... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Tuesday 5 June 2012


You might wonder why I've not posted much lately, given that we've finally been boating, and I've got so many fabulous photos.

Largely it's because the 3 3G seems suddenly to have gone completely to pieces. I can just about browse blogs and get email on the iPad if I'm lucky, and very patient, but the laptop with its dongle has almost given up working altogether.

Both are on 3, which I've been very happy with up to now. It's not lightening fast, but then I wouldn't expect it to be here, but it's been reliable and most importantly, provides cheap and above all simple PAYG.

The irony is that suddenly both iPad and laptop are showing a far *stronger* signal than before the trouble started, a couple of weeks ago, but loading pages is agonisingly slow - as if the network is very overloaded. Yet when Jim took the laptop and dongle into the 3 shop in Cannock this morning, it worked fine there, despite showing a weaker signal. I wonder if anyone can shed any light on this. We've checked the extension wire and all the connections, but it makes no difference; it's exactly the same with the dongle plugged straight into the laptop on Bakewell's cabin top.

I know that 3 have been complaining that they are in danger of running out of capacity, and they don't have a 2G network to fall back on, but even if this were now becoming critical I can't see how to account for it working fine in the shop, with an apparently weaker signal, nor indeed going downhill so fast. I even thought it might have been the weather (high pressure - thicker air - harder for the signal to get through :-) ...) But for a whole fortnight?

Any insights or advice most welcome - just hope I'll be able to read them.


  1. merely idle speculation, but it could be that recently a few more other people around you now also have '3' connections, leaving you all fighting for limited capacity. I'm not sure how big the 'cells' are or how many new users it would take for this dramatic change, but it's a thought...

  2. We get a much stronger signal on our 3 MiFi than we ever got with the dongle, and it has the advantage of providing a wifi hotspot.

  3. How does that work Adam in terms of which bits go inside and/or outside the boat?

  4. When you move the equipment from your boat to Cannock I guess you might swap to a different cell base station. The one at Cannock may have higher data throughput capacity, or the local one may be more heavily loaded.

  5. Our's is fine, have you paid the bill?

  6. This may not apply to you, but I know that 3 have been throttling the connection speeds for "high data users" between 3pm and midnight. Some of those affected have reported the connection becoming unusable, even for surfing.

  7. The area that 3G "cells" cover shrink the more usage there is on that cell. Looking on the sitefinder website which is run by OFCOM ( if you are at your home mooring you are a fair distance from Base Stations run for 3. There is one at Wheaton Aston (Ivetsey Rd) that is much closer to the canal. May I suggest that as an experiment, you cruise up to Wheaton Aston and see if your connection improves (being closer to the Base Station). Remember being in the bottom of the cutting will affect the signal quality as well. MC.

  8. We stick the MiFi in a window, and it's more effective at getting a signal even than the old dongle with an antenna on the roof. Having said that, the connection was painfully slow at Crick this weekend!

  9. You should try being in Boston (Lincs). It's really sh-one-t here! As it has been most of the way along the Fossdyke and Witham. I, too, subscribe to the theory that 3 is a victim of its own success and is running out of capacity. Weirdly I find that disconnecting and re-connecting often ends up with a strong link that holds and works. Don't know why.