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.

So I downloaded the program, installed it and restarted my brother’s Lenovo Ideapad Y430. I no longer own a computer with a modem (iMac, macbook, IdeaPad U330) though my mom and brother’s computers are graced with the retro-sheik tech. At any rate, a few minutes later I was dialed into 830-729-1999 and humming along at a lickety-split 31.2 kbps. Actually, according to’s excellent dialup connection manager the number was more along the lines of 33.6 kbps…an appreciable difference percentage-wise. I could probably get a better connection with a better modem (laptop softmodems aren’t the best) and better telephone cable but this was just a quick test.

Then again, I don’t really care about speed in this case; it’s a means to an end: testing latency. First, let me note that even having a web browser open monopolizes the connection (websites these days…can’t shut up can they). With that said, here are some traceroutes and pings:

1   185 ms   183 ms   180 ms []
2   224 ms   197 ms   174 ms []
3   299 ms   190 ms   189 ms []
4   280 ms   189 ms   190 ms []
5   268 ms   205 ms   198 ms []
6   251 ms   212 ms   197 ms []
7   250 ms   197 ms   194 ms []
8   302 ms   205 ms   208 ms []
9   244 ms   198 ms   197 ms []
10   281 ms   206 ms   197 ms []
11   274 ms   197 ms     * []
12   210 ms   197 ms   190 ms []
13   288 ms   198 ms   189 ms []

1   198 ms   188 ms   190 ms []
2   274 ms   182 ms   181 ms []
3   226 ms   197 ms   198 ms []
4   305 ms   189 ms   198 ms []
5   313 ms   269 ms   189 ms []
6   277 ms   205 ms   189 ms []
7   250 ms   189 ms   198 ms
8   212 ms   205 ms   206 ms
9   284 ms   197 ms   213 ms
10   300 ms   206 ms   204 ms
11   306 ms   229 ms   229 ms
12   418 ms   300 ms   261 ms
13   362 ms   260 ms   261 ms
14   330 ms   253 ms   340 ms
15   268 ms   268 ms   270 ms
16   412 ms   261 ms   269 ms []

Interesting, huh? Looks like some “USAWide” outfit is leasing dialup space to various providers via the Ikano network (I found this out via and backhauling the bandwidth via swireless (ibid). The backhaul terminates in a Grande Communications circuit of unknown capacity. USAWide’s website is on its own network by the way, see

1   230 ms   188 ms   181 ms []
2   306 ms   189 ms   181 ms []

and latency to SoftLayer hovers around 225 ms, +/- 25 ms.

Now all of this probably sounds positively crappy to the casual, broadband-equipped bystander, but for a dialup conneciton that runs me $5 per month for ten hours, plus 5GB of Giganews access, a branded GMail account, CA Antivirus and the option to cut costs by another $2 per month by paying annually, I’m not complaining.

Next up: a look at how AOL (lol) routes their packets in these troubled times. I know they use a different local access number. beyond that I’ll have to pay $10 for a month of dialup to check ’em out. Heading that way right now.