Audio and Video IM on the Road

Audio and Video IM on the Road

Summary: I've been traveling in Florida for a couple of days now (my home is in Switzerland), and I have been experimenting with audio and video IM in various places and circumstances while traveling. The results are almost all good.


I've been traveling in Florida for a couple of days now (my home is in Switzerland), and I have been experimenting with audio and video IM in various places and circumstances while traveling. The results are almost all good.

First, internet access seems to be basically universal at least in mid-scale hotels and upward. The majority of those have wireless (WiFi) access, often free. The best equipped so far was the Hilton that we stayed in the first night, which had both wireless and wired access, both free, with an Rj-45 jack and power outlets on the wall beside the desk, just above the level of the desk top. This is such a nice change from the days when I used to have to go around the room looking behind the furniture and under the bed for a free power socket, not to mention the times that I actually had to disassemble the phone plug on the wall! The quality of the internet connection seems to be consistently good, too. I've had a Gizmo audio chat with my brother in Atlanta from each place that we have stopped so far, and it has worked very well. This evening I also had a SightSpeed video chat with my brother in Colorado Springs, and the first thing he said was that the video quality was excellent. I was also going to try to make a Skype call for comaprison, but I couldn't even get the blasted thing (Skype) to start properly, it would immediately crash every time I started it, so I just gave up on that.

Second, when I have been traveling during the day between hotels, I have had good success getting a cellular data connection with my Swsisscom Unlimited Data card. Of course, this being America I can only get GPRS connections, no one over here supports UMTS or HSDPA, but it is still nice to be able to connect when I'm on the road. The quality has been good for email, web surfing and text chat, but as I have already found with cellular connections in Switzerland, the quality of service is not good enough for even an audio call.

Last, I got another response from the SIPphone (Gizmo) support people. This time it was to the User Forum message I had written, regarding having to ensure "uPnP" was set in Linksys routers. I had submitted the audio device selection problem to their customer support, because it was obviously a bug in their software, but this router problem I had just posted to their User Forums, since it wasn't directly a problem with their software. Anyway, I got a response from them, saying that they would make this a "sticky" post in the Forums to increase the likelihood that other users experiencing the same problem would see it. Once again, that is really good support and service.

jw 19/12/2007

Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • Audio and Video IM on the Road


    Actually, AT&T supports HSDPA in the USA and I have two accounts (and the bill) to prove it.

    The data cards from Sierra Wireless and Novatel Wireless work both in the USA and I've found in Europe, as does my Flybook. I just change SIMS and use what's local.

    I've used the HSDPA for audio and had good success, but for video its been hit or miss. HSUPA which comes out next should help in that regard.

    Andy Abramson

  • Audio and Video IM on the Road


    Thanks for the comment (and for taking the time to read). That's very interesting information, about getting HSDPA from AT&T. I suppose this is very dependent on carriers and regions, and I had been being lazy about testing and actively looking for providers when testing. My card and software automatically select the "preferred Swisscom partner", in this case T-Mobile USA, and they don't have HSDPA - although they do at least have EDGE. By manually selecting networks I found Cingular, which I believe is the AT&T network (I can't keep up with all the changes and mergers in the U.S. any more), but it also seems to have only GPRS/EDGE in this region (just outside Orlando). I will keep an eye on this as I continue to travel, however, and I'll note any differences or better results here.

    As for using audio/video over cellular connection, I read your comment as saying that you have had acceptable results with audio when on an HSDPA connection? That's pretty much what I expected when I started, and I was surprised when I couldn't get it on my home network (Swisscom), even on HSDPA. As I mentioned a while back, according to the VoIP speed test, the problem wasn't the speed, it was the Quality of Service. I've wondered if this is something specific to Swisscom, but since I haven't gotten an HSDPA connection from anywhere else, I haven't been able to confirm it yet. Your comment gives me hope that it might actually work. I'll keep trying.