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4g Router recommendation please

dustynet

Casual Member
Hi,
Long time reader and first time poster here.

Firstly I appreciate that the title is vague for my own liking, so here is some background.

Im UK based, in the north west and in an area which according to the network operators coverage maps indicates that I am in a coverage area for 4g mobile broadband.

I have recently switched from ADSL to mobile broadband and for the most part, am living quite comfortably with the change. I have switched to EE and using their 4GEE WiFi Mini which meets the most basic of requirements, however is lacking a world of configurable settings and monitoring options which I do like to have, as well as options around external antenna.

I have a few drop-outs each day for <60 seconds which at a push I can live with. Heres the clincher tho, I work from home and remote into the office to do my job, which requires me to be connected throughout the working day. Any outages more than 10-15 minutes would result in me having to jump in the car and complete a 45 minute drive to work and finish the working day there, which I would prefer to avoid.

So what I am looking for is to provide a significant improvement in download speeds as well as latency. (The kids arent impressed that Dads broadband doesnt really cut it for online gaming) Upload speeds Im not too concerned with as thats not something I have any need for.

My general usage is remoting into work and teams calls throughout office hours, followed by streaming music/Netflix / Amazon 4k on a couple of TVs with the occasional downloading of ISOs.

Im around 275 Meters from the mast I spend most time connected to. Because of this I am keen to look at routers with external antenna connectors with the obligatory antenna options, since the antenna side is not something I have looked at previously.

So after the above ramble, Im looking for a router with the following requirements / preferences, but very happy to take on board any suggestions or relevant questioning of my logic or lack thereof :)

  • 4g only - Not 5G
  • Firmware that will allow advanced features such as band locking and or avoidance particularly multiple band selection
  • Nothing below Cat 12 please as I want this to be an investment for a good couple of years. The router I have now is Cat 4.
  • Download capability of 300-600Mb L1 (I have no expectations of achieving 50% of the 300MB however if I can get close to 50Mbps or higher then that would be great
  • SNMP monitoring options where I can pull throughput stats, RSSI, signal strength, etc.
  • external antenna options is a must
  • Ideally something that is mains powered but can be powered from 12V/9V/5V DC via an additional regulated supply so I can throw it in the car/caravan if and when Im away for a week
  • Brands wise, I have been looking at Huawei and Teltonika, as well as TP-Link.
  • I have no issues with how this looks as long as it does its job.
  • Finally, budget - As always cheap as possible from a major brand. Ideally under the £100-120 mark for router alone, I can add the antenna on later.
Im not looking to make the leap to 5g given the bickering that the operators are in the middle of since this is affecting rollouts right now. Im not in a coverage area and dont expect to be in one any time soon.

Finally, thanks for giving up your time to read the above, and I look forward to any suggestions.

Cheers
Dusty

Technical bits

I generally connect to 1 mast, however I can see that on occasion bounce between 3 masts.
Again across these masts Im mostly sat on band 3 but ocasionally end up on band 20.

My regular speed test type results float between 2 and 8Mbps down with 1-3Mbps up and latency generally between 50-80ms.

My primary mast is Cell ID 3705344 LAC 11291 which I dont mind sharing.
When checking network stats across other operators using OpenSignal etc, which I appreciate is a wet finger in the air, is showing EE at around 45-50/8-10Mbps with the next fastest operator being 12/3Mbps.

I live in a generally flat area with nothing impeding LOS to masts if I was to mount an antenna in the loft or on the TV Aerial etc, so would expect some reasonable uplift in performance just by doing that. Sadly my current unit doesnt support external antenna.

Im looking at putting together an idiot guide around this sort of thing for my own reference, but can also post back into this forum if there are any takers interested?
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
If you put the 4GEE in the loft, do you get better results?

I'm not sure how to find your area by that cell ID, but if you say you get bands 3 and 20, then that's good.

Possible options could be TPLink Archer MR600 which is cat 6 and can aggregate band 3+3 or 3+20 for greater speed and has also SNMP AFAICT, or Huawei B818 which is a forum's favourite around here, being of similar price with the Tplink, but cat19.

The Huawei does not have SNMP, but you can get all sorts of stats out of it via PC/android apps as well as various libraries if you're into that sort of thing; it has an api.
I'd get the Huawei as it has a broader band support in case you want to change operators.

Both support external antennas.

HTH
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
That's a lot of info to respond to but my initial thought was that you shouldn't focus on an external antenna, unless your house is built from thick stone or something similar. At ~300m signal metrics should be good and by using an external antenna you could actually cause issues (lower metrics due to signal loss in cable) as well as hamstringing your speeds by limiting the achievable MIMO rank to 2 (assuming the mast is/will be capable of more).
 

dustynet

Casual Member
Hi to to both,

Lucian, thanks for the question about the loft.
I took this a step further and had some wooden poles in the garden so tested outside at a couple of different heights as well as inside.

Results were:
2.5m 37 down 10 up 33ms
4.0m 39 down 15 up 36ms
8.0m 50 down 33 up 32ms

Loft 43 down 15 up 33ms
Front bedroom window 30 down 1.7 up 23ms

Now I'm quite impressed with these figures from the tiny white plastic puc (4GEE WiFi Mini) but then again it box it came in does claim to support upt 300Mbps. The down side of this is to connect to it, its wifi only or plug in the USB port on a laptop for a direct connect.

Duct taping this to the top of the loft space and having a 5-10 meter usb cable for power wouldn't be great, nor would the wi-fi signal with my neighbor having a huge mesh that bleeds all over the entire 2.4ghz spectrum. But that said, these things were known issues before I picked this up. It was simply a POC before I jump in with both feet on the mobile broadbandwagon. It's served its purpose in validating that I can get a decent signal so thank you.

In response to Gavin, this is a run of the mill 1950 council house with regular cavity walls, so im taking a huge guess and hoping that this shouldnt impede 4g much, that is factoring in band 3/20 of course as Im not anticipating much penetration from 1 or 7. Does EE use any other bands in the UK? I havent been able to find anything else.

I do like the look of the b818 but the price, ouch. I would love to believe I can get 1gb down on 4g but in reality that's never going to happen any time soon, if it was a realistic expectation then the B818 would already be installed and I wouldnt be here :)
Price wise It's doable at a push but would like to know if there's anything else that can do 4x4 4g Mimo for less. Getting a stable 100mb down would be Nirvana for me tho ☺️

Re the mr600, I did look at that, but when I started digging, it appeared that it's absolute max theoretical throughout at layer 1 is 300mb including x4 Mimo. So taking a sensible normalisation against vendor claims (-50%) would drop this down to 150mb as an optimistic goal assuming assuming masts support it, but then again factoring in that would be at 4x Mimo so 150/4 for real band throughout would be 37.5mb. please feel free to educate me if I'm off target here.

I've used cablefree.net tables for basic calculations.
My current eemimi has just tested at ~42mb outside and 30MB indoors so throwing down cash on the MR600 for not a lot of gain isnt my bag, this seems less of an option having read elsewhere on here that its not great at pushing out a decent wifi signal. Again, Im always VERY happy to be educated if Im off topic, so please do put me right.

Off on a tangent for a moment, Ive just found https://cacombos.com/ when reading some other posts on here, which seems like a great site for saving on the google search for specs / throughputs etc.

One thing this site did help with is identifying that my phone is Cat 18 dl / 13 ul with LTE 4x4 Max down 1200 and up 150 Mbps.

Short of trying to download an ISO with it for the sake of finding a sustained throughput, its almost impossible to see any meaningful download speedtest from the regular sites as these dont offer sustained tests for 5-10 minutes. I guess Im stuck with ISO downloads then, and hope that the bottleneck is all on my side rather than the source sites. Thats me doing a 2nd wandering around the house / gardens to identify the sweet spots. I do love it when a question about a router opens up into something bigger. I never get bored learning about new tech and the wider ranging implications.

Anyway, I can see this is turning into another one of my rambles, so Ill keep digging and keep asking questions as they become obvious to me.
 

sof006

Regular Member
I'm using the zyxel lte5388-m804

Has band locking features. Pretty good in my opinion. Toggle switch on the back to choose either internal or external antenna.


I bought mine from Ballicom - https://www.ballicom.co.uk/lte5388-...ieUEY48Z6cPYMNpRGGfxr5Lcew_ztRHBoCjzMQAvD_BwE

Example of the speeds I get on EE

 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
@dustynet looks like you did your homework. Alas these things are just expensive..

Re testing, you could download some big file as a speedtest. If you can run wget in a terminal, try something like:
wget -O /dev/null http://mirrors.coreix.net/speedtest/10GB.bin

Alternatively the nPerf app can be configured to run tests for longer, but only up to 60 seconds.
 

dustynet

Casual Member
Hi,
Took delivery of a shiny new b818 this morning.
After some testing in getting slightly better throughout than my existing 4gee mini.
That's not an issue as I've been testing from the same known poor location deliberately just to the in the most literal sense, side by side stats...

I have the strangest thing going on tho.
I can connect my phone, tablet, laptop, TV fine and everything works as expected. When I connect a second TV and second laptop, I can see these devices connected in the client page on the router, but no matter what, I cannot get these additional devices to see the internet.

I've completed factory reset on the router, 2nd TV, and completed a network reset on the 2nd laptop. No matter what I do I cannot get these devices online through the new router. I've also swapped Sims on the router and have the same result.

As soon as I switch back to my current router everything works fine.
Just for completeness, the has been no issues with any of the devices previously and all are current and can support 802.11n as a minimum.

Has anyone else come across this before?
I've been testing the hell out of this all afternoon/evening but got no where.

At this point I'm starting to think about returning the device as faulty, on the basis that I can connect successfully using 2x other devices as access points, and using 2x different SIM cards across all of the ap devices. I'm completely thrown by this being selective when it comes to clients.
I've tried both 2.4 and 5g, n and AC etc.

Any pointers much appreciated 😆
 

eccles

Pro Member
Have you tried removing the other devices then add the devices that previously didn't work? If that works it might suggest that the B818 is limiting the number of attached devices. Otherwise look to the unconnected devices for incompatibility.
Someone on these pages also mentioned wi-fi PMF incompatibilty with some devices. Have you tried disabling that from your B818? The option is in wi-fi settings then at the bottom of the page select "more wi-fi settings".
 

dustynet

Casual Member
Hi Eccles,
Yeah I'd not come across pmf before so I've tried turning that off but still the same issue.
the first device I tried adding was one of the ones that don't work. Yes I have tried removing all devices, even factory reset the router again before adding the problem devices back first. Still no joy.
All other devices work fine and I've also disabled internet and re enabled internet for the devices.
Still no joy 🤔
 

clivejo

Regular Member
That cell ID is on eNB ID 14474 and serves quite a large area on Bands 3,7,20


Do you have line of sight with that mast?

Also, you can use an app like huaCtrl to get more technical info and settings like what bands you are connected to.
 

clivejo

Regular Member
the first device I tried adding was one of the ones that don't work. Yes I have tried removing all devices, even factory reset the router again before adding the problem devices back first. Still no joy.
Could you try splitting 2.4 and 5 Ghz and put them on different SSID's ie TestWifi_2.4 and TestWifi_5 see how the devices handle that?
 

dustynet

Casual Member
Hi all,
OK for clarity, my problem devices, a TV and laptop ARE connecting to the router. I can browse to the router management page and navigate around confirming that these devices are connected. I can also see the connections in the clients view on the management console for the router. The issue here is that there is no internet access provided to these 2 devices.

This is where I hit a wall.

I have split the WIFI networks into 2.4 and 5Ghz, I have set them to Open, WEP, WPA2 etc to test for any different behaviours. Ive set them back to WPA2 of course since then. Ive switched channels in the 2.4 and 5Ghz range, but this testing is all focused on the WIFI side, and I can see Im connecting to the router fine. The only tell that these devices may be having an issue is that they take 20-30 seconds to connect, where all other devices take 2-5 seconds.

My problem laptop connects using 802.11g rather than the expected .n or .ac which its capable of, yet the same laptop connects using .n on other routers. Very strange behaviour, but that alone wouldnt explain why it does connect and communicate with local wifi network without issue, the problem is limited to no internet access for this device and a TV.

When reviewing the settings for Wifi connections and security, I can see on other devices that there are options for TPIK and AES. I use AES on other router because its more current and alegedly more secure, as secure as a router from China can be I guess.
Looking at the B818, there is no options for specifying security beyond selecting Open, WEP, WPA and WPA2-PSK.

One thing that I have noticed is that this router is branded Optus in the management console. Does this make any difference to available options in the firmware? Is there a stock Huawei firmware that I can flash on to bring it back to standard.

I bought this from Amazon earlier this week and its arrived from London in its original box which appears to have been bounced around the inside of a delivery van. while opening it, everything looked clean and new. At first glance it appears like a new item, as it was advertised as new. However its had a new larger grey VOID if removed label applied to the box with a very obvious smaller void if removed label underneath it. The one underneath had already been opened and the larger label applied afterwards to give the appearance of the box not being opened. Being suspicious I would love to find a stock firmware to flash over this unit for peace of mind as well as to finalise testing of device connections.

If I cant get this ironed out in the next 24 Hours I think Im going to be returning the device.
 

johnro

Regular Member
Also you could tell your wifi board what speed/standard you want it to connect to.

For my one, I can chose from a to ax
 
Last edited:

Mr Choo

Regular Member
Re the Optus router. When I started researching 4G routers a while back much of the info I found back then was from down under and I got the the impression that the Huawei B525 supplied by Optus then was indeed screwed down to limit user control. Users were sourcing the units from elsewhere overseas or attempting to find non branded ones. Sorry no detailed info for you.
My folk down under could not get any more info as they are well served with fibre which is cheaper than MBB there I'm advised. Things may have changed now.
 

dustynet

Casual Member
Optus is an Australian brand, might be it is configured for that market?
Good shout, Im not sure if they are also active in the UK markets or not. This is the B818-263 which covers all the UK bands, not the more restricted -260 variant.
Is anyone able to advise if Optus branding IS appropriate to the UK marketplace? or does this really look like an imported router being sold?
 

Bubblesthefish6

ULTIMATE Member
Good shout, Im not sure if they are also active in the UK markets or not. This is the B818-263 which covers all the UK bands, not the more restricted -260 variant.
Is anyone able to advise if Optus branding IS appropriate to the UK marketplace? or does this really look like an imported router being sold?
Optus only operates in Australia, they have no place in the UK. It is for sure an imported router.
 

OddBall101

Casual Member
The optus branding on the router shows that it as a UK import. Question is why is it being sold with an operator branded firmware not intended for use in the UK - this doesn't necessarily mean things won't work or there is lack of band support. Your router could have been imported in to the UK from AliExpress and sold at a profit.

Now if the Optus branding bothers you return it dustynet.
Regarding the firmware You won't most likely be able to de-brand it with Stock firmware as the firmware consists of 2 parts Huawei issued firmware and regional variant part. The regional variant part is dictated by IMEI of the router and what it was locked to. Although your router is unlocked the regional variant part still applies.

So for instance if you purchased a router that was initially locked to T -mobile Netherlands and unlocked later the firmware should have the T-mobile variant part. You should be on the 10.0.5.2 firmware version(Huawei) but the firmware has the regional variant part so any updates you are likely to receive via HOTA (Huawei over the AIr) is one intended for Optus even though you are in the UK.
Can you check for an update? The latest one is 10.0.5.2 if i recall correctly.

If you do decide to return this router and get a replacement ask the seller for the IMEI number this is on a label on the outside packaging and check the status on IMEI checker
 
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