Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Who is the mobile broadband provider of the year?

August 11, 2014

mobile-broadband-dongle

A reliable mobile broadband connection is becoming more and more of a necessity in our day to day lives. Remote working, social media, Netflix and Spotify – we do pretty much everything on the move, and mobile broadband is integral to it all. Without it, we’d be lost.

When you’re trying to stream the latest episode of House of Cards on your long train journey home, buffering is annoying. When you’re trying to conference-in to your important business call and the call keeps dropping, or you’re desperately trying to finish that Google Doc before you arrive at your meeting, it’s a much bigger issue.

Broadband aficionados Broadband Genie recently conducted their 6th annual mobile broadband road trip, which sees the team travel the length of the country testing the latest broadband dongles from the UK’s biggest providers. Each dongle performs a set list of tasks in an allotted time period as the team travels from London to Edinburgh measuring performance. Travelling by train means the dongles had to deal with moving rapidly through areas of varying coverage, so the results are pretty exhaustive.

The dongles under scrutiny were:

EE 3G: Huawei E3131
EE 4G: Huawei E589
O2 3G: Alcatel X230D
O2 4G: Huawei 4G Mobile Wi-Fi
Three 3G: Huawei E3256
Three 4G: ZTE MF823
Vodafone 3G: Vodafone K4203
Vodafone 4G: Vodafone R212

Three came out on top as the overall “best mobile broadband on the move”, with EE not far behind them. In fact, Three topped every single category (pretty significantly in some cases) – you can see all the results here.

Compared to last year, speed and reliability were up overall. As cloud backup enthusiasts, here at BuddyBackup we were excited (but not surprised) by the results. As with most backup services, our peer to peer software requires an internet connection in order for data to be transferred. The quicker and more reliable the connection, the more chance you have of staying 100% protected.

The improvements in speed we’ve seen as a result of improved 4G coverage are already huge – we’ve significantly reduced upload and download speeds. And with 5G (yes, we know it’s still a long way off) promising speeds up to 100x faster, you could be backing up your computer in seconds rather than minutes – even on train journey from London to Edinburgh.

Author: Cassie Holmes, BuddyBackup

Net Neutrality: bottlenecks and buffering

July 1, 2014

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“Net neutrality regulations could have the power to stifle or preserve technological innovation and freedom of speech, as well as influence how quickly you get emails, whether your Netflix streams buffer, and how much you pay for Internet connection and services that exist there.” – CNET

Recently, comedian John Oliver crashed the FCC’s website following his 13 minute rant urging viewers to stand up against upcoming changes to net neutrality regulations in the US.

It’s impressive that so many people felt enthused enough about the subject to actually log on and express their opinion – enough people to render the online comment system useless for a few hours – but what’s worrying is that it’s taken so long for awareness to grow as to what an internet “fast lane” would actually mean for the consumer.

Until now, there hasn’t really been a a real explanation of what net neutrality is, or the consequences it can have. You could either try to wrap your brain around the technical jargon spouted out by the internet giants, or you could read into the melodramatic newspaper headlines that warn of your internet speeds dropping to a snail’s pace.

Neither gives a true depiction of the situation, I suspect.

What is “paid priority”?

Paid priority allows providers to avoid congestion by paying a premium to send their data through an internet “fast lane” as opposed to over the regular internet. So when you’re trying to watch an episode of Breaking Bad after work, instead of it buffering relentlessly, Netflix can override the traffic to deliver your data as a priority, so that your viewing quality is not disrupted.

Does this mean if I don’t pay for priority my regular internet speeds will suffer?

This is the big question. The FCC assures us that the changes would see no difference to regular internet speeds but will merely be the introduction of a higher tier of internet that will sit above it. They also say that this additional tier would only ever be used in times of congestion.

In reality though, when you’re giving certain providers priority on a network, the others are bound to suffer. That’s why we have congestion in the first place – the network just isn’t wide enough to give everyone equal speeds. So when someone is prepared to pay more for preferential treatment, the quality of service provided by regular companies is going to be affected.

So how will it affect me?

Well, if you’re prepared to pay the premium you can expect superfast streaming, instant load times and a strong connection even during peak hours.

If you can’t afford to upgrade, you may have to brace yourself for a future of internet bottlenecks and a lot of buffering.

It’s worth pointing out though, that these changes are only applicable to the US. The European Parliament has in fact taken a wholly opposite view on the matter by voting in favour of net neutrality. The law still needs to be officially passed, but a spokesperson for the European Commission was confident that if the proposal “cleared its remaining hurdles”, the law could be in place by the end of 2014.

Author: Cassie Holmes, BuddyBackup

What the Internet of Things means for data privacy

June 4, 2014

InternetofThings

If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things – using data they gathered without any help from us – we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best.

This Techopedia definition of the Internet of Things (IoT) sums up the benefits pretty nicely. And while they’re all completely true, the scale of personal data collected by these so-called “smart devices” is staggering and has the potential to cause a lot of problems down the line in terms of privacy.

Trust is just starting to strengthen between consumers and cloud service providers. We’ve reached a point where most initial security concerns aren’t seen as barriers to adoption anymore, and people are able to use consumer cloud services like BuddyBackup with confidence. But the IoT bound to disrupt this new-found status quo.

Every action we make generates data. If devices are monitoring us and our homes 24 hours a day, the amount of data collected is enormous – and it all has to go somewhere. Privacy policies will need to evolve at a rapid pace in order to keep up with data protection on such a large scale. Coupled with recent surveillance scandals, the idea of such huge volumes of personal data being gathered and stored by third party providers is not going to sit comfortably with everyone.

Transparency is going to be the key to long-term success. Providers need to be completely open with users about what information is being collected, how it’s being used, and most importantly, who has access to it. Privacy policies need to be explicit, and should make it easy for you as a user to control exactly how much data you’re happy to share, rather than having to navigate complicated privacy settings to protect yourself.

The Internet of Things is unavoidable. As with any new shift in technology, there is bound to be teething problems that should be addressed with caution. But the potential will far outweigh the risks in time as providers work to earn trust in this new arena. If they fail to look after their customers’ data, they’ll undoubtedly face the consequences.

Author: Cassie Holmes, BuddyBackup