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Standard User iainmck
(newbie) Tue 01-Dec-20 11:26:27
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Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[link to this post]
 
Looking for help getting any respectable bandwidth and reliability on our mobile broadband as we're tearing our hair out with 2 of us working from home and 2 kids consuming bandwidth

Signal from the three closest Vodafone transmitters is typically very poor. This is at our Gigacube (Huawei H112-370) router connected via external Poynting Directional antenna (Poynting 4G-XPOL-A0002). We also tried the Poynting Omni directional (A0001) with similar results:

Typical signal:

CELL_ID133580052
RSRQ-15.0dB
RSRP-109dBm
RSSI-83dBm
SINR 6dB

The above signal seems typical, used my phone with vodafone SIM and Cellmapper to gather data around the area. We don't see better than -100dBm RSRP or SNIR above about 9dB either outdoors on phone or at Router via roof mounted antenna.

This translates to a bandwidth varying between 1Mbps download to 7Mbps (on a very good day!), typically between 2Mbps and 3Mbps, but the real problem is that it's very unreliable - frequent drop outs. When I say frequent, I mean around 20 times a day. I see the router reconnecting to one of 3 masts after drop outs. I'm assuming it detects an untenable signal and switches to another mast. I don't see any way to control that at my end.

Other providers don't appear any better. masts are shared in the area between vodafone and O2 (does that mean similar perfomance, or are there other factors than physical ones?).

We tried 3 a year ago and abandoned as reception was poorer than Vodafone. EE, I believe is similar coverage to 3. Near neighbours are all on Vodafone as a very poor best of a bad bunch.

I'm considering options:
* reseller (4G-Internet) who will do an install with antenna and piggy back/resell vodafone, so I'm suspicious it'll be the same story as the signal is the problem, and I think we've installed our antenna as well as possible.
* repeater (e.g CellFi) if legal, proven, allowed by mobile provider and installable.
* external router (e.g. Microtik),but need some evidence it could work, and again, is it easily installable
* try a different router as a comparison. I'm waiting for the return of our DLink 4 G router to try as an alternative, and note the neighbours and the resellers appear to use a TPLink router. Suspicion s that it's not the router; it's that terrible signal.

So, on a signal that appears to be -103dBm to -110dbM RSRP and 7dB SNIR, what can we do?

Hoping for some insight !

Cheers

Iain
P.S. Nearly forgot, landline/fibre not an option. We're 5km from our nearest cabinet and prior to mobile broadband, we got an unreliable ~1Mbps download thru BT and copper wire. No plans for upgrade to infrastructure.
Standard User ian72
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Tue 01-Dec-20 12:34:14
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Re: Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[re: iainmck] [link to this post]
 
Can't answer most of your questions but on the question of O2 and Vodafone sharing a mast that does not necessarily mean similar performance - the way the transmitters are setup and the frequencies they use would impact on speeds and coverage. Lower frequencies travel further but will provide lower bandwidth, high frequencies travel a shorter distance but can pack more data into the signal. Without trying both you couldn't be sure what performance they would have.
Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Tue 01-Dec-20 13:14:33
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Re: Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[re: iainmck] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by iainmck:
Other providers don't appear any better. masts are shared in the area between vodafone and O2 (does that mean similar perfomance, or are there other factors than physical ones?).
We tried 3 a year ago and abandoned as reception was poorer than Vodafone. EE, I believe is similar coverage to 3. Near neighbours are all on Vodafone as a very poor best of a bad bunch.


Mast sharing is common, but only means physical (for 4G and 5G) sharing of the structure, electric supply and such. Many have their own "unilateral" masts as well as shared.

Assuming EE based on Three, is not correct, as is the reverse.

Check our your location on www.cellmapper.net and see what masts are nearest to you, which operators, and which bands (frequencies) are in use.

An RSRP of -100 is quite normal for indoors, and you won't generally see better in an urban area, often worse. The signal strength numbers are only valid for the band received, e.g. Band 20, or Band 3, or Band 1 (or even Band 7). Different networks deploy different bands and capacities in differnet areas.

The signal strength is unllikely your issue, perhaps signal quality, but more likely you are sharing with a lot of other people also using the service.

Try ALL four of the real networks with PAYG SIM cards, forget the virtual operators.

21 years of broadband connectivity since 1999 trial - Live BQM

Edited by jchamier (Tue 01-Dec-20 13:17:38)


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Standard User ukhardy07
(knowledge is power) Tue 01-Dec-20 13:39:58
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Re: Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[re: iainmck] [link to this post]
 
I’ve got RSSI of -121 in London zone 2 on EE and I quite often use it for teams meetings via my phone and HD streaming, the speeds are around 10Mbps consistently. Your RSSI isn’t concerning to me personally.

In my office it’s a similar story, level 10, -115, guest WiFi basically is so slow (sub 1mbps) I don’t even use it. Again it works fine for general browsing and calls eg Microsoft teams. Speeds around 20Mbps.

I suspect the slow speeds are down to usage, if you don’t have a solid home broadband option and the neighbours also don’t they will all be using the mobile data. A stable 1Mbps line it could be better for stability purposes and teams works quite nicely even when I’m on hotel WiFi capped at 1Mbps per user or at clients, sure the video quality suffers but it’s not dropping. It might be a mix of both that works... not ideal.

If you are comfortable sharing a postcode not a whole address, it could allow some digging into what sort of masts / signals you could expect.

Edited by ukhardy07 (Tue 01-Dec-20 13:42:40)

Standard User iainmck
(newbie) Tue 01-Dec-20 13:43:41
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Re: Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[re: jchamier] [link to this post]
 
Hi folks, thanks, noted on the providers. Appreciated.

The signal measurement I'm quoting is not really an "internal" signal, I'd say. Maybe best explain the ways I've measured it ...

The measurements I've taken are in the same ballpark of -101dBm to -109dBm when :
* using my phone outdoors outside the house
* using my phone on the roof next to the antenna we've attached to our router.
* looking at the router's config page while it is attached to our directional Poynting antenna on the roof via 5m cable. So, the signal quoted is the external signal with the loss through the antenna cable (-2dBm?)

When I measure the internal signal on my phone, I have to find a window to get any 4G signal, and it comes through at somewhere between -111dBm and -122dBm.

When I disconnect the antenna, so I'm just using the router's internal antenna, the signal RSRP drops by about 3dBm to a best figure of about -110dBm and SNIR decreases by about 2dBm

So, main question...does an external signal of -100dBm to -110dBm and SNIR of about 7dBm (as measured above) give us a fighting chance of (more) acceptable bandwidth and reliability, and if so, what sort of setup/kit seems best to try? (do I need to consider repeaters/external routers or anything fancy?)

Cheers

Iain
Standard User iainmck
(newbie) Tue 01-Dec-20 13:54:22
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Re: Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[re: ukhardy07] [link to this post]
 
Hi ukhardy07, thanks. Interesting. I do know our nearest neighbours are very heavy users; both regularly on video calls for their work, so maybe contention is a significant part of the problem. Our postcode is DD7 6LW, although it represents a particularly wide geographical spread and a lot of variation in mobile coverage, so it may not be most helpful. I've submitted a lot to cellmapper.net in recent weeks but always hooked up to Vodafone on my phone at the time, so I'm not too clear on the other providers until I get some PAYG SIMs and an old phone to run around with (on my todo list now!).

Our more accurate location is here: https://what3words.com/obstruct.backfired.officials

So, on Cellmapper, I can see 3 masts we seem to attach to:
Ardownie Quarry ENB ID 522011
Cell 10: 133634826

Downiehill ENB ID 521797
Cell 20: 133580052

Shanwell ENB ID 525541
Cell 30: 134538526

Does that add up? Any ideas on other provider's masts? O2 are the same masts AFAIK

Cheers
Iain
Standard User RobertoS
(elder) Tue 01-Dec-20 14:48:37
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Re: Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[re: iainmck] [link to this post]
 
On reading the earlier parts of this thread, a thought occurred to me that you have just reinforced.

If you and your neighbours all switched to Vodafone, and a couple are heavy users, switching away to an apparently "inferior" provider may be good for throughput and stability.

You also mentioned having a directional aerial. In a way, that might be restricting your service if the mast it is aimed at is under heavy load. It certainly will if you fall back to a different one.

Checking other SIMs with an old phone may be good or bad. Partly depending on how old. The antennae in newer ones are usually better than domestic routers, though you external aerial may be more than compensating.

I'm not sure the following will help or not. At home I don't have an external aerial, but can vouch for my low-end Huawei B311 being similar to the Galaxy SIII I used for the same experiment, inferior to the Huawei P10 Lite that was my main phone at the time, and my OnePlus 8 Pro leaves them all standing even when on 4G rather than 4G+. (The Samsung and Huawei only handled 4G/LTE, like the router).

__________________________________________________________
Sovereignty Means Sovereignty

My broadband basic info/help site - www.robertos.me.uk. Domains, sites and mail hosting - Tsohost & Ionos.
Connections: OnePlus 8 Pro max 165Mbps down, 24Mbps up on Three, and B311 4G, tbb tests normally 35-45Mpbs down, 65Mbps off-peak, 9-24 up.
========================
Experience shows us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking together in the same direction.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Standard User zzing123
(regular) Tue 01-Dec-20 16:52:05
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Re: Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[re: iainmck] [link to this post]
 
There might be a problem with that antenna, as you're using the Gigacube being a 5G device with 5G radios. The issue with the Gigacube (aka Huawei 5G CPE Pro) is that the external antenna is ONLY for 5G. 4G uses only the internal antennas. So I fear you have is a 4G antenna that isn't feeding the required frequencies to the Gigacube. If either are under warranty or bought with advice, I suggest you whinge.

Huawei do make another modem, with identical guts called the 'Huawei 5G CPE Win', which is externally wall and pole-mountable and powered by an included PoE. It is preferable to get an external modem as having the modem close to the antenna reduces cable loss (which is also significant). You'll have to import it from China, but plenty available on Aliexpress.

Poynting have 4 different types of antenna. The only complication is that part of 3's 4G spectrum is only covered by the 5G models as well, but as you're with Yodafone, it shouldn't be a problem.

Poynting XPOL-1 (A-XPOL-0001):
- 790 - 960 MHz & 1710 - 2700 MHz
- Omnidirectional
- 4G only

Poynting XPOL-1-5G (A-XPOL-0001-V2):
- 698 – 960 MHz, 2170 -2700 MHz, 3400–3800 MHz
- Omnidirectional
- 4G & 5G

Poynting XPOL-2-V2 (A-XPOL-0002-V2):
- 698 - 960 MHz, 1710 - 2170 MHz, 2300 - 2400 MHz, 2500 - 2700 MHz
- Directional
- 4G only

Poynting XPOL-2-5G (A-XPOL-0002-V3-01):
- 698-960 MHz, 1710-2700 MHz, 3400-3800 MHz
- Directional
- 4G & 5G
Standard User iainmck
(newbie) Tue 01-Dec-20 17:56:29
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Re: Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[re: zzing123] [link to this post]
 
Hi zing123, thanks, good point on the router/antenna combo. I got in touch with Huawei support, and their engineers say the external antenna will work with a 4G antenna and signal (as well as for 5G). That's perhaps not a completely definitive answer, so I'm going to test with another router once I've got it back from a friend.

I looked at some external router/modem options from Microtik too, so it's interesting there's a Huawei one too.

We have 2 of the Poynting antennae;
* the A-XPOL-0001 onmidirectional, and
* the A-XPOL-0002-V2 directional.
Different results from each, as there's one transmitter that's in a different direction that the omni is better at picking up, but if the other two transmitters are working, the directional antenna gives us better performance. Unfortunately, neither setup is good enough with very frequent drop outs / changes of transmitter.

Cheers,
Iain
Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Tue 01-Dec-20 19:57:35
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Re: Mobile broadband on a shoestring bandwidth?


[re: iainmck] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for the location details, and eNodeB numbers of the local cell sites for cell mapper. This shows that all the Vodafone sites near you are only Band 20, which is 800 MHz transmission. For both Vodafone and O2, this is their main whole UK coverage transmission on 4G LTE. The downside is that it is only 10 MHz wide (10 MHz downlink, AND 10 MHz uplink). In Scotland the Beacon project rollout was delivered by O2 for both Vodafone and O2 working together to share the physical mast locations, and shared infrastructure (e.g. power) but building two separate networks. O2 on the same physical masts have their own allocation of radio spectrum, and so worth a try to see if you can get a heads up on other people whom are stuck using Vodafone.

10 MHz wide is not very much radio spectrum at all, and if it overloaded with customers then LTE degrades nicely (whereas 3G just stopped working); so you end up with the very slow speeds that you are experiencing.

EE and Three only have half the Band 20 spectrum (5 MHz); so normally deploy their other options at the same time.

Cellmapper shows there is a possible EE mast relatively close to you, transmitting both Band 3 (1800 Mhz) and Band 20 (800 MHz) signals.

With EE, the Band 3 is 20 MHz (20 MHz downlink, and 20 MHz uplink), and they have also deployed Band 20 (800 MHz) at 5 MHz. Therefore if you had a receiver that can pick up both signals, AND is modern enough (Cat 6 or higher) to aggregate, you might get 25 MHz upload, and 25 MHz download.

Sharing 20 or 25 MHz with other customers will give you higher speeds than sharing 10 MHz with other customers.

If you can get PAYG SIMs into a reasonably modern phone (one that does CA) and run Cellmapper, and drive around the locality, it would be useful. If looking to buy new, the OnePlus Nord is a highly specified device that is a lot cheaper than Bob's OnePlus 8 Pro. smile

21 years of broadband connectivity since 1999 trial - Live BQM
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