Why are 3G networks so slow?

More than four years ago one of my friends wrote about uselessness of UMTS connections (the page has decayed into digital wasteland in the meantime) for inter-router backup links and although I got numerous comments trying to explain the issues I never found a good explanation that a simplistic networking engineer like me could understand.

Ilya Grigorik fixed that. His Breaking the 1000 msec Time-to-Glass Mobile Barrier talk has some real-world statistics, and a fantastic description of how 3G/4G networks work and what causes the enormous latencies. His High Performance Browser Networking book has even more details. Enjoy!


  1. I highly recommend his blog, as well. Lot's of amazing information on improving web and network performance.

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