lauantai 18. heinäkuuta 2015

Fast Cars and Networks

How fast can you make a 23-year old Volvo 740 go? Turns out that you can make it go pretty fast... at least 200 mbit/s, maybe more.

I recently got interested in maintaining my old car. Well, it was either maintain it or take it to the scrapper. I chose maintenance, and decided to make two important actions: first, get rid of the rust and repaint the car. And second, add high-speed Internet. With IPv6, of course.

I acquired an LTE Advanced subscription from my local operator (DNA) and a router that can support fast connections. LTE Advanced is a new variant of the 4G LTE standards, capable of speeds up to 300 or 450 mbit/s, using techniques such as carrier aggregation.

To be clear, these are some very fast speeds. My current ADSL connection at home is 18 mbit/s, so there is potential for 10-20x improvements. But the deployment of this technology is just beginning, so it is available only in select areas, and of course, carrier aggregation works best when there's enough spare capacity in the network and not too many other users. I do not yet have a lot of experience about this, but in most places I get 50-80 mbit/s easily, and saw also speeds approaching 200 mbit/s. Cool!

Someone asked what I use the network for. Well, to be honest I don't know. Once the technology is there, ideas for applications can come. What Internet function would you like to see in a car?

Details: I am using Huawei E5186 as a router, and have generally good experiences with this device. It is easy to setup and both IPv4 and IPv6 just work. Some configuration is possible, but isn't strictly speaking needed - the system works out of the box.

For IPv6, the DNA service provides IPv6 for all customers, and as long as the router supports this, devices attached to the router get it too.

On the network side, I believe DNA uses Ericsson network equipment.

For fast connections, the internal network in the car needs to be fast too; I'm using 802.11ac, so the router and devices need to support that.

All this equipment is of course mostly made for non-car use. The router draws 2A of 12V. I'm a bit reluctant to use the car's electricity directly, as the voltage tends to vary quite a bit. Unfortunately, voltage regulators for 12V to 12V weren't in the stock for the local electronics store, so I went for an inverter to 220V and then back to 12V. Not pretty, and uses too much electricity, but it is a temporary solution.

Photos (c) 2015 by Jari Arkko.