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EE 4G newbie questions

Xtopher

Casual Member
Hi all,

I’ve recently made the jump into 4G broadband having lost the plot with BT FTTC. We are a long way from the cab (~2KM) so while downloads were acceptable (15Mbps), uploads were poor (1Mbps).

Initially jumped in with EE 4G on their Home Router 2 (B625?), then got a couple of Poynting antenna to test out (XPOL-1-5G and XPOL-2-V2). Both gave speed improvements. Then read about the B818 router so thought I would give that a go and modded it to take both antenna (as they are on the roof for testing!) in 4x4.

What’s been interesting, and I have the most questions on, are my stats, and particularly RRSI since moving to the 4x4 external arrangement.

SINR: 3dB
RSRQ: -4dB
RSRP: -84dB
RSSI: <-113dB (was ~55dB on a single external antenna)

What has caused RSSI to go so ‘bad’ with the dual 2x2 antenna? They are positioned on the same pole, maybe 60cm apart vertically, pointing in the same direction. Speeds have increased in this 4x4 arrangement, from 50/32Mbps to 65/35Mpbs (Down/Up).

We are at a little hamlet (CA7 1DE). Cell Mapper and LTE H-monitor shows we get 4 cells on EE, all Band 3 with one B3+B20 (which is the best throughout the day but not peak, and the router doesn’t seem to prefer it as it has slightly worse stats of the 4). We are just down a hill from another mast, but don’t seem to get reception from it - although Open Signal seems to point that way for my iPhone XS! We are at the cross.

081EC291-27C3-4580-9013-35156C823D34.jpeg




Any advise on the weird RSSI (maybe I’ve placed the antenna wrong?!) and generally on our placement and how to get the best speeds and increase SINR would be appreciated!
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
I don't know why rssi changed, but I know it's not very relevant to lte. Rssi is more important with 3g, wifi etc.

Your rsrp is good (see attached), however sinr is kind of bad, you're getting a lot of noise.

Out of curiosity, what speed were you getting on the b818 without external antennas?
 

Attachments

  • LTE-RF-Conditions.png
    LTE-RF-Conditions.png
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Xtopher

Casual Member
Hi Lucian,

B818 on internal antenna was a mixed bag, maybe 25-40 down (very variable) and upload was single figures - much the same as my iPhone XS. External antennas clearly have a bit of extra oomph to get the data back to the cell!

To be honest, the stats were quite similar whether using internal, single external antenna (XPOL-2 being marginally better), or mixed. The one thing I could definitely see when using any combination using external antenna was the upload was significantly more (single figures on internal only, 20-35Mbps with mixed or fully external)

I have just done some comparing of the tower/cells and can see one tower has 2 cells that use the same frequencies as two of the other tower/cells. Would they interfere with each other? With my layman’s knowledge, I can see how that would cause noise, but I know with LTE its not just simple frequencies that come into play.
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
I'm also a layman, but would suggest that it is indeed noise.
That said, these are great results. If you get those speeds consistently, then count yourself lucky. How is the ping/latency?

Also, I have a feeling those masts are not 4x4, thus making the 2nd antenna a bit redundant

Couple more things, have you tried turning the antenna pole for better directionality?
Also, probably won't help all that much, if at all, but have you tried mix&match-ing the cables from the antennas in their respective sockets on the router, any improvements?
 

Bubblesthefish6

ULTIMATE Member
I was also wondering, how much data do you use and are you on an unlimited plan? Fair Usage and what they call 'Reserve Data' all apply.
 

GaryW

Regular Member
My B818 sometimes reports <-113dB RSSI for a while after initial connection even when the connection is good - seems to be a glitch. Your RSRP looks good, which is the main thing, although your SINR is pretty low...probably due to the number of local masts. With internal antennae my SINR fluctuates in the 13-30 range on my closest mast. However, when there's a problem with the closest mast and the B818 switches to a slightly more distant mast the SINR is OK (around 10 dB) while the closest mast if offline, but when it comes back online it goes into low single digits or negative until the B818 flips back to the closest mast.
 

Xtopher

Casual Member
I'm also a layman, but would suggest that it is indeed noise.
That said, these are great results. If you get those speeds consistently, then count yourself lucky. How is the ping/latency?

Also, I have a feeling those masts are not 4x4, thus making the 2nd antenna a bit redundant

Couple more things, have you tried turning the antenna pole for better directionality?
Also, probably won't help all that much, if at all, but have you tried mix&match-ing the cables from the antennas in their respective sockets on the router, any improvements?
Ping seems to sit between 30-40ms, so pretty happy with that. FTTC gets us 20ms, so its not a noticeable difference. May be different when we get some bad weather though, only been good weather since we got the routers (not often we can say that up here!)

I imagine its not running true 4x4, mostly because the mast probably isn't 4x4 (don't know how you can tell without a rooted phone?) but also the SINR will likely kill off the benefits too. That being said, I'd seen something on a Poynting youtube video that said 4x4 antenna can help client side even on a 2x2 mast, hence why I thought I would try as the antennas were both up anyway. Modding the B818 was dead easy, just 4 adapters off Amazon, pop it apart, remove the internal antenna, route the new adapters through some holes in the top and connect them up! Was worth the 15 quid for the cables just for an experiment.

Tried the antenna at various locations and angles. Sat on the roof with a laptop and LTE H-Mon (joys of being in a bungalow), moving it all around. Only thing I've realised I've not tried now is pointing the antenna off to the side of one of the towers away from the others. So not directly at the one I want signal from but more off to the side, to give up some gain from the target tower in the hope the loss from the other towers is more pronounced. So lower RSRP but better SINR. The big issue is trying to block the other signals. The towers are only about 30 degrees apart so there is no real separation. If you look at the radiation specs of the antenna, even the most directional ones I can find will give decent gain on both towers if its pointed at one. The other thing I might try is putting them in the loft and trying to use the external walls to block off the signal from a tower (assuming I'll get more reception through tiles than the walls). Or maybe try and make some Faraday cage/shield to have the same effect. Probably on a marginal diminishing returns mission at that point!

Also tried to mix/match the cables. Internally, the antennas are 2 small antenna (high frequency?) and two larger antenna (lower frequency?). I didn't see any difference in combination connecting up all 4 cables on the 4 different connectors. Not sure what frequencies the internal antennas are able to pick up so not sure if that's expected or not.


I was also wondering, how much data do you use and are you on an unlimited plan? Fair Usage and what they call 'Reserve Data' all apply.
Not sure how much data I will get through yet, but we are on their unlimited 4G home broadband package which I think from reading on here has a 600GB FUP. There's only two of us in the house so can't see it being an issue. TBH if I could get say 20Mbps up and down, consistently throughout the day I'd be happy. So far the only issue we've had is it drop down to 5-10Mbps down at busy times which is annoying as we cant then watch separate things online on an evening. We do still have our FTTC but thats only 12/1 connection and it was the upload that was/is killing us WFH. But the download at busy times might kill 4G the other way!

My B818 sometimes reports <-113dB RSSI for a while after initial connection even when the connection is good - seems to be a glitch. Your RSRP looks good, which is the main thing, although your SINR is pretty low...probably due to the number of local masts. With internal antennae my SINR fluctuates in the 13-30 range on my closest mast. However, when there's a problem with the closest mast and the B818 switches to a slightly more distant mast the SINR is OK (around 10 dB) while the closest mast if offline, but when it comes back online it goes into low single digits or negative until the B818 flips back to the closest mast.
Does seem odd and hasn't moved from the <113dB for a good few restarts of testing antenna cables last night. I managed to get a SINR of 8-10 last night by putting the internal antenna back in and messing around with some metal sheets, trying to block the other cell from being received. RSRP dropped to -110, RSRQ stayed about the same at -8ish. Wasn't a night and day difference and upload drops off a cliff when not using the external antenna (power/signal back the cell is clearly a lot lower)

Just need to work out if I can somehow block off the signal from the other masts. I've emailed Poynting to see if they have any ideas. But for now it does seem to be coping well with the SNIR being pants! Just annoying as I could probably get even better speeds with a good SINR.
 
Last edited:

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
Right, well, seems you have a pretty good grasp on things. Curious what Poynting will say. Perhaps their LPDA's have more directionality and less prone to noise than the xpol..
 

Xtopher

Casual Member
Was looking into the LPDA's. The only issue I took with them was the cost, especially if you ever wanted to do 4x4 MIMO. The directionality looks better but the difference in angle between the cells I have is so minimal I think anything will struggle to block one and get the other.

BUT not sure why (or how I check), looks like the cell I've been connecting too now has 4G+? B818 home page shows 4G+ but no indication in LTE HMon what the second band is?

1618913927856.png


Really can't complain at that!

Current stats:

CELL_ID: 8453377
RSRQ: -7.0dB
RSRP: -82dBm
RSSI: -57dBm
SINR: 0dB
Wireless transmit power: Pusch:17dBm PPucch:-9dBm PSrs:22dBm PPrach:1dBm
Uplink mod/demod of MCS: mcsUpCarrier1:28
Downlink mod/demod of MCS: mcsDownCarrier1Code0:14 / mcsDownCarrier1Code1:13
 

Xtopher

Casual Member
most likely band 3 also.
So LTE HMon is telling me the main connection is Band 3, so are you thinking I will have multiple connections on B3? I can see cell 2 on the same mast is listed as LTE-A but no signs of a second band, so that makes sense (eNB ID 33021). The other mast I have seen it join with 4G+ (eNB ID 20074) also lists as LTE-A on Cellmapper but with B3 and B20.

EDIT: Also just twigged that RSSI is back to being something sensible (-57dBm).
 

Xtopher

Casual Member
EE generally operate two sets of Band 3 spectrum on most masts, Band 20 doesn't normally pair with other bands as its designated for users outside of coverage for the higher bands.
OK makes sense, thanks. Probably coincidence that the other mast I get 4G+ on has B20 then, might not actually be using it when I connect to it, sounds like its more likely both 4G+ masts are using two sets of B3.
 

Bubblesthefish6

ULTIMATE Member
Do EE do two B7 carriers? I remember when I was testing TTMM my 4GCA was always when I was connected to B7.
 

Xtopher

Casual Member
Looks like EE may have put up a new cell? Found I was connected to a new one this morning and the tower is listed on cell mapper but not the cell itself, and I've connected to a different cell on it before. Saw 130Mbps down and 30Mbps up! SINR is actually decent on this one, frequency not shared with any of the other local cells. Interestingly I also managed to also get 130Mbps on the other cell I get connected to with SINR of zero, which I wouldn't have expected!

eNB ID 33021
CELL_ID 8453380
RSRQ -4.0dB
RSRP -86dBm
RSSI -61dBm
SINR 27dB
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
That's actually very nice, good for you.
Shame the Huawei cant lock onto cells like Mikrotik, but it does look like you sre getting good performance regardless of cell.
 

Xtopher

Casual Member
Yeah very happy atm. Will see what happens when we get some bad weather.

And agree, it would be nice to be able to give the router a preference list of cells to connect to, but I guess the rules to change from one to another would be quite complex as its not as easy as RSRP/RSRQ/SINR as I assume it currently uses. Until you try to send some data on them all, you just don't know which one would be best as contention is a big thing for bringing the speed down.
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
Keep us updated, but those are pretty good antennas, I think they're going to hold their own in any weather.
 

Xtopher

Casual Member
So another interesting observation, and might just be down to how LTE HMon works and how cells are defined perhaps.

I can connect to two cells on the same mast (eNB ID 33021 - only one of the two cells is on cellmapper atm), both B3, but 8453377 shares the same frequency as another local cell so gets pants SINR (1-2dB as above), and the second (from this morning) - 8453380 - has a frequency not seen on other cells and gets good SINR of ~25dB. Both show about the same speed and both show 4G+. Could it be they are both being connected all the time, but sometimes the router has one as the primary (is that the right word) and other times it has the other? And SINR is calculated from the primary frequency?

Very odd they both get the same speed, are 4G+ but report wildly different SINR (for obvious reasons). You'd expect if it was the actual SINR then the speed would differ quite a bit. Maybe that's a question for HUAWEI and how the B818 behaves on 4G+/LTE-A?
 
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