Computers and Internet

Cellular 4G as a primary internet provider in rural NJ

I conducted a series of tests of my 4G wireless internet over the past several weeks and this post is a summary of the results.

Background

We do not have access to high speed internet (either wired or wi-fi) in the neighborhood where I live so all internet comes from cellular phone carriers. Earlier tests of Hughes satellite internet as an option were unimpressive; it was expensive and unreliable. The current wireless provider is T-Mobile. I have clear prior indications T-Mobile is weaker and slower than Verizon Wireless. However, Verizon Wireless appears to have an error or anomaly in their data measuring system here resulting in hundreds of dollars high billings per month. For example, T-Mobile reports an average of 6GB data sed per month while Verizon Wireless reports that 45GB were used even though I have the same internet usage behavior month-to-month. In general, the cellular internet signal is improving in usability over time.

Procedures

The mobile devices tested were an iPhone 6 and iPhone7. The mobile provider is T-Mobile. Both bluetooth and USB connections were tested to provide internet signal to a notebook PC. The Verizon Wireless device used for comparison is a “MiFi”. I tested the speed at non-random intervals as was practical over several months using speedtest.com.

Goals

A download speed of 0.5mbps is the minimum practical speed for any type of business use without video. 5.0mbps would be my desired minimum speed with video use.

Observations

Download and upload speeds were about 0.5mbps using personal hotspot. In afternoons and early evenings  the speed drops to 0.1 mbps. I am unaware of the cause of this intraday fluctuation.

The tested speed at the iPhones (6 and 7) devices used in this test are significantly higher (10 to 70 times faster) than the signal measured at the PC hotspot pickup.

At times the signal speed seemed to vary significantly between the two iPhones in otherwise similar positions. I have no conclusive indications.

The hotspot speed using a Bluetooth connection is the same as using a USB connection.

 Conclusions

Personal hotspot is inefficient at lending its internet signal but usable during most parts of the day. Verizon MiFi would be the most valuable service for my situation if the data charges were not so high.

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