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Dell Wireless 5720 Verizon EVDO GPS

March 17th, 2009 No comments

So I was playing poker this evening with a friend of mine (who is also an IT professional) and he mentioned that his built in Dell EVDO card (the Verizon version) had GPS capabilities.  I was not aware of this and so I asked some additional questions, as it would be nice to have a GPS in my laptop when using Google Earth, etc…  As it turned out he has the exact same card as I do, except his is in an “E” series laptop rather than my D-630.  His card did not even have an active service account but it still worked.

Device Properties

Device Properties

My friends Dell Mobile Broadband Utility had an extra button that mine did not for “GPS Status”!  I was a bit miffed since I had just done a complete laptop rebuild including all the latest and greatest drivers and Dell Wireless software.  We compared all our driver and application versions and it turned out I actually had a slightly newer build number software and equivalent driver versions.

Dell Mobile Broadband Card Utility

I pulled out my trusty friend google and I came across this.  I flipped the registy setting as described in the article and re-launched the Dell Mobile Broadband Utility.  Just as expected a couple of new com port drivers were installed and the GPS button appeared!

GPS Status

GPS Status

I have no idea why this was enabled on his, but not mine, but I am glad turning it on was so simple!  Now I need to find some good apps to make use of this.  Google Earth 5.0 seems to sort of work with it, but it does not always show me the dot of where I am (it does know where I am however as it centers the view properly).

P.S. Here are the software and driver versions I am running:

Dell Mobile Broadband Card Utility Version

Dell Mobile Broadband Card Utility Version

-Eric

Categories: Network, Telecom, Wireless Tags:

Review of ClearWire WiMax in Portland

March 17th, 2009 No comments

I got a friend of mine to bring over his ClearWire WiMax CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) box this evening so that I could play with it.  I put it through some basic tests, but I did not have as long to play with it as I would have liked.  A few key points are below:

  • I was testing the fixed wireless version, not the mobile one.  His CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) device was manufactured by Motorola.
  • I had five bars of signal out of five at my house (dropping to 4 briefly).  There is at least one ClearWire tower within a few blocks of my house and I tested it on my dining room table near a large window.  They are deployed in 2.5ghz spectrum so it does not penetrate all that well.
  • Ping times to a known host increased dramatically during a speedtest – I don’t think it is doing fair-queueing (on either upload or download or both…)
  • The speedtest’s I ran came out at three megabit download exactly (which is what his service plan is for), upload was more variable, though it was clearly bumping up against the 768k subscribed limit.
  • I did not like the web interface to the admin gui on the Motorola box, it is pretty cheesy and does not have many options (and some of the ones it does have are disabled so the customer can’t mess with them).
  • Traceroute’s out to the Internet did not work (they died at the Motorola 192.168.15.1 IP), though my friend said he has seen them work before on a couple of people’s ClearWire connection, so I am not sure if this is something that has changed recently, or if something weird is up with my laptop (traceroutes on my other Internet connections are fine though).
  • Ping times to my office averaged 105ms, compared to ping times across my 802.11g to my FiOS connection and on to my office which are about 62ms (most of that is probably the 802.11g).  On my Verizon EVDO card the ping times are around 155ms.
  • I confirmed that it does support 1500 byte mtu’s (no PPPoE reduced frame size BS)
  • The CPE device is in NAT mode and you can’t turn it off!  Your machine can’t sit directly out on the Internet (although you can map ports through).  The box is supposed to support UPnP dynamic translations, but my friends XBox can’t seem to make them work so he had to manually map ports.
  • Anecdotally, my friend reports that VoIP in his XBox games sucks from time to time.  He is in an apartment complex with not the greatest signal however.

Here is a traceroute from my hosting account down in California to the IP address the CPE device was assigned.  I am unsure how many router hops are in their network beyond where this timed out since traceroute appears to be blocked (or maybe that was timing out at the CPE device’s WAN IP, I can’t be sure).

                             My traceroute  [v0.71]
riddler (0.0.0.0)                                      Sun Mar 15 19:46:03 2009
Keys:  Help   Display mode   Restart statistics   Order of fields   quit
                                       Packets               Pings
 Host                                Loss%   Snt   Last   Avg  Best  Wrst StDev
 1. ip-67-205-28-1.dreamhost.com      3.8%    26    0.4  10.5   0.4 159.9  33.1
 2. ge-0-1-0.405.ar1.LAX3.gblx.net    0.0%    26   31.2   3.8   0.6  31.2   7.6
 3. 162.97.117.186                    0.0%    26   26.9  28.9  26.8  69.4   8.5
 4. 64-13-49-225.war.clearwire-dns.n  0.0%    26   59.8  29.8  26.9  59.8   8.4
 5. 64.13.115.162                     0.0%    26   27.4  33.5  27.4  89.2  14.2
 6. ???

Below is a screenshot of one SpeedTest I ran.  I find that Integra Telecom has some fast test servers local here in Portland (though odds are you are bouncing off Seattle or California to get to them).

ClearWire Integra Speedtest

ClearWire Integra Speedtest

If I get some time later with his ClearWire box I will do some more in-depth testing.  I would also like to test the mobile version of ClearWire.  I am sure I will get my hands on one of the USB dongles at some point soon.  😉

My overall feeling is that the (fixed base station) version of ClearWire WiMax in Portland is faster than Verizon’s EVDO, and has better latency characteristics than it.  I would certainly not prefer it over my Verizon FiOS however, and I would even venture to say that I might choose a Cable Modem or DSL over the WiMax (assuming I was close enough to the Central Office to get good DSL from a provider that is not oversubscribed).

-Eric

Categories: Network, Telecom, Wireless Tags:

Debug Mode on Dell Verizon Wireless Data Card

March 17th, 2009 No comments

So if you are like me and want to actually know what the signal strength and noise levels are of your connection, rather than just how many “bars” some marketing guy has determined should be displayed, you need to know how to get access to the RF engineering screens on whatever device you use.

In the case of my Dell Wireless 5720 card build into my Latitude D630 the trick is to launch the Dell Mobile Broadband Card Utility and type ##debug in when at the main screen.  This will bring up a Debug Info screen with all sorts of interesting information (most of which I don’t have a clue what it is).

Dell Verizon Wireless 5720 Debug

Dell Verizon Wireless 5720 Debug

I could swear this Dell utility is similar to one I have used before by Sierra Wireless.  I am wondering if that is just because the base program is now written by Novatel and Sierra uses their chipsets?

-Eric

Categories: Network, Telecom, Wireless Tags:

My favorite IP address 4.2.2.1

March 15th, 2009 1 comment

The most common question I need to answer when I am at the console of a machine is: “Does this machine have basic network connectivity?”.  While there are a lot of ways to accomplish this, I find the most convenient cross platform way to do this is with the ping command.  The question then becomes, what should I ping?

The answer depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  In most cases, I am troubleshooting this hosts connectivity to the network (not the core network itself) so any IP on the internal LAN or out on the Internet will do (most networks I work on do have Internet connectivity such that I can ping Internet hosts).

Many would say you should start with the most basic test and try to ping your gateway address (which I agree with), but this requires some thought on my part to figure out what subnet I am on and then type out some ip like 192.168.1.1 or 172.16.2.1.  I find these IP’s difficult to type, and so I generally go to my favorite standby 4.2.2.1.

The IP 4.2.2.1 is wonderful since it happens to be a DNS server for Level 3 communications (or maybe Verizon, not quite sure which since the IP space is registered to L3, but the reverse DNS points at gtei.net which rolled into Verizon, and back in the day I am pretty sure it was a GTE DNS server).  Since it is a DNS server for one of the largest networks in the world it is *always* available, and I think it is actually implemented as an “anycast” IP which means there are many servers around the world serving out responses to that IP and you will be routed to whichever is closest network wise.

Not only is it a great host to ping to check network connectivity, but it is also a recursive DNS server that will respond to queries from any host on the Internet!  This is useful when you are on some network somewhere and you don’t know what DNS servers to use (or don’t want to use the local ones for some reason), and just need something as a temporary solution.

Now please don’t go ping flooding these dns servers or using them for all your networks recursive DNS queries.  I very much appreciate that Level 3 lets these servers respond to recursive queries (which I don’t think they did at one time in the past) and I don’t want to give them a reason to turn it off!

It’s also worth noting that 4.2.2.2 and 4.2.2.3 also respond similarly.  It might actually be faster to type 4.2.2.2 than 4.2.2.1, but I am so used to the latter that it is what I use.

-Eric

Categories: Network, Telecom Tags:

Portland OR Telecom and Colo Providers

March 7th, 2009 No comments

I have created a permanent page on the site that I will keep updated as a reference to all of the various Colocation and Telecommunications options in Portland Oregon.  This is all information that I have acquired over the years that I suspect may come in handy for others.  If you have any questions/comments/corrections feel free to post them on the site or shoot me an email!

-Eric

Categories: Colocation, Telecom Tags: