Off The Rails Day 2: Maitland Meanderings

The Off The Rails project diverts to Maitland to see how well wireless broadband works where the regions meet the city. The most impressive outcome? The best ping times I've seen so far.

Maitland is unquestionably a country town — it's got wide streets, old-fashioned buildings, and a certain sense of sprawl — but it's a pretty unusual one. I can't think of any other country town off the top of my head which has four operational rail stations (Maitland, High Street, East Maitland and Victoria Street). Trains are a big deal in the Hunter because of its mining heritage — I only spent two hours in the area but saw four freight trains pass through during that time.

Like Dubbo, Maitland serves as a major centre for locals from smaller towns, but unlike Dubbo, it's got some serious competition. Newcastle is only 30 minutes away, and Sydney itself is just a couple of hours further. You could just about commute from Maitland to Sydney, though you'd spend a fair bit of time in the process.

For all those reasons, it's an interesting place to run some train torture tests. As well as checking in the main part of town (Telstra's list specifies the Maitland CBD), I can also test the performance at each of the stations during a side trip from Newcastle. I did this on foot for Maitland and High Street, but from a local CityRail train for the others.

After yesterday's software issues, I'm pleased to report no software dramas. Below are the results I pulled in (via Speedtest.net), covering the main Maitland locations. I've also included the results from a series of locations between Maitland and Newcastle to give a sense of how the performance changes in areas which aren't officially said to be on the Next G Ultimate coverage grid. (Click for a larger version.)

There's a few notable outcomes here:

  • The ping times are some of the best I've seen, beating a fair number of those from the four-state tests I'd done earlier. That's potentially good news for VOIP services and gaming.
  • Despite Maitland CBD being the "officially" supported location, travelling on the train produced better results.
  • Upload speeds were generally on the low side, with a couple of exceptions.

This afternoon, I'm off to Taree (which will also let me double-check these results on a fast train), before heading further up the coast. Suggestions are, as ever, welcome in the comments.

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Comments

    Z0mg thats where I live...

      Quick! Say hi to Angus bef- zoooom! He just flashed by on the train. Give him a call on Skype!

      Just wondering, would it be possible for trains to be able to carry a 3G signal? How would that work, is it just a high powered receiver on the train, or would there need to be relay stations along the rail line?

      ~ clueless.

    I walked up those stairs many times years ago... LOL

    dam i would have paid you in rocks for you to travel 15 mins to a town outside of maitland (kurri kurri) to do a speed check on wireless and lines.

    "which will also let me double-check these results on a fast train"

    lol, a fast train? on the north coast line?

    ~80km/h :)

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