Monthly Archives: August 2011

Singapore Broadband Internet Plan Speed Comparison

A fellow forum user, Sunblock, of Xtremeplace.com wrote a post asking about FTP performance with broadband internet fibre plans compared with his existing Starhub Cable 100Mbps plan. I thought that it would be interesting to do a realistic comparison, so I offered to set up a server to allow us to run some performance tests.

I’m on Starhub’s Maxinfinity 100Mbps fibre plan which I find to be quite fast and reliable. I asked for other users who are on M1 or Singtel to join our testing session and received one reply for each service. I also asked a couple of people who were on Starhub’s Maxonline cable plan to run some tests too.

Test Environment

The main objective was to determine the advantage of one plan over another for FTP usage from Singapore to the USA. The easiest and cheapest way I know to get a server in the USA is to use Amazon Web Services (AWS), so I set up a “small” instance running Amazon Linux in the US West region.

After logging on to the server I ran a system update to make sure everything was up to date. I also installed Apache and vsftpd for HTTP and standard FTP testing. A 100MB file was uploaded to the server and placed in the correct directories for HTTP, FTP and SFTP testing.

Finally, I distributed the key files to the testers to enable SSH and SFTP connections.

Tests

1. Download 100 MB file via SFTP.

2. Download 100 MB file via FTP.

3. Download 100 MB file via a web browser (HTTP).

Results

Plan SFTP FTP HTTP
Starhub 100Mbps Cable 320 KB/s 370 KB/s 50-80 KB/s
Starhub 100Mbps Fibre ~300 KB/s 239-255 KB/s 2.50-6.4 MB/s
M1 50Mbps Fibre 220 KB/s N/A 70 KB/s – 1.4 MB/s
Singtel 200Mbps Fibre 450 KB/s N/A 300 KB/s
Starhub 100Mbps Cable N/A N/A 50-70 KB/s
AWS Singapore 2.3 MB/s N/A 2.47-2.6 MB/s

Note: The upload speed via SFTP was 254 KB/s from my home PC running Filezilla. FTP tests were added at a later time, so only two people completed them.

Running through the results:

Sunblock’s 100Mbps Maxonline Cable plan offers consistent SFTP and FTP performance, but the HTTP performance is simply shocking.

My own Starhub Maxinfinity fibre plan offers consistent SFTP and FTP performance, but screams along for HTTP. In fact the 2.50 MB/s was a one off and all the other tests were in the 6 MB/s range. I thought that this could be due to some local caching, but then surely the cable plans would also get this benefit.

The M1 fibre plan has the slowest SFTP performance and can get up to reasonable HTTP speeds, but seems rather inconsistent.

Singtel’s 200Mbps fibre plan offers the best SFTP performance amongst the local providers, but it’s still not fantastic. The HTTP performance is poor in comparison with the other fibre plans.

To confirm Starhub’s abysmal HTTP performance on its cable plans I contacted two other people who both averaged 50-70 KB/s.

My AWS server in Singapore (micro instance), returned a healthy SFTP result, but couldn’t match my own HTTP performance on Starhub’s fibre plan which I was quite surprised at.

Conclusions

Given the huge difference between the SFTP result on my AWS server in Singapore and all other tests I am guessing that the local ISPs are engaging in network shaping for both SFTP and FTP. This is also reinforced from running the SFTP test repeatedly and seeing  close to 300 KB/s each time on my own computer.

HTTP performance on the other hand shows dramatic differences across technologies and providers. Starhub’s cable plans have terrible HTTP performance, while their fibre plan is great. Singtel’s performance was particularly disappointing, especially given it is from a 200 Mbps plan.

In the end there doesn’t seem to be much point for Sunblock to move to a fibre based plan from any of the local providers. His cable plan performs within the same range or better than the fibre plans for FTP, which is his main concern.



Rugby World Cup 2011 – ESPN Star Sports Awarded Television Rights for Asia

Finally some official confirmation on the Rugby World Cup 2011 web site about the television rights for Asia!

When I was signing up for Singtel’s mio TV I read a brochure confirming the Rugby World Cup 2011 would be available on the service. I’d also seen a few hints on the web in other places (including ESPN’s web site), but there was nothing official announced on the Rugby World Cup 2011 web site until now.

ESPN Star Sports will broadcast all the matches to Singapore, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Vietnam.

There is also a mention of some supplementary broadcasting:

Live TV coverage on ESPN STAR Sports’ networks will be supplemented with dedicated streaming and video on demand through ESPN Player and MobileESPN in Singapore and weekly highlights programming in several territories.

The first game is on September 9, so if you don’t have the right cable TV plan, now is the time to sign up for ESPN Star Sports to make sure you don’t miss any of the games!

I’m happy to finally get the confirmation, but I’m surprised it has taken this long. Especially considering I did see the brochure (back in April) that said the Rugby World Cup 2011 would be on mio TV. In any case it’s now resolved and I’ll be sitting down to watch the first game with the All Blacks taking on Tonga on ESPN Star Sports!



HTC Desire Z – Upgrade to Android 2.3.3

This is the second software update since I purchased my HTC Desire Z last year. The first update was a bit nerve-wreaking, as there was no explanation of the procedure, thus inducing a few moments of “Oh F$%@, what now.” I thought I would write up my experience with the latest update so as to alleviate the use of a few swear words from others!

I recently had a new motherboard put in my phone when it simply failed to turn on for no obvious reason. I was on a trip to China to see my wife’s family and put my phone beside the bed before sleeping. In the morning I woke up and went to look at the time on my phone, but it was as dead as a door nail. With the new motherboard I guess some things may be different from what others have, so just a warning in advance!

Here is what my phone reported from the Settings->About phone->Software Information screen before the upgrade:

Model: A7272
Android: 2.2.1
Kernel:
   2.6.32.21-g6e170e7
   [email protected] #1
   Tue Dec 28, 21:41:11 CST 2010
Build Number:
   1.82.707.1 CL317545 release-keys
Software number:
   1.82.707.1
Browser:
   Webkit 3.1

I wasn’t told of the update through a system notification like some of you probably have been. I was just wondering if the latest update to Android 2.3 was available and hit the “check now” button on the system updates screen. I was actually out and about when I found out the upgrade was available, so I selected the option to only download the update via a wireless or wired connection.

The notification area had an icon to remind me of the pending upgrade and if I looked at the notification drop down it show the download as paused. When I got home I connected to my wireless network and downloaded the update which is 107MB (it’s still in my downloads).

I charged my phone fully before doing the upgrade. In fact, the upgrade process will tell you to charge if you don’t have enough battery power left. It wouldn’t even let me upgrade while I was charging.

It was just after 5 pm when I started the upgrade, so here is a very rough time-line of what you can expect once you start the upgrade process:

5:04 Started the upgrade. “Power off, shutting down….” message appears

5:04 30 seconds or so later a white screen with HTC in green appears.

5:04 About 10 seconds after that an installation screen appears with a green progress bar that gradually moves across.

5:10 Once the bar looks like it’s completely filled with green the phone appears to sit there for a while.

5:11 Now a blank screen appears for a short time followed by the update screen without the progress bar.

5:12 Another blank screen for a short time, followed by the white screen with HTC in green again.

5:13 The update screen appears again, but this time with a progress bar filled with repeating, slanted black and white bars, giving the impression of “I’m busy.”

5:13 The white screen with HTC in green appears again 20 seconds later.

5:13 Another 20 seconds pass and the white screen with HTC in green and the quietly brilliant tag line below it appears accompanied by the normal boot sound. This is looking promising now!

5:14 While the above screen was on the brightness went lower and then back to normal again.

5:15 Now main screen appeared just like a normal boot followed by wireless connecting, the phone network connecting. It’s all looking good!

5:15 Once I unlocked the phone I was greeted with a message:

“System software update
Congratulations!
Your phone has been updated successfully to version 2.42.707.2.”

I then had the white screen with HTC in green appear again for a few seconds before the home screen loaded.

Here is the information from my software information page after the upgrade:

Android 2.3.3
HTC Sense 2.1
Kernel:
   2.6.35.10-gdfb8ed3
   [email protected] #1
   Sun Jul 10 00:08:09 CST 2011
Build Number:
   2.42.707.3 CL104011 release-keys
Software Number:
   2.42.707.3
Browser version:
   Webkit/533.1

A Few Changes

I used to have a problem with my Facebook application where photos in the news feed or at the bottom of the main app home page would appear as empty boxes. This happened if they were already loaded and then I went to do something else in Facebook and came back. It was quite annoying. This problem is now fixed.

A couple of new notifications appeared straight away. One was for Google Reader asking for permission on my work account (I’d not given it access previously). Another was for a new HTC widget, but I couldn’t remember what was there before and what was new! The last notification was for an HTC app/plug-in. When I looked at these I could see Picasa, HTC media link and LinkedIn. I downloaded HTC Media link, but have not played with it yet.

One of the best improvements is the Quick Settings tab on the notification drop down. This gives you an easy way to toggle on and off your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Hotspot, GPS (YES!), and Mobile Network. The last spot in the menu takes you to your main settings screen.

The icon that brings up all your applications now looks like a tiny screen with icons on it, which is more relevant. The apps screen now scrolls in full screen lots making it easier to get to where you want to be and not lose yourself in the process. There are also separate screens for frequently used and downloaded apps too.

Auto-correct was turned on for the hardware keyboard by default. I could turn it on before, but you had to adjust some settings. I think it makes sense to have it on by default.

The first time I went to turn my phone on after turning it off I had a minor heart attack. It seems they changed the time required to turn the phone on from a single quick press to a prolonged press. This is actually a good thing, as I always turn the phone on accidentally when I go to activate the screen to check the time, forgetting it’s off. No longer will I be in awkward situations like in a meeting or in the cinema when the phone starts up with the HTC gingle!

I used the Wi-Fi hotspot feature for the first time ever after the upgrade. Our lighting in the living room was having some problems and the electrician needed to shutdown everything to run a new line. Without wireless in the apartment for most of the day we were having withdrawal symptoms, so I set up the hotspot and it ran very well.

Something is Missing!

One thing that still annoys me about Android is the lack of a network priority/preference setting. This is important for those of us that roam and prefer to be on one network over another, or for people who have a femtocell at home. My Sony-Ericsson phone has such a feature and I really appreciated it.

Conclusion

There are probably a few more changes from this update to Android 2.3.3 that I’ve not come across yet, but I can tell you that this is a good improvement for me. I’m now happier than ever with my purchase of the HTC Desire Z. If only they could make the battery last!