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Standard User ally153
(newbie) Sun 20-Sep-20 10:25:49
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4G Antenna Mounting Advice


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I got 4G home broadband from Three UK about 11 months ago. Initially I was consistently getting good speeds of around 35-40Mbps. A few few months ago the connection speed dropped on my Huawei AI Cube and after trying out a number of things I eventually got a TP-Link MR600 coupled with a Poynting XPOL-2 antenna that I mounted in my loft. I used my phone to find the best position and direction of the antenna, which I confirmed with the admin portal of my router to make sure I was getting the best signal.

Initially this resolved my internet issues, but I've noticed again recently that my connection speed has gotten inconsistent again - sometimes I get speeds of over 40Mbps, but at peak times or in adverse weather conditions it can swing as lower than 10Mbps. I also notice at times I get really bad pings - usually if you check a moment later the ping goes back to normal, but I think it's enough to throw some internet services. Really I'd be quite happy if I could just keep a more consistent minimum speed of around 25Mbps and a more reliable ping. I'm now thinking of getting the antenna professionally installed on the outside of my house.

My question is two fold - before I spend money on a professional install, does anyone have any advice of anything else I should try first? Looking around, I could only find sat-works.com that provided an install service - does anyone else know of any other companies they would recommend?
Standard User Pheasant
(member) Sun 20-Sep-20 11:11:48
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Re: 4G Antenna Mounting Advice


[re: ally153] [link to this post]
 
Some of your connection issues may be down to the generally poor state of affairs with 3 that were only very recently resolved.

Bearing that in mind, you may also be experiencing localised mast congestion rather than anything specific to your particular connection.

In terms of optimising your physical connection to a specific mast, a directional antenna like you have will have optimal gain characteristics over an omni type antenna. Yagi’s are even better again, but they need to be aimed pretty much spot on.

I’d always suggest an antenna is mounted externally, if at all possible, and with the absolutely shortest possible length of coax which can drop a fair bit of precious gain you’ve achieved by going external and directional. Often this means the 4G modem/router will be in a difficult to access position, not usually ideal for onward WiFi if so equipped for local connection. So I’d suggest a cabled Ethernet connection time the rest of your network.

Also check where all your local masts are located and make sure you are aimed at the nearest with clearest line of site, so mount high!

Finally connection strength and quality on any router info pages, is expressed isually in terms of:

- Signal strength, RSSI (a negative dBm number the closer to zero the better)
- Signal to quality,
- SINR (a positive dBm number, hopefully above 7 and ideally better than 12)
- RSRP and RSRQ - a guide to where these should ideally be is expressed on the link below.

https://customer.cradlepoint.com/s/article/Modem-Sig...
Standard User ally153
(newbie) Sun 20-Sep-20 12:19:17
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Re: 4G Antenna Mounting Advice


[re: Pheasant] [link to this post]
 
Thank you for the quick reply! What were the recent issues with 3 you are referring to?

I understand that congestion definitely can come into play here and I wouldn't expect to get a solid connection speed that never fluctuate, I'm just looking for the lows to not go as low. Based on walking closer to the mast I believe I'm connecting to, I do believe it has plenty of bandwidth to work with.

I've got about 8M of cable length between the router and the antenna in the loft, from what I've seen the recommendation is to try to keep the cable length to <10M and obviously the shorter the better.

My router is currently reporting the following for my signal:
Signal Strength: 75%
RSRP: -96dBm
RSRQ: -12dB
SNR: 8.2dB

These are fairly typical values for where it's mounted, the SNR is often double figures in the mornings especially.

Do you have any recommendations on a professional install of the antenna external to the house?


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Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sun 20-Sep-20 12:34:09
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Re: 4G Antenna Mounting Advice


[re: ally153] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by ally153:
My question is two fold - before I spend money on a professional install, does anyone have any advice of anything else I should try first? Looking around, I could only find sat-works.com that provided an install service - does anyone else know of any other companies they would recommend?

Do you know for sure your local mast?? Three are doing a lot of work nationally, and things are changing every week. Any other networks in your area (e.g. Vodafone, EE, or O2) that you could try, perhaps on a PAYG SIM ?

21 years of broadband connectivity since 1999 trial - Live BQM
Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sun 20-Sep-20 12:35:10
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Re: 4G Antenna Mounting Advice


[re: ally153] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by ally153:
I understand that congestion definitely can come into play here and I wouldn't expect to get a solid connection speed that never fluctuate, I'm just looking for the lows to not go as low. Based on walking closer to the mast I believe I'm connecting to, I do believe it has plenty of bandwidth to work with.

You have plenty of signal. What you can't tell is how many other people are using that sector of the site.

On my local EE mast, I have -106db and speeds can vary from 10 Mbps to 190 Mbps.

In your case I think putting an antenna outside, will be costly, and will not give you an increase in speed or reliability. It may actually reduce your speeds as you lose signal in the coax cable from the antenna to the modem.

21 years of broadband connectivity since 1999 trial - Live BQM

Edited by jchamier (Sun 20-Sep-20 12:58:19)

Standard User andynormancx
(member) Sun 20-Sep-20 12:55:19
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Re: 4G Antenna Mounting Advice


[re: ally153] [link to this post]
 
Having the SINR go up over night is pretty normal, it goes up when people are asleep and the cell is quieter. Here is what it looks like on a fairly typical week for me with my externally mounted all-in-one LTE router/antenna.

https://imgur.com/a/OOdLtv3

(ignore the minimum figures there, my stats box couldn't see my router for a while, thanks to me fat-fingering my attempt to toggle the LTE interface on/off and accidentally disabling the Ethernet interface, doh)

And sadly widely variable speeds are typical on many mobile masts, even with good consistent signal strength with an external antenna. This is what a typical week of speeds looks like for me (on EE, but it was similar on Three).

https://imgur.com/a/bQpodB4

Edited by andynormancx (Sun 20-Sep-20 12:59:15)

Standard User Pheasant
(member) Sun 20-Sep-20 20:24:21
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Re: 4G Antenna Mounting Advice


[re: ally153] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by ally153:
Thank you for the quick reply! What were the recent issues with 3 you are referring to?

I understand that congestion definitely can come into play here and I wouldn't expect to get a solid connection speed that never fluctuate, I'm just looking for the lows to not go as low. Based on walking closer to the mast I believe I'm connecting to, I do believe it has plenty of bandwidth to work with.

I've got about 8M of cable length between the router and the antenna in the loft, from what I've seen the recommendation is to try to keep the cable length to <10M and obviously the shorter the better.

My router is currently reporting the following for my signal:
Signal Strength: 75%
RSRP: -96dBm
RSRQ: -12dB
SNR: 8.2dB

These are fairly typical values for where it's mounted, the SNR is often double figures in the mornings especially.

Do you have any recommendations on a professional install of the antenna external to the house?

No worries.

There’s threads in this section of the forum that document the recent problems with Three..several threads below this one currently, so you won’t have far to look.

I don’t have my recommendations I’m afraid on installers.

When I used 4G in anger, what I did was buy a 3 metre long ally antenna pole, mount my antenna and secure the coax to it. I then had my local TV antenna installer mount setup to the chimney and feed the cable via my loft space into an airing cupboard which was conveniently below the chimney. Whilst he rotated the pole toward the direction (I had previously checked) of my nearest mast in the mounts, I monitored the signal strength on the router. In this way I was able to keep the standard factory fixed coax that came with the Poynting. Any more (of the standard supplied) coax and it’s a futile exercise as you just add more loss to the link.

The only options being as I said to locate the router close or possible chop the standard coax’s close to the base of the antenna and run it in larger gauge 50-ohm coax. Though you’d probably need to go to N-type connectors from SMAs which fit directly on the thinner higher loss coax. These factory tails aren’t designed for any more than 5 metres or so, which is what they’re generally supplied with.

I did this all now more than 5 years ago. When 4G was a relatively new thing and our local EE mast had just been upgraded from 3G and the bandwidth was pretty well uncontended. I’m also located out in the sticks, so it’s a mile and half of farm between us the the nearest mast.

Saying all this your issues may be less about signal strength and quality (although it’s never a bad thing to get the radio side of things as absolutely tip top as you can in my opinion) and rather be deeper within the carriers side of things, possibly mast or network congestion.
Standard User Cammy
(regular) Mon 21-Sep-20 11:02:28
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Re: 4G Antenna Mounting Advice


[re: jchamier] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by jchamier:
In your case I think putting an antenna outside, will be costly, and will not give you an increase in speed or reliability. It may actually reduce your speeds as you lose signal in the coax cable from the antenna to the modem.


I took the view that it was better to sacrifice a bit of height in order to keep the cables short and I mounted the antenna outside an upstairs window and put the router just inside.

I have since changed to an all-in-one unit and, although all I can see are hills and trees, I still get 70Mbps down.
Standard User jabuzzard
(committed) Mon 21-Sep-20 12:23:49
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Re: 4G Antenna Mounting Advice


[re: andynormancx] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by andynormancx:
Having the SINR go up over night is pretty normal, it goes up when people are asleep and the cell is quieter. Here is what it looks like on a fairly typical week for me with my externally mounted all-in-one LTE router/antenna.


That explanation is a load of cobblers I am afraid. The SINR goes up at night because this large orange RF white noise generator in the sky (aka the sun) is behind the planet. More specifically the SINR goes up between sunset and sunrise.

It's one of the reasons why the scare stories about mobile signals and cancer are a load of rubbish. You are being bathed in far stronger signals by the sun.
Standard User andynormancx
(committed) Mon 21-Sep-20 13:15:30
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Re: 4G Antenna Mounting Advice


[re: jabuzzard] [link to this post]
 
I am certainly not a RF/LTE expert and so I'm very happy to be proved wrong, but the stats I have from the SINR on my router do not purely match sunset/sunrise times.

The SINR climbs from about late evening onwards, 3+ hours after sunset at the moment and reaches a peak in the middle of the night. It then gradually falls off until noon and then is low from then until late evening. As such it doesn't just go up and down with the sun, the low in the evening matches the expected peak times of video streaming and stays low after sunset.

However, my data does show the fall from the peak starting at around sunrise. So maybe what I am seeing is a combination of solar RF interference and high traffic levels in the afternoon evening ?

https://imgur.com/a/GkaonVg
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