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Mobile Carriers Impose Handicaps On Smartphones

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-now-brown-cow dept.

Cellphones 174

Nrbelex writes "A team at the University of Michigan and Microsoft Research has uncovered, for the first time, the frequently suboptimal network practices of more than 100 cellular carriers. By recruiting almost 400 volunteers to run an app on their phones that probes a carrier's networks, the team discovered, for example, that one of the four major U.S. carriers is slowing its network performance by up to 50 percent (PDF). They also found carrier policies that drained users' phone batteries at an accelerated rate, and security vulnerabilities that could leave devices open to complete takeover by hackers."

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If they slow down my connection (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37220596)

I might not be able to get First Post.

OMG a telco screwing its customers (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220600)

What is the world coming to!

Re:OMG a telco screwing its customers (3, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220718)

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Re:OMG... ONE in FOUR?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37220838)

Since we have basically four major carriers, that means AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile.

Re:OMG... ONE in FOUR?! (3, Informative)

toadlife (301863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221502)

Soon to be AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

And after that AT&T and Verizon.

And after that AT&T.

Resistance is futile.

Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220610)

Why the hell would they do that?

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220642)

" Eleven carriers are found to impose a quite aggressive timeout value of less than 10 minutes for idle TCP connections, potentially frequently disrupting long-lived connections maintained by applications such as push-based email. The resulting extra radio activities on a mobile device could use more than 10% of battery per day compared to those under a more conservative timeout value (e.g., 30 minutes)"

Apparently, the desire is not to drain the battery; but the telco is willing to do so in order to cut down on the number of TCP connections they need to deal with.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (5, Informative)

redshirt (95023) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220826)

Another issue is that a lot of developers are writing mobile applications the same way they might for a desktop computer in an office with a significantly more reliable Internet connection. They aren't considering the reality that a connection may be intermittent, or drop off unexpectedly, and the effort the phone goes through to re-establish that connection.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (4, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221028)

Mod this fella up... or kill him... he's a redshirt and is expendable.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221154)

OR the fact that a 3G connection is slow as hell at times, unreliable as hell at times, or not really there. This is in backwater places like NYC or Chicago.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221432)

Most places, including most urban places, are not surrounded by tall buildings. Those few that are shouldn't really expect better radio connectivity than if they were in the forest. The only solution for those backwater glass jungles is going to be lots of wifi hotspots.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

LittlePud (1356157) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221220)

And they shouldn't. This functionality should be handled at the transport/network/data-link layers of the telecommunications stack, not in the app.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

PickyH3D (680158) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221488)

Developers should understand the impact that their app has on the device that it runs. Not understanding that your connection constantly polling (such as with a weak signal, or no signal) is killing the device's battery because it takes significantly more effort by the hardware to create the connection in such conditions, simply means that you are writing a bad app almost regardless of its other features.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (4, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221250)

I've seen 'tard mobile app developers keeping one, two or three continuously open connections back to a server for long poll. Then I ask them what if they get 10,000 or 100,000 simultaneous mobile users. Someone needs to beat them silly with a clue stick.

My advice... (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221456)

Stop hanging around with "devs" that work for `Tard Mobile. With friends like that, what did you expect?

Re:My advice... (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221562)

'Tard Mobile? Must be one of those fly by night pre-paid service providers...

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221698)

And do they explain that the answer is "nothing" because it's not 1985 any more and 100 000 idle connections is just a few megabytes of RAM?

Really.

Linux will soak a million idle connections, on a decent sized server and there won't even be ominous rumbling noises.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

EXrider (756168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221376)

According to TFA, they know that carriers are buffering traffic and they think that carriers may be doing deep packet inspection, causing TCP timeouts instead of retransmits:

Surprisingly, packets of data sent across this network are buffered by the carrier itself. This means that when a packet of data fails to make it to its destination—a common occurrence on noisy wireless networks—it cannot be instantly retransmitted, as it would normally be on the Internet. Instead, the sending device must wait a long time—on the order of seconds—for a time-out to alert it to the failure. On a one-megabyte download, this slows transmission rates by up to 50 percent, the researchers report.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220830)

Yabut... from TFA, instead of 30 minute timeouts, they went to values like 10 minutes. Strikes a perfectly niave person as perfectly reasonable... 10 minutes on a PORTABLE DEVICE which may wander in and out of tower range (I'm looking at YOU AT&T) seems like a good balance.

Anyone with real network care to answer?

Or just armchair network engineers?

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220912)

I think we need more of a definition of what constitutes a "time out" - an idle tcp connection consumes practically no bandwidth and should only use resources on the end-points (i.e. the phone and the web server). So I don't see what sort of value the telco would gain by causing idle tcp connections to disconnect faster. If anything, it could lead to extra traffic as the connection gets re-established more frequently which probably means more than just the basic tcp 3-way handshake because it will involve higher layer protocols (login/password, etc).

As for changing towers, I don't think that matters as the phone doesn't renegotiate a new ip address just because of a tower hand-off.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (3, Informative)

kwark (512736) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221030)

My telco uses NAT, idle connection still takes resources from the connection tracker.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221034)

Telcos choose to timeout idle TCP connections because all open connections consume resources on the telco's equipment. ie. NAT boxes hold a table of open connections. I assume any "deep pkt inspection" scheme would be the same.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221044)

The point for canceling Idle TCP connections is to free up that port # for that network.
I will admit that I doubt one node would overload with NAT/PATs because that would be a lot of users. Unless of course their phone had a bunch of stupid useless gadgets that continually need to talk to the internet.

Frankly, battery life does not concern me, it is more of their IP spoofing vulnerabilities that concern me.
We have already seen many applications that do some things to cause your phone bill to go up, such as the VM managers that have you call a completely different number, usually long distance, redirections, location specific data, and other little apps. How happy would you be if your phone was vulnerable to a virus that took out cel phones in the US because of their lax security?

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221214)

State-tracking hardware would use resources (RAM specifically) accounting for those idle connections.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (3, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221032)

I was involved in building a mobile operator network.

It's typical for operators to run stateful TCP proxies to overcome the bandwidth-delay problem with TCP/IP. Without these proxies a lot of TCP/IP stacks have very poor performance. As far as I remember, we used 20 mins. timeout to conserve translation slots (which were limited by hardware).

Second, a lot of providers do NAT. Which should be self-explanatory.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (5, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221168)

It's typical for operators to run stateful TCP proxies to overcome the bandwidth-delay problem with TCP/IP. Without these proxies a lot of TCP/IP stacks have very poor performance. As far as I remember, we used 20 mins. timeout to conserve translation slots (which were limited by hardware).

Second, a lot of providers do NAT. Which should be self-explanatory.

It depends on the plan and provider, but you're absolutely right. It's what differentiates a featurephone "social networking" plan from a "blackberry data plan" from a "smartphone data plan" and a "laptop/vpn plan".

After all, if a "social networking" plan gets you on facebook, why not pay $5/month for that and tether your PC to it? Why do you have to pay the $50/month for 1GB on a "laptop" plan when your smartphone gets 5GB for $20?

It's all in the differentiation of services - the mobile network LOOKS like IP, but it isn't. Using proxies, firewalls, NAT, NATx2, etc.

If you want the freest possible Internet connectoin, you've gotta pay for it (the "VPN" tier should get you a real exposed IP, while the "laptop" tier gets you NAT+firewall typically, etc).

Someone needs to do a comprehensive study of all the tiers available and what they provide - are they NATed (and how many times)? Firewalled? Proxied (transparent or not) (transparent proxies are extremely common on smartphones - small screens don't need full-res images)? etc. What ports allow traffic (80, 443 only are common and most users won't notice).

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221306)

As I worked at an Eastern Europe provider, we didn't have any restrictions on data use (tethering? sure, go on!). We also used real IP addresses, no NATs.

However, we still had to proxy TCP/IP. Here are some details:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandwidth-delay_product [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TCP_window_scale_option [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (5, Informative)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221134)

Well, ActiveSync (exchange push) is one good use of these idle TCP connections. The thing though is that idle TCP connections use absolutely no bandwidth. ActiveSync will open an HTTP TCP connection and ping every now and then, increasing the time between pings to find out how long the network supports idle connections. Once it stops receiving replies to the pings, it tears down that connection, opens a new one, and keeps the ping interval at the last known successful time. If there's no actual data being processed (new emails being sent/received, calendar entries, etc) then no traffic other than the pings will be passed, and these are small packets. The goal being to find the longest time possible that the connection can stay open between having to send pings, as any data uses bandwidth, battery, etc. Once ActiveSync

Setting up a TCP connection takes way more bandwidth and battery than leaving an idle connection open. And having to keep doing it, over and over, if the network operator is killing idle TCP connections, will drain a battery extremely quickly, and generate way more network traffic in the long run.

So why do carriers do it? Shitty NAT implementations. Up here in Canada Rogers, until recently, used NAT and the 10.x.x.x block for all wireless data users. Their NAT router would kill idle connections quickly to keep overload ports available for all it's customers. At one point it got so bad that the battery on my iphone 3G was draining in 2 hours tops if I kept push on for my exchange server.

it's all about money (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221474)

The carriers don't want to spend the money for NAT boxes, firewalls, deep-packet-inspection boxes, etc. with multiple open connections per subscriber--it eats up memory for connection information.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (5, Interesting)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220932)

Every push mail client which will malfunction or only slowly function by this, or the battery consumption of which (see the android battery stats) will drive the customer to turn it off will motivate the customers to use text messages for urgent things.

If they manage to drive away 10% of the push mail users to sending 2SMS per day, they will already earn more on this than on the data transfer for the rest (lets not forget that in a flatrate they dont earn money on pushmail).

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (3, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221186)

Apparently, the desire is not to drain the battery; but the telco is willing to do so in order to cut down on the number of TCP connections they need to deal with.

That is exactly right. The issue is, many carriers still have large NAT deployments. This means they must NAT every connection originating from every smart phone in their network. In the old days this wasn't a problem because the number of connections were typically fairly small and limited. Now that smart phones are general purpose computing devices, the number of connections which must be tracked have exploded. In other to more closely guard their finite resources, they lower their timeouts.

Of course, the proper solution is to migrate all smart phones to IPv6 and completely stop NATing. Its a win-win for everyone at that point.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221710)

Except they'd still need NAT for the massive amount of content still only reachable by ipv4.... No time like the present to start, but it's not an immediate solution.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221466)

the answer is then sw developers making keepalives smaller than that.

it sucks for everyone involved.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220646)

Does it save some resource (maybe electricity) on the tower side by any chance?

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220774)

Short answer: No.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220848)

Long answer: Yes (because NAT tables, stateful filters and other "customer experience enhancement" routines cost resources, and in cutting down on what those need to do they increase the work the phone must do to carry out ordinary tasks.)

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220658)

Dead phones don't poll the network, cutting down on resources needed? (Just a WAG). OTOH, dead phones don't go over text or voice minute limits, either, so maybe it's a case of incompetence rather than malice (so hard to tell with the Telcos)

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (2)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220670)

Because at about the one year mark, people start getting itchy to get a new phone. A battery draining faster than it used to will often be the nudge they need to drop the money on a new phone, especially when the batteries in question are a significant fraction of the cost of a new phone.

IE: cell companies acting like the slime they are.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37220760)

Isn't the defective USB connector on the Droid/Droid 2 that makes charging a total crap shoot after a few months sufficient for this purpose? It's not like the battery life was even remotely decent to begin with...

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

seekret (1552571) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221012)

I'm not sure this is entirely true with the carriers now offering free battery swaps for customers.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (3, Interesting)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220806)

Yea, they usually tout battery life as a selling point over the competition.
Plus if the battery goes dead, you cannot use up your data/minutes and get hit for overages.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

dmacleod808 (729707) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220874)

to sell more batteries as they reach end of life sooner?

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221008)

Why the hell would they do that?

Willfully slow the network down...on purpose? Why the hell would they do that?

Willfully charge extra for ring tones or ring-back tones? Why the hell would they do that?

It's the same answer all around...because they can.

Oh yeah, and because we let them, and prove it by bending over every month to pay the phone bill and saying, "Thank you, may I have another?" afterwards.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221308)

Sooner your battery dies the sooner you buy another phone and a phone not on the network isn't using up resources.

Re:Wilfully drain batteries? (1)

sacridias (2322944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221644)

To get you to buy extended accessories like extended battery, chargers, etc...

No names? (4, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220652)

How does this help me without naming names?

Re:No names? (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220668)

AT&T

There you go

Re:No names? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220852)

Yeah the US is only AT&T, Verizon and the comedy relief sidekick Sprint. There, the names are named.

Re:No names? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220854)

Verizon

Now we've covered 80+ percent of the US market

Sprint

TMobile

OK, now we're done...

Re:No names? (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220980)

TFA states "Due to security and privacy concerns, we anonymize their names and label them as Carrier A and Carrier B."

I'm guessing that's in fact BS, and the real reason they don't tell you which carrier is which is to protect themselves from massive lawsuits, or possibly because Microsoft Research can't offend the carriers because their corporate overlords want to have deals to sell Windows-based smartphones to them.

No kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221158)

the real reason they don't tell you which carrier is which is to protect themselves from massive lawsuits

You can thank government for that. Only the elite at the top of the power pyramid hold the keys to making unjust lawsuits work (and work they do, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars per year).

Re:No names? (3, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221590)

TFA states "Due to security and privacy concerns, we anonymize their names and label them as Carrier A and Carrier B."

Because corporations are people and people have a right to privacy.

Yes, it is for security reasons (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221706)

TFA states "Due to security and privacy concerns, we anonymize their names and label them as Carrier A and Carrier B."

I'm guessing that's in fact BS, and the real reason they don't tell you which carrier is which is to protect themselves from massive lawsuits, or possibly because Microsoft Research can't offend the carriers because their corporate overlords want to have deals to sell Windows-based smartphones to them.

Yes, it is for security reasons - the researcher's own security.

They are clearly afraid of those behind the names.

Re:No names? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221754)

TFA states "Due to security and privacy concerns, we anonymize their names and label them as Carrier A and Carrier B."

I'm guessing that's in fact BS, and the real reason they don't tell you which carrier is which is to protect themselves from massive lawsuits

Well yes, it's their security and privacy they're protecting.

Makes sense to me.

Re:No names? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221784)

the real reason they don't tell you which carrier is which is to protect themselves from massive lawsuits

Unless you consider lawyers' ability to use the court system to drain your funds as not being a credible threat, that's a "security concern."

Re:No names? (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221106)

How does this help me without naming names?

How do you think they got paid back for their research?

Orange UK (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220710)

Can somebody please do this for Orange in the UK, and publish their results? They're unbelievably bad in central London. I can walk around Soho for 15 minutes and find what I'm looking for before maps load on my iPhone4. I had better service using the phone whilst on holiday in Greece last October... problems with network performance and timeouts returning when I was on the Tube from Heathrow.

Re:Orange UK (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220766)

Yes somebody can. I nominate Malc.

Re:Orange UK (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220978)

I call "not it"

Re:Orange UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221440)

I call "not it"

Ah society... Always shirking society's responsibilities...

Re:Orange UK (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221036)

You're holding it wrong ;)

All I care about is (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37220732)

I dont care about any of that, all I want to know is I can still access my facebook and tweet about it while I am updating my friends list?

Re:All I care about is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37220968)

What a simple mind you have.

What would happen if you were in a crowd who all wanted to do just that and there was no network capacity.
  bo hoo.
Diddums can't send some inane tweet about something totally unimportant.

Re:All I care about is (2)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220984)

I dont care about any of that, all I want to know is I can still access my facebook and tweet about it while I am updating my friends list?

Ha, exactly. And now you know the reason that telcos get away with this kind of bullshit, because to be quite honest, this is all that 98% of their customer base cares about too.

This happens in Sweden too, and they don't lie... (5, Informative)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220770)

...about it either.

I moved out on the countryside, thinking that Sweden was one of the most developed & connected countries in the world, well...turns out it's something of a fad.
Tried 3 different operators, Telenor, 3-Sweden and Comviq (essentially Tele2 on the cheap), Turns out that Telenor shares Cellphone-Relay point (antenna) with 3-Sweden, and Comviq has their own (again, owned by Tele2)...getting confusing yet?

The thing is, I tried all of these without any good results, oh...the signal was at FULL capacity...full power (all 4 bars lit), but the oh-so-known 404 Error turned up every 2nd web page or so, sometimes I had to wait 10 minutes for the 6mbit connection to load one single web page.

Then I got savy and tried a trick like "Kick-the-other-users-off-the-carrier"...how does that work, you ask? Simple...just disconnect to the network (3G!) and connect again. This logs you on at full speed, well...people found out about this and a storm of complaint came on, denied by all the telecompanies...of course.

And then I called support, and they finally called back and told me - twice (two different technicians calling each time) - that your cellphone carrier is OVERLOADED.

Then I asked them, well...will you expand this capacity since it's as you say ...overloaded? The answer was NO. From BOTH of them.
The town of 13.000 people is too small to add another 1 Mill SEK (Swedish currency) cellphone antenna relay carrier...so we won't do that.
BUMMER.

Turns out they solved this by simply "sharing" the speed amongst the users, by limiting it. Not admitting this of course...but the results amongst our neighbors and me tells it's own story.

Needless to say, I switched to LandLine based internet, good ol'l ADSL (or VDSL...as it's called now) and the speed blazes off a steady 13-14 Mbit without as much as a hickup. Despite this, the door-to-door sellers, claim that we all should DITCH the old wired connection because the new wireless one is MUCH BETTER and MUCH CHEAPER...

Yeah ...riiight...we've experienced that... O__O

Furthermore people are actually dumb enough to fall for it, and the masterplan from all the telecompanies is to DITCH the LANDLINES because ...in their own words...are too expensive to maintain.

Goodbye reliable internet...People...please start protesting against this in YOUR neighborhood!

Re:This happens in Sweden too, and they don't lie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37220918)

Here in the US, DSL rarely gets more than 2Mbps, and cable is retardedly expensive for the service you get. Additionally, because the carriers all use different technologies and spectra, they're physically unable to pull shenanigans like that.

Re:This happens in Sweden too, and they don't lie. (1)

giant_toaster (850764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221020)

Yeah, I'm in the UK and my upload is only 3Mbps (so a little faster, but still painful to use!). Not good.

Re:This happens in Sweden too, and they don't lie. (1)

mla_anderson (578539) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221572)

Where in the US? I've only lived one place where I couldn't get at least 6Mbps DSL, so there I switched to cable at 15-30 and saved $20/month.

The US did have poor broadband, but it's much better than it was.

Re:This happens in Sweden too, and they don't lie. (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221118)

The town of 13.000 people is too small to add another 1 Mill SEK (Swedish currency) cellphone antenna relay carrier...so we won't do that.
BUMMER.

For those of us in the US, this works out to slightly over $12 a person.

Re:This happens in Sweden too, and they don't lie. (3, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221518)

HA! Thank you.
This is precisely the sort of thing I've tried to argue about in the past and was repeatedly shouted down and told that I'm just an ignorant American and don't know anything.

The awesome connectivity and speeds has more to do with population concentrations than anything else. America's a huge place, and not a very old place, so our population centers are, er, not very centered or contiguous. New York City is huge, Philly is huge, and the Baltimore/DC metro area is huge, but there's about 2 hours of driving through nothing to get between them (and baltimore/DC are about 30 minute to an hour apart, depending on traffic). Travel a half hour east from any of those places and you're either in affluent suburbs, or straight-up rural areas, with farms, and cows.

A glance at a population density map is really all anyone needs to figure that out, but some people just don't get it. The cool thing to do is to consider anything Europe or Asia to be better than anything America, and that the sole reason for it is simply American incompetence. So frustrating. Impossible to actually ever discuss or improve anything when you're dealing with people like that, completely divorced from reality.

'course your landlines are faster, but that's also tied in to land area and population density.. and also WW2 actually. Infrastructure upgrade cycles! 'course we missed out on our last one! Fucking US Gov't gave the telecoms god knows how much money to lay fiber, to build modern high speed backbones across the country. Good luck finding where that money ever went to, that was coming up on 20 years ago now iirc..

In Other Breaking News... (0)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220872)

The sky is blue!

Thank you Rob and 42. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37220902)

I'm surprised no one has acknowledged this yet, but Rob leaving will be a big loss for /.

Our thoughts and prayers are with him. Godspeed, CmdrTaco!

Re:Thank you Rob and 42. (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221372)

I'm pretty sure they did. Mostly in the comments section for the story where he announced his resignation. It seemed appropriate in that time and place. Less so in a completely unrelated story about shitty telcos being shitty.

I hope that clears up your confusion.

OMG! Do you know what this means?! (0)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220934)

This means that the carriers are their own interests at heart and not those of their customers! I'm shocked! Just Shocked!!

Dial down the drama already. (2)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220950)

"...the team discovered, for example, that one of the four major U.S. carriers is slowing its network performance by up to 50 percent (PDF). They also found carrier policies that drained users' phone batteries at an accelerated rate, and security vulnerabilities that could leave devices open to complete takeover by hackers."

Uh, a team "discovered" this?

Telcos are screwing with us and not delivering what they advertise. Yeah, wake me up when there's actual news to report instead of wasting time and money proving the painfully obvious.

Oh, and where the hell are these "more than 100" carriers?!? I think I can name five off the top of my head. I thought the giants pretty much bought everyone else.

Re:Dial down the drama already. (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221000)

Oh, and where the hell are these "more than 100" carriers?!? I think I can name five off the top of my head. I thought the giants pretty much bought everyone else.

Probably counting resellers and itty-bitty single-city carriers.

Re:Dial down the drama already. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221328)

Oh, and where the hell are these "more than 100" carriers?!? I think I can name five off the top of my head. I thought the giants pretty much bought everyone else.

Probably counting resellers and itty-bitty single-city carriers.

You're probably right, but in the case of those "itty-bitty" carriers, would anyone be really surprised to find less-than-stellar performance? I mean c'mon, there's something to be said for finding the gateway router not in a wiring closet, but in an actual closet.

Re:Dial down the drama already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221208)

They're in this place called "the world"

Re:Dial down the drama already. (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221300)

The reason to do a study like this is as follows:

You: My anecdotal evidence is that the carriers are screwing with us their customers
Politician: They would never do that!

Scientist: This study shows how the carriers are screwing with their customers
Politician: I can't ignore scientific evidence

(at least it should work that way...please no replublitard posts...)

It is much harder to ignore gathered evidence than what you or I see happening. Maybe now we can get the FCC to go after some of these carriers a little easier. The more evidence we gather, the more we can prove that the carriers are screwing with us, and the less it can be ignored by the FCC.

Re:Dial down the drama already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221484)

Well, it's good to have quantified evidence that this is being done. If handled properly, it might even be useful in legal action.

And, drama or no, this shouldn't be considered normal or acceptable. That is, I think, one of the biggest victories of both companies and governments in the past 20 years - that we are now so cynical that the reaction to revelations and evidence about how we're being screwed are met with "Yeah, we knew that" and no action.

Frankly, torches and pitchforks would be an improvement.

No. More drama please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221526)

Evidently, not enough drama has been made over this because the problem continues.

First Post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37220956)

Oh.

At least it would have been if my cell carrier didn't slow my connection down.

"Unauthorized Applications" (3, Funny)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220982)

This must be the kind of app that the carriers meant when they said that it would be a problem if they allowed "Unauthorized Applications" on the network. See, they were right all along.

Re:"Unauthorized Applications" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221708)

Hmm, not found on the Android market now.

Where can I get this app, and check on my own Telco?

Telco shmelco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221112)

In Victoria BC when near the waterfront I wind up hooking up the towers from Port Angeles. And getting kicked off the local towers for freakin' 3g. Then the schmucks charge LD to the states to make my local calls and refuse to give me credit on the calls! Bell you can go to hell...I now use my laptop with Google Talk at Starbucks for telephony in that area and shut my phone off! When my Bell contract is up they can stick the phone up next year their ass!

Tampering (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221162)

They also found carrier policies that drained users' phone batteries at an accelerated rate, and security vulnerabilities that could leave devices open to complete takeover by hackers.

Could this be interpreted as tampering? I'm fairly certain that AT&T doesn't need to ping my phone every 5 minutes when I'm just sitting still (I know, I can hear the squawk on my radio). Its one thing to throttle your own network (ostensibly to preserve bandwidth), but this sort of behavior goes beyond that. Now, find a state with a law that only requires a "reckless or negligent" act. And one with no minimum monetary loss to qualify as a felony.

Then, sit back and watch the antics ensue.

Re:Tampering (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221410)

Using the law to go after AT&T or Verizon? That's really fucking funny.

they're not tampering with the phone (2)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221522)

They're just shutting down the connection and forcing the phone to re-establish it. Annoying, but I doubt it's illegal since every firewall and NAT box on the net has the same timeout mechanisms...they're just set for longer delays.

and everyone surprised by this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221238)

Teleco's are worse that lawyers and snake oil sellers. for example it does not cost then anything to move an SMS but they charge 10-30p.

AT&T TCP Timeout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221290)

I know for a fact that AT&T TCP timeout is set to 2 minutes. I have a bunch of tracking devices and had to set the keepalive to that value in order to keep a constant IP.

I have recently switched to using Jasper Wireless services and they have an 8 hour timeout but then they are a specialized service that resells major carriers services for Machine 2 Machine use.

Jasper is great for this as they are partnered with many different carriers around the globe and my trackers will switch to whatever network is available without any type of roaming charges.

Re:AT&T TCP Timeout (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221530)

I think you mean DHCP lease time.

And yeah, 2 minutes seems like a pretty low number, but given the shortage of IPv4 addresses it might be necessary.

Mod parent down (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221554)

Yes. Mod me down.

I didn't read TFA article and my above post is full of fail.

Now we wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37221394)

...for the carriers to cry foul and ask that the researches be prosecuted for 'hacking' their networks. Oh wait, they have Microsoft behind them...maybe not.

Water is wet, sky is blue (2)

arbulus (1095967) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221418)

There is plenty of available bandwidth. All they want to do is throttle you so they can sell you back the thing they just took away from you.

How is this only being 'discovered' now?? (1)

Vegan Cyclist (1650427) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221464)

Telco's have been ruining phones for some time.

When i upgraded a few years ago, i did a bit of research on the phones available, and picked one out that had the features i wanted.

Turns out Rogers, a big Canadian telco, crippled numerous aspects of the phone.

For example, the ring tone. I could *barely* get my own custom ring tone after jumping through several technical loops. How about 'message' tone (ie, txt message alert) - nope. I have to use one they have, or BUY a new sound.

On my previous, totally basic phone, i could at the very least use the 'Record' feature to record a sound, and then use that as a tone (ring or message.) Not on this one. I can record audio, but can't use it as a ring tone.

The list goes on and on, but the most asinine 'feature' is that with Rogers you can't email or sms a photo (off my device at least). When you 'send' a pic, it goes to Rogers, who then saves the pic on their server, and then sends a NEW message with a link to the pic on the server. How insane is that? It renders things like TwitPic useless. (Although somehow Facebook managed to make *most* of it work, there is still 'code' that appears in the text of the upload.) The 'message' that Rogers sends contains about a dozen images (their own logo, graphics, etc..) so if uploading to Twitpic, it's some bizarre graphic.

Am i the first to 'discover' this as well? Gaah...

Glad this is in the open! (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221532)

I was one running the App. I have seen both problems, and that's why i installed it.

Would've Been Nice... (1)

mlauzon (818714) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221608)

To see a list of the 100 carriers...!

Simple solution: Truth in advertising. (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37221786)

Prohibit any carrier - wireless or not - from advertising "Internet" unless they mean pure, unfiltered, unadulterated Internet.

Let them advertise and sell "AT&T Data Access to the parts of the Intertubes we think you'll like at a speed we think you'll pay for" if they want to, just don't let them call it "the Internet."

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