Blueteething on the road with GPRS

by Matthew Gast

When I travel, GPRS is my lifeline. My trusty Nokia 6600 acts as the uplink "modem" for my laptop by emulating a dial-up connection to the operating system. The phone connects to the laptop in one of two ways: an IR connection, or a Bluetooth connection. My laptop is a couple of years old, so I use a Belkin USB-Bluetooth adapter (model number F8T001).

Although I would prefer to use Bluetooth exclusively, it seems to be much less reliable. When using Bluetooth, the phone will sometimes spontaneously restart or it just quits sending data through the GPRS connection. The problem does not occur with IR. It is so bad that it is rare to get more than 1.5 megabytes of data through the Bluetooth connection before I have to restart the phone, or it inexplicably reboots itself for me.

Whenever possible, I use IR as my first-choice connection method simply because it is much more reliable. Multi-megabyte transfers over IR just work, but Bluetooth connections freeze up before two megabytes.

I am on the road right now, but when I get more solid connectivity, I'll have to search out updated software. I am still using the software that came with the adapter (1.4.2 build 10), so there might be an update. It is also possibly a problem with the Bluetooth firmware (version 525). Of course, I may be placing too much faith in a software update to solve my problems...

How does the reliability of your Bluetooth connections compare to other methods such as IR?


2005-02-24 08:55:13
I have a love-hate relationship with Bluetooth - mainly hate at the moment. The problem for me seems to be being unable to connect to my PC consistently, and the setup appears to have days when it's just not going to do it. Sad to say that although Bluetooth's a good idea, poor software implementation lets it down and damages reputation. Like you though, I never have problems with infra-red, so this is what I use out of choice.
2005-02-24 09:57:57
Bluetooth and Mac
I've been using Bluetooth (on a Nokia 3350) with a PB 1Ghz for about a year now, using T-Mobile's GPRS service. I find it's much more reliable if I open up a terminal window and set up a ping every 5 seconds or so (e.g., sudo ping -i 5

Don't know if this will help you, but it's been useful enough for my setup that I've been able to get real work done over the connection.

2005-02-24 14:27:14
Works well for me
Matthew, what is your OS/distro, etc? How about hardware? I use Bluetooth/GPRS with the following setup and it works swimmingly:

Titanium PowerBook G4 IV
Debian GNU/Linux (sid) kernel 2.6.10 & OS X 10.3
D-Link BT-120 USB Bluetooth Adapter
Sony Ericsson T610 Phone
T-Mobile GPRS Unlimited Internet

If you are using *nix, tweaking your PPP settings could make a world of difference. Jepson's article on the topic here and also check out some of my weblog entries. I have a link to Jepson's article in one of them:

PPP chat scripts for T-Mobile Sony Ericsson T610 GPRS via Bluetooth with Debian
Changes and revelations about T-Mobile GPRS

2005-02-24 14:34:52
Bluetooth and Mac
Disable PPP echo packets and you will no longer have to waste cycles pinging Google. Do the following:

In OS X, disable echo packets in the Network setting for your Bluetooth connection. Or:

Open /etc/ppp/options with an editor and the proper credentials.

Comment out the following:
lcp-echo-interval 30
lcp-echo-failure 4

Some folks recommend setting these to very high values, but I simply comment them out.

2005-02-25 11:57:34
Works well for me
I'm generally stuck using Windows while traveling, since on a laptop owned by my employer. My guess is that it's in the Nokia 6600 Bluetooth implementation, since it works swimmingly over IR, but I suppose it could be my laptop Bluetooth software exercising a weak spot in the phone's Bluetooth code.
2005-02-25 11:59:17
Bluetooth and Mac
I'm generally able to get "real work" done. The only problem is that if I connect via Bluetooth, it the phone seems to reboot somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-2 MB of data, whereas I can go up to 10 MB on IR without a hitch. The phone reset generally seems to occur with a reasonable traffic load, so I don't think my connection is being timed out.
Jeff Henrikson
2006-03-30 15:09:27
I cancelled my GPRS service with tmobile on account of needing to reboot my Motorola V330 phone too often. (even after only 100-500k of data). Especially if there was a loss of connection, it was practically impossible to reestablish without phone reboot.