the app-programmed schedule.

This level of built-in resilience to keep the system working as normally as possible in the event of a connectivity or cloud-based failure is the very reason I opted for this system over others available at the time.

So, whenever the inevitable <1% (annually) downtime for the “connected” features of the system occurs, it’s nothing more than a minor irritation. I still wake up to a suitably heated house, and I still have a system in place which will at least work as well as my old non-connected 7-day programmable thermostat did.

Bootnote: Obviously, the gateway box sits on a dedicated IoT VLAN with some firewally-goodness going on for good measure :-)

Mobile networks are killing Wi-Fi for speed around the world

xpz393

Re: Fixed operators to... "shape up to 5G or face sliding into irrelevance"

"I think you will find the default configuration used by Virgin Media is to link the TV box to the Internet via the WiFi." - Roland6

Considering that a substantial part of Virgin Media's offering is traditional fixed broadband, the conspiracy theorist may argue that they do have a vested interest in making their TV offering rely upon it in some way by default.

However, I think the conspiracy theorist would be giving VM too much credit for lateral thinking on that one :-D

It'll take time, but I can see it coming. Perhaps I was slightly off the mark, and what we'll see in the standard home market is a 5G version of the current xDSL home WiFi routers, eg same WiFi to the devices around the home, mains powered, with the WAN link being 5G instead of xDSL. This could also feature an external aerial socket to overcome indoor 5G coverage issues.

D'ya know what, I think I've just landed on Version 2 of my vision already!

xpz393

Fixed operators to... "shape up to 5G or face sliding into irrelevance"

Give it around another 10yrs, and I can absolutely see this quote coming true. If 5G truly delivers consistently high speeds and low latency.

A typical (non Reg-reading) household connects every single one of their Internet devices to their ISP supplied WiFi-router by default. Yes, even the 4K Smart TV which is less than a metre away from the bl**dy router!

With virtual SIMs now in play, it wouldn’t be an unimaginable leap for all of these consumer devices to be able to connect to a 5G network instead of just WiFi.

Inter-device connectivity within the home is already being tackled by vendors such as Sky Q and some premium home audio systems who simply use their own “mesh” network transparently in the background rather than using your WiFi or Bluetooth.

The final piece in the puzzle is for the 5G providers to do their bit, by providing adequate in-home coverage, and competitive pricing options for unlimited data packages.

Right now, us 30-somethings are amused by our retired-age parents who balk at the very idea of giving up their landline altogether. However, I suspect that in another 20-30 years, the young’uns will find my wired Internet connection & distributed WiFi AP setup a source of great amusement.

It shall be my time to balk.

iPhone XR guts reveal sizzle of the XS without the excessive price tag

xpz393

Re: Is it just me?

#MeToo

While everyone coos at the promise of 5G, UK network Three asks if it can tempt you with 4G+

xpz393

You share my thoughts on the subject entirely.

Sadly, it's one of many examples I've experienced over the years where the solution that makes the most sense from an engineering perspective is often not the solution implemented.

C'est la vie.

xpz393

Interesting. Though, it's good to know that at least one of them got it (almost) right.

I guess this is why Three seem to have been particularly vocal about "Spectrum Fairness" when it comes to 4G.

I wonder how it could've been if Ofcom had allowed the O2/Three merger when it was proposed a year or so ago. I guess we'll never know now :(

xpz393

So, did Three get closer to "upgrading 3G to the max 3GPP release" than the other networks, and if so, is that why I find their 4G s*cks b*lls compared to their 3G?

xpz393
WTF?

Three's 4G significantly slower than their 3G

I frequently experience unbearably slow 4G speeds with Three, despite having a decent signal strength, and a device which can support all of Three’s 4G spectrum frequencies, and carrier aggregation.

My work-around is to switch 4G off, forcing the device back to 3G. Hey-presto, problem solved.

Where I am right now, on Three:

4G : 3 Mb down, 50ms latency

3G : 22 Mb down. 25ms latency

This is the complete opposite to what I experienced previously with EE on the same device. That said, EE were charging me 3x more per month :-/

Let's hope this new strategy fixes the problem nationally.

If you have inner peace, it's probably 'cos your broadband works: Zen Internet least whinged-about Brit ISP – survey

xpz393

Re: I'm not a fan of Virgin...

Virgin Media use their own exclusive network, which is how they deliver the 200Mb to you. You're quite right that the DNS lock-down in their router is rubbish, so you might want to do some Googling on how to use your own router with VM's hub in 'modem mode', which would then allow you to use an alternative such as OpenDNS.

As it stands, ZEN, like pretty much all of the others, are limited to using Opernreach's infrastructure, which in most cases will only deliver around 50-80Mb down.

xpz393

Re: Virgin works like a charm

In-line with my own post, I agree 100% with each and every point you've made there AC. My own experience and understanding confirms it.

xpz393

ISPs' biggest mistake - Including Wi-Fi routers

I do wonder how these complaints statistics would look if ISPs still provided a basic DSL modem only, transferring the problem of crap routers and poorly positioned Wi-Fi to the end user.

Here's how I think those support calls would go:

Customer : My internet is sh*t.

ISP : Try again from your PC/laptop directly connected through the DSL modem. How is that?

Customer : Yes, that works fine.

ISP : Great! It's not an ISP issue. Goodbye.

Case in point, I've been with the apparently much bemoaned Virgin Media for 10+ years at three different addresses and have never been without service (that I've noticed). However, I've always used VM's cable modem, or hub in "modem mode", with my own firewall, router, DNS, and wireless deployment in use.

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