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New 4G router or Antenna
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Old 28-10-2020, 12:16   #1
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New 4G router or Antenna

Coming at this as a 4g router novice and have now stumbled upon a fairly hefty issue.

I moved into an area a few years ago now with no Virgin Media option available and thus ADSL/Fibre was the way forward. Having suffered numerous and repeated line issues over the 18 month contract I dove into looking at a 4g option instead, I'm not heavy on latency reliability as I used to be regarding games so I could make do with this.

Got a cracking deal with THREE as an existing long time customer for a mere £17pm (Unlimited) and a B535 Huawei router. That came and straight off the bounce, I noticed our nearest mast was less than 200 yards away with a direct line of site, 80-100mbits and around 20-25 up, fantastic, without tweaking anything.

Went and moved about 100 yards up the street but on the opposite side. Now have a house obscuring the line of site to the mast that's now about 300 yards away and a tree in the back garden regarding the mast about 800-900m on the other side. As expected, the router in 4G mode shat the bed. 3-4mbits and dropouts on the download side. This is in the top room window facing the closest mast obscured by the house. I've had to set the router to 3g mode to obtain around 15mbits and some stability. It's seemingly the strongest location in the house.

I need advice on what I should or can be doing to improve this.

At present I'm considering the following.

A) New router? The B535 generally has favourable reviews, this one has no bunny ear antennas in the back though. I've had a browse through the list in the other thread but unsure what actual opinion on the B535 is around here.

B) Antennas either bunny eared ones or an external antenna for either side of the house? https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poynting-Cr...11T8E45YSAGYX4
I'm wondering if any difference will be achievable with the line of site blockages, I have no experience of these. Was thinking of testing the potential external locations with a mobile device first.

C) Asking Three for a settlement amount and re-subbing to Fibre.
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Old 28-10-2020, 13:46   #2
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

You want this one:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poynting-Om...mputers&sr=1-1

It's the more up to date version of the one in your link. This has up to 3dBi gain (the older model has 2.5). Mount it using the suckers on the inside of an upstairs window that has near line-of-sight to your nearest cell tower. You should get an immediate and probably quite dramatic improvement, but you might find that making even modest adjustments to its precise placement makes a significant difference to the signal you get.

Don't judge performance based on a speed test - access the router's admin pages and look at the network info page. You're looking for signal quality (RSRQ) to get down close to, or better than, -3.0dB and signal strength (RSRP) close to or better than -90dBm. If you can achieve these figures then your router is getting as good a signal as you can hope for.

You will almost certainly improve reception further by mounting the antenna outdoors, but this is a little more complicated than it seems; 4g signal is very susceptible to attenuation on a long cable from the antenna to the router, so you really don't want to extend the cable beyond the 5 metres supplied by the antenna manufacturer. This makes the placement of the router inside your house more difficult because it has to be indoors, but five metres from wherever your antenna is sitting outdoors. Depending on the layout of your house you're then possibly looking at taking measures to mitigate poor wifi coverage - but this is relatively straightforward.

Incidentally I'm using the B818 which is very similar to the 535; it has a couple of extra tricks but nothing worth shelling out for if you already have a decent one (and you do). Your next upgrade would be to a 5g enabled one, but they are still pricey, so hold off for a year or so.

Last edited by Chris; 28-10-2020 at 13:50.
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Old 28-10-2020, 14:01   #3
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris View Post
You want this one:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poynting-Om...mputers&sr=1-1

It's the more up to date version of the one in your link. This has up to 3dBi gain (the older model has 2.5). Mount it using the suckers on the inside of an upstairs window that has near line-of-sight to your nearest cell tower. You should get an immediate and probably quite dramatic improvement, but you might find that making even modest adjustments to its precise placement makes a significant difference to the signal you get.

Don't judge performance based on a speed test - access the router's admin pages and look at the network info page. You're looking for signal quality (RSRQ) to get down close to, or better than, -3.0dB and signal strength (RSRP) close to or better than -90dBm. If you can achieve these figures then your router is getting as good a signal as you can hope for.

You will almost certainly improve reception further by mounting the antenna outdoors, but this is a little more complicated than it seems; 4g signal is very susceptible to attenuation on a long cable from the antenna to the router, so you really don't want to extend the cable beyond the 5 metres supplied by the antenna manufacturer. This makes the placement of the router inside your house more difficult because it has to be indoors, but five metres from wherever your antenna is sitting outdoors. Depending on the layout of your house you're then possibly looking at taking measures to mitigate poor wifi coverage - but this is relatively straightforward.

Incidentally I'm using the B818 which is very similar to the 535; it has a couple of extra tricks but nothing worth shelling out for if you already have a decent one (and you do). Your next upgrade would be to a 5g enabled one, but they are still pricey, so hold off for a year or so.
I've seen the tidbits in the router info when trying to place but thanks for the exact info required here, I'm going to have a look at those figures tonight without the upgrade. Thankfully any external antenna won't need to extend beyond the 5m supplied. There's only four potential locations for it upstairs and each have a window with a socket beneath (2 windows each side)

I'll post back later after checking the router page and trying the smartphone apps outside of the property... or by dangling out of the window
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Old 28-10-2020, 16:56   #4
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

No worries...

Also, I should be clearer, you will normally see the power and quality expressed as negative numbers so while I'm saying you want the figure to get down as low as possible actually what you're looking for is the highest value possible ... i.e -3 is better than -7, -90 is better than -104.

Also, the best speed test I've had with the Huawei B818 attached to that Poynting antenna (suckered to the inside of a bedroom window until I get time to do some DIY) is 119Mbps down, 16.8Mbps up, coincidentally first thing this morning. We are 4 miles from our local EE mast and the antenna has line of sight (but only just) over the treetops. The B818 is a Category 19 router and is theoretically capable of well over 1Gbps download, but that requires technologies to be installed in the cell tower that isn't even always present in urban areas, much less rural spots like ours. Our good download speed is a combination of a well placed external antenna, reasonable proximity to the cell tower and lack of stress on the cell due to it being in a fairly remote area. I'm fairly sure the theoretical maximum I can get out of this cell is 150/50, so I'm very happy with where things are at right now.

Last edited by Chris; 28-10-2020 at 17:09.
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Old 28-10-2020, 17:55   #5
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

RSRQ-12.0dB
RSRP-86dBm

The RSRP is solid. I'm struggling to get the RSRQ to move though.
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Old 28-10-2020, 18:35   #6
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

Quote:
Originally Posted by adzii_nufc View Post
RSRQ-12.0dB
RSRP-86dBm

The RSRP is solid. I'm struggling to get the RSRQ to move though.
Can you get a SINR value from that page as well? You have a strong signal but the quality could be better. SINR indicates whether thereís noise in the signal. This will reduce your speeds.

Hereís what Iím getting right now:

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Old 28-10-2020, 18:59   #7
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

Latest snapshot:

RSRQ-12.0dB
RSRP-83dBm
SINR1dB
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Old 28-10-2020, 19:50   #8
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

Your signal is quite noisy.

I had stats similar to yours the other week when I took our router away on holiday with us and used it without an antenna in a poor signal area. I rarely managed to get more than 10/1 out of it all week.

The precise calculations here are beyond me but my recent experience of choosing kit and setting it up suggests to me that a good quality omnidirectional antenna will make a world of difference to you.
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Old 28-10-2020, 21:44   #9
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

Fluctuations on the SNR between 1-4dB but never posting a negative figure. I'm going to opt for the antenna when I get the time and give it a go placing it in some external areas regarding the two known masts.

This wasn't an average move for a like for like property. This had fresh insulation, fresh plastering, new walls, windows the works, the entire inside is basically new. I'm wondering if anything in the materials has created issues. I'm consistently down to one bar signal on phones in most places inside the property with the exception of the windows.

On a lighter note, there's a billboard down the road with '5g causes covid' So I can look forward to my antenna being set on fire after being mistaken for a 5g device.
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Old 29-10-2020, 11:01   #10
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

Quote:
Originally Posted by adzii_nufc View Post
Fluctuations on the SNR between 1-4dB but never posting a negative figure. I'm going to opt for the antenna when I get the time and give it a go placing it in some external areas regarding the two known masts.

This wasn't an average move for a like for like property. This had fresh insulation, fresh plastering, new walls, windows the works, the entire inside is basically new. I'm wondering if anything in the materials has created issues. I'm consistently down to one bar signal on phones in most places inside the property with the exception of the windows.

On a lighter note, there's a billboard down the road with '5g causes covid' So I can look forward to my antenna being set on fire after being mistaken for a 5g device.
Negative values aren’t really negative, they’re just a useful shorthand for expressing small fractions of 1dB, as decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale. However in the case of SINR there can’t be a negative value. If you experience zero you have no signal at all. Anything below about 16 is fair, once you get into low single figures it’s poor, and there is a drastic fall off in performance.

From the reading I’ve done, your very poor SINR reading is consistent with the physical conditions you described in your OP.
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Old 30-10-2020, 11:21   #11
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

The contractors used aluminium-backed insulation. On top of all the other stuff too. Vodafone sim in my work device gives off 1 bar and really poor readings in the cell info app, Three contract - my personal device gives off 1 bar and equally poor readings and my partners o2 simmed device gives off again 1 bar and poor readings all round. Signal increases slightly nearer windows as expected and increases dramatically outside the properety.

Thanks for all the help, I'll press ahead with the device you bought and post back in what may be a few weeks with the results.
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Old 30-10-2020, 12:30   #12
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Re: New 4G router or Antenna

That aluminium backing makes your house into a Faraday Cage. No wonder the signal strength is poor.
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