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Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(learned) Sat 18-Nov-17 13:54:12
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4G now very slow - ideas?


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Hi,

I am in a slow ADSL Max area (Market 1/ Market A exchange with only 20CN) with a long EO (Exchange Only) line (about 4.5 km), with no prospect of any broadband upgrades in the near future.

So, I've been using a 4G router to provide a bit of a speed boost since April this year - I have the TP-Link Archer MR200, which has been good so far.

I load-balance the 4G connection with my approx. 2Mbps ADSL link, for flexibility.

Speeds used to be quite good - ranging from a downstream of 10Mbs up to 35Mbps, and an upstream usually over 1Mbps (and sometimes up to 6 or even 7Mbps on occasion!).

However, recently speeds have been a lot slower - anything from 2 to 8Mbps down, and usually under 0.5Mbps up.

I noticed that this coincided with my smartphone now being able to get a 4G signal indoors, whereas I never used to (only via the 4G router in an upstairs window).

I'm guessing that this slow-down could be to an "upgrade" to an 800MHz signal in the area for 4G.

Does anyone have any ideas for investigating 4G slowdown issues? Or - are there any 4G routers where you can specify which LTE Band to connect to? I believe my area has both 800MHz and 1800MHz signals - so I think I get the much higher speeds (although weaker signal) when connecting to 1800MHz.

Interestingly, recently, for the first 2 weeks in November, I was getting excellent speeds again - a good 30 - 40Mbps downstream, and 2 - 7 Mbps upstream. Also, at the time I couldn't get 4G indoors on my phone. But, since 14th November, it's been almost always 2 - 8 Mbps down & 0.3 to 0.5 Mbps up (and that's the date I started getting a 4G signal again on my phone indoors, which is why I'm suspecting an 800MHz connection).

I'm in rural West Wales (Ceredigion), so I wouldn't have thought the local masts would be congested with connections.

Any ideas gratefully received! smile

Many thanks.

Kind regards,

Adam.
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Sat 18-Nov-17 14:23:50
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Re: 4G now very slow - ideas?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
It may be the mast now does 4G but with more people seeing it on their phones, rather than use the slow ADSL, then are letting phones do more over the 4G element now...so mast is busy

One way to tell is to test across the day, e.g. if fast after midnight and before 2pm on a weekday then slows down, or the speed test graph starts to get more wobbly then you are seeing congestion kicking in

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
(learned) Sat 18-Nov-17 15:40:24
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Re: 4G now very slow - ideas?


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Thanks Andrew.

I've tried speed tests at various times of day, and yes sometimes they are a bit faster after say midnight.

You could be right about another nearby mast being 4G-enabled. It's definitely a lot slower now. Plus, most surrounding areas now have some FTTC (or even FTTP) as their main home broadband options, it's our small village that has been left out.

It's just strange that the speed has dipped drastically when my phone can get 4G indoors (and this is for continuous days, not just certain times), but when I can't get a 4G signal on my phone, then the 4G router seems to connect at the much faster speeds - which is why I was suspecting it was connecting to the 1800MHz LTE band when running fast, & the 800MHz LTE band (which travels further & penetrates indoors better, but slower speeds) when running slower - although that's just a guess. Maybe EE engineers have been working on the mast, resulting in faster connections when 800MHz was turned off, & slowing right down when it was turned on.

Anyway - it means that 4G is becoming less of an ADSL alternative (in terms of speed boost) here, although still ok as a backup option. Especially when I have to pay for the 4G monthly data (32Gb per month) in addition to the ADSL + Phone subscriptions.

I think my best option is to investigate using a local FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) provider, who I've been in contact with, to provide a faster connection - although I'll have to wait until they provide access for my area (that's if they can).

Anyway - in the meantime, I'll do as you suggest and keep an eye on speeds at various times of day, and try to determine if the mast is congested.

Kind regards,

Adam.


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Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Sat 18-Nov-17 16:10:14
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Re: 4G now very slow - ideas?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
This pattern happened when 3G replaced 2G, then 4G replaced 3G and will be similar with 5G replacing 4G

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sat 18-Nov-17 18:00:34
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Re: 4G now very slow - ideas?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
You've not said which of the 4 network operators you are using, but try them all. Get some PrePay data SIMs to trial.

Each operator has a different allocation of radio spectrum, and most overload conditions will be down to saturated radio, rather than backhaul from the mast. Don't look at top end speeds from cities, but test your area.

EE and Vodafone have significantly more than O2 or Three for example.

http://i.imgur.com/wMggQna.png

plusnet unlimited fibre 80/20 - 2 Jun 14 - Sync at 21/Oct/17: 63,430/9,688 - G.INP & 2.6 dB SNRm
18 years broadband since 1999's ntl:cable modem trial - Now using Asus RT-AC88U with BT HG612 - BQM
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(learned) Sat 18-Nov-17 18:34:35
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Re: 4G now very slow - ideas?


[re: jchamier] [link to this post]
 
Sorry, I forgot to mention, I'm using an EE data SIM.

None of the other networks (I did test a while back) have a 4G signal in my area.

Also - speeds were fine between March/April (when I started using it) and the start of September, then plummeted during September and October, then were fantastic again for the first 2 weeks of November, and now are back to being poor again.
Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sat 18-Nov-17 18:46:31
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Re: 4G now very slow - ideas?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
It could easily be load then, given none of the other networks have 4G yet.

If it is load, it could be that EE have added more "bands" to the mast, using more spectrum. Unlikely in your rural area, but possible. Your TPLink router only supports using one band at a time - and if you have an external antenna worth checking that you have Band 3, Band 7, and Band 20 support. (1800mhz, 2600mhz, 800mhz). Newer devices, like google pixel / iPhone 7 or later, support band aggregation to get more performance. The Netgear AirCard 810s can support this too. The archer doesn't according to the specs page (http://uk.tp-link.com/products/details/cat-4691_Archer-MR200.html#specifications).

Its still highly unlikely that aggregation is in place, as you are extreme rural, so I doubt that EE have anything other than B3/1800mhz. However it is also possible that water on leaves or in bushes has affected your signal; and the changes in temperatures. Do you know where the EE mast is? Do you ahve an external antenna pointing at it? Have EE done any recent works to the mast? Maybe moving panels around?

plusnet unlimited fibre 80/20 - 2 Jun 14 - Sync at 21/Oct/17: 63,430/9,688 - G.INP & 2.6 dB SNRm
18 years broadband since 1999's ntl:cable modem trial - Now using Asus RT-AC88U with BT HG612 - BQM

Edited by jchamier (Sat 18-Nov-17 18:48:27)

Standard User ukhardy07
(knowledge is power) Sun 19-Nov-17 00:12:25
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Re: 4G now very slow - ideas?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
I think it's a fairly basic explanation, now that you have 4G indoors, so do the neighbours, so overall utilisation has gone up. Same at music festivals, data is often much slower due to the number of people.

No point speculating what has changed, EE could have done a whole bunch of things.

Remember with things like WiFi assist, where an iPhone identifies weak WiFi but good data signal, it will divert to mobile data. Also, in an area such as yours, where home broadband is very slow, people might just disable WiFi all together at times for streaming etc.

In London where I'm at, I can get 80Mbps on 4G at 3am, at 10PM on a Sunday I get around 5. Same full bars.
Standard User AdamInTheSticks
(learned) Sun 19-Nov-17 15:53:59
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Re: 4G now very slow - ideas?


[re: jchamier] [link to this post]
 
Thanks - yes, it could well be load.

I remember that I discovered EE has Band 3 (1800MHz) and Band 20 (800MHz) in our area. When 4G was giving me a fast connection from the Archer MR200, the router was on zero (0%) or 1 bar (25%) of signal (out of 4 bars), and my phone couldn't get any 4G signal indoors (and very rarely outdoors). The recent periods when the 4G has been much slower (over 3 to 4 times slower!), the router has been on 2 (50%) or even 3 bars (75%) of signal (it's forced into 4G / LTE - only mode, & indicates it's a 4G LTE signal), plus my phone now has a good (but v.slow) 4G signal indoors - which is why I suspect I'm now connecting to Band 20 which penetrates indoors better.

The periods of slow & fast speeds seem to happen in all weather conditions (I was worries in the summer when leaves were on the trees that speed would drop or we'd lose the signal, luckily neither happened).

I don't exactly know where the mast is, but I've now got an external omni-directional antenna that I'm going to try, this may improve things somewhat.

Sadly my area doesn't have EE's "4GEE" (double-speed 4G) or "4G+" (I believe that's band aggregation?), so even if I used a suitable router, it probably wouldn't help.

Anyway, thanks for the advice - I'll try the external antenna. With the current situation, 4G is hardly much faster than the slow ADSL in the area.

Other than that - I'll investigate my local FWA provider & options further.

Kind regards,

Adam.
Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sun 19-Nov-17 15:57:36
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Re: 4G now very slow - ideas?


[re: AdamInTheSticks] [link to this post]
 
I think you've hit the nail on the head - and if this is the case (my guess) then its NOT load related, which will surprise some. (This is quite different to towns and cities)

EE has only 5mhz of spectrum at 800 (Band 20), but this travels much further from the mast, and with good indoor 'penetration, but 5mhz will give the speeds you are now getting. (Typically not much better than 3G).

However EE will also have deployed 20mhz of spectrum at 1800 (Band 3) and with this there is a lot more capacity, people have seen 100 megabit/s close to the mast with nobody else using.

If your reception is marginal, its possible the mast has pushed you over to Band 20 to maintain connectivity, but at the expense of capacity. An external antenna that improves the signal on Band 3 could then give you access to more capacity. If your TPLink router shows the information you are looking at the RSSI number on Band 20 or Band 3. A number around -120dbm is the lowest you'll get - try and aim for -100 indoors, or better outdoors.

A rooted Qualcomm powered android mobile running the free Network Signal Guru app would show you the relative signal levels and be portable.

plusnet unlimited fibre 80/20 - 2 Jun 14 - Sync at 21/Oct/17: 63,430/9,688 - G.INP & 2.6 dB SNRm
18 years broadband since 1999's ntl:cable modem trial - Now using Asus RT-AC88U with BT HG612 - BQM

Edited by jchamier (Sun 19-Nov-17 16:01:05)

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