Archive for June, 2009

Dialup Smackdown – Fort Pierce, FL

So I had some time today and decided to test every phone number I could (anything on’s partner networks). The results are below (yes, I used Excel; grab OpenOffice if you can’s read an XLS file). They represent several hours of work, a few hours off of my backup dialup account and a fair amount of data entry. Hope it’s worth something to someone 🙂

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As evinced by my last post, I’ve been mucking about with dialup lately. I’ve resurrected my account and run a few tests on it. Honestly, with the included accelerator, I could bear using the service if it meant the difference between $50 satellite and $8 dialup (pay by year). I’d have to go into town to do any big downloads, but I’d do that with sat internet anyway. You can’t run VoIP over satellite so the $50-to-$8 comparison stands.

Anyhow, after trying I thought “who are the big players in the dialup industry?” Here’s the list I came up with:

1) AOL
2) NetZero/Juno (the former has more access numbers)
3) EarthLink/PeoplePC

There are other dialup ISPs, but they pretty much are just the same as, albeit with different pricing, possibly a shorter list of access numbers and a different domain on the end of your e-mail address. As such, I’m sticking with, which I’ve had good luck with, for my emergency dialup/every-once-in-a-while newsgroup access/branded e-mail needs. Even Earthlink and NetZero share the 729-1999 number, and thus probably that USAWide backbone network and dialup performance.

However I was curious about AOL. From what I’ve gathered, they’re the only company in my area that actually has a different phone number for dialup access than 830-729-1999. As such, their service would be running on different equipment, with possibly different performance characteristics.

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Dialup Traceroutes

So I’m a network nut. however few people would go as far as I just did: borrow my littlest brother’s laptop, dial in to my standby dialup account and run a few traceroutes to see what’s shakin’. Pretty retro-cool, actually. If I turned images down I could definitely live with dialup, cost-proportionally, better than a disgustingly high-latency satellite connection.

Yep, I said satellite. Was at church earlier tonight and had to do some work over their Wildblue connection (cell signals are bad there, and landline internet is, well, dialup). They have WildBlue from the folks at CTESC. 512 kbps down, 128 kbps up, $50 per month, 7 GB down per month, 2.3 GB up per month and a truckload of latency. How much? Try 1500-2500 milliseconds to, my ping target of choice around these parts. If you really want to get geeky, the first eight hops or so are all private IPs (good; I don’t want satellite internet hogging public IP space for tons of router hops) and the connection appears to be Qwest-only from there (Laredo, supposedly) out to the internet. Big bowl of yuck if you ask me…too bad the one-way sat systems aren’t as popular and have even lower download caps.

So back to dialup. After calling my dialup ISP to retrieve my password (I never use the account…okay, almost never…so I had totally forgotten it was a temporary thing for use when other people needed an account to download something), I grabbed their four-megabyte connection wizard/accelerator installer and set it up. Now 4 MB isn’t too bad over cable or DSL, but over a 512k wireless connection it takes a minute or three, especially when another computer is downloading Internet Explorer 8 in the background.

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Running an iPhone on Five Star/West Central Wireless

For those of you who thought my next blog post would be a deep, insightful glance into the human psyche, shame on you. I’m a techie 99.9% of the time and an armchair philosopher only 0.1%. Since there are less than 1000 posts on this blog, you’ll have to take the former.

So I have an unlocked first-generation (EDGE only) iPhone. A few days ago I updated the firmware to 2.2.1 and used PwnageTool to jailbreak it. The unlock was made a few years ago via iPhoneSIMFree (I resold that software). I’ve used AT&T and T-Mobile SIMs in the phone at different points; AT&T has better coverage around here and allows data on prepaid. Though neither carrier is perfect with coverage (particularly T-Mobile) and data speeds are slow (70-80 kbps on AT&T EDGE)

The local wireless provider, Five Star Wireless, got bought out by another semi-local provider, West Central Wireless, a few years back. As a result, the formerly CDMA (and before that TDMA) carrier has now overlaid their CDMA network with GSM. Since West Central Wireless’s original markets were GSM, for increased coverage nobody can sign up for CDMA pans from Five Star anymore. Which is okay, I guess; though I personally prefer CDMA to GSM a SIM card is a beautiful thing, I still get Five Star’s freaking-awesome coverage footprint (they should call themselves Five Bar Wireless…that’s what my phone shows most of the time)…and GSM is what the iPhone runs on.

But how do you get the iPhone working, including data, on West Central/Five Star? Follow the directions below. Thanks to Alex N at West Central Wireless support for his help son this! (isn’t it awesome when a local carrier knows how to put unlocked iphones onto its own network?): Read the rest of this entry »

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