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B311 antenna help

cxsmc91

Casual Member
Hi im new to mobile broadband and I really don't understand most of the technical information I've been trying to decipher. I've been on 3 broadband via the b311 router for 2 months now as my talktalk broadband is absolutely awful (2mb down. Constant disconnections) and I can't get fibre where I live. I live on a third floor flat, I've tested many spots and at times I've managed to get the 4g speeds into the 10's but the positions are unfeasible. Just standing by the window I get 3-4mbs but the connection fluctuates and drops regularly. Just last night I decided to build a tower of boxes by the window and switch it to 3g only and suddenly I'm getting nearly 10mbs down consistently! I'm just wondering what more I can do and if an antenna could help me take advantage of higher 4g speeds. I've read about poynting antennas being good but the ones that come with two sma connectors, do I just use the one as the b311 router only has one port. Does it just work the same?

I would like to get the best I can out of this
Thanks for any help.
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
From what information you've shared I'm inclined to say that you're experiencing network congestion (on 4G) rather than having limitation caused by the radio connection (from your router to the mast).
You state that you're in a flat so I'm assuming that you're in an urban environment where usually there is a more dense network, but also higher levels congestion.

To begin to understand if your radio connection is the limitation (and if you'd see any improvement by using an antenna) knowing the radio metrics is key.
RSRP and SINR particularly useful, but RSRQ and RSSI to an extent too.
Those values can be found in the UI of the router at [Advanced] > [System] > [Device Information].
They do fluctuate continuously, so refreshing the page a few times within a minute and getting a feel for the average value is advised.
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
I've considered that and I will get that information and report it back. If that is the case is there anything that can be done?
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
Although I remember now I've checked the network coverage here and we seem to be on the very edge/just outside the area of the highest 4g coverage
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
RSSI -69dbm
RSCP -77dbm
ECIO -8dbm

I don't know what these things mean.

Not sure where to find exactly what you wanted. Getting around 5mbs over 3g at the moment I guess because its peak time. 2-3mbs over 4g
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
I think those are the metric values when connected to 3G? We'd need to know the ones when connected to 4G to advise what might be needed to improve the 4G connection, assuming that something can be done with the radio connection.

If you are on the edge of coverage as you say then perhaps some kind of antenna may help, but if the limitation is usage of the network in your area you either have to live in hope that at some point more capacity is added, or switch to a provider who does have capacity.
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
Oh right ok I'll get back with the 4g results. I'd like to try an antenna, I'm locked into a long contract anyway so I might aswell try. Could you help me find the right one? The b311 has one sma port
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
RSRQ
-13.0dB
RSRP
-95dBm
RSSI
-63dBm
SINR
-4dB

Refreshed a few times only rsrq changed from 14 to 13
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
OK so those do align with the other information you've shared and are generally low values.

Using this as a guide:

you can see that the RSRP (the power) is mid-cell (quite far away from the mast).
SINR - the signal to interference and noise ratio - is poor (I assume this is reporting +4, rather than -4 and you added the minus)

Silly as it might seem, have you tried holding the router outside of the window to remove your building material barrier - some building and insulation materials are good at blocking a lot of signal.
If you do that and take another look at the metrics they should increase, and if they do then that may give you an idea of what an external antenna may do with the radio connection level.

Do you also know which direction the mast your connected to is located? If so, is the router in the room/windowsill with the best line-of-sight to that mast?
If not, and you are comfortable sharing your postcode (or a nearby pub/shop address) then we'd be able to use the crowdsourced cellmapper website to try guide you as to where the mast is located.
It would also be useful to know the Cell_ID of the 4G - the Cell_ID identifies the mast you are connected to and as it might not be the one that is physically closest to you, this would hopefully identify on cellmapper where it is.
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
Sorry for late replies I work nights.

I will come back with results holding it out of the window a bit later but atm this is with it almost touching the window on a stack of boxes to get it as high as possible.

CELL_ID
329289
RSRQ
-11.0dB
RSRP
-105dBm
RSSI
-77dBm
SINR
-5dB

You can see the cell id there, I would appreciate help finding the nearest mast. My postcode is m5 5bd.

the sinr reading is - I copy pasted it.


Thanks for your time so far
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
CELL_ID
329287
RSRQ
-10.0dB
RSRP
-94dBm
RSSI
-71dBm
SINR
-2dB

Holding it out the window awkwardly
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
No problem on the delayed replies :)

Caution: essay below...

Based on those 4G CellIDs - they're different, but it's the same mast, just different sectors - it looks like your connected with 4G to this mast to your South-East on Mode Wheel Road: https://goo.gl/maps/1LUXQyfP5miMSuqW7.
(Note: your 3G connection may be coming from somewhere else, unfortunately there is no easy way of telling this)

However, unfortunately, there are a number of factors that are against you:

1. looking at the line-of-sight path between your postcode and the mast, there is this large set of flats in the way, which will be blocking a lot of the signal https://goo.gl/maps/jmHcfFGWHanr5Rri8
Also, I don't know which part of the flat block you live in, or which way your windows face, but if you're in the North-West then the entirety of your block, and neighbouring block, will also be in the signal path too.

2. It seems that you're likely to be on the boundary between two cells (you're connecting to 2 different CellIDs, both with low metrics) and the antennas on the mast on google maps aren't directed towards you, rather you lie between their aim.

3. The CellIDs you are connecting to are for Sectors 71 and 73, those are generally used by Three for Band 20 (800Mhz) - Three don't own much spectrum in Band 20 so their maximum theoretical speeds they can provide on that band is only 37.5Mbps (and that's effectively 'shared' with all users who are connected to it, so in reality the speeds are much lower, like the 3-4Mbps you are experiencing).



As for trying to improve things, I would first start by forcing your router to avoid connecting to the Band 20. This can most easily be done using and Android phone and the HuaCtrl app from the play store. Though there is also a Windows PC application LTE-H Monitor https://www.ltehmonitor.com/en/ that can do it too.

If you force 4G only (to avoid it connecting to 3G) and then disable B20 the router will attempt to connect to other available 4G bands in the area. Ideally you'd want Band 3 (1800Mhz) as that is Three's primary 4G band which has more capacity overall (than B20), but with it being a higher frequency it will more easily be blocked by obstacles.

Three also own some 2100Mhz frequency, but is what Three use primarily for their 3G technology however in some areas some of this has been reconfigured to be 4G (Band 1). Three's B1 has less capacity than their B3 does and an even higher frequency, so obstacles pose more of an issue again. However, as you are to be able to get a 3G connection (with pretty good speeds for 3G tbh) that could mean one of two things:
#1. the 3G mast you connect to is closer and/or has a better line-of-sight (i.e. its not the mast on Mode Wheel Road where your 4G connection comes from) but is a 3G only mast and doesn't serve 4G.
#2. your 3G connection is coming from the Mode Wheel Road mast but Three maybe haven't yet reconfigured some of that to 4G yet - though I feel this is less likely of the two as I'd expect the 2100Mhz higher frequency to be being blocked by the buildings in the signal path but if 2100Mhz was coming from there for 3G, B3 4G (1800Mhz) should be possible, but it its not.

Back to band forcing with HuaCtrl/LTE-H Monirot - if you can play around with forcing only B3 and then only B1 to see what is available and noting down the CellIDs and metrics, they would be useful - these connections may come from different masts and have different signal levels - those might be the ones that end up needing to be 'targeted' by using a directional antenna for the best 4G speeds.


My only other comments right now are that the B311 router is only a CAT4 device (think mobile phone from 5+ years ago), and it is only able to connect to a single band at once. Better routers (more £) are able to connect to multiple bands at once and aggregate them with an aim to increase speeds. However, given that it appears you only seem to be able to get a B20 connection at the moment we first need to see what other bands can be forced before thinking if a different router would produce better speeds.
Finally, with any speed tests you perform, try to you use a wired (ethernet) connection to a PC as that avoids any fluctuations with Wifi, which in a built up area/flats can be problematic due to interference from other wifi in the area.
 

Pwablo

Top Member
Once you have determined if you can actually get Band 3 and If you decide to try an external antenna, I would suggest either of the following would be worthy to consider. Neither will break the bank balance, and are of better quality that much on offer on ebay.

11dBi 3G/4G Penta Band Log Periodic - N Type SISO

7dBi 3G/4G Penta Band Panel Antenna - N Type SISO

You will also need a length of coax depending on where you want to locate an external antenna. You can get these any length with an N Type Male at one end to connect to the antenna, and a SMA Male at the other to go directly onto the router. Alternatively if the antenna improves the signal and thru-put inside the property, and you can locate it near the router, you could perhaps get away with using a N Type Male x SMA Male Pigtail instead.

Both these antennas cover all the 3G UTMS and 4G LTE bands so even if you cant get Band 3 on LTE, they should improve the signal on 3G.

Good Luck
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
Read everything you've said. We are the flats and windows facing that direction so we don't have our own flats in the way but like you said there is another block in the way. Haven't had a load of time today and won't tomorrow but the weekend I will do everything said here about band forcing etc and post back. Thanks again and thanks for the links to the antennas
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
I should add I don't have a pc but I have an Xbox would that be sufficient for speed testing also my ultimate aim is to game as smoothly as possible as right now lag is a major issue. I realise there is a chance it's not possible in which case I would still like to get the best I can.
 

TTJJ

ULTIMATE Member
I should add I don't have a pc but I have an Xbox would that be sufficient for speed testing also my ultimate aim is to game as smoothly as possible as right now lag is a major issue. I realise there is a chance it's not possible in which case I would still like to get the best I can.
If you're on Three the latency issues are, except for cases of poor signal where it's exacerbated, going to be there all the time.

Three's network has some quirks which makes it particularly unsuitable for gaming.
 

cxsmc91

Casual Member
Some weekends I have a lot of spare time at work and I have been taking my Xbox and router into work. I get speeds between 20-30mbs and it's really playable so I'm just hoping for something close to that at home
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
I have to apologise and back-track on my post from yesterday.

While I stand by everything I said, it was written on the basis that I thought at the time Cell Sector numbers 71/73(and 72) were usually the B20 (800mhz) sectors, but it occurred to me late last night that that's not correct - those are normally Three's B1 (2100Mhz) sectors.

What this means is that you are already able to receive B1 from the Mode Wheel Road mast.
Doing testing by forcing to B3 alone would be good, in theory it has more capacity and being a slightly lower frequency should penetrate obstacles a bit better so I'd hope speeds would be a little higher, but I'd not expect miracles.
You could also try testing forcing B20 alone too, though I wouldn't expect much from that either (and upload speed will be poor)


As your flat faces that South-East direction that is likely that is the only mast you're going to be able to connect to with Three. It's still difficult to say how much an antenna might help, but for the sake of ~£30 (the first antenna listed above+pigtail to test with indoors) it might be worth a punt.

I don't know what speed testing tools would be available from an xbox, but if that's hard-wired into the router then that would be better as it eliminates the wifi interference potential.

As mentioned by TTJJ above, Three usually test the worst of the mobile providers for latency. Other providers use CGNAT (double-NAT), which does/can cause issues with gaming too - I think connections to online services, though I'm not a gamer myself and don't use those other providers anyway, so I can't advise there.
Saying that, have you tried Vodafone/O2 at all? Their mast is closer to you, seems to have good line of sight and it even looks like Vodafone has 5G on it. https://goo.gl/maps/dVyU9c5cQd6zUL1B9
 

ShanePoy

Member
Hi im new to mobile broadband and I really don't understand most of the technical information I've been trying to decipher. I've been on 3 broadband via the b311 router for 2 months now as my talktalk broadband is absolutely awful (2mb down. Constant disconnections) and I can't get fibre where I live. I live on a third floor flat, I've tested many spots and at times I've managed to get the 4g speeds into the 10's but the positions are unfeasible. Just standing by the window I get 3-4mbs but the connection fluctuates and drops regularly. Just last night I decided to build a tower of boxes by the window and switch it to 3g only and suddenly I'm getting nearly 10mbs down consistently! I'm just wondering what more I can do and if an antenna could help me take advantage of higher 4g speeds. I've read about poynting antennas being good but the ones that come with two sma connectors, do I just use the one as the b311 router only has one port. Does it just work the same?

I would like to get the best I can out of this
Thanks for any help.
Hi, I am from Poynting, please have a look at the Youtube video from Dr. André Fourie which gives a good explanation on the RSSI, RSRP, RSRQ and SINR.
.
And if you looking for a great antenna, please also go to our website to assist you with your decision. https://poynting.tech/
All the best.
 
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