Sponsored

Mobile BB with poor 4G, risky?

Mumbles

Member
Hi forum

I have been going through this forum and like many others asking advice I line in a village in a rural area with poor broadband choices. But can't seem to see anything for someone with sketchy 4g.

ATM I have been on a painfully slow but about tolerable landline BB through John lewis. It has been a struggle with two of us working from home at about 4mbps down 1mbps up. But in recent weeks even that has slowed and it is now intolerable and fibre looks like it will never happen. So now looking at mobile.
Problem is, on O2 in my smartphone I tend to get 4G about 10%, but mostly H+, sometimes but not always improved by being upstairs, near the window etc. I bought some PAYG Sims and it seems Vodafone is a little better but about 50/50.

My thoughts were to get a router with a decent arial hoping it is more likely than my smartphone to get an more improved and stable 4g signal if I leave it by the upstairs window. Having read the posts here I'm not too certain.
My questions really are

1) as above, are the Arials better than in my Oneplus 3 smartphone
2) would a decent router also pick up 3G H+ in case
3) can a good H+ connection outperform what I am currently getting on the landline , tests on my phone suggest it might, but don't know the theory

4) would Vodafone be restricting band access and I might see better results on a contract SIM

From reading the posts it seems I might be able to trial a router with various SIM cards, but if it is the weaker Huawei 525 or 535 would investment in an 818 make the difference.

This is before I even start on Arials. Im sure I know where the masts are, just seem to be in the middle of two about 0.75miles away with houses and trees

Sorry, lot of questions. Just don't want to waste a couple of hundred pounds.

Many thanks
 

Buggerlugz

ULTIMATE Member
I'm just over a year (into a 2 year contract) on Three's home 4g service and I'd personally advise against going down the 4g or even 5g route. There is far too many variables to take into account to make it a viable solution currently.

You have mast to signal distance, strength, buildings, hills, weather, interference, contention (the list is long) and then most notably the fact that all the UK carriers are not prepared to invest enough to maximize the technology they're actually selling. Not one carrier invests enough in backhaul (mast across core bandwidth) for 3g, let alone 4g and now its come back to bite them further with 5g. On top of this, none of the carriers want to provide a fast OTA broadband solution that challenges Virgin or FTTH.

They'll tickle the idea, a few places will get good quality speeds and reliability, but generally the quality of 4g and 5g in the UK is years behind the rest of Europe.

Imho, LTE may be worthwhile for mobile phones and on the move web access, but for home use and downloading big files it will take decades of investment at the current levels to reach a reliable 50Mbps+

You could spend hundreds like you say on a top quality router and antenna setup and may very easily be just throwing the money down the drain.
 

Lucian

Top Member
Hi Mumbles,

Buggerlugz is not wrong, but at the same time your situation does look a bit difficult.
Can you share a partial address/postcode so we can check on cellmapper (or just do it yourself)?

Also, whatever tests you do with your phone, try multiple locations, up high and outdoors, such as out of your upper floor windows.

You may be able to squeeze some more bits out of the air with the right gear, such as the Mikrotik external parabolic kits or an lte modem with a good directional antenna (poynting xpol-1), worth a try. If you buy it from a place with good return policies (Amazon) you may not necessarily waste money.
 
Last edited:

Jmi

Regular Member
As a rule of thumb, if I can't get an acceptable download speed using a mobile phone, then there's no point in trying with a router. However if Vodafone is giving you an acceptable speed, then it would be worth getting the Huawei B818. I think this is better at capturing a signal than the MikroTik. Bear in mind that the positioning of the router is absolutely critical, and you will only find the best position by almost endless trial and error.
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
Have you tried EE or Three at all? Generally Vodafone and O2 share the same masts so trying EE or Three (who generally share masts too, but separate to V/O2 ones) may provide a better connection.

I'm somewhat surprised that you're only getting a 3G connection these days - with more than one mast somewhat close by it sounds like a non-rural location. As above, are you able to share your location - a nearby business/pub postcode would suffice and not reveal your exact location - but allow us to review what cellmapper data exists around you to possibly guide you better.

In answer to the specific questions you asked:

1) as above, are the Arials better than in my Oneplus 3 smartphone
Yes, an external antennas will be better than the one in your smartphone - they're much bigger and likely provide higher gain. However, routers generally have a lower spec modem (vs todays phones), but probably on-par with a phone like the OnePlus 3 from 2016.

2) would a decent router also pick up 3G H+ in case
Yes, most routers work on both 3G and 4G. The exception being Huawei's 5G routers which are 4G/5G only.

3) can a good H+ connection outperform what I am currently getting on the landline , tests on my phone suggest it might, but don't know the theory
Theoretical HSPA+ download speeds are up in the 80Mbps range, however that is theoretical and many variables in real life will reduce that. I don't think there is a definitive way to say if it would out-perform your landline, but probably not. 3G also does something called 'cell-breathing' whereby the signal from the mast expands and contracts depending upon the load (shrinking when more load, to adapt and try reduce the load), so 3G signal is subject to fluctuations (2/4/5G don't do this)

4) would Vodafone be restricting band access and I might see better results on a contract SIM
As far as I know, with Vodafone there isn't any band restrictions as their primary 3G frequency (over which calls are made) is 900Mhz, which should serve the same area(ish) as the 800Mhz (Band 20) 4G frequency, so no need to restrict B20 to certain users/devices.
 

MrDave

Top Member
Buy the B818 from Amazon and if it doesnt work you can send it back no problem, buy a few PAYG sims and see which gives your most stable connection. I am on Vodafone on Band 20 only and its is fine. Decent speeds on good days, I have a B535 with no direct line of site to the nearest mast almost a mile away, I added a couple of antenna's to help focus the signal but you might not need those on the B818 as it is supposed to have excellent internal antenna.
 

Alfienoakes

Member
living in rural pembrokeshire I get 2 bars on on my old iphone with smarty but 4/5 bars on a 525 router using a poynting 4g xpol A001 antenna getting an average dl speed 50 mbs ul 23 mbs. £18 per month with no contract (unlimited data and phone)
Also Had John Lewis For a couple of years getting 7mbs on a good day,
4g in rural locations is a no Brainer.
Try a few different pay as you go sims on any decent router.
 

Mumbles

Member
Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond and for the detailed resonses. Buggerlugz, the wasting money is exactly what I am afraid of and I will proceed with caution and not cutoff the John Lewis BB just yet.
Sounds like there's a general consensus on the trial and error approach.
Seems sensible if I can get good results on the likes of a cheaper router then maybe avoid the more expensive options. Or buy both and see the differnece.
For those interested I am at RG7 4gx although I think I have every 3 story building in the development between myself and the tower. On the other side are a lot of trees but I think equidistant to the next nearest mast.
 

Mumbles

Member
Not finding any 4g on 3 unfortunately.
Seems on o2 when I have 4g it is connecting to 16576
rsrp -117, rsrq -12, band 20.
then switches to 21706 for H+ band 8
 

greentrident

Casual Member
I have 5.5mb on the bt landline with 0.3 upload. There is no 4g where we are but a fairly tenuous 3g if you're upstairs. I have a Huawei 535 on 3 in the upstairs window which gives between 7 and 27mb download and around 2mb upload. Occasionally it drops. Both connections are affected by the rain! A poynting external aerial doesn't seem to make much difference but may allow me to move the router downstairs eventually! Forcing the router to only use 3g makes the biggest difference so far as it seems to think that is a 4g otherwise the grinds to a halt! Overall it's worth it just to be able to have a second connection and slightly better upload but I hope we get a better fixed line at some point!
 

MrDave

Top Member
Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond and for the detailed resonses. Buggerlugz, the wasting money is exactly what I am afraid of and I will proceed with caution and not cutoff the John Lewis BB just yet.
Sounds like there's a general consensus on the trial and error approach.
Seems sensible if I can get good results on the likes of a cheaper router then maybe avoid the more expensive options. Or buy both and see the differnece.
For those interested I am at RG7 4gx although I think I have every 3 story building in the development between myself and the tower. On the other side are a lot of trees but I think equidistant to the next nearest mast.
You have a Vodafone and EE masts right next to you, will be worth looking at those 2 first.



It also looks like you might get a clear view of the masts if you can get the router in the attic or get external antenna fitted.

You can use this tool to measure line of sight.

 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
Not finding any 4g on 3 unfortunately.
Seems on o2 when I have 4g it is connecting to 16576
rsrp -117, rsrq -12, band 20.
then switches to 21706 for H+ band 8
I don't think 16576 is a mast/cell, rather that seems to be a region.

1602492560956.png


The eNB ID number is the mast's ID.

Anyway, that power levels (-117) isn't not good - it's not surprising you don't get 4G much. Thats on B20 too, so if there were any higher frequency bands (coming from the same mast as B20) you wouldn't have any chance of getting.

Given what you've shared I would say trying to use a mobile infrastructure based home internet solution doesn't seem viable in your location.

However, the area you're in isn't well mapped, other than the A4, so there isn't much confidence on the mast locations of the providers there.
If you're still thinking of going down the mobile route then I'd start of by suggesting contributing the to the cellmapper data pool to attempt to better map all the provider's masts and their coverage in the area. Given you have an android phone, you just need the cellmapper app and some time to go for a drive around to collect the data points.
 

wavelength

Member
Having tried both an internal 5G router with external directional antenna, and a roof mounted 5G router the latter gives an incredibly good signal even in an area of poor coverage - so the same is likely true for 4G.

I bought a Huawei WIN-370 from Hong Kong - it cost around £370 including shipping and import duties but that needs to be offset against the sim only cost of c£20 for the broadband - so it works out pretty cheap over the long term.

The nice thing about the roof / wall mounted router is that it comes with a 15m power over ethernet cable so it's easy to extend to enable it to be mounted wherever it's possible to do so. By contrast the internal router / external antenna suffers from s
 

SmartyBroadband

Casual Member
Having tried both an internal 5G router with external directional antenna, and a roof mounted 5G router the latter gives an incredibly good signal even in an area of poor coverage - so the same is likely true for 4G.

I bought a Huawei WIN-370 from Hong Kong - it cost around £370 including shipping and import duties but that needs to be offset against the sim only cost of c£20 for the broadband - so it works out pretty cheap over the long term.

Or, the OP could test a 30 quid outdoor router from China like this (KuWFi Waterproof Outdoor 4G CPE Router 150Mbps CAT4): https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001163309572.html (with PoE injector to run a single ethernet cable out the window) or https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33053649924.html and try their luck first on 4G before blasting 10x that on a 5G device.

It's worth a punt, might be good enough.
 

wavelength

Member
Indeed - could try that but good luck getting security updates (or indeed any security protection) from "KuWFi". It's noticeable they do not shop them from Poland to the UK - likely because of issues with declarations of conformity - if you're happy for third parties to potentially eavesdrop your connection this shouldn't be a worry.
 
Top
Promotion
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Onestream £19.99 (*27.99)
    Avg. Speed 45Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • TalkTalk £21.00 (*29.95)
    Avg. Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • NOW TV £22.00 (*40.00)
    Avg. Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £22.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Hyperoptic £22.00
    Avg. Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
Promotion
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (2910)
  2. BT (2826)
  3. FTTC (1812)
  4. Building Digital UK (1776)
  5. Politics (1714)
  6. Openreach (1667)
  7. Business (1491)
  8. FTTH (1345)
  9. Mobile Broadband (1281)
  10. Statistics (1276)
  11. 4G (1105)
  12. Fibre Optic (1087)
  13. Wireless Internet (1050)
  14. Ofcom Regulation (1044)
  15. Virgin Media (1035)
  16. EE (729)
  17. Vodafone (708)
  18. TalkTalk (690)
  19. Sky Broadband (686)
  20. 5G (570)
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms  ,  Privacy and Cookie Policy  ,  Links  ,  Website Rules