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Standard User risk_reversal
(experienced) Sun 06-Nov-11 15:10:49
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Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


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I recently purchased a TP Link MR3220 and a ZTE MF112. I am using Three MBB.

The dongle is correctly reported in the router with maximum signal strength at 45%.

The results of speedtests are very erratic but speeds are never consistently above the 400-500kbps range ie less than half a meg. U/L is a joke at 20-40kbps.

Pings are very erratic too sometimes as low as 60ms and as high as 1100ms but usually well above 130ms.

I have checked on the mobile mast site and the Three mast is about 400m away (am in central London).

I needed some ideas as to what would improve the situation.

Seem to be more 02 masts in my area. Is it just going to be a case of trying various mobile cards out?

One last thing the ZTE112 which I purchased has been unlocked. I don't suppose that the unlocking affects anything?

Any info much appreciated

Cheers

EDIT: In the event it makes any difference, I am using the following settings
DIAL NUMBER: *99#
APN: 3internet

Edited by risk_reversal (Sun 06-Nov-11 16:31:35)

Anonymous
(Unregistered)Sun 06-Nov-11 16:59:31
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Re: Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


[re: risk_reversal] [link to this post]
 
Based on what you've written the most likely culprits strike me as:

1. Interference
2. Lack of capacity

We have 48% signal strength and are about 2.7km from the cell. That's with the modem outside. Inside, it doesn't go above about 20% and struggles to achieve 3Mbps.

So the fact you get about the the same signal strength - and you're much nearer to the cell - seems odd. Which is why I wonder if it is interference of some type.

And, with the signal strength we have - about the same as you - we see about 5.4Mbps on average and have seen speeds as high as these:

http://speedtest.net/result/1576116594.png

However the clue is that we're in a rural area and I doubt many people actually use it. Hence my second suggestion above - capacity is the issue. The hugely variable ping times might suggest this; ours do go above 100ms sometimes, but not generally.

Which could only be improved by cell upgrades to the Three service where you are, or, repositioning the modem so it seeks a cell that's maybe a bit more distant but less congested, or trying different networks to find out which one works best where you are.

The Mi-Fi device is better than a dongle especially if reception is weak. But then yours shouldn't be. And you'd be a bit miffed at buying one of those just to "prove" that actually, it's just congestion, and there's no improvement.

Have you spoken to 3 about the capacity where you are to see if that's the problem?
Standard User risk_reversal
(experienced) Sun 06-Nov-11 17:36:19
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Re: Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


[re: Anonymous] [link to this post]
 
Many thanks for your reply.

I have not spoken to Three about it. In fact for the last hour or so I have been reading review on this issue.

http://www.mobile-phones-uk.org.uk/t-mobile-broadban...

I know that people would generally post when unhappy with the service but the general theme in the Three reviews suggests 'Lack of capacity' in urban locations as you have stated (+ useless CS).

The hugely variable ping times might suggest this; ours do go above 100ms sometimes, but not generally.

Think that is a good point. In fact sometimes (quite often really) one or more of the pings is lost.

Ok well seems that my best/only bet is to try another MBB supplier. I will shoot for o2 but I will not be holding my breath.

Falling that I will have to go to a friends house in the country and see whether there is any improvement.

Disappointing as prior to purchasing the HW, I did read these forums and the odds of getting something decent (ie 2-3mbps d/l 1mbps u/l with 100-120 ping) seemed to be quite high.

I suppose (with hindsight) that quite a lot of happy/satisfied MBB users posting on this site are, like yourself, located in rural locations..........

Cheers

Edited by risk_reversal (Sun 06-Nov-11 17:40:08)


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Anonymous
(Unregistered)Sun 06-Nov-11 18:47:37
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Re: Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


[re: risk_reversal] [link to this post]
 
Thing with 3G is that even if the cell is 21Mbps capable and is just outside your window, if you live in an area a few km from the exchange where ADSL only manages a meg (ours can only do 1.7meg, so it's not hard to beat), and more than a few people cotton on to the fact that their mobile outperforms their ADSL and switch to 3G - what worked very well to start with now begins to slide downhill.

Not so much a "capacity issue" as such, simply, there aren't enough frequencies to go around in such cases. 4G will have this issue too, but, there's a lot more bandwidth to play with.

I think your idea of trying another location is worthwhile because it may prove or disprove congestion/interference. On the first of those, some locations might have been very congested last night with people out and about but I'm guessing the issue wasn't "just last night".

There are other possibilities which spring to mind, though both less likely than my initial suggestions:

1. The router needs a firmware upgrade
2. The modem is defective (our first one started to behave just like yours - it was failing, no idea how, it's not as if it has moving parts)
3. The USB cable between router and modem is defective (I've had this as well, as above, no idea how that comes about)

To be fair, I have actually found 3 customer services quite good though it depends to some extent on who you get at the other end of the phone.
Standard User risk_reversal
(experienced) Sun 06-Nov-11 19:25:12
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Re: Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


[re: Anonymous] [link to this post]
 
Thing with 3G is that even if the cell is 21Mbps capable and is just outside your window, if you live in an area a few km from the exchange where ADSL only manages a meg (ours can only do 1.7meg, so it's not hard to beat), and more than a few people cotton on to the fact that their mobile outperforms their ADSL and switch to 3G - what worked very well to start with now begins to slide downhill.

Appreciate that. That is why I wanted to try an o2 MBB payg card since Three does have all the MBB cheapies including the 'all-you-can-eat'. Plus also there are 3 o2 masts around me.

There are other possibilities which spring to mind, though both less likely than my initial suggestions:

1. The router needs a firmware upgrade
2. The modem is defective (our first one started to behave just like yours - it was failing, no idea how, it's not as if it has moving parts)
3. The USB cable between router and modem is defective (I've had this as well, as above, no idea how that comes about)

Points note.

1. I did not upgrade the original fw of the MR-3220 but did think about it. The fw is not the latest but is not old.

2. Yes I must admit this one is bugging me, that is why I asked in my original post about the unlocked status having possibly affected the MF112 (bad flash?).

3. MF112 is plugged straight into to the route.

As we all know, with computers the only way to completely rule out a problem is to have a spare of each, which I do for quite a lot of items but not for MBB.

I will give the o2 card a go as it is the cheapest and easiest way forwards.

Cheers
Anonymous
(Unregistered)Sun 06-Nov-11 20:57:00
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Re: Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


[re: risk_reversal] [link to this post]
 
I think you should work out where the various masts are, and see if you can have 'line of sight' (or least obstructed path) to one through a window.
Then test the possibilities with various / borrowed MBB sim cards.
Anonymous
(Unregistered)Mon 07-Nov-11 01:32:58
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Re: Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


[re: risk_reversal] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by risk_reversal:
As we all know, with computers the only way to completely rule out a problem is to have a spare of each, which I do for quite a lot of items but not for MBB.

I will give the o2 card a go as it is the cheapest and easiest way forwards.

Cheers


In the absence of having swap-out kit to try - as you say - then trying another network and possibly trying another location should narrow it down.

With regard to the modem - we used to have the original E220. That never went above about 3Mbps.

It got progressively slower and slower. Same modem, same kit, same location. Since the thing doesn't have moving parts I assumed contention was to blame.

I called them three times about this. Each time they went away and checked and said "honestly, it isn't contention". In despair (cynically, believing I was probably being lied to and was about to waste £70) I went out and bought the E367 and immediately got 4Mbps+ with it in the same location as the old E220.

In addition to getting slower and slower (and of course related) the packet loss got worse and worse until a constant ping (-t switch) would end up with half a window of timeouts. It wandered in and out. As if, (and I suspect) the antenna was basically knackered and struggled to maintain a signal.

So these things do "break". But trying an alternate location should help to prove or disprove that.
Standard User risk_reversal
(experienced) Mon 07-Nov-11 21:15:03
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Re: Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


[re: Anonymous] [link to this post]
 
Many thanks for the added comments and info. Much appreciated.

Awaiting the o2 MBB payg card. I will let you know how it pans out.

Cheers
Anonymous
(Unregistered)Wed 09-Nov-11 23:55:58
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Re: Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


[re: risk_reversal] [link to this post]
 
Do keep us updated.

Actually, one further possibility occurs. The clue being that your signal strength is about the same as ours despite you being (allegedly) much nearer the cell, and this is one Three could answer (I've had this type of conversation with them and they're very open with the data):

Could it perhaps be that your nearest 3 cell is actually much further away than you'd thought, and in an urban area has poor line of sight too - and the information you used to look up the cell locations is outdated?

Just a thought - good luck anyway.
Standard User risk_reversal
(experienced) Thu 10-Nov-11 11:29:05
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Re: Mobile Broadband - Speed / ping issues


[re: Anonymous] [link to this post]
 
Well the o2 card arrived and I have been testing it this morning.

o2 has 4 mast literally surrounding my house, the nearest being about 150mts and the furthest one no more than 400mtrs away (for clarity, my terraced house points East / West and the nearest cell is due south from me). Signal strength in TP Link shown as 39-46% and MF112 shows as connected.

Initial results I got were 250ms+ pins. When I did a speed test, the d/l was about 3megs but the u/l was 85kbps (ie very slow).

There seemed to be some progress BUT after the u/l completed, there was no internet at all. Could not ping nada.

The TP Link was showing the MF112 as recognised and connected with IP address allocated. Same as before.

It would seem as though the internet connection dropped as the u/l test was being conducted.

I do have poor mobile connection on the ground floor of my house but on the top floor mobile reception is great with full signal strength.

The tests which I conducted on the MF112 and o2 card were done on the top floor.

I am not sure if I am in a poor area for 3G full stop or if the MF112 (although stated as new when I purchased it) is somehow defective as per your comments.

I think my next test will be to take all my kit to a relative's and test the whole lot again at which stage I will be able to get a better handle on where the problem lies.

Cheers

Edited by risk_reversal (Thu 10-Nov-11 11:36:35)

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