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Bands, Cat's and Bandwidths

Darsuke

Regular Member
I'm trying to decide on the best 4g provider based solely on the mast for my location.

Cellmapper indicates the mast I connect to, and can see from the house, uses all 4 major providers.

EE has two bands and it shows in the speed tests, the others just don't compare. But they are the most expensive too.

So now I'm trialling voxi along with three. Three also has band 3 and 20 at the mast but doesn't appear to use CA. With band 3 I get 15MHz bandwidth and speeds averaging 30Mb dipping at peak times.

Voxi uses band 20 at 10 MHz bandwidth and the speed is almost comparable to three.

EE speeds run into the hundreds.

I'm sure I've seen somewhere mentioned the Bandwidths of providers but it escapes me now.

Would a higher Cat router (currently B535) improve speeds? I'd like to learn about the effects of maximum speeds/bandwidth but don't know where to begin looking.
 

kommando828

Pro Member
Unless you can find out how the masts are configured and how they plan to upgraded over the next couple of years you are on your own. This info is just not available from the mobile providers, even though they must know about their competitors as they send cars with mobile network sniffing equipment out on patrol every day and even share masts.

Your only real option is to get hold of say a CAT9 or higher mobile and a range of sims and try them all out and use an app to tell you how they connect and the download speeds.
 

Darsuke

Regular Member
Your only real option is to get hold of say a CAT9 or higher mobile and a range of sims and try them all out and use an app to tell you how they connect and the download speeds.
MY mobile is a CAT21 so would this show an absolute maximum of speeds I can ever achieve based on the current masts and sim cards?

I know the site in question recently had planning permission granted to take the current 15M tower to a 25M one. What that means for the future I don't know yet.

Is there a guide somewhere that shows how the mobile bands and their bandwidths correlate to maximum achievable speeds?

I thought I once saw something of this nature but can't find any more.

My current router stats are quite acceptable I think :unsure:
RSRQ -6.0dB

RSRP -75dBm

RSSI -61dBm

SINR 14dB
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
MY mobile is a CAT21 so would this show an absolute maximum of speeds I can ever achieve based on the current masts and sim cards?

I know the site in question recently had planning permission granted to take the current 15M tower to a 25M one. What that means for the future I don't know yet.

Is there a guide somewhere that shows how the mobile bands and their bandwidths correlate to maximum achievable speeds?

I thought I once saw something of this nature but can't find any more.

My current router stats are quite acceptable I think :unsure:
RSRQ -6.0dB

RSRP -75dBm

RSSI -61dBm

SINR 14dB
It more depends on what frequencies your phone works on and if those are the ones the providers use. Generally most of the latest high/mid-end 'european' phones from the past couple of years should support everything but if you've got a US model, one for the Far East or a lower-end phone then they may not (as you have a Cat21 device then that suggests it's high end).

While you phone may support all the frequencies, have a high CAT level (so able to carrier-aggregate those frequencies together) you're still going to be limited to the network of the provider (it's capacity/share per user on the sector/mast/masts you connect to) and also the antenna hardware configuration (MIMO), the modulation (QAM) of the installed hardware at the mast, as well as the speed of the back-haul (hardwire) network connection to the mast itself.

The theoretical speeds can be calculated using Peters calculator here https://tools.pedroc.co.uk/4g-speed/ and you'll need to know the bandwidth that each provider has, what frequency that bandwidth is allocated on (it sounds like you're aware of these items), but you also need to know what combinations of carrier-aggregation your provider (and mast) supports, and the QAM the mast is enabled for.

As an example, my home mast on Three has B3+B1. B3 for Three has 15mhz allocated and B1 had 10mhz. My mast only supports 2t2r (2x2) MIMO with 64QAM. This combination, carrier aggregated gives a theoretical download of 187.5Mbps. I'm quite fortunate and not in a particularly urban area and the sector I connect to is very lightly loaded all day (not many people connect to it) and I see download speeds of 120-140Mbps all the time.

From your comments it sounds like your local mast/masts are fairly heavily loaded and more so at peak times. As you have found, EE have the best speeds because they own the most spectrum, probably have the highest deployed hardware specification on your local masts and the fastest/greatest share of the back-haul to support it.

As for your question about would a higher spec router improve speeds - that would really depend on the network provider you want to use and what their deployment looks like for your local.mast of that provider. A higher CAT router wouldn't necessarily do that, but one that supports more MIMO might do (if your mast has 4x4) - B535 only does 2x2.
 

Darsuke

Regular Member
That's all really helpful and useful thanks.

My mobile is a Mate 20 Pro.

Some of the mast data you referenced I don't know the answers for like MIMO or QAM so wouldn't get an accurate estimate.

EE blows other providers out of the water speed wise. My current B535 would suffice for that. Its the vast difference with all the other providers being slow in comparison I was wondering if a different router might help.

If I could get a 4x4 to test with that would be a logical step.

Ideally EE need to reduce their unlimited price offering and all this would be irrelevant 😜
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
Does your local council have a planning register website that allows your to see/download the planning applications? The documents with that application may show the plans for the provider who submitted the application, but also what the current status of the other providers are (they'd have had to do those checks if they are increasing the height and needing to move/touch the other providers hardware).
Edit 2: if they are increasing the height of the mast then that's likely to cover a larger population, which may decrease speeds as the area covered by the signal could be larger (though the may install better hardware during the works with more MIMO/QAM/bands, which could mitigate that).

Edit: I just realised that you are the one using/testing(?) an external antenna from the other thread... The only router that I'm aware that could provide 4x4 from an external antenna connection would be the Netgear Nighthawk M1 with the destructive case hack to be able to access the internal headers for the other 2 antennas... https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https://www.ebay.com.au/ulk/itm/183651187710 (you'd also need 2 external antennas too) - so all in all pretty costly.
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
That's all really helpful and useful thanks.

My mobile is a Mate 20 Pro.

Some of the mast data you referenced I don't know the answers for like MIMO or QAM so wouldn't get an accurate estimate.

EE blows other providers out of the water speed wise. My current B535 would suffice for that. Its the vast difference with all the other providers being slow in comparison I was wondering if a different router might help.

If I could get a 4x4 to test with that would be a logical step.

Ideally EE need to reduce their unlimited price offering and all this would be irrelevant 😜
To see MIMO and QAM values you'd ideally need a rooted Snapdragon powered android phone with the Network Signal Guru application, which showss those configurations.
 

Darsuke

Regular Member
I checked the planning site and there is a whole host of plans and documents attached to the application so will look through there. If I'm to believe the cell mapping sites there's an abundance of masts around here. Hopefully the new plan is to improve further on what's available rather than cause the opposite.

The hassle of installing the external antenna has put an ointment in the works for me? 🙄
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
I checked the planning site and there is a whole host of plans and documents attached to the application so will look through there. If I'm to believe the cell mapping sites there's an abundance of masts around here. Hopefully the new plan is to improve further on what's available rather than cause the opposite.

The hassle of installing the external antenna has put an ointment in the works for me? 🙄
You'd hope so, but sometimes it's to meet government coverage obligations (or in the case of EE for their ESN: Emergency Service Network contract - they need to ensure that everywhere has signal, speed of data not being the priority).

If you wanted, feel free to drop me a message with the planning reference number/mast ID if you'd like a 2nd pair of eyes to try make sense of what might be happening - though as you might be aware, from planning approval to actual implementation of a mast change, can sometimes be measured in years, or in some instances never implemented at all if he network provider changes their plans.
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
As you have an external antenna to get B3 (over B20) for Three then you're resigned to 'just' 2x2 MIMO, with he hardware you currently have.

If Three do add B1 to your mast the signal might be too weak to reach you (2100mhz doesn't go as far as B3:1800mhz), even with an external antenna.
It might be that the best you could hope for in the future is for Three to rollout B32 (1400mhz supplementary download band) with 20mhz of bandwidth.

From what I have found, as I mention in another thread here:
I believe with the B535 it can only aggregate with B20 (router config only allows B20+B32 and not B3+B32) but that would give you 25mhz bandwidth and theoretical max 187.5Mbos down. But upload speed would be of 12Mbps theoretical max, as that would be limited to the B20 upload speed.
The Huawei B715 router (it's 2x2 only) is able to do B1+3+32, and therefore it might be suitable for you to achieve B3+32 aggregation (187.5down) with your external antenna - if Three roll out B32 to your mast, and they enable B32 to be aggregatable with B3).
 

Darsuke

Regular Member
I'm 2 streets away (500 metres by road) from the mast and can just see the top of it from an upstairs window.

I don't know the relevance but I use Hmanager with this router. It offers bands 1, 3, 7, 8 and 20 in the interface. There's no sign of band 32 there.

A recent speed test with Three and the external antenna had 35 down 33 up.
 

Darsuke

Regular Member
To see MIMO and QAM values you'd ideally need a rooted Snapdragon powered android phone with the Network Signal Guru application, which showss those configurations.
I dusted off a Moto G4 + and tried the app. There's a load of screens and various stats and, maybe confusing, but I think I saw what you referenced. I tried all 3 of my sims so far.

EE:
MIMO - 2 x 2
QAM - Alternates QPSK / 16QAM / 64 QAM
Band - 3 / 20 Mhz & 7 / 15 Mhz

Three:
MIMO - 2 x 2
QAM - Alternates QPSK / 16QAM / 64 QAM
Band - 3 / 15 Mhz & 20 / 5 Mhz

Voxi:
MIMO - 2 x 2
QAM - Alternates QPSK / 16QAM / 64 QAM
Band - 20 / 10 Mhz

I don't know if the app can determine CA or not but I did notice UL_CA: off in one of the screens.
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
UL_CA is upload carrier-aggregation, I'm not sure if Three and/or EE actually have that enabled. I presume in some heavily loaded places they would. You can ignore that really.

QAM will alternate over time as it is only 'set' as/when data is being transferred (you'd need to keep a continuous data stream running if you wanted to keep it consistant).
As you're seeing 64QAM max then either your G4 is limited to 64QAM or the mast is or maybe both - 64QAM is the most common currently, so with the mast being 2x2 I would guess the mast would only be 64QAM too.

Within the app you need to be looking at the LTE CA Matrix DL page - that shows the following items, noted by the coloured arrows on the attached screenshot - the screenshot I borrowed from Peters site here https://pedroc.co.uk/content/three_chariot_huawei_and_5g_masts.php where he explains various Three mast rebuilds which might be of interest...
  • Band/width = the CA status, left shows primary band and right shows the secondary, if available - there may also be multiple lines/bands here, if connected with more than 2CA.
  • Ant. eNB Tx/Dev. Rx = antenna transmit/device receive hardware capability - common ones: 2x2, 4x4, 2x4 (device can receive 4, but mast limited to transmitting 2 streams) and 4x2 (mast is able to transmit 4, but device can only receive 2 streams)
  • Rank = number of streams that your device is actually using at the time - note that this is different from the item above, which shows what the hardware is capable of - the Rank will vary depending on signal conditions/interference/distance etc.
  • Mod. 0/1 = the QAM 'level' that the connection is using, for each CA band.
 

Attachments

Darsuke

Regular Member
Wow, just wow!

I'll try add the screenshots into the post but I've just had a go with the EE and Voxi sim. There's only primary and no secondary band with both. It looks to me like the mast is 2x2 and the Rank tops out at 2 while downloading.

Screenshot_20191217-124315.pngScreenshot_20191217-124525.png
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
If there is no secondary (right column is empty) then there is no CA occurring at that time, which for Three I think makes reasonable sense - they've probably reserved B20 for coverage further away/in-building, rather than to marginally boost the speed closer to the mast.

For Voxi (Vodafone), according to cell mapper, your mast only has B20 so there is no other bands to aggregate with anyway.

I forgot to add, the Rank value you'll see will only go as high as the mast is capable of.
So Rank 1 if the mast is 1x1.
Or Rank 1 or 2 if the mast is 2x2 or 2x4 or 4x2 (if your device only supports 2x2).
Or Rank 1, 2, 3 or 4 if the mast is 4x4 (and your device supports 4x4).
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
Correct, there is no CA occuring in those screenshots, but if the Moto G4 is this one
Then it is only CAT4 and doesn't do CA anyway.

With NSG (and a rooted snapdragon phone) you should be able to Lock the RAT (Radio Technology) to LTE and Lock the Band to the various LTE bands to see what is actually available with each provider.
With the EE sim you should be able to lock to B3 and get the 1800mhz frequency (instead of B7/2600, which it will be preferring given you're very close to the mast with a good signal).
 
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