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hosted services

hosted services

3Mobile is a mobile ISP in the UK owned by Hutchinson. Their Mobile Broadband service is charged at £15/month, which is approximately the same as the cost of a residential line rental or basic mobile phone contract. However, this service does not offer voice services included, this is purely for a limited 5GB/month allowance.

So for this cost we would expect a reasonably reliable "always-available" service.

Since the cost of exceeding the 5GB quota is extremely costly we have bought into having two of mobile devices and two contracts limited to 5GB/month. So, one would expect this to be a reasonable level of service. To date this has not been the case and before I discard the service completely I thought I'd give them the chance to redeem their selves, like I do with any other complaint that I write here publicly.

success rates

We've been using 3Mobile here for the past six or seven months with varying success.

Of late the service has become diabolical. To the point that after connection the performance drops within seconds.

Ping statistics for w.x.y.z:
    Packets: Sent = 1250, Received = 958, Lost = 292 (23% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 87ms, Maximum = 3861ms, Average = 214ms

As you can see, the loss is far too high to make this a useful service.

name servers

Frequently after connection the DHCP settings are populated with faulty service IP addresses

nslookup -
DNS request timed out.
    timeout was 2 seconds.
Default Server:  UnKnown

> s5h.net
Server:  UnKnown

DNS request timed out.
    timeout was 2 seconds.
DNS request timed out.
    timeout was 2 seconds.
DNS request timed out.
    timeout was 2 seconds.
DNS request timed out.
    timeout was 2 seconds.
*** Request to UnKnown timed-out

terrible pings

For the past few hours tonight the service has been getting terrible ping results from an idle router less than five hops away.

Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=684ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=573ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=1136ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=214ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=454ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=1161ms TTL=246
Request timed out.
Request timed out.
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=2566ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=2840ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=3008ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=2578ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=1019ms TTL=246
Reply from w.x.y.z: bytes=10 time=1007ms TTL=246


For the next few days we're limited to using the 3mobile dongle, I am going to make a point of describing the service quality whilst we're suffering the.


Yet another disappointing day with the 3mobile dongle. The service reconnects every few minutes. This is unlikely to be a result of poor signal but more factors point at the end point resetting the connection. This might be a result of over subscription.


During the day time the service came and went like almost every other attempt to use the internet. The service was not as poor during the evening as on other nights as there was a clear five hours where the service was available without interruption.


Currently I'm watching the mobile dongle redial up to three times every minute. This signal strength and quality indicators appear to show that the media layers are ok, but the network has to be the problem area, or the hardware for the media layer is the problem.

Looking at the top of the browser, I can see seven tabs. Each of these tabs have been created over the last hour by the three dialler when it has reconnected to the mobile network. Two of these pages have "Problem loading page" titles. Try and imagine how irritating this is for anyone trying to do something, to be interrupted by the dialler creating another tab and stealing focus. There's no way to tell the dialler to not load the browser page.

The latest count is fifteen tabs with seven problem pages.

It's pretty hard work just trying to do something over ssh, but at least important things like mutt are running in a screen session so it can be restored after disconnection.


The service has been available most of the time reliably since 20100430, however, 20100506 gave very slow service all day, which might have been a result of higher usage due to the election.


Although we had not used the stick that much recently the connection had failed twice in the first three minutes of use today.


The connection was mostly stable today until 1300 when it was less stable. By 1915 we had the plus.net connection configured and running through a dg834, very painless and very stable.


After being cut off once by a customer advisor, I redialled their customer sales line to try and get through to an account cancellation service advisor. I was told that their customer advisors were busy and would answer the call as soon as possible.

Once I got through they were very sympathetic and offered me a 50% reduction in the monthly cost. This was not of any use to me so a continual decline to their offers eventually lead to them agreeing to have the account cancelled. Good riddance to a bad service.


Thirty day rolling contracts mean that when you give notice to cancel the account you still have to pay the thirty day notice period for line rental. Very bad service.


It suddenly dawned on me that the two mobile dongles may be of some use with another network some day. I've unlocked both using an online tool (sometimes a bit slow to respond to page requests). It does the job very well.

All that's required really is to plug in the stick, start minicom or another terminal program and enter the details that the online tool gives you. The modem should respond with an OK status after success.