Do your cell speed testing exactly 24 hours in advance – tales from IT

So there haven’t been a whole lot of updates this past 48 hours, here’s a story of what I’ve been doing for two days that’s been part of it – figured I’d share some from my IT world as I’m currently sitting at my office babysitting a zoom meeting on an unproven WiFi.

TL;DR – just a tale from Paul’s IT world for the past two days that the moral is “if you need a cell hotspot for anything, make sure to test at the time of day you’re going to be using it because everyone destroys the network at 5pm”

Two days ago I got a request to fix the WiFi at a site on a floor that can best be described as a Faraday cage. Think 6 inch water pipes, metal air ducts for 3 roof air conditioners larger than Bruce Willis climbed through in Die Hard, cinderblock walls, and a wall build for an office/storage space that someone decided to use wavy metal as an aesthetic choice on (and sometimes instead of,) the drywall.

Short of it is it’s currently a WiFi death zone. It’s been that way for years but someone new is using the space outside for a presentation every day this week, did their speed testing on a different floor, and tried live streaming using a router on the other side of this wall of WiFi death. It didn’t work on day one but I was not informed of any of this until day two.

Day two – to resolve this issue I placed a Linksys EA9500 WiFi router purchased two years ago, shelved spare in the space and tested it with a ping storm for about 4-6 hours during the morning. After I left the new tenants got on it and it straight up failed 37 minutes into a major presentation (backplane is bad, discovered this at 10pm last night at work, lemme tell you how fun it is leaving your office at 12:15am).

Friends, don’t let people use WiFi for mission critical presentations. I can give you the list of why this had to happen and a chain of events that lead to it, but whatever. I’m not the broadcaster’s IT people, I’m here for the building and the owner that said “we’ve got WiFi everywhere and multiple gig fiber in the back”.

The agreed solution between the parties who make up my paycheck for this for day three involved me replacing the busted unit, testing it up until the presentation, and sitting in as a mute attendee just to verify nothing goes wrong. To additionally check things out I would be streaming the meeting over a T-Mobile hotspot to get the experience one would get outside of the building so there was no question that this building was delivering.

I’d be doing this on site, but able to point and say “that’s a different network” and also be sitting in another room in case disaster struck for day 3.

You ever see one bar of WiFi when the AP is 19 feet away? I have and it haunts me to this day

I tested the speed of T-Mobile at 10am and was getting roughly 120mbit down and 30 or so up, more than enough to stream, view, or host a 23 person meeting off of my phone if I needed to.

I roll onto site and set up my T-Mobile hotspot, connect a tablet to show the presenter that things are great and… they’re not… completely miserable video quality with frames dropping and the audio sounding like hot garbage.

This is with 5 minutes to presenting time around 5pm. The earlier speed test I’d done on T-Mobile was 120mbit, I did a quick check and it was now 1mbit on a good test usually less. 5pm, everyone started using it because evidently everyone in the cell range of here uses it to stream after work hours.

This was the absolute best I could achieve and on average it was significantly worse

So yeah kids, if you need Cell speed/internet for anything, don’t count of speed tests you did hours before. Do your testing at the time of day you’re going to need it. Broadcasting a wedding from a field at 6PM on a Thursday? Better test it at 6PM Wednesday and every 10 minutes the hours before on Thursday.

That said the meeting went great with a working WiFi, I couldn’t prove it worked perfect on a cell because the above reasons, but yeah. Client didn’t care .

Test that cell at the time of day it’s going to become mission critical.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts