Notwithstanding the genuinely atrocious bandwidth I’m seeing via Clearwire here in Dublin, tonight I tried to buy a VOIP handset for use with Skype. Now, I’ve been merrily sending parcels from Amazon and Apple hither and yon, to wherever I’m next going to be when I’m in the UK, but there’s a clash between Skype’s store’s quoted delivery times and my travel plans. OK, so I’ll just buy stuff via the Ireland store, and have it delivered to my work address. Er… no. Your billing address has to be in the delivery country, sorry.

But… but… the whole point is that I can call… oh, never mind.

The inappropriately-named Clearwire, by the way, is a Dublin-wide wireless internet service, operating over some whacko proprietary extended WiFi protocol. It’s a commendably zero-configuration set-up, and I’m seeing excellent bandwidth within Dublin – I had 150Kb/sec coming down from the Trinity SourceForge mirror, for example. However, connecting to sites outwith Ireland is another story. I’m seeing up to 98% packet loss, 2500ms ping times, and net throughput of about 1.5 Kb/sec to my server in Los Angeles. It’s not even sufficiently stable to maintain an FTP control connection.

Yes, I’m on with tech support about this. Doing the various bandwidth tests and pinging different bits of the network, it looks to me like I have an excellent connection to their system, but either their upstream bandwidth is hopelessly inadequate for their customer base, or they’re traffic shaping like crazy. As in ‘let’s make the traffic shape look like a flatline.’ I suspect a bit of both, but frankly I don’t care. If support can’t solve it, I’m handing the box back. Neat tech, but at the moment it doesn’t work.