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Improving 4G home Internet - where to start?

madbroon

Regular Member
Hi, first post - I used to get ~1.8Mbps from a BT landline so switched out to 3 via. a TP-Link Archer MR200 a couple of years ago.

I get download speeds of anywhere between 10-20Mbps, ping times of 40-80ms and uploads anywhere from 10-30Mbps. I started thinking about buying an external aerial/changin supplier/changing router, then I found this website and discovered a whole new world! TO be honest I don't know where to start. Didn't really want to sign up to another 12-24month contract with another provider in case 5G comes nearby with someone else!

I had a look on a mast website but to be honest I was baffled....

My questions were:

1. Is there an app or website I should be using to find out how good current connection etc. is
2. Would I be better with another provider?
3. External aerial/different router any good?

My post code is TS21 2JG if that is of any help! Nearest 5G is about 15miles away but no holding out much hope for roll-out anytime soon!

Any help much appreciated
 

Jmi

Regular Member
I think buying a better router will make a big difference. As far as I know, the best router is the Huawei B818. Having bought that, download the LTE-H Monitor here https://www.ltehmonitor.com/en/ which will allow you to see exactly what signal quality you are receiving and will allow you to specify the bands the router should use. This is such a good bit of software that it's really worth paying for it, but you don't have to.
Then you should spend many frustrating hours trying different positions for the router. This can be as critical as a matter of inches and can throw up some unexpected results.
Generally EE is faster and more reliable than Three, in my experience. But Three is quite a lot cheaper.
An external aerial can make a difference, but very often doesn't. That's the last thing you should try.
 

Lucian

Pro Member
Hi,
I am going through the same issue.
I checked the coverage of your postcode with the major providers and they all report good results, except 3 indoors.

Of course, no 5G. I would not be bothered by this, 4G is plenty fast, 5G will take years for proper, solid implementation. 4G could give you 100+ Mbps, I get that regularly with EE and O2. I have seen people get 200-300 Mbps.

My recommendation is to not spend much money on equipment, instead get pay as you go sim cards from all of the providers, test them in your phone, both outside and inside, in various locations. I hope your phone is not older than 3-4 years as it may have reduced LTE capability.

Generally EE and Vodafone have the best networks, O2 as well, while 3 is quite oversold, though results will differ based on location. You living in a small town could well be an advantage, fewer people sharing the bands.

You can test Vodafone by buying a cheap Voxi sim, O2 by buying Giffgaff, EE and Three have their own cheap pay as you go sims. Few gigs for testing should be enough. Buy them, test them, you can use Speedtest or Fast.com apps for checking.

If you found a provider that you are happy with, then it's time to consider a good router. Try not to go under LTE Cat 7, ideally Cat12+.

Huawei B818 and Netgear Nighthawk are considered some of the best, they are a bit dear, but can do band aggregation really well and give you those high speeds.

If you have found that you get nice speeds outside, but not inside then it is time for an external antenna.

Poynting and Panorama make very good antennas in my experience, go for an omni if you don't know where the mast is, else a directional could work really well, the Poynting xpol-2 v2 is probably the best directional you can buy right now, considering its size and performance. Panorama WMM8G-7-38 is quite good as well.

Hth
Lucian
 

madbroon

Regular Member
Hi,

Thanks for taking the time for the detailed replies. I am currently with Vodafone for my mobile so can use that sim card to test, I've ordered an EE sim card to give that a try as well.

A quick google of cat7 (I've never heard of it before!) shows that the Huawei B535 fits the bill, how does this compare to the B818 which is about £200 vs. £100 for the B535?

Also, is there a better way of evaluating speeds and parameters for my current set-up rather than just running Speedtest from the ookla website?

Thanks,
Andrew
 

Jmi

Regular Member
I had the B535 and compared it with the B618 and the B618 gave me faster download and upload speeds in exactly the same conditions. I later compared the B618 with the B818 and the B818 was faster again. Another alternative is the MikroTik SXT LTE6 kit which is on a par with the B618 and has the added advantage of Power over Ethernet and an external rating but you will need to pair it with a router for Wi-fi and the interface is complicated.
 

Jmi

Regular Member
Different speed tests will give different results but as long as you stick to the same one for comparative purposes, then it doesn't matter too much. Ookla is fine though personally I use http://www.broadbandperformance.co.uk/ . Lteh Monitor will continuously monitor your connection and can tell you over a period what your download and upload speeds have been.
 

Lucian

Pro Member
Hi,

I also have both routers, got the B535 from 3 for £40 when I signed up to their mobile broadband (£30/m, monthly basis). I bought the B818 a few days ago from Amazon Prime, but might return it.
They are good devices.

In theory the B818 flies around the B535, in my situation the max I got out of the B535 with EE is around 70 Mbps down, 60 Mbps up (with a directional antenna), whereas the B818 gave me a max of 160/60 (same Poynting antenna).
Once I put in the O2 (giffgaff) sim inside them, though, the B535 gives me maybe 60/30, while the B818 gives me 110/8 (!), so in this case I like the better upload of the B535 tbh.
As you can see things can differ a lot, ideally if money wasn't an issue I'd stick with EE and the B818, but hey..

That's why I recommend testing several providers and in multiple locations, inside and outside. Also try at different times of day, mornings and nights are less busy, but afternoons and evenings will be more congested.

In terms of measurements, testing download/upload on speedtest sites is the right thing to do ultimately, because that's what interests you.
You could also get more geeky and look at radio signal related values of RSRP, RSRQ and SINR in the router UI, but better values of those do not necessarily translate into better speeds.. such is the way with LTE ...
 

Jmi

Regular Member
My guess is that the B818 with O2 was using a different band for uploads than the B535. Hence the difference. If you had specified the same upload band on the B535 and the B818 I would expect the B818 to come out on top again.
 

Lucian

Pro Member
Yes, I also believe that to be the case.
I notice the same behaviour on my smartphone, great downloads, poor uploads with O2.
I can force the band to be like on the B535 for uploads, but then after a while it switches to something back and sigh... Can't be bothered..

My guess is that the B818 with O2 was using a different band for uploads than the B535. Hence the difference. If you had specified the same upload band on the B535 and the B818 I would expect the B818 to come out on top again.
 

madbroon

Regular Member
That all sounds like great info, I'd love to get speeds anywhere close to that! Realistically how much better might a B818 be compared to my existing Archer Tp Link MR200?

Looks like the B818 came out quite recently, will hopefully price drop in the black Friday sales? I've currently got unlimited data on my Vodafone mobile so can make do for a while longer with the poor service from 3...

Thanks
 

madbroon

Regular Member
BTW, tried the suggested website:

1600454516442.png
 

Jmi

Regular Member
The 818 is currently £184 on Amazon but it's predecessor the 618 is over £220. I would (I did!) grab a bargain while it lasts. But who knows it might go down. I can't give you specific figures on how much better the 818 is over the MR 200 but I would say it would be a significant improvement and worth £184. Put the MR200 on eBay and get some money back.
 

Lucian

Pro Member
What download speeds do you get on your smartphone with Vodafone (no wifi obvs)?

Archer is lte cat 4 from what I can see, it was released 5y ago, whereas the b818 is cat 19, massive technology difference.
Still, might work.. put the Vodafone sim in it, give it a try.

You could get the b818 from Amazon, return it no frills if it doesn't perform.

Re download speed sites, it doesn't really matter, most are good. Fast.com is Netflix, could help to see what speed you get with them if you're a client.
 

madbroon

Regular Member
Yeah I'm tempted to just buy it and see what it's like, I paid 100quid for the Archer from pC World about 3 years ago. Screenshot attached from Vodafone mobile test on Samsung Galaxy S8. It isnt usually that slow! Normally I get better latency and download speeds from Vodafone rather than the 3.
 

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Lucian

Pro Member
Yeah.. those speeds are bad and the latency...
Does it get any better if you go outside or out of the window, maybe on the upper floor or loft?
 

madbroon

Regular Member
Latency using another app is much better, I often get 20mbs download from both the 3 wifi and on Vodafone from mobile but it's pretty variable. I haven't tried the loft but its lined with Aluminium backed Kingspan so am guessing that's not ideal!
 

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Lucian

Pro Member
If there are windows in the loft it might work.
Try out the window on the upper floor.

What phone is that?
 

madbroon

Regular Member
I dont know what the hello is going on tonight, just did a speedtest out the bedroom window!
 

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madbroon

Regular Member
With latency like this I'm glad not to be a gamer!
 

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