April 13th, 2005


Internet from the TV tower

On Friday I'm moving house, basically to get away from the traffic on the Karl-Marx-Allee, which is one of Berlin's most polluted spots, a six-lane Stalinist super-highway. Topo, Hisae and I aren't going far; the new place is a stone's throw from the Simon-Dach Strasse in Friedrichshain. Instead of cars it has trams and lots of bikes passing the door. Instead of the very old people who populate the Stalinbaus of the Karl-Marx-Allee, downtown Friedrichshain has a youthful feel not unlike Williamsburg, Brooklyn (though perhaps with more potheads, drunks, and squatters). There are leafy cobbled streets without too much traffic, little art galleries, cinemas, bars and cafes...

The new place is a sublet, so I'll just be there a few months before taking off on nomadic summer travels. It wasn't worth getting my own phone line, so I'm using a new system for my internet access. It's called Portable DSL and it comes from a company called DNS:NET. Basically, it's DSL to go: they have an ariel on top of the TV tower at Alexanderplatz broadcasting broadband signal throughout the Mitte and Friedrichshain areas (also some of Kreuzberg). With a little modem or a PCM card you can pick this signal up wherever you are in that area. Your DSL service is set free from the need for a phone line. The modem contains a SIM card and works like a mobile phone. The system costs about five euros less per month than my current Deutsche Telekom DSL service, and also allows me to surf from cafes instead of just from home. (It's 24.95 euros a month for unlimited 1024k downloads and 128k uploads. It also works with Apple's Airport.)

I've been testing the system today on a free trial, and it works fine (although I notice, worryingly, that some of my favourite Japanese websites are much slower than Western sites to load). The only trouble I foresee is that when I terminate my T-Online account, even if I can keep using my current e mail address (momus@t-online.de) I won't be able to use their SMTP server for outgoing mail. I'm thinking of opening a G Mail account. Does anybody have an invite? (Update: Got one, thanks Ian... and everybody else!)

As a sign of my gratitude in advance I'd like to offer you a free recital of Tuvan throat singing, my latest enthusiasm. I'm giving Topo the rabbit long concerts of throat singing daily. He receives them in stony silence, with a fascinated, rapt, somewhat disturbed expression on his face.