In 1994, snafu.de provided my first home connection to the interwebs via a 33.6K (kbits/s) modem. The upgrade to 56K came only a year later, but being a speed freak, I soon abandoned snafu for the German telecom who offered ISDN (128K by channel bonding) and again one year later the first ADSL with 768K. Just two years later again the German telecom managed to piss me off so thoroughly that I quit them right away. I selected QSC as my post-Telekom provider, which was such a lucky choice that I stayed with them almost 20 years, starting with the symmetric 2 Mbit/s SDLS line in 2002 and upgrading to the mainstream ADSL2+ option in 2008. Compared to where we had been just a decade before, the speed offered by this technology was hardly believable. In 2021, however, the speed is lamentable. The upload of 1 Mbit/s is a liability in the time of daily video conferences, and the download of 16 Mbit/s is sorely testing my wife's patience during the many hours it takes to download an eagerly awaited and freshly purchased video game.
It's high time to upgrade, I told myself, and consequently looked at the options available to someone living more or less in the center of the western part of Berlin. I had entertained the hope that when upgrading my connection, FTTH would be available, but as the matter stands the only affordable option is still VDSL. After my experiences with the Telekom, I was reluctant to again enter a relation with them, but I'm not too fond of the other big players (Vodafone, 1&1, O2) either. Fortunately, I've talked to my colleague Jonas about my plans, and he recommended easybell, a small regional provider with a clear focus on customer service. I very much liked what I saw and ordered their super-vectoring VDSL offering 250 Mbit/s down and 40 Mbit/s up. The whole procedure was transparent and very well documented, and the handover went as smoothly as possible: we got disconnected at 15:00, and when I finished setting up the new router at 15:30, it connected right away.
Woohoo! Now we're talking. 😎
The new router is a Fritz!Box 7590, and since its producer AVM is also located in Berlin, my internet connection is now a purely regional one. 😉 The 7590 does not support IEEE 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6, which doesn't really matter for me since I don't have a single device that would support this standard. However, compared to the Fritz!Box 7170 I had before, the increase in wireless speed is impressive, much larger than I had expected. On my ten years old Fujitsu Lifebook, I never saw anything better than 10 Mbit/s with the 7170, but I'm getting a very stable 40 Mbit/s with the 7590. Makes a huge difference when using Mathematica via
ssh -Y -C to my desktop: while the interface reacted sluggishly before, it's now downright snappy.
Alas, not all of my devices can actually benefit from the new and shiny wifi: my Nexie won't connect to it, and constitutes the collateral damage of this modernization. Debugging the attempts to connect returned the error message NETWORK_SELECTION_DISABLED_ASSOCIATION_REJECTION, which is caused by the activated “Protected Management Frames” for the login process (on the Fritz!Box: "Unterstützung für geschützte Anmeldungen von WLAN-Geräten (PMF) aktivieren"). Since this feature is required for WPA3 and thus the protection of my entire wireless network, I'm not willing to sacrifice it for one nine years old tablet, even when this tablet happens to be my beloved Nexie. Still, I will miss it, particularly since tablets with this diminutive size have been replaced entirely by phablets, and are not produced any more. And before you're going to argue like 'so-why-not-buying-such-a-phablet': I did exactly that, although for an entirely different reason, which I will disclose in a subsequent post.