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Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Thu 19-Jan-17 12:48:01
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Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[link to this post]
 
Hi,

Apologies in advance for this long first post!

I live in Ceredigion, a rural county in West Wales. My local exchange, Rhydlewis, was upgraded to ADSL back in 2004, after a couple of us campaigned for it (if I recall, we had to get a certain number of signatures, over 200 I think, from the local community). So, I started off at the usual 512kbps download speeds, before 2 years later being upgraded to ADSL Max - which is where we still are.

The exchange is a 20CN Market A / Market 1 exchange, which *has* been FTTC-enabled in February/March last year under the local BDUK scheme, Superfast Cymru (although only for 1 or 2 cabinets on the exchange so far, I believe - not sure how many cabs there are on this exchange, they seem to be rare around here): however, I'm one of the unlucky ones (one of many in the area) stuck on a long EO (Exchange-Only) line (my line is probably around 4km in length). At least I do usually get download speeds of between 2 & 3 Mbps these days (and recently, the router syncs at just over 3 Mbps), whereas others nearby are still sub-2Mbps - so I don't feel I can complain too much.

However - being stuck on ADSL Max, the upload speed is only around 0.3 Mbps - which isn't great for my 2 VOIP lines (the voice quality in calls does degrade sometimes quite a bit) or any "Cloud" services. So not ideal, especially when I mostly work from home as an I.T. Support Consultant (often using remote control software, similar to TeamViewer) and Web / Software Developer.

Also, being on a 20CN Market A exchange does limit ISP options (e.g. no LLU, so no TalkTalk, also no AAISP as they, along with many other ISPs now it seems, no longer accept customers on 20CN Market A exchanges) - also, as we are officially classified as a "sub 2Mbps" line, Sky (and no doubt soon, other ISPs) will also no longer accept us as customers - so I'm currently with PlusNet, who I'm actually pleased with thus far (I've been with them 18 months - before that I was an Eclipse customer, and before that, Pipex at the beginning of ADSL in our area). Of course, PlusNet (along with some other ISPs) charge us more for our ADSL as we are not in their "low cost area", so yet another disadvantage.

The Welsh government "Superfast Checker" used to show me as "In Scope" when I checked against my line number - which did give me hope! However, since September, my "Fibre Journey" had firmly gone into reverse gear, and now shows as "We are exploring solutions"! It's only then that I realised for sure I was on an EO line. Oh well...

I've got a nice router - a DrayTek Vigor 2860 Vac, that can use both ADSL and VDSL, so is future-proofed, just in case we ever do get fibre! It also can use a 3G/4G "dongle" or other Ethernet WAN link for load-balancing or "fail-over", plus has 2 built-in VOIP (FXS) ports, which is great.

My current router DSL stats (as of 18th January) are as follows:

ATU-R Information
Type: ADSL2/2+
Hardware: Annex A
Firmware: 05-07-02-08-00-01
Power Mngt Mode: DSL_G997_PMS_L0
Line State: SHOWTIME
Running Mode: G.dmt Annex A
Vendor ID: 00000000 00000000
ATU-C Information
Vendor ID: b5004946 544e82b1 [IFTN]

Line Statistics

Downstream Upstream
Actual Rate 4000 Kbps 448 Kbps
Attainable Rate 4096 Kbps 1124 Kbps
Path Mode Interleave Interleave
Interleave Depth 64 8
Actual PSD 19. 6 dB 12. 3 dB
Near End Far End
Trellis ON ON
Bitswap ON ON
ReTx 0 0
SNR Margin 8dB 22dB
Attenuation 51dB 31dB
CRC 2166 195
FECS 1685428 s 1674 s
ES 1028 s 149 s
SES 0 s 32 s
LOSS 0 s 24 s
UAS 0 s 0 s
HEC Errors 0 89
RS Corrections 0 0
LOS Failure 0 0
LOF Failure 0 0
LPR Failure 0 0
NCD Failure 0 0
LCD Failure 0 0
NFEC 136 134
RFEC 16 8
LYSMB 136 1072


Do these look generally ok?

The router is connected to an ADSL Faceplate (with built-in micro-filter) directly in the Master Socket. So I think I've optimised as much as I can for now, as far as I can tell.

Anyway - somehow I doubt that we'll ever get improved fixed-line broadband (and I expect in 2020 we'll just get a USO voucher for a Satellite installation - yuck!) - *unless* we get a new cabinet in our local hamlet (Bwlchygroes) - and, as far as I can tell, there's no possibility of FTTP from the Rhydlewis exchange - so, finally getting to the point:

What are my options for improving my broadband connection speeds?
Also, are there any other fixed-line broadband technologies on the horizon that may in future help in long-line rural situations? Would LR-VDSL help in this situation, for example?

Some people would say "why not move house"? Well, that may well happen within a few years - but at the moment, for various reasons I won't go into here, it's not an option. Plus, the fact we don't have a good broadband link here will become an increasing deterrent to prospective house buyers anyway!

As far as I can determine, the best bets (in order of preference), are:

1. Use a 3G / 4G LTE connection to supplement my current fixed-line ADSL (although the 3G/4G coverage here is marginal at best).

2. Sign up to a local WISP for FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) - there are a couple of WISPs fairly nearby, BlueWave Internet and ResqNet, but I'm right on the Northern border of their range, and possibly out-of-range: I did ask BlueWave Internet for some information 2 or 3 months ago as I had a leaflet flyer from them in the post, they said they'd do a "drive-by survey" and get back to me: but I've never heard anything back since, so far. Does anyone have any experience with BlueWave or ResqNet? We are in a fairly hilly area, between 250-300m above sea level, with quite a few surrounding trees - so I expect LOS (Line-Of-Sight) issues may be a potential problem anyway for FWA, even if we are within range of any masts.

3. Using a Satellite connection (which would, from my research of the subject, be a real last resort, unless Satellite Internet Access has improved a lot in recent years or will do so soon...).

Things like a leased line are way too expensive for me (as a very small home-based business) to consider, and as yet I don't think there's enough interest locally for a community-funded fibre or FWA solution (although that could change in the future - it would be something I can explore maybe in time).

Also, having an extra land-line installed and bonding the 2 together would only get me to around 6-7Mbps down / 0.6Mbps up at best, which is not really worthwhile considering the extra expense of a 2nd line rental & ISP subscription. Plus - some ISPs that make line-bonding easier (e.g. AAISP) are not an option, as they don't supply to 20CN Market A customers.

So - my preferred "DIY" option, for now, would be to explore using a 3G/4G connection to supplement my ADSL.

The problem is that I live in a marginal 3G/4G area, with just "glimpses" of a 4G signal from EE, which has the best coverage in our area (followed by Vodafone) - indoors I usually have a poor 2G signal, which sometimes changes to H or H+ near windows (and this almost always have sub-1Mbps download speeds, sometimes even under 0.1Mbps!), although upload speeds can approach (or occasionally exceed) 1Mbps - which is a good improvement on my ADSL 0.3Mbps upload at least. I have had occasional "glimpses" of 4G indoors, but this lasts only for 2 or 3 seconds before reverting to 2G or 3G, so not long enough for a speed test.

Outdoors - we're supposed to be in an area with "Good outdoor coverage, weak or no indoor coverage" for 4G (and "Weak outdoor coverage, no indoor coverage" for 3G), according to EE's Coverage Checker. However, it seems the reverse to me is true! In most places my phone just shows "G", although this changes in quite a few areas to "H" or "H+" (still with poor speed test results though). *However*, there is a small area on our land, around 30-50m from the house, where I can usually (although not always - depends on weather, etc) pick up a 4G signal - and SpeedTest.net has given download speeds of around 15 - 30 Mbps, and upload speeds anywhere 2 - 15 Mbps!! Which for me, is amazing! I haven't yet explored all of our land (some 3 acres) for better 4G signals, so will do this in due course.

In fact, EE's coverage checker for my Post Code has changed in the last few days - it used to show "Weak outdoor coverage, no indoor coverage" for 4G. After some digging, it seems EE have boosted the 1800MHz band (LTE Band 3) a bit, as it's now showing a strength value of 2 (was 1 around a week ago and before):

var tmpCoverageResponse = {"gotSuggestions": false, "gotSingleGeo" : true, "suggestions" : [], "singleGeo" : {"title":"SA444TA","lat":"52.09707","lng":"-4.369381"}, "layers" : [ {"type" : "2G", "strength" : "2", "selected" : true} , {"type" : "3G", "strength" : "1", "selected" : false} , {"type" : "4G800", "strength" : "1", "selected" : false} , {"type" : "4G1800", "strength" : "2", "selected" : false , "highspeed4g" : false}, {"type" : "4G2600", "strength" : "0", "selected" : false} , {"type" : "4GPlus", "strength" : "0", "selected" : false}] , "lastUpdated" : "09 January 2017 12:00 AM", "paths" : { "layer2g":"/geowebcache/service/gmaps", "layer3g":"/geowebcache/service/gmaps", "layer4g":"/geowebcache/service/gmaps" } };
updateMobileCoverage();


However - the signal on my phone has not improved at all. So I'm wondering if they update the coverage checker & map before the make any actual changes to the cell masts?

Bear in mind, all these signal readings and speed tests are on my WileyFox Spark X Dual-SIM smartphone, which probably doesn't have the best radio or antenna compared to other phones. Also, from doing some research, it seems that dedicated 4G routers will usually pick up signals better than most phones. And a step-up again can be gained from using an external antenna.

So - would it be worthwhile for me to purchase a 4G LTE router, does anyone think?

I was looking at the TP-Link Archer MR200 as a possible first choice, followed by the more expensive Huawei B315 as a second choice. I've ruled out the D-Link DWR-921/B as another option, as apparently it doesn't support IPv6, and is causing issues with EE SIMs.

At the moment - I'm leaning towards the TP-Link Archer MR200, as it has 2 external LTE antennas, which may provide a better connection in poor signal areas than the internal antennae of the Huawei. Does anyone have any opinions or experience of these routers?

Of course, it may be that I can't get a signal in my area at all without an external antenna - in which case, I was considering the Solwise 4G-XPOL-A0001 omni-directional antenna as an add-on option.

My main concern is that, after spending money on a 4G router and external antenna, I *still* may not get a reliable 4G connection (or one at all!), as I'm in a very marginal signal area (at least, according to my phone).

If it *does* work though - I can see that a 4G connection would provide a nice boost to speed, and I've got the option to use a PAYG SIM, or a monthly contract. Although the problem with 4G connections is the data caps (and on my ADSL, I could use anything from 30Gb to 100Gb downloads in a month, at present - one thing PlusNet does provide me is unlimited uploads/downloads, which is very rare for a 20CN Market A link, as far as I know), at least I could use it just for the occasional times when speed becomes extra important (e.g. urgent downloads or uploads, occasional streaming, some remote access tasks), and still using my 2-3Mbps ADSL link for usual day-to-day tasks otherwise. Having a 4G link would also provide a very useful backup link ("fail-over") if there are ever any problems with my fixed line broadband (even if, by some miracle, it does get upgraded to FTTC or FTTP).

I would be happy with a downstream speed of 10Mbps and upstream of 1Mbps (even happier with more, of course!). At least that would meet the forthcoming 2020 USO figures.

So - does this sound like a feasible option for me and others in my locality in a similar position? I wish I has a better 4G phone or could somehow hire some kind of 4G LTE signal test kit though, to investigate the local area and provide me with a bit more confidence that I wouldn't be wasting my money on purchasing a 4G router & antenna!

Maybe it's just the fact that I've got to bite the bullet and just buy the router (and maybe external antenna) just to find out if it's feasable!

Are there any other suitable options for improving broadband speeds in areas where fixed-line links are unlikely to be upgraded?

Apologies again for the "essay" (if you've read this far!), I just wanted to provide some background information in my first forum post.

Many thanks.

Kind regards,

Adam.
Standard User RobertoS
(elder) Thu 19-Jan-17 13:11:23
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
One possibility re your upstream speed is to enquire if Plusnet, (and BT!) still offer the ADSL Max Premium product. That would give you the same downstream speed, but 832kbps upstream. Plus IIRC a higher priority in the BT Wholesale backhaul for both those.

Some of the smaller ISPs may also offer this, but if you want unlimited downloads can get expensive. Around 30GB peak time and unmetered off peak they are reasonably priced.

Kindness isn't going to cure the world of all its awfulness but it's a good place to begin. Daisy Ridley.
My broadband basic info/help site - www.robertos.me.uk. Domains, site and mail hosting - Tsohost.
Connection - AAISP Home::1 80/20. Sync 54999/14466Kbps @ 600m. BQMs - IPv4 & IPv6
Standard User huwwatkins
(committed) Thu 19-Jan-17 13:19:45
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: RobertoS] [link to this post]
 
You can add Max Premium by going to this link:

trials.plus.net

Its something like £7 extra a month and got added to my account in around 24 hours. Not sure if you would get the full benefit on a line that length.

Edited by huwwatkins (Thu 19-Jan-17 14:01:13)


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Standard User RobertoS
(elder) Thu 19-Jan-17 14:10:43
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: huwwatkins] [link to this post]
 
Attainable is showing 1124kbps.

Kindness isn't going to cure the world of all its awfulness but it's a good place to begin. Daisy Ridley.
My broadband basic info/help site - www.robertos.me.uk. Domains, site and mail hosting - Tsohost.
Connection - AAISP Home::1 80/20. Sync 54999/14466Kbps @ 600m. BQMs - IPv4 & IPv6
Standard User 23Prince
(experienced) Thu 19-Jan-17 14:45:02
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: huwwatkins] [link to this post]
 
I always understood Max premium to be 832kbps upload. £7.83 a month

Edited by 23Prince (Thu 19-Jan-17 14:45:42)

Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Thu 19-Jan-17 15:23:12
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: 23Prince] [link to this post]
 
Many thanks RobertoS, Huw & 23Prince...

Ah yes, I had completely forgotten about "Max Premium" - thanks for the reminder (and the direct link Huw).

To quote the PlusNet trial site:

A lot of customers need to upload at a faster speed, such as uploading photos and videos, the standard Max product allows upload speeds of up to 448kbps, Max Premium offers up to 832kbps.

Max Premium is available to Residential broadband customers for £7.83 (inc. VAT) per month.


Also, it seems there's only a 30-day notice period to cancel it too (so it's on a "rolling monthly contract" basis).

It would upgrade my upstream speed to 832kbps (which, as RobertoS points out, looking at my attainable rate of, well it's now actually showing 1116 kbps - seems my link has recently re-synced and the downstream is now showing as 4320 kbps, the highest ever, yippee! [SpeedTest results are now 3.3 to 4.1Mbps downstream, which I've never seen before!]), which may well help the VOIP lines and of course upload in general.

(EDIT: The Thinkbroadband speed tests are, over a few tests, showing an average download of around 3.3 Mbps, and upload of 0.3 Mbps, which is closer to what I have been getting recently - so I think SpeedTest.net was probably being a bit over-optimistic - however, I was getting 2.5 to 2.8 Mbps downstream a month ago, so something on my line seems to have improved recently!).

So, I think "Max Premium" is definitely worth considering - I'll remember this option, and probably try it out soon.

Many thanks once again. smile

Edited by AdamInTheSticks (Thu 19-Jan-17 15:41:32)

Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Thu 19-Jan-17 16:21:12
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
You are on the old school IP Profile system that is slow to update, so line connection speeds can be high and IP profile limiting you

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Thu 19-Jan-17 18:58:24
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Thanks Andrew, ah yes, I had forgotten that my IP Profile may take a while (a few days even) to update.
Another feature of ADSL Max!
Standard User RobertoS
(elder) Thu 19-Jan-17 19:48:19
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
Assuming you are quoting us the Actual Rate, not the Attainable, a rise from 4000kbps to 4320kbps doesn't give an IP Profile increase frown.

Kindness isn't going to cure the world of all its awfulness but it's a good place to begin. Daisy Ridley.
My broadband basic info/help site - www.robertos.me.uk. Domains, site and mail hosting - Tsohost.
Connection - AAISP Home::1 80/20. Sync 54999/14466Kbps @ 600m. BQMs - IPv4 & IPv6
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Thu 19-Jan-17 21:47:12
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: RobertoS] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for the info, RobertoS.

Yes, currently my router is showing both Attainable *and* Actual Downstream rate to be 4320 Kbps. Which, according to your very useful table of IP Profiles, puts me firmly in the 3500 profile - which is why I'm generally getting Speed Test results of between 3 & 3.5 Mbps downstream (3.3 Mbps on average).

Still, anything 3 Mbps and over is very good for my line, compared to what I was getting just over 2 years ago just before I fitted the ADSL Faceplate (it was around 0.5 Mbps down & 0.2 Mbps up prior to the faceplate - and jumped to around 2.8 down after!).

(EDIT: for clarity - if I recall correctly, I was having some line issues just prior to when I fitted the ADSL faceplate - I seem to recall that speeds before these problems were usually within the 1 to 2 Mbps range for downstream: so installing the faceplate did provide a substantial boost anyway).

However - this is not really sufficient for longer-term future needs, I can get by with it for now, but this is why I'm investigating alternatives to boost my internet connectivity (in the absence of any FTTC/P possibilities) - with my main focus on 3G/4G and FWA at the moment.

Thanks again.

Edited by AdamInTheSticks (Thu 19-Jan-17 22:22:17)

Standard User RobertoS
(elder) Fri 20-Jan-17 00:45:49
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
Yes, I was mainly trying to sort the VOIP problem, and cloud uploads.

Kindness isn't going to cure the world of all its awfulness but it's a good place to begin. Daisy Ridley.
My broadband basic info/help site - www.robertos.me.uk. Domains, site and mail hosting - Tsohost.
Connection - AAISP Home::1 80/20. Sync 54999/14466Kbps @ 600m. BQMs - IPv4 & IPv6
Standard User huwwatkins
(committed) Fri 20-Jan-17 08:59:14
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
Bonding a few ADSL lines together could also be a potential solution - downsides are cost and even with 3 lines you'd get a max of 12 meg down and 1.4 up.

Im also on a 20CN Market A exchange but get 8128Kbps sync so am planning to bond two of those together.

Also - completely off topic. I grew up in Llanon not to far from you! Lived there until 2009.
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Fri 20-Jan-17 12:32:54
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: RobertoS] [link to this post]
 
Thanks.

Yes, I think going for the ADSL "Max Premium" option would be the best (only) way of increasing upstream (and maybe also traffic priority) on my existing fixed-line broadband - so I will probably give that a try soon. But 0.8Mbps upstream is still not fantastic for larger uploads etc, in the longer term.

So I'll continue investigating the options of 4G and FWA too.

Many thanks once again.

Kind regards,

Adam.
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Fri 20-Jan-17 13:14:51
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: huwwatkins] [link to this post]
 
I agree Huw, ADSL line bonding is a good idea if it's worthwhile. But, for me, to get over 10Mbps down & 1Mbps up, as you say, I'd need 3 lines - very expensive! I think that would be a last resort (well, apart from Satellite, which is the *very* last resort [I can understand using it on moving vehicles/ships or somewhere where there isn't even a landline capable of 0.5 Mbps downstream, but otherwise...]).

But, as you sync at 8Mbps on your line, then you'd get a decent 16 down by line bonding.

For my part - I think I'll continue investigating 4G & FWA (via a WISP or point-to-point wireless link).

I may also try the ADSL "Max Premium" for a while, to see if that helps.

Ah, Llanon, near Llanrhystud - I pass through there quite often when I pop up to Porthmadog from time-to-time! Still the old vintage bus at the Aberystwyth end of the village! I bet if you were still there, you'd have FTTC or FTTP by now: LLANON Exchange...! The Llanon exchange (like many of the smaller exchanges in Ceredigion) appears to offer the possibility of FTTP for future connections.... I wish we had that possibility at Rhydlewis exchange! Oh well...

Think I'll get the TP-Link Archer MR200 4G router (and maybe Solwise Antenna too) and have a play around with that (can also line bond my ADSL line to that if necessary via my DrayTek router, although data caps become an issue with 4G, ok for occasional or light use).

Anyway - thanks again Huw, some more ideas to think about.

Diolch yn fawr iawn! smile
Standard User huwwatkins
(committed) Fri 20-Jan-17 14:00:55
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
Indeed it goes - both my parents and sister still live there (so I'm back often) and they both have FTTC.

Have you looked at FTTPoD? Probably not viable but worth a look.

As you said - I'd probably be looking at FWA in your situation. 4G in that area is a bit flaky but the EE 800Mhz switch on my help you in that regard.
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Fri 20-Jan-17 16:14:27
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: huwwatkins] [link to this post]
 
Yes, FTTPoD is another (very expensive!) possibility! But - doesn't the exchange have to have FTTP equipment installed? Or do they extend fibre from an FTTC cabinet? Anyway, it's probably too expensive (even if it was an option, which it may not be...) - although could be considered for a small shared community project I suppose.

FWA will be a line of enquiry. However, yes the 4G signal is flaky here - but there's a spot in the field below the house where I can get it - anything from 10Mbps to 30Mbps downstream & 2Mbps to 20Mbps upstream - and I could always build a DIY mast at that location, something like this: DIY Mast !!
(My 4G location is under 50m from the house).

However, the 4G router and outdoor antenna may just be enough - fingers crossed!

(Also, made an error before: my DrayTek router doesn't bond the lines, of course, but provides for Load Balancing and Failover spread over up to 4 WANs - very useful anyway).

A bit later on, I'll also make further enquiries to the nearby WISPs.
Standard User RobertoS
(elder) Fri 20-Jan-17 18:47:51
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
FTTPoD is run to the premises from fibre aggregation points, in the same way as FTTC cabinets. Normally I believe any individual's would run from the AG that their FTTC cabinet runs from, but that isn't necessarily always the case. No additional exchange kit is required other than that which handles FTTC.

In general if you can get FTTC you can theoretically get FTTPoD. If you can't get FTTC, you can't get FTTPoD.

You can see by putting your phone number into this checker. (I suppose even if yours doesn't show FTTC, that if your phone cabinet has an FTTC pairing FTTPoD could run, but the cost would be astronomical. The minimum installation charge by Openreach to a wholesaler or ISP is £1100, and for that you have to be within 199 metres of the aggregation point. At 400-599 metres it's £2500. Annual line rental £1188.

All plus wholesaler and retail profit margins and Vat. Also subject to feasibility survey and possible further costs. Priced list.

Kindness isn't going to cure the world of all its awfulness but it's a good place to begin. Daisy Ridley.
My broadband basic info/help site - www.robertos.me.uk. Domains, site and mail hosting - Tsohost.
Connection - AAISP Home::1 80/20. Sync 54999/14466Kbps @ 600m. BQMs - IPv4 & IPv6
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Fri 20-Jan-17 19:14:58
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: RobertoS] [link to this post]
 
Thanks RobertoS for the information.

At least that rules another option out - as there's no phone cabinet nearby - I am on a long EO line (as are all my neighbours and, as far as I know, everyone in the hamlet of Bwlchygroes - the nearest cabinet is about a mile away in the village of Ffostrasol, where they can get FTTC).

I've now ordered the TP-Link Archer MR200 4G router and external antenna - I'll see how I get on with this. It won't be a substitute for FTTC/P or even FWA, but, if it works ok, will be a useful boost (with careful use due to 4G data caps!), also a useful backup link, and may tide me over until (if!) Superfast Cymru does upgrade our Post Code area (it's still in the Planning Phase apparently - maybe they'll install a cabinet in the village for the EO lines to move to, or we may get nothing), or otherwise until something better comes along.

I'll also investigate FWA via WISPs a bit later in the year.
Standard User WWWombat
(knowledge is power) Fri 20-Jan-17 22:29:45
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
I use a portable 4G WiFi device when travelling, or as backup - a Huawei E5372 which has some (not brilliant) antenna sockets. When coverage goes iffy, I add that Solwise antenna.

If you get dubious coverage indoors, then the antenna placed outdoors definitely helps. Probably not as good as a full fixed directional yagi (or a pair of them), but useful.

I have a loft-mount aerial pole fixed to a heavy board, so I can try out locations. I imagine a camera tripod would do too. Mounting high up will help enormously.
Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Fri 20-Jan-17 23:01:28
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by AdamInTheSticks:
I wish we had that possibility at Rhydlewis exchange! Oh well...


for info - tweets from EE's CEO re Wales coverage.
https://twitter.com/MarcAlleraEE/status/822038098032...

https://twitter.com/MarcAlleraEE/status/822040545312...

plusnet unlimited fibre 80/20 since 2 Jun 14 - Sync as of 7th Aug 16: 55,355/10,291 kbps with G.INP
17 years of UK broadband since 1999 ntl:cable modem trial -Router: Asus RT-AC68U with HG612 - BQM
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Fri 20-Jan-17 23:38:06
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: jchamier] [link to this post]
 
Thanks, very informative - and sounds hopeful for improving 4G coverage this year! smile
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Fri 20-Jan-17 23:48:20
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Re: Ideas to improve broadband speed: 3G / 4G a good option?


[re: WWWombat] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for the advice. If I had clear line-of-sight to the cell mast, then a directional antenna would be ideal. Otherwise, hopefully the omnidirectional will improve the situation anyway - will have to experiment a lot with positioning the aerial, the router may even end up in the attic (or even in a DIY waterproof mast out in the field if really necessary, linked back to the house via fibre or a Ubiquiti point-to-point device of some kind!!).

Thanks for the tips anyway. And that Huawei E5372 looks good for a "MiFi" device, quite a few don't seem to have connectors for external antennae.
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Mon 30-Jan-17 12:48:48
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UPDATE


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for everyone's input.

I just thought I'd post an update.

I took the plunge and purchased the TP-Link Archer MR200 4G router, along with an EE Data SIM with 6Gb of data (lasting 90 days) for testing purposes. I did also get the Poynting A-XPOL-0001 external antenna as well, in case it was needed.

I was a bit nervous, as I can't get a 4G signal via EE at all on my phone inside the house (and there's only one location so far in our field where I get a 4G signal most of the time). I haven't yet tried with other networks (Vodafone may be worth a go here too).

Anyway - I had success in the window of 1 of the upstairs bedrooms - after much trial & error in positioning the modem (I had to put it on a small pile of boxes to gain height - now looking for some kind of adjustable windowsill stand/shelf), and also after *forcing* it into 4G mode (otherwise it would always pick up a 2G or 3G signal), I eventually can get a consistent 1 bar (out of 4 - i.e. 25%) 4G LTE signal! smile

So, comparing my PlusNet ADSL - these are typical speed test results:
SpeedTest.net - PlusNet ADSL (on my 20CN Market A exchange)
ThinkBroadBand - PlusNet ADSL (on my 20CN Market A exchange)
(Speed has dropped back to it's usual 2.8Mbps down, 0.37 Mbps up - I can't complain too much, others nearby are worse).

My 4G router with EE SIM gives these (it is variable, and this is one of the better test results):
SpeedTest.net - EE Mobile from 4G router
ThinkBroadband - EE Mobile from 4G router

It does vary from around 10 to 35 Mbps downstream, & 1 Mbps to 15 Mbps upstream - according to router position, signal strength, weather conditions, etc.

But it's huge improvement! I've been able to extend the range of the router via TP-Link powerline adapters (with one also acting as a WiFi extender).

Also - the Poynting Antenna so far hasn't made a difference, in fact I get a stronger signal via the router's own antennae! However, I may need to use it later, as we have a row of Beech + Ash trees nearby, and come the summer when in full leaf, these may adversely affect the 4G signal, such that I may need to put the external antenna on a home-made mast/pole beyond the trees (or on external wall of house) to improve things.

However - the 4G does provide a huge speed boost over my ADSL link.
It's just a shame about the costly data caps!! At least for mobile data contracts, it usually less than £1 per Gigabyte of data (and sometimes special offers mean it's closer to 50p per Gb - I've seen past deals of around £15 per month for 32Gb), so maybe things are improving.

I think 4G would be a viable "booster" for my slow-ish ADSL, and also provide an excellent backup in case the landline has any problems - but is still not a substitute for improved fixed-line NGA broadband. A good FWA link *could* be a substitute, so may investigate that option further down the line (but I'm a bit dubious about LOS [Line Of Sight] issues, due to trees etc).

But, at least it shows that 3G/4G (and upcoming 5G) could help to improve the situation in slower broadband areas.

Thanks again for all the input. smile

Kind regards,

Adam.
Standard User WWWombat
(knowledge is power) Mon 30-Jan-17 13:35:50
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Re: UPDATE


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by AdamInTheSticks:
It does vary from around 10 to 35 Mbps downstream, & 1 Mbps to 15 Mbps upstream - according to router position, signal strength, weather conditions, etc.


Do you have any variation by time of day? We had found behaviour much worse between 4pm and 6pm.

In reply to a post by AdamInTheSticks:
Also - the Poynting Antenna so far hasn't made a difference,


Have you used it outside?

We found quite an improvement at home by using the suction feet, and putting it on the outside of the window.

When out, we have found that sticking it higher, by 2-3 feet, on a loft pole
http://aerialsandtv.com/_wp_generated/wpa20c0767_01_...
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(newbie) Mon 30-Jan-17 16:47:03
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Re: UPDATE


[re: WWWombat] [link to this post]
 
Do you have any variation by time of day? We had found behaviour much worse between 4pm and 6pm.


I've just ran a couple of tests via Ookla:
http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/6010574949
http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/6010616186

(EDIT: and another test at 6pm - pretty decent: http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/6010830084 - although bear in mind I'm at a very rural location, so there won't be that many people using the cell mast compared to an equivalent urban area).

Not as good as some previous tests - although still a big improvement on 2.8 down & 0.3 up via ADSL! And still on just 1 bar of 4G signal. Also, damp & foggy today, which may affect things.

But a pattern may appear.

I must admit that running through speed tests (both SpeedTest.net and ThinkBroadband) chews through the data allowance pretty fast - I've already used up almost 3Gb of my 6Gb in this "test SIM" in just a few days of mainly speed tests! I think doing one each of Ookla (SpeedTest.net) & ThinkBroadband tests uses about 100Mb.

Have you used it outside?

We found quite an improvement at home by using the suction feet, and putting it on the outside of the window.


I did try sticking it out the windows for a bit, on a "J pole" (similar to the one you linked to), but so far it made no difference. I do get a 4G signal on the router via the Poynting antenna, so I know it's working - but officially showing as no bars and 0% - although still between 2Mbps & 10Mbps downstream and 0.5Mbps to 2Mbps upstream (if I recall correctly).

I haven't yet tried the suction feet for outside the window - they seem a very tight fit, would be awkward to remove afterwards maybe without resorting to cutting them off ?!

When the weather improves, hopefully on Wednesday, I'll try it again (maybe temporarily on a broom handle or something similar to stick out the window, and will test in different locations - purely for testing purposes!). I'm sure that gaining the maximum height possible is the key, so maybe a longer pole in the correct location will yield good results.

Thanks for the tips.

Edited by AdamInTheSticks (Mon 30-Jan-17 19:18:13)

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