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4G to 5G broadband: options

backflash

Member
Hello, I've been exploring more in-depth discussions in regards to mobile broadband and only found this forum today which seems like a great resource. I am posting this to try and share my use case and seek some opinions or guidance on how to proceed with broadband.

Story so far: I've moved to a new flat in London only to find out the landline can't provide anything better than 6mbps (confirmed by neighbors and numerous ISPs). I went with mobile, as the coverage is the most excellent I've experienced.
Speedtest results on my mobile EE plan reached 130mbps with LTE on my OnePlus 5T, but the latency was unstable for gaming (average of 60ms with jitters of few hundred) and I am on a capped plan. I then bought a Huawei B-525 router and picked up an unlimited Three sim card (EE had long term contracts only, not ready to commit). Three's LTE was worse (60mbps). Testing both of these carriers on B-525 yielded very similar results, speed fell even more (~40-50mbps), also pretty unstable, downloading anything (P2P or simple web downloads) would yield speed jumps between 800KB/s and 6MB/s, also internet would be absolutely unusable during downloads, (can't watch youtube or play games etc), but the latency was a lot better (30ms, I only notice a jitter or two every week), so I settled with this setup for a while. I've recently started experiencing very frequent request timeouts, when I'd click a link it'd time out but clicking again would load up anything instantly and narrowed this issue down to the router.
I also recently got a Galaxy S21 Ultra and found out my EE plan has excellent 5G coverage everywhere at home with 550mbps DL and 60mbps UL speedtest. I tried tethering it to my PC and it seems to have solved all 3 of my problems (speed, timeouts, and things working while downloading things) so I thought it may be best for me to proceed with a 5G option for my broadband, but I won't use my new flagship as a tether for obvious (hopefully) reasons so I'm exploring device options.

I saw this forum have recommendations to just pick up a 5G phone as a tether, potentially have it rooted and set up the way you want. I'm worried whether it won't cause same latency issues I've experienced.
I've seen great reviews of Netgear MR5200 which I'm afraid is a bit too steep in price.
Huawei CPE 2 Pro seems like a pretty balanced option but I read it's a very Plug-and-Play option which will either work or not, has little configuration options and no support for antennas.
SIM8200EA-M2 is very intriguing. I could set it up as a Raspberry PI hat and use that as a router, but there seems to be very little in reviews about the chip, it does not seem like it's used commercially that much.

Thank you for reading my wall of text. So to summarize, these are the things I'd like to hear some opinions on:
* Do you think I missed something obvious I can do with my current setup to potentially solve the problems I've been experiencing?
* How should I go about picking a device if my main goals are stable latency, speed (I'd like to stay above 300mbps if possible), and configuration (in case I move from a great coverage location, I want to be able to tinker with the device)?

P.S. Another small thing that concerns me is FUP, I'm a bit worried about I'm a rather heavy user (got 800GB on the past 30 days on my Three card) and EE has a 600GB "cap" where they say they have the right to limit your speed. Do you think it's something I can argue over as long as it's personal use?
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
Hi,

If EE works for you then get a business contract, it's cheaper than personal unlimited ones and has 1TB fup.
Did you try a Vodafone sim btw?

Huawei CPE Pro2 would be my first choice, the configuration options are not bad and right now you won't find better. Huawei is one of the few that exposes an API and you can find apps and libs to interact with it. If you are in a flat with good signal and with no clear line of sight to the mast you won't need external antennas.


The other routers are not much better in this respect, maybe Mikrotik will be better, but they haven't released anything 5g yet, maybe later in the year.

As an option, but imho lesser than the Huawei, someone posted good results with Dlink dwr-2101, seems to be around 300-ish and has wigi6, too, but fewer bands supported and likely less configurability.

Otherwise get a Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G phone or similar, but with phones watch out for slow usb2, limited battery life and other shortcomings.

SIM8200EA-M2 is interesting, can't find band support, but it'd be interesting to tinker with.
 

backflash

Member
Thanks for the suggestion, I haven't considered looking at business plans, what they offer indeed seems better for me. No, I've only tested Three and EE and only looked at coverage maps of other services. Only EE and O2 report 5G connectivity in my address, Vodafone's map is very similar to Three's in my district, with coverage being about 300 meters away, I don't get a 5G connection with Three, I think Vodafone would be the same.

It's good to hear that CPE Pro2 seems like a good choice not only in my eyes, as it is something that would cause the least amount of headaches. And it's just as you've described, I've got good signal and no clear line of sight to the mast.

I'm still willing to entertain the idea of using SIM8200EA-M2, I think you could find all the technical data in waveshare website, simply google "SIM8200EA-M2 waveshare", they've got a detailed description, including bands:
Sub-6G: n1, n2, n3, n5, n7, n8, n12, n20, n25, n28, n40, n41, n66, n71, n77, n78, n79
LTE-FDD: B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B13/B14/B17/B18/B19/B20/B25/B26/B28/B29/B30/B66/B71
LTE-TDD: B34/B38/B39/B40/B41/B42/B48

I do think I prefer standalone solutions over phones in general, as I doubt phones can catch up in regards to the stability, though my assumption isn't based on anything else besides my experience on a single device.
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
I'd definitely go for the CPE Pro2, do note prices have hiked up quite a bit this last year and the international chip shortage is not helping the situation either. If you have the budget.. go for it, at least as a test and return if it doesn't work out.

Re Vodafone, don't rely all that much on coverage maps, before signing up to EE, at least get a Voxi (Vodafone) 5G payg to test. The reason I am mentioning this is because Vodafone have much higher thresholds for their data limits. I believe their FUP mentions 9TB for unlimited plans, so definitely an advantage over EE.

The band coverage on that SIM8200EA-M2 is not bad at all! It does seem to lack LTE band 32 (supplementary download link), however if you have 5G in your area you won't care about that.
I am not sure it comes with any antennas, so expect to pay a few hundred £ on this as well. If it's 4x4 MIMO you'll need at least 2 good antennas, such as the Poynting 5G omni ones.
Part of me hopes you buy it so you can share experiences with us. :)
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
The band coverage on that SIM8200EA-M2 is not bad at all! It does seem to lack LTE band 32 (supplementary download link), however if you have 5G in your area you won't care about that.
For Three, and assuming your mast is 5G it'll likely have B32 too, in which case B32 could still produce a nice uplift in speeds ~100-200Mbps (+20%?) on top of whatever 5G could do alone. It's lower frequency also penetrates buildings more easily. While not critical, it's certainly not something to just ignore, depending on the circumstances.
 

backflash

Member
Thanks for your advice :) I've put some thought and calculations in, and decided that I won't go with waveshare solution, it's simply not good enough from the consumer standpoint. It does provide some cheap omnidirectional antennas in a pack of $400, but I'd need to pay the imports duty + get a new raspberry with a gigabit lan/usb3.1 to get the most out of it.
It could be a very interesting project as their kernel module is open source and the board underneath (qualcomm x55) is powerful, hopefully some people who are brave enough to pioneer this will pick it up eventually, or perhaps it's something I'll explore if CPE Pro 2 won't serve me well :LOL:

I've also picked up a voxi card for some testing, thanks for bringing that to my attention. After some fooling around with it I'll decide on the ISP and hopefully that will be a happy ending to my story.

I'll post my findings into this thread in case it may be useful for somebody else.
 
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