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4G speeds on Three and EE?

cbdeakin

Casual Member
I ran a speed test (multithreaded) and got 95mbps on a free Three data sim, from my Leagoo T5 phone. Does this speed seem like a realistic speed to get / expect from 4G? My phone shows an ASU of 58. Also, the 4G masts in my area support the 1800 mhz frequency.

The reason I ask is that im considering replacing my 50mbps VDSL / Fibre internet connection with a 4G router, if it is faster. Ive ordered a double speed EE wifi sim card to check the max speed on the EE network.

can I use a EE 4G sim in any unlocked 4g router?
 

GavinAshford

Regular Member
If the speed test you did was performed in your house, then yes. That's the 4G speed you currently get and a router would probably perform at a speed similar to that quite a bit of the time.

However, saying that, the speed may fluctuate at times due to changing factors but probably the biggest factor is the number of users using that mast. e.g. if you live near a football stadium, the number of users connecting to the mast you are using would increase greatly when a match was being played and the available speed (capacity per person) would decrease. That's an extreme example but even daytime vs evening vs night may produce different speed results as the population changes in the local area of the mast.

Also note that the ping times (server response times) on 4G are likely to be higher (worse) than wired broadband, this can impact experiences with things like online gaming that benefit low ping times (quicker server responses). If you're not a gamer then this probably isn't a major concern, but generally lower ping times are preferred as it makes the internet experience feel snappier as pages start to load fractionally quicker and give the sense that your browser is doing something.

Yes you should be able to put an EE SIM into any unlocked router, though obviously be aware of any data limits that apply to the product. As you already seem aware, EE also speed tier their products so as you've only ordered a double speed SIM then you may only be able to achieve a speed test result which is lower than that of a 'maximum' speed SIM on your mast. Their unlimited data product does offer the maximum available speed.
 

cbdeakin

Casual Member
Thanks for your detailed reply. I forgot to add that my Leagoo T5 phone supports MIMO (2x2). The speed test I completed was in the house, I suspect that I won't be able to beat this result with the EE sim. I will test ping times to by tethering my phone to my PC, if it's only a bit higher then VDSL then I think it will be fine.

I picked a EE Double speed wifi sim (just for testing) because they are apparently capable of a maximum theoritical speed of 150mbps (at least when it launched back in 2013), and it was available on a 1 month contract. Link here: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/ee-announces-double-speed-networks-of-up-to-150mbps-8685239.html

I notice that EE's 4G router packages aren't unlimited, so that wouldn't allow enough data usage for my family.

Can I buy a 2nd hand or new EE 4G router from elsewhere (e.g. Ebay), and use an Unlimited EE mobile plan sim with it?

Also, is 58 considered a good ASU, or could I potentially get even higher than this? I noticed this seems to make a large difference to speed test results. What ASU do others commonly report on 4G devices?
 

cbdeakin

Casual Member
Ping times on the Three sim were 29-50ms, should be ok for gaming. roughly 30 ms higher than what I see in games on VDSL. I'll see if the EE sim is any better when it arrives.
 

GavinAshford

Regular Member
I believe yes you can use an EE unlimited SIM in any router, however their T's+C's do state:
Personal, non-commercial use only. If you regularly tether 12 or more devices, we will consider this non-personal use and have the right to move you to a more suitable plan. We will consider usage above 1000GB/month to be commercial use and have the right to move you to a business plan.

How strictly (or even how) that is policed and enforced I don't know.

Personally I'd suggest not getting an EE specific router as it'll likely be locked to EE and would need to be unlocked to use a different provider in the future. They also are likely to have EE firmware which is probably more limited than generic routers.
 

GavinAshford

Regular Member
As for ASU, that's is just one metric for measuring signal, and generally the better signal (or better signal vs interference) you get the more speed you should get, though as I mentioned, there are many other factors that could influence that (like number of users connecting to your mast).

I wouldn't be too overly concerned with signal levels of you're getting good speeds, though if you do get a router then finding the optimum positioning within your home (near a window, at the side where the mast is, etc) would be best practice to ensure you make the most of it.
 

cbdeakin

Casual Member
The fair usage limit of 1000GB on EE is off putting, as my family somehow do manage to download around 1TB of data in some months. Personally, I blame cat videos on Youtube.

Does Three have a fair usage policy for their unlimited mobile or router Sim plans?
 

GavinAshford

Regular Member
I believe Three also state 1000GB usage, though again I don't know if that is a hard cap, or is enforced some other way (averaged over X months?)

I think all the providers have some clause in their Ts and Cs in terms of fair usage for their unlimited offerings.
 

Mark8253

Regular Member
Couple of points - my rural 4G from EE can be anything from 20 Mb/s at very busy times to 120 Mb/s+ on automatic speed tests in the middle of the night (Cat 6 Archer MR600 router). I have an unlimited data phone SIM, and the EE description on the packet invited me to pop the SIM in a tablet or dongle to share the data around. They perfectly reasonably object to multi-terabyte users slowing the network down for the rest of us, but seem to accept the reality of how the more clued-up user will use the SIM.
 
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Mark8253

Regular Member
It’s also worth asking the more fundamental question - what is 50 Mb/s and low ping on VDSL stopping you doing? It’s fast enough for multiple simultaneous HD streams and gaming sessions. Is the perceived bottleneck actually your home wifi network? If so, changing to 4G won’t help, and I’d be surprised if real world 4G performances gives you a significant gain.
 

cbdeakin

Casual Member
Mark - Thanks for the info regarding the speeds you get at different times.

a 1000GB cap is OK, but how come major ADSL / VDSL companies can offer completely unlimited data, and hugely profitable mobile networks like EE won't? Actually, they can but want users to pay a higher price for it by moving them to a commercial plan.

I expect this will change over the next few years though, as 5G (with upgrades to capacity including MIMO) is rolled out and it becomes possible to blow through data caps within a few days.

I think it's worth pointing out that whenever any user downloads (even quite a small download), it could have an effect on other users if there is insufficient capacity in an area and if many users are downloading / uploading simultaneously. This can be solved with network upgrades and additional spectrum as demand increases.

I think upto 80mbps VDSL has been a bit disappointing and hasn't had sufficient investment (since ~2013) for upgrades from Openreach to make it worthwhile, such as vectoring (to address attenuation + crosstalk) and profile upgrades to increase speed.

Another factor for me, is that our ISP (Talktalk) recently tried to bump up our monthly fee, by adding fees to use the Youview box and increases to the cost of the FTTC package itself.

My home network is fine, I've tested ethernet, WI-FI and powerline and get similar performance on Wi-fi to ethernet, after some tweaking.

The main benefit to 4G could be potentially faster downloads, which would be particularly useful for downloading large games (some games are now 150GB!), which can take hours to download. A lot of people don't watch TV at all now and stream it all online, or watch videos, which also uses large amounts of data.

I'll have to do some do testing at different times to see how consistent bandwidth is on 4G.

I think most people would like FTTP (fibre connection to homes), but until then, I'd like to see what else is possible. Many people in cities can get 500mbps packages on Virgin Media, I can't see any reason why customers wouldn't want this, if they can afford the high monthly cost.
 
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Mark8253

Regular Member
Wireless networks have more fundamental limits to their capacity than wired ones, principally around how much bandwidth is available in our highly congested radio spectrum. Technology is getting better at squeezing more data out of the same space, but there are limits to what is possible.
 

Verita

Regular Member
"a 1000GB cap is OK, but how come major ADSL / VDSL companies can offer completely unlimited data, and hugely profitable mobile networks like EE won't? "
Some users on Three have complained about the 1000 GB cap, it seems that anything over is classed as 'commercial use' and raises red flags. Clearly it would be reasonable to expect some limits on a £22 a month connection, but as data consumption in households increases by the month, those limits soon become irksome.

From experience: 3G and 4G broadband work well for some, but not for everyone. It's a juggling act with costs, signal strength, mast contention, price hiking after 12 months and data caps.

Only three years ago this household was eating just 20GBs a month over mobile data (for £12.) We're now at about 300GB, having ditched the woeful broadcast TV stations and iPlayer etc for more select use of Netflix and Prime.

(Ditching the TV licence saved £150 a year.)

Presumably things will improve, but the comms people have been saying this since 1993 when a megabyte a minute over pay-per-minute dial-up became possible. :)

FTTP would be excellent in our household, but isn't available, BT 'Superfast' FTTC is £29 a month, (45/8 mbps) so 4G on Three for £22 (60/30) it is 'until things improve.'
 

Mark8253

Regular Member
Remember though that "select use" would have to exclude any live content (such as sporting events). Even Netflix and Prime require a TV licence to watch live content legally.
 

cbdeakin

Casual Member
I did some more speed tests, this time on an EE Sim (5gb data sim). Speeds were between 30-40mbps in most of my house, but between 80-105mbps (1 test was higher than this) at one particular high point in my room (ASU 60-62). The latency was ~40ms, so a bit better than Three.

So, the max speeds were possibly a little higher than Three, but in view, not enough to go with EE instead of Three, which is cheaper, offers unlimited 4G router packages and doesn't speed cap some 4G packages. If I can get higher ASU on my phone, I might even get the same speeds on Three.

Do most 4G routers report ASU in their web interface, or do they use other metrics or indicators to show signal strength / quality? Is the signal strength likely to be the same as my phone, or a little better?
 

TTJJ

Casual Member
By the way, do I have to call EE to cancel a 1 month contract?
Yes - but also not necessarily. If you have another another phone (PAYG or Contract) you can just text STAC to 75075 (free) and give the code it will provide you with to the new network and they'll cancel it within 2 working days. Much easier.
 

cbdeakin

Casual Member
Thanks TTJJ - I've just done this with an old Three SIM (will be done by 31 of December), EE sent me a text saying there will be a charge for 'ending your contract early' of £10.08. I paid the EE direct debit amount for the month before doing this, so I hope this message is incorrect.
 

GavinAshford

Regular Member
Do most 4G routers report ASU in their web interface, or do they use other metrics or indicators to show signal strength / quality? Is the signal strength likely to be the same as my phone, or a little better?
I think they vary - Huawei routers show RSRQ, RSRP, RSSI and SINR values. For 4G ASU maps to RSRQ.

From Wikipedia
For LTE networks, ASU maps to RSRP (reference signal received power, see TS 36.133, sub-clause 9.1.4). The valid range of ASU is from 0 to 97. For the range 1 to 96, ASU maps to( ASU - 143) < dBm ≤ (ASU - 140).
The value of 0 maps to RSRP below -140 dBm and the value of 97 maps to RSRP above -44 dBm.


Signal strength will vary between devices and depends on things like positioning, power and antenna design. E.g. a high end phone might have a better antenna design than a mid-level router but the router might have more power (mains powered vs battery) and therefore the signal might show some metrics as being more favourable on the router vs a phone.

As you're probably finding out, with everything wireless, there is no simple answer and it very much 'depends' on a number of factors.
 

TTJJ

Casual Member
Thanks TTJJ - I've just done this with an old Three SIM (will be done by 31 of December), EE sent me a text saying there will be a charge for 'ending your contract early' of £10.08. I paid the EE direct debit amount for the month before doing this, so I hope this message is incorrect.
It'd be interesting to see what happens with this. If you're in the first month of your first month contract and you cancel it, they've the right to charge you the remainder of the month. Though as it's a contract there's likely a bill produced for the next month as they charge a month in advance on contracts. You may get a final bill produced with a refund if that's the case.
 
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