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Figuring out 4g Mobile Broadband Options

dg121

Casual Member
Hi All,

I've recently joined this forum and have been going through some of the posts, it's been a great help! I'm moving to a new city and seem to have got terribly unlucky to be renting seemingly the only flat in the city centre that cannot get anything beyond ADSL broadband. Very strange considering every property directly around my block of flats, ironically some sharing the same actual building, can get fibre fine.

Thankfully since stumbling across this place I've realised I can turn to 4g mobile broadband as a viable solution. I have a few questions though and I'm a little confused on best setup. I should benefit, from what I can tell so far, from the various masts around the city and likely not need any external antenna, which is great considering it's a rented flat and I couldn't mount anything external. However, I'm a little confused as some providers state coverage in my area where as third party coverage maps suggests lightly differently.

What would be the best most accurate way of figuring out which network is likely to be the best one to go with?

In terms of routers I'm looking for the best I can get in the £100-£150 mark and so far have noted the Huawei B535 and the TP Link Archer MR600 V2 as potentially the best options. Though have heard the Huawei B618, 818 as two possibly better solutions?

Lastly, is there any advantage of using the 4g router as just the router for the connection and get secondary wireless router to connect to the 4g router for providing wifi within the flat, or can you just rely on all of that in one bit of kit fairly confidently?

I have just a 1 bedroom flat so nothing huge in terms of area coverage for the wifi.

Thanks in advance for help and pointers!
 

The Wee Bear

ULTIMATE Member
Hi dg121,

Welcome along, I think the best bet would be to try various pay as you go sims to try out the various networks and see which ones provide the strongest signals and fastest data services in your area.

I wouldn't rely on the networks coverage maps too much, they can be hit and miss at times, nothing beats an actual sim test. :giggle:

The 2 Huawei routers you mentioned both have wifi built in so no need for anything else. I previously had both these routers and they worked great.

I'm now on the Huawei CPE Pro 2 5G, no 5G but I am just futureproofing. :rolleyes:

Once you find out which network works the best for you, you can investigate their current plans to suit your data needs.

Best of luck with your investigations, and everyone here is very helpful so just fire away with the questions and someone will be only to glad to try and help out if they can I'm sure. (y)
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
What TheWeeBear said, with the clarification that you should first test in your phone and not waste money on routers.

In terms of routers, once you find a suitable operator, go for the highest CAT device you can find within your budget.

BTW, can you share a post code of your location?
 

dg121

Casual Member
Thanks very much for the replies so far guys. Good to know about the external antenna on the inside of a window!

The postcode for the area will be CA3 8SQ
 

eccles

Pro Member
My set up uses a Poynting antenna attached to a window using plastic suckers. I have used that with a Huawei B525, and recently a B818. With a clean window and a trace of moisture on the stickers it sticks like glue and hasn't fallen down in months. Having said that, the internal antennas in the two routers are pretty good and there actually isn't a lot of additional gain from the separate antenna, but it was useful to give me better options for location. If you can site the router in the best spot and still have access to a power outlet you shouldn't need it.
 

dg121

Casual Member
Lycian, that’s exciting! Last time I checked their coverage map it suggested it was 5G outside only but should comfortably get 4g.

Might have to see if anyone I know has a 5G phone to test a PAYG SIM in and see if 5G is doable or not. Did you check directly with EE or on a more central coverage map?
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
EE directly. Mind you, it still says outside-only, but who knows, happy testing!
Says the same for my area and I get good 5G inside in the loft, too.
 

clivejo

Regular Member
There are only really four real operators in the UK. 3 and EE tend to share infrastructure, and o2 and vodafone share theirs. All other operators tend to use one or more of these main operators underneath as a virtual operator. So if you get a 5G signal on EE, you will more than likely also see 5G on 3. If you are concerned about price, 3 can be a lot cheaper.

For example, on EE an unlimited data plan is approx £25-35, whereas on 3 the same plan is approx £15-20 for unlimited, depending on contract length. I am currently on 3 unlimited for £15pm on 24 month contract with a free Huawei 535 router. 5G isn't an option for a while yet, but 3 also do a 5G bundle as well.

As mentioned above, test different operators. There are virtual operators with good deals on data. For example, giffgaff(o2) Smarty(3), virgin (ee&vodafone), voxi (vodafone) and lots more. Check out the wiki for others and what main operators they use - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Kingdom_mobile_virtual_network_operators
 

dg121

Casual Member
Thank you so much for that reply clivejo. Am I right in assuming that I only need to therefore test the 4 main operators and then choose between them and potentially the virtual operators for the best deal? I presume there wouldn’t ever be a situation where Vodafone is poor but Voxi isn’t? Or is there some technical stuff that can make that the case?
 

Bubba

Member
My set up uses a Poynting antenna attached to a window using plastic suckers. I have used that with a Huawei B525, and recently a B818. With a clean window and a trace of moisture on the stickers it sticks like glue and hasn't fallen down in months. Having said that, the internal antennas in the two routers are pretty good and there actually isn't a lot of additional gain from the separate antenna, but it was useful to give me better options for location. If you can site the router in the best spot and still have access to a power outlet you shouldn't need it.
Hi, is the poynting antenna worth the purchase. I have been looking at it for a while now but unsure of purchasing it if it doesn't make any difference.
I'm looking for a more stable connection and stronger signal. Ideally an increase in speed would be great too.
I am on the 3 4g network using a B535 router. Approximately 1 mile from the mast with near line of sight. Did you get an increase in speed and stability?
Thank you
 

clivejo

Regular Member
Hi, is the poynting antenna worth the purchase.

Depends on your location and signal strength. I used a Poynting Cross Polarised 4G Omni LTE Antenna for a while with a RUT950 and it works well if you aren't sure where the signal is coming from, due to it being omni-directional (recieves signals coming from all around it). It give me a more solid connection and a few mbps speed.

I have since replaced it with a Mikrotik LTE dish, as I now know where the signal is being broadcast from and can point it directly at the local mast.
 

clivejo

Regular Member
3 4g network using a B535 router.
Do you know what bands it is using? I found that by locking out Band 20 (slow but travels really good), I got a faster connection.

BTW There is an app for controlling and monitoring the features of B535 router called HUA Ctrl. It colours the stats green, orange and red which helps you see at a glance, how your signal is improving or getting worse, as you move it in real time.

 
Last edited:

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
Thank you so much for that reply clivejo. Am I right in assuming that I only need to therefore test the 4 main operators and then choose between them and potentially the virtual operators for the best deal? I presume there wouldn’t ever be a situation where Vodafone is poor but Voxi isn’t? Or is there some technical stuff that can make that the case?

You can test Voxi, I do not believe it is limited in any way compared to vanilla Vodafone.

I have also found GiffGaff to have great speeds if O2 covers the area well, so that would also be easy to test.

To test EE you coud get a payg or flex, but I do not believe you can get 5G on those. One way to test EE 5G without signing up to a contract is by using one of their MVNOs 1pmobile which claim to have 5G.. 1pmobile.com

To test Three you can get a Smarty SIM.

All in all, you do seem to be in a well covered area so there should be plenty of choice.
 

Bubblesthefish6

ULTIMATE Member

Bubblesthefish6

ULTIMATE Member
my Smarty sim seems to give 5g no problem in an iPhone 12
Some people are having other experiences with it only connecting for a few seconds then dropping down to 4G+
 
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