Mobile technology should not be about cramming the office into your pocket but a way to enjoy your everyday life.

Sonera 3G vs Digita @450


The other day I run in the tram in central Helsinki using both the iPhones own Sonera 3G connection and the free WiFi connection that Helsinki Regional Transport offers in it's trams. The trams uses Digita's @450 Flash-OFMD network to get a connection to the outside world.

I ran the test several times and with 3G I got over 400 kbps downstream while the speed using @450 never exceeded 30 kbps, sometimes staying as low as 12 kbps. The upstream speed was also much better using 3G.

For the record, I salute Helsinki Regional Transport for offering free WiFi in trams and I hope they will continue to do so - even a slow connection is far better than no connection.

The problem is really the @450 network that has failed on so many accounts and the latest news is that Digita will abandon the entire network as it is a commercial failure and the Flash-OFMD technology is dying.

Originaly the Finnish government offered the old second generation cell phone frequency 450 MHz to any operator willing to use this frequency to build a "wireless national broadband network". The idear was to have affordable 1 Mbps broadband in the entire country, even the most remote villages. Building the network took longer than expected, became more expensive, the network cards stayed expensive, the connection speeds remained lower than expected and the chosen technology lost out to the competing CDMA2000 EV-DO technology (which many of Digita's competitors wanted to use).

Not that EV-DO or WiMax networks are doing that well anywhere either. We keep expecting wireless technology to be able to compete with physical cables and that is unrealistic.