For many full time RV’ers who are working from the road, the latest connection technologies are extremely important. In my case, I connect through my iPhone and my portable Mi-Fi device. My work is 99% based on the net now, so connectivity is a must. When I’m at parks with Wi-Fi I use their connection. And when I’m parked somewhere with no Wi-Fi I use my devices to connect via 4G.
Now recent news has been talking all about Verizon Wireless throttling heavy users, and AT&T Wireless being taken to task by the FTC. In the end, what does it all have to do with my connectivity on the road?
My RV Internet has gone Wonky
Yes, Wonky is a word. And yes, my connectivity is going wonky. Over the past few weeks I’ve been noticing some trends that are concerning to me. First off, the promised data throttle from Verizon for heavy users has apparently been called off. Yes, I’m one of the folks who received an unlimited plan years ago, and I do utilize it. Even though we’ve been reassured that the throttling isn’t going to happen, I’m seeing some interesting stuff here. At times I can barely work on client sites. And it’s at those moments that I try something…..
I pop on over to Netflix. Website load time there is STUNNINGLY fast. Site pops up, I can start watching a show, everything seems peachy. But then I head back to working on client sites at GoDaddy, MediaTemple, and other web hosts and I find myself back in the painfully slow lane. Why do Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and Hulu pop up at blazing speed, and small sites hosted by smaller companies come up at the pace of a tortoise?
A preview of changes in the world of Net Neutrality?
One fear I’m beginning to have is over the entire net neutrality deal. Here’s the bottom line. Right now all internet traffic should be treated equally. If I navigate to a small site like the Airstream Chronicles I should have the same speed as I have going to Amazon. The thing is, over the past month I’ve found that’s not the case. And it leaves me wondering, are we already experimenting with different tiers of network speed for different businesses while the net neutrality debate goes on? From my observations over the past few weeks I’m beginning to think that’s the case.
As I’ve been working with clients and watching my own statistics I am seeing a longer load time on small sites. It’s a load time that I’m not seeing on the heavy hitters. And it wouldn’t surprise me if carriers are toying with their two tiers of network speed as they think they’ve got a slam dunk with the FCC on going forward with their “pay for extra bandwith” plans they have.
I’m not writing this as a conspiracy theorist or anything like that folks. As a veteran of the telecomm industry I could see testing on some level. The debate isn’t over yet, but in my opinion the value of traffic going to my site should be on par with the traffic heading elsewhere.
How we use the net
In the case of the network usage here at The Airstream Chronicles, I’ll lay out what this year has looked like. There are times that I am a heavy data user on my connection, and other times where I’m not. It all depends on where I’m parked. Let’s talk about the travel for clients this year.
- January – Prescott AZ and Borrego CA. While in Prescott I went over 15 Gigs easy. When we headed to Borrego I barely had any connection.
- February – Prescott, Kingman, and Borrego. Only a few weeks in Prescott but over 15 Gigs again. Point of Rocks doesn’t have WiFi. When we moved on to Kingman to work we used the park’s WiFi and left the 4G off. Once again, Borrego meant no real bandwidth use.
- March – Spent our time in Black Canyon City working for Aesthetic Dentistry of Scottsdale. Used the park’s bandwidth, and the 4G didn’t get much use.
- April – Spent our time in Black Canyon City working for Aesthetic Dentistry of Scottsdale. Used the park’s bandwidth, and the 4G didn’t get much use.
- May – 2 weeks in Prescott, under 10 Gigs. Middle of May up in Cortez and used the park’s WiFi once again.
- June – Landed in Sutton, MA to work for clients. Had WiFi as we were near the entrance of the park we were at. There was no 4G available and we depended on the park.
- July – Still in Sutton, but lost the Wi-Fi as we moved spaces. Operated off of the slowest 3G ever (more like 1x) and was under 5GB
- August – Georgia and then headed West. Under 20GB on the 4G.
- September – In Cortez for the month. 100% park Wi-Fi (super fast).
- October – Prescott once more, and no park Wi-Fi, so back on the 4G again, with variable speed. Used under 30GB.
- November – Here we are in November. And so far 15GB of data usage on my unlimited.
As you can see, sometimes we heavily use 4G LTE, and sometimes we don’t. Averaging it over time, we’re not the heaviest users of 4G LTE out there (read about a guy who did 140 GB in one month). So I hope the carriers back off the throttling idea. When we can grab Wi-Fi at a park we will, and when we can’t? Well, I’m using the plan that was provided to me.