Since the end of 2017 I'm a happy power-user of Salt, a Swiss Mobile and Fiber service provider.

Basics

My mobile contract allows me to have

  • unlimited data usage, SMS, MMS, and calls in Switzerland, and
  • 200 MB and 60 minutes on the phone in the other European countries and the USA.

Without additional offerings, the contract would cost me CHF 69 per month. What I eventually pay is CHF 39 per month (≃USD 39).

Home network

Before switching to mobile-only Internet I had a classic cable connection from UPC at home. I never needed TV nor Radio, thus there was no problem with getting rid of that. This January I ended the contract with UPC and started using only my Android phone for Internet. Thus, my whole home network is the Wi-Fi of the Android Hotspot. These days all devices "speak" Wi-Fi, so that's not really a problem.

Salt is not throttling

The main concern was initially that Salt would throttle the connection speed after some Gigabytes. At least to 404 GB per month (!), they don't – see the attached screen shot I took at the end of March. You can spot when I was torrenting... 😄

The response time is between 20 and 50 ms, hence this even allows to play online. Fortnite, for example, works quite well.

Potential issues

Not everything is perfect though. When using the Android Hotspot, no UPNP server is running, thus my PS4 can't connect normally to PSN, what means I can't use the Voice feature to talk to my friends. But that's not really a problem as we can talk over the built-in feature of Fortnite, what works well, too.

Also, the ping increases drastically to almost 600 ms when transferring data over the Android Hotspot (Wi-Fi-to-Wi-Fi). Now this is a problem when playing online – or even when surfing as the sites of today request many things at a time.

These issues are all related to Android and that I don't have a "real" router. I thought about using a RaspberryPi to do the networking properly. On the other hand, it works now, too. I just have to keep these things in mind.

Check your local Internet connection first...

Before switching to mobile-only Internet, make sure to check your local network coverage first. Here in Switzerland we have quite good coverage. Check out Salt or Swisscom, the provider with the best coverage. However, always check with a speedtest to fast.com, just to be sure.

In my experience the weather doesn't have much impact. I ran tests during heavy rain, snow and of course when the weather was nice. Salt also seems to work well enough in the evening. Between 8 and 10 pm the latency is a bit higher though, as many people use the Internet.

A side note: Last week I visited Germany where they suffer from really poor network coverage. I was traveling via train and I couldn't mange do download a single podcast episode as the transfer always aborted. The speed was between 10-300 kbps (≃1-40 KB per second), and not stable at all. Sometimes I even lost Internet – for minutes! Once back in Switzerland (right when passing Basel) I downloaded 300 MB of podcasts within a few seconds on 4G or 4G+ (I noticed a transfer rate of up to 11 MB per second).

Conclusion

Cancelling your cable/home Internet access to be online via mobile can work really well and for not too much money if the infrastructure is in place and you can find a provider that doesn't throttle your data usage. It's also really handy because you don't have to care about data usage anymore. It's just there to be used anyways.

If circumstances don't change, I'll stick with it.

Although, until mid-2019 my town will provide a fiber connection to my flat, then something like Salt Fiber or Fiber7 would be nice... I mean, a ping of 1 ms and 10 Gbps up/down is really worth thinking about 🤔

#salt #mobile #internet #provider