Poor image quality with mobile broadband

Some of you may have noticed that when you’re browsing the web with mobile broadband that your image quality is poorer then when you use normal fixed line broadband. This is due to optimisation by Vodafone – they’ve got a box in their network (supplied by a company called Bytemobile) that intercepts web requests and optimises them to reduce the size of the request so that web pages load faster and use less bandwidth on the network.

This optimisation is done at a number of levels, but the most noticeable is the lossey compression applied to images. This means that the size of the images you download are much smaller than the original file, but the quality suffers – resulting in blocky, fuzzy or grainy images. The technical name for this is ‘compression artifacts’ – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compression_artifact for more details.

Improving Image Quality

Quick Fix
There’s a number of ways you can improve the image quality on a web page, the easiest is to hold down shift on your keyboard whilst clicking on the refresh button in your web browser. This will cause your browser to send a ‘no-cache’ header – the optimiser sees this header and sends the original, untouched web page to your browser. This fix however doesn’t work on Safari.

For the nerds out there I’m pretty sure you can tinkle with Firefox’s headers via a plug in and force the no-cache header to be sent every time.

Windows Client
If you want a more permanent fix, you can download the full Vodafone dashboard client from here . This software includes the Bytemobile optimiser client, and allows you to change your optimisation settings.

Once you’ve installed the client, click on settings, then optimisation. On this screen you’ll find the option to set the image quality to ‘highest’.

Mac OS Client
ByteMe There’s no official client for Mac OS users, however the guys over at http://aitne.com/ have created an app called ‘ByteMe Optimizer’. This tiny little app runs in the background and kicks the Vodafone optimiser into returning uncompressed pages.

Posted by fatcat on May 19th, 2008

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Vodafone simplifies mobile broadband approach

Here’s a press release from Vodafone UK: 

This summer Vodafone UK will begin a multi-million pound investment to extend its fast and reliable mobile broadband network to a further three million people across six major conurbations; Birmingham, Bristol. Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Reading. These towns and cities join London and major British airports, which were the first locations to benefit from Vodafone’s high speed upgrade in 2007. Roll out is expected to be completed by Autumn 2008.  This summer will also see Vodafone start to do even more to simplify the way it sells mobile broadband services to customers.

Since pioneering Mobile Broadband in June 2006, Vodafone has led the way in keeping things simple and through innovation and customer insight1 has introduced the following key elements; the award winning USB modem2, plug and play software, flat rate domestic tariffs and ‘per day’ roaming sessions with Mobile Connect Abroad. Customers can also be assured of the fastest, most reliable network, as recent independent trials3 consistently show Vodafone leading in these areas.

From June, Vodafone customers will see a change in the way Vodafone UK sells Mobile Broadband. Vodafone UK will do even more to help customers make the most of the service, providing more information that reflects the way customers actually use the network.

For example, customers can expect to see more information at the point of sale to help them understand the time it will take to download files, films and music on the mobile broadband network4. The number of emails a customer can expect to download or the number of web pages they can browse will also be more clearly illustrated. Details will be made available in store, online and through our contact centres from June.

“The recent acceleration in the take up of mobile broadband has demonstrated just how hungry consumers are for internet access wherever they are.  As a result we are significantly investing in our network so that more customers can experience our award winning, fast and reliable mobile broadband network,” said Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone UK.

“We are committed to keeping life simple for our customers in terms of access to information about services and speeds, keeping pricing clear, as well as ensuring our device range comprises easy to use, plug and play modems. From June we will focus on providing additional relevant information with details on everyday usage scenarios, which will ensure customers can continue to make the most of Vodafone’s  high speed mobile broadband service,” continued Nick.

Today’s news builds on an announcement5 made in April by Vodafone UK that it has signed a five-year agreement with BT that will give Vodafone the capability to deliver the highest performing mobile broadband experience for customers. The agreement will see BT deploy its new 21st Century Network-enabled Ethernet service. This will enable Vodafone UK to manage the predicted growth in traffic and bandwidth requirements without the need for further investment. (see link to full press release)

Posted by fatcat on May 12th, 2008

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Problems with the E870 ExpressCard on certain machines

It looks like there have been some compatibility issues between the Huawei E870 ExpressCard where the card will not power up correctly (normally resulting in the LED indicator going a solid colour as soon as it is plugged in or no lights at all). This has been seen on certain models of Advent, E-Systems, Fujitsu Siemens and Dell machines to name a few.A new firmware for the card (not a VMCLite Update) has been released to resolve this which can be found here: E870 Firmware Update  It looks like this can be applied on the machine its failing in as long as the Huawei 3G PC UI Interface device component is visible in Device Manager under Ports.cheersSimple

Posted by simplebob on March 31st, 2008

Filed under 3G Broadband / HSDPA, ExpressCards, Tech Tips, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Huawei Modem Utilities

Here’s a couple of neat utilities for Huawei devices (E220\E270\E272\E172\E226\E800\E870) that you might find useful.

Switch Port

This tool will disable the on-board VMC Lite faxless loan online paydayfax instant loan no paydayapplication loan payday,payday loan applicationadvance cash loan payday softwareconsolidate payday loan debtyahoo payday loanpayday advance loan michigan,payday advance loan wisconsin,payday advance loanonline no fax payday loanpayday loan storeinstant loan online paydaydebt get loan paydayno checking account payday loanadvance cash loan payday quickcash until payday loaneasy fast loan paydayeasy payday loanfax loan needed no payday,fax loan payday,day? fax loan payday same ?noloan till paydayhassle free payday loan,free loan payday,free payday advance loancash loan payday quickfax free loan paydayfax guaranteed loan no paydaypayday cash advance,get payday cash advance,advance america cash paydayno faxing payday loan30 day loan payday,30 day payday loanez payday loanbad credit guaranteed loan payday200 loan no payday teletrack,loan no payday teletrack,no teletrack check payday loanloan until paydaypayday loan uk,loan payday uk,payday loan in the ukinstant faxless payday loan,faxless loan payday,easy payday loan faxlesspayday loan no faxing requiredcash loan payday tillfree payday loancost loan low paydayfaxless payday loanno fax payday loan missouriadvance cash loan loan paydaycalgary payday loan,calgary loan paydayadvance? cash loan online payday ?,online savings account payday loan,loan online paydaypayday loan applicationez money payday loanlow fee payday loan1 hour loan payday,1 hour payday loan,payday loan in 1 hourday loan payday same,day loan no payday same teletrackapproval instant loan paydaybest payday loanlotto am mittwochbaccarat systemrealistisches internet casino auto installer.  This is useful if you don’t want to use the embedded software on your machine.

Switch Modem

This package contains the drivers to allow you to use the device if you’re not using the standard connection manager.  You’ll need to plug in the device when you run this utility.

Posted by fatcat on February 20th, 2008

Filed under Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Mobile Connect Lite V3.2.2.182

The Mobile Connect Lite software is used by the ‘plug and go’ devices and is a cut-down version of the full V9 dashboard designed to run from the flash memory contained on the devices.  This release adds support for new devices (the USB Modem Stick / E172) and fixes a few issues with 2G/3G handover and sending SMS.

Download for USB Modem 7.2, USB Modem Stick and ExpressCard
(Huawei E270 / E272 / E172 / E870)
Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite V3.2.2.182
(File size: 17MB)

Download for USB Modem
(Huawei E220)
Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite E220 V3.2.2.182

(File size: 17MB)

Posted by fatcat on February 20th, 2008

Filed under Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Vodafone lowers price of mobile broadband

LogoVodafone have just announced that they’re lowering the price of mobile broadband.

They’re introducing a new price plan for consumers, offering 3GB of data for £15 per month, with overage charged at £15 per GB - almost a tenth of the price of Three, who are currently charging £102 per GB for overage.

They’ve also increased the fair usage limit on their ‘Mobile Broadband Business’ £25/m flat rate plan from 3GB to 5GB.

Device prices vary by price plan, but you can pick up a free USB Stick or Pebble with18m and 24m contracts on the £25 price plan.

Full details available here.

Posted by fatcat on January 31st, 2008

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Vodafone launch USB Modem Stick

USB stick

Vodafone have launched yet another new device - this time it’s a new modem.  It’s just a little bigger than a USB memory stick, but boasts mobile broadband with download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps and upload speeds of up to 2Mbps.

I’ve got my mits on one and I’ll be putting it through it’s paces in the next couple of weeks.  Check back soon.

Full details available here. 

Posted by fatcat on January 22nd, 2008

Filed under 3G Broadband / HSDPA, HSUPA, USB Modem | 3 Comments »

Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) software release

At last!  Here’s the long-awaited update from Vodafone to allow your data cards and USB modems to work with Leopard.

You can download the software from here. 

Here’s the list of supported devices:

USB modems
E272     HSUPA 7.2 Mbit/s
E172     HSUPA 7.2 Mbit/s

PC data cards
E618       3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS 1.8 Mbit/s
E620       3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS 1.8 Mbit/s
E630       3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS 3.6 Mbit/s
E660A     3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS 7.2 Mbit/s

USB modems
E220    3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS USB 3.6 Mbit/s
E270    HSUPA 7.2 Mbit/s

E870    HSUPA 7.2 Mbit/s

PC data cards
U630    3G/GPRS
U740    3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS

XU870 3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS 3.6 Mbit/s

USB modems

PC data cards
GPRS ‘Wapiti’ & ‘Wakou’
GT8401    EDGE/GPRS ‘Magnum Lite’
GT8400    EDGE/GPRS/WLAN Combo ‘Magnum’
3G/GPRS ‘Colt’
GT7404    3G/GPRS ‘QuadLite’
GT9404    3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS ‘Nozomi’
GX0201    3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS ‘GT Max’ 7.2 Mbit/s Ready
GT0201    3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS ‘Fuji-Lite’ 7.2 Mbit/s Ready

USB modems
GI0100    3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS ‘Icon’ 1.8 Mbit/s (VF-DE ‘EasyBox’)
GI0201    3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS ‘Icon II’  7.2 Mbit/s
GI0301    HSUPA ‘Icon III’ 7.2 Mbit/s

GE0201 3G+/3G/EDGE/GPRS ‘Fuji’ 7.2 Mbit/s
GE0301 HSUPA ‘Etna’ 7.2 Mbit/s

Posted by fatcat on January 11th, 2008

Filed under Data cards, ExpressCards, Mac OS, USB Modem | 10 Comments »

Huawei E220 - 7.2Mbps firmware update

I’ve just got my mits on the latest firmware for the Huawei E220. This update upgrades the modem to download at speeds up to 7.2Mbps - compared to the standard 3.6Mbps. I’ve just installed it and run a speed test in a 7.2Mbps area and I’m getting average speeds of around 2.5Mbps, peaking at 4.3Mbps (see the NetPerSec screenshot). The lack of receive diversity on the device will prevent it from hitting speeds much higher than this.

E220 7.2Mbps

This firmware isn’t an official release from Vodafone, so don’t expect any support from them… The usual disclaimers apply here - if you want to install the update do so at your own risk…..

Download firmware 11.117.09

Posted by fatcat on December 28th, 2007

Filed under 3G Broadband / HSDPA, USB Modem | 33 Comments »

Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) support

Here’s a statement from Vodafone regarding Leopard support for data cards and USB modems:

Leopard is not currently supported by Vodafone Mobile Connect for Mac. A version to support OS X 10.5 is in development and should be available by mid-November 2007.
Note: You may experience difficulties using Vodafone Mobile Connect Cards and USB modems with the software included in Leopard. These difficulties will be resolved with the new Leopard-compatible version of Vodafone Mobile Connect.

Update: see this post for the latest Leopard update. 

Posted by fatcat on November 1st, 2007

Filed under Mac OS | 53 Comments »