Bad Bad Cingular Data Acceleration

My computer started acting up today. The first indication that something was wrong was when POP mail requests started throwing strange error codes (SMTP and Exchange mail worked, just POP was failing). And then FTP transfers started retry lots of random packets. The only change I made to my computer was installing Communication Manager, the software for my new 3G card, but that could not be the problem, the card was not in the machine and Communication Manager was not running. Right? Well, after lots of tinkering I uninstalled Communication Manager, and suddenly everything started working again. Which is bizarre, because Communication Manager does not startup by default, it is run only when needed. Just to prove the point, I reinstalled and uninstalled Communication Manager several times, and sure enough, when installed (even if not running and without the PC card in the machine) lots of stuff broke (including POP e-mail), and when uninstalled the problems went away.
After lots of Google searches and a long chat with a techie at Cingular, the culprit was identified. Communication Manager installs another application, a data acceleration client. The software improves connection performance by doing things like degrading image quality, and I assume that there is software on the Cingular network end that actually does the compression as requested by the client. Lots of Communication Manager users have reported issues with data acceleration with all sorts of applications (including Norton Anti-Virus and Norton Internet Security).
But still, how could software that is not running cause problems? As per the documentation:
Data compression is only in effect when Cingular Communication Manager is connected to a Cingular GSM network and has successfully negotiated a session with the data acceleration server in the Cingular network.
In other words, if Communication Manager is not running then neither is data acceleration. And even if Communication Manager is running, data acceleration only impacts connections via the GPRS/3G card, not any other connections. That’s what the documentation implies.
And, apparently that is not true. The Setting dialog in Communication Manager allows data acceleration to be started stopped and configured at will, and also allows it to be installed and uninstalled. Well, I uninstalled it. And suddenly everything works again.
Honestly, I am appalled. For starters, why the heck would data acceleration be tinkering with POP packets? And why was it messing with data sent over regular LAN and WiFi connections? But the bigger issue is simply this, how dare Cingular install software telling me that it will only run when executed, when it was clearly running at other times, too?
Not cool at all. No, I won’t dump my 3G card yet, I still need to give it a real world road test. But if any of you install Communication Manager, do yourself a favor and uninstall data acceleration!

12 responses to “Bad Bad Cingular Data Acceleration”

  1. Duane Ronan Avatar
    Duane Ronan

    Thanks for the heads up on this! I was thinking about getting the card since I’ve been waiting for some time for this to come out.

  2. Steve Gustafson Avatar
    Steve Gustafson

    Hey Ben,
    I’ve been using the Cingular EDGE system for about 6 months and it has been great for me. It allows me to take use my RV as a mobile office and let’s the family enjoy lot’s of extra trips.
    Overall, coverage has been very good and connection speeds more than adequate.
    I haven’t run into any problems with the connection manager.

  3. Terry Schmitt Avatar
    Terry Schmitt

    I’m a little rusty on the tech side, but I’m sure that the Communication Manager has hooks into the IP Stack, whether it’s running or not.

  4. DAVID I Avatar


  5. Sharon K Avatar
    Sharon K

    Wow, thank goodness for Google, I finally found this blog entry of yours for the same exact conflict problem!!!!!!! And, now that the data accerlation has been uninstalled, receiving email via normal network connectivity is working again 🙂 I thank you, the owners of the company I work for thank you… and on and on…!

  6. Ron Zasadzinski Avatar
    Ron Zasadzinski

    Ben – thank you. I just got the Cingular 3G Sierra Wireless AirCard 860, and have experienced exactly the same problem – cannot receive POP email. I am using Thunderbird as my email client, and it apparently can have some issues with Norton Antivirus as well, so I thought that was the problem. In fact, if I temporarily disable NAV scanning of incoming email, everything works fine and I can receive incoming POP email. The specific error I was getting in Thunderbird was that "This folder is being processed. Please wait until processing is complete to get messages."
    However, the timing was suspicious, as my problems only started after installing the Cingular Communication Manger software. I tried several experiments installing and uninstalling the Cingular software and concluded that it was in fact the problem, not my Norton Antivirus software.
    I had not yet discovered that the accereration component was the problem specifically, nor that this component could be uninstalled while leaving the Communication Manager intact.
    You saved me from returning the AirCard in disgust! Thank you. I will reinstall the Cingular software, then uninstall the acceleration component.
    From my tinkering, it would appear that the Cingular software is interfering with the Antivirus software directly, rather than my email client. In fact, I have Eudora installed as well (used to use that before Thunderbird), and tried getting my POP email through Eudora. Same problem! The common link for me is that Norton Antivirus was enabled for scanning incoming email while the Cingular software was installed (even when not running, as you pointed out).
    Thanks again.

  7. Dennis Avatar

    Glad I found this post. I’m running into a different problem with this software. When you connect, the mouse violently moves to the bottom left of the screen. Tried everything else, including uninstalling/reinstalling mouse drivers, antivirus software, firewall software, cingular software. Might as well try this. I’ll keep my fingers crossed

  8. Loren Avatar

    Wow, what a pain in the ass. We spent way too much time (several hours) trying to solve the email conflicts with Norton tech support and our ISP – and to finish it off ended up on hold with cingular for 50! minutes and then hung up out of frustration. Thanks to your solution I’m back in the game. Disabled the accelerator and all works fine! Thank you! Thank you!

  9. Scott .... Avatar
    Scott ….

    Actually your problem with "CCM" is Bytemobile,
    if you disable it in services, Start > Run > Services.msc
    then change Bytemobile’s startup type to Disabled, then reboot, (or stop the service) and it should be fine. Bytemobile has this nasty habbit of breaking things. You can also uninstall it in CCM, however it seems to have a problem with that, sometimes it will make a laptop unbootable afterwards.

  10. Andrea Avatar

    I finally got the thing to work after doing what all you guys suggested and now the next problem is the Cisco VPN wont connect.
    But I have other users who are able to get into the VPN via the Cingular card…..just one user

  11. larrym Avatar

    A real piece of junk. I had a similar problem after installing Comm Manager 5.5 with Option GT max card; my Dell m70 slowed to a snails crawl, failed to load many appps, took 10 minutes to shut down, – it was godawful; and when it was running on Edge the connection speed was maybe 9600 baud. It got even worse after I uninstalled the software and Dell’s OEM Broadcom wireless startup utility began crashing. It would not even XP load system restore. Fortunately I also had V-com System Retore onthe pc & was able to get it rolled back to a day before the Cingular crap was installed. And it only cost me $110 for this delightful 6 hour experience

  12. Nimai Avatar

    I just got an "Available Updates" dialog popup from my Communication Manager. I had heard about the phoney "acceleration" provided by dial-up providers. They get faster downloads by re-compressing graphics on their servers to make the file sizes smaller, but the images look really bad and blurry. This is one of the first questions asked when people complain about image quality on photography forums, etc. I think this sort of acceleration is total BS. At least my suspicions are confirmed now, and if I have any problems, I’ll know what to check first.

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