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Need Advice on Dual 4G Setup

jagnew

Casual Member
Hey everyone, I'm after some advice. I've found this site super helpful the last six months but not really posted.

My wife and I bought our dream house in June this year which is semi-rural, its rural setting (4 acres) but very close (walking distance) to the market town of Stokesley. I admittedly did a poor job researching what internet was available to it, it showed as FTTC so I figured it would be useable. When I tried to move my FTTP package with BT over they said there no point as I'd be lucky to get over 3Mbps. So I quickly ordered Three sim with B535 to run a basic 4G setup. It's been less than ideal but it was always meant to be interim solution as I wanted to order FTTPoD. At the start of August I paid £16K for FTTPoD, 4 months in I got pretty disappointing update that not a lot has been done so I could be waiting a good while. At the same time storm Arwen done a lot of damage in our area and managed to make our Three 4G unusable - there network status tool reports issues but not really any information. I suspect its other towers are down so more users have ended up on the tower we use as speeds can vary so much, from 30Mbps to not beable to load a webpage.

Before I continue its probably worth noting Starlink is not available for me, it is about half mile up the road which is upsetting. It's listed as mid 2022 for me.

I've been working from home since COVID hit and probably need a better than average line due to my job, I'm a web developer. I've ended up the office more and more due the issues I'm having when ideally I'd work from home. And with a lot of my projects based in USA I need to be able to jump on to sort issues in the evenings. And with Boris announcement tonight I may not have any choice but to work from home soon.

So I decided throw some money at the problem even if its only for six months or so. I know from testing I can get reasonable 4G with Vodafone and suspect Three 4G issues will be resolved in the coming weeks. The plan is to run both Three and Vodafone to house, meaning I can use one network for general stuff like TVs etc. and another as work line (and a bit of online gaming). I've checked they come from different towers. I ordered two Huawei B818 modded for 4x4 MIMO external antennas from Router Mods. And I've order two Poynting OMNI-600 and two Poynting XPOL-2-5G V3. I believe I would have LoS to Three tower as its so close but not completely sure on Vodafone. My questions are:

1) If mounted on either end of the house, reasonable distance apart can actually have one on Three and other on Vodafone? or would they actually cause signal issues.
2) Would it be beneficial to mix Omni and Directional antenna, so one each per router? or given I more likely has LoS with Three should go completely directional with that and then on Vodafone go completely Omni?
3) My understanding is if I plan to use 2 antennas to create 4x4 MIMO I should mount them one below the other. Is this correct?


Sorry for the long post. I'm sure I have have left out important details so please let me know if I can provide any other info.

Thanks
Jason
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
Firstly, aiming for 4x4 is probably fruitless, given the description of the area you live in I would hazard a guess that it's unlikely that either provider has deployed hardware at the masts that support it - generally it's only deployed where high capacity is needed.

In your B535, what Cell_ID is shown in the advanced > system section? And while you're there, what are the RSRP/SINR metrics - it's advisable to refresh the page a few times and note down a few values to gauge the min-max range and average, as they do change moment to moment.
 

kommando828

ULTIMATE Member
I agree that the 4x4 will not be utilised in a rural area, even if the mast had it activated then you need to be close, but the B818 router is good.

I run two 4g routers (combination of any 2 from B525, B715 and a B818 depending on my whim), one points at a Three mast 8km away and another at an EE mast 5km. Both are fed into a Draytek 2925 which line balances the two Wan connections, line balancing is not true bonding but to most users, as the pings on 4g are similar, you will not notice except for single threaded down loads when only one of the two connections is used. Three can be a pain for surfing at busy periods so using the Draytek routing rules I direct post 80 and port 443 to EE, if EE goes down then the Draytek switches the routing to Three.

1) If mounted on either end of the house, reasonable distance apart can actually have one on Three and other on Vodafone? or would they actually cause signal issues.

My 2 antenna are 2m apart and no interference.

2) Would it be beneficial to mix Omni and Directional antenna, so one each per router? or given I more likely has LoS with Three should go completely directional with that and then on Vodafone go completely Omni?

No, per individual router if you have direct line of site use directional, no LOS use Omni.

3) My understanding is if I plan to use 2 antennas to create 4x4 MIMO I should mount them one below the other. Is this correct?

Doubt you will get 4x4 but if you do its no harm having the 2 antenna a set vertical distance apart. For Yagi arrays you set this distance dependant on the frequency so you will need to know the band you connect to and use an online calculator.
 

jagnew

Casual Member
Thanks both for the replies. I got information of the router. One odd thing is my usual location (which worked for months) for Three only shows 3G so tried it in different place got 4G back. But its different tower not the my old ID: 2669830 where I would have had LoS. On Cellmapper if use the postcode TS9 6QD, you will see building labelled Oak Manor thats us.

Vodafone: https://www.speedtest.net/result/12443654142
CELL_ID: 130719498
RSRQ: -11.0dB (to -14)
RSRP: -94dBm (to -94)
RSSI: -75dBm (to -71)
SINR: 8dB (to 9)

Three: https://www.speedtest.net/result/12443726654
CELL_ID: 1032194
RSRQ: -12.0dB (to -14)
RSRP: -109dBm (to -110)
RSSI: -77dBm (to -79)
SINR: 3dB (to 7)

These where taken on the B535 on its own.
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
Its interesting that 2669830 would be your 'normal' cell ID - since that's the B20 cell and it looks like you're ~700m away you should have been getting B3... did your B535 ever report '4G+', indicating that carrier aggregation was occuring?
If you could only get 30Mbps from that site then it could be no aggregation was present (30Mbps would be the top end of B20 speeds for Three) or the backhaul is poor either to that site, or if it's microwave linked, the backhaul to the other Three site located over to the West.
I can't tell from street view if either site has MW links pointing at eachother, perhaps you know if you've seen the site up close?

Your current Three 1032194 is coming all the way from North-West of Guisborough and is B3 but it is super high on the ridge and you seem to be directly in line with the center of the cell (best position) so isn't all that surprising even at the 8+km.
The low upload is as expected; your router is so much less powerful in trying to 'talk' back to the site at that distance.

For Vodafone, you're connected to the site at Stokesley business park (South of Stokesley), rather than the closer site off the A173 near Applebridge Farm to your South-East.
Looking at the sector patterns on cellmapper it's clear that you're in the center of the cell for the business park site (best position), but in-between sectors for the A173 site (worst position).
However, the business park site cell you're connected to covers all of Stokesley itself so it sees high utilisation, and that is reflected in your speedtest; upload speed being higher than download speeds generally indicate a high level of load/utilisation.
Your directional antennas might be beneficial here to try connect to the A173 site (you might need to point them due-East or something!) and see if that site can provide you higher speeds than the business park. Being on the boundary between cells on that site might not be great for metrics and you might end up flip-flopping between the cells.
 

jagnew

Casual Member
Honestly thank you both for such detailed replies. Had a mad day at work so thats why I just dumped the stats and not really replied.

Ah so 2669830 was probably my mistake (me failing to use cellmapper correctly). I never recorded the Cell ID when it working well but positions that reported good speeds was front facing of the house pointing towards eNB ID 10429 - LTE so it was probably the B3 - 2669824. It used to show 4G+ and was getting pretty decent speeds: https://www.speedtest.net/my-result/i/4660894188 - So maybe my issue is that tower is not transmitting 4G or something is interfering between my house and it.

On Three its amazing to think the signal reaches all the way from Guisborough. I guess if I used Omni for it I may get a small boost and if 2669824 (or whatever correct ID is for closer Three tower) comes back it may switch to that so it would make reliable setup if it could pick from two towers.

Its shame with Vodafone being over utilised and me just missing the the other tower but feels like its worth just trying with the directional antenna and seeing what happens. If I hadn't paid for FTTPoD I would have considered doing something a bit more out of the box like running power & ethernet to some sort of pole away from the house to mount the antenna & router as house came with paddocks that run down side of road to Stanely Grove houses which would put it in range of A173 mast.

I got LTEmonitor installed (thanks for suggestion). Once I can find someone to help me get the antennas mounted I do some experimenting an report back what I find. I took at look at the Draytek and seems like a pretty cool option, I was planning to put a rack & cat 6a in the house then invest in some Ubiquiti kit as their UniFi range is so easy to use but not confident it could do the line balancing like Draytek so I might have rethink.
 

MysteryUser

Member
Once you've got two working connections, you'll be looking for a solution to make use of them both in a sensible way. As mentioned, the Draytek style multi-WAN router is an option. I personally use a TP-Link Multi-WAN router to handle three connections here at home. Nice having automatic failover and handy being able to select which devices / traffic goes via which connections.

At one point before I was using a multi-WAN router I simply had multiple routers setup on the same network, with DHCP disabled. It's then nice and easy running Pi Hole (a DNS server) with DHCP enabled, the DHCP on that can be very sophisticated and can easily allocate different gateways to different devices. Makes it easy to ensure your streaming TV media is separate from general browsing etc.
 

Gandi69

Top Member
Pfsense/Opnsense for a firewall/router would be my choice here. It’ll take a bit of time to get your head around some of it but it’s got a lot of flexibility plus you can buy ready built units direct from netgate for not much more than the draytek stuff costs, or build your own from a Nuc or thin client then add a dual or quad port Nic.
Can run some decent stuff on them too like PFblocker (a bit like pihole) and suricata etc for security.
That said I use various drayteks at work (usually supplied by our ISPs before they hit our own firewalls) and they do they job but for what they cost I wouldn’t buy one if it were my own money
 

kommando828

ULTIMATE Member
Never paid more than £60 for a Draytek 2925 off ebay, even got an unopened NOS AC wifi one for £40. Now for a 2926 you would pay a lot more but until I go for FTTP with 500gb download its not needed
 

Simoli

Regular Member
I've used Pfsense before to load balance a 3 connection and a 40Mbps FTTC connection, for multi-threaded downloads it worked exceptionally well, also cheaper as I could reuse an old laptop with only purchase being a USB3 NIC, a x86 machine can also handle much higher VPN speeds as well.

A tip regarding 3 for better speeds is check whether 4G+ is available, if not, lock the frequency to 1800Mhz (or higher frequency if available) to get much better speeds, may also work for Vodafone if they don't have 4G+ in your area either.
 

daveake

Casual Member
Never paid more than £60 for a Draytek 2925 off ebay, even got an unopened NOS AC wifi one for £40. Now for a 2926 you would pay a lot more but until I go for FTTP with 500gb download its not needed
Having seen you mention your use of a 2925 a few times, I've just bought one, still a bargain at £75. I'm used to Draytek's UI from previous products and I know that they make solid kit, so it wasn't a difficult decision. I've got it connected to B818 and B535 routers on EE and Vodafone respectively. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to set up - I set the 4G routers to 192.168.3.1 and 192.168.4.1, still delivering DHCP albeit only to the WAN ports on the 2925 now. I didn't need to do anything at all on the 2925 as it's already set to my usual gateway address of 192.168.1.1. I thought I'd need to mess around but it "just worked" once connected. Impressed. I've seen speedtests of up to 290 down 90 up, but the reason for doing it was failover rather than bandwidth.
 

kommando828

ULTIMATE Member
I bought mine before the chip shortage so you did well at £75. The Wifi can be a bit flaky but in some tips are here


This one alone stopped a lot of losing connections and having to reboot.

5. Use non-DFS channels​

In the 5GHz spectrum, channels 52 to 140 are subject to Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) requirements. A Wireless access point will stop broadcasting and communicating with wireless clients during the DFS scanning period, which must be checked every 24 hours. This could appear to be an occasional loss of connectivity with the access point, during this scanning period.

To avoid this periodic loss of connectivity, when using "Auto" wireless channel mode, you can exclude the impacted channels (52 to 140) in [Wireless LAN (5GHz)] > [Advanced Settings].

If using a fixed wireless channel, try channels 36 to 48, as those are non-DFS channels and don't need to do any scanning before use.
 

daveake

Casual Member
I bought mine before the chip shortage so you did well at £75. The Wifi can be a bit flaky...
Not an issue for me - it's a non-wifi one, and I have a separate AP in the centre of the house for better coverage.

Only issue I've seen so far is that the cPanel for my shared internet server complains that my IP has changed since login, so I just added a routing rule to the Draytek to only use one of the WANs for that domain.
 

jagnew

Casual Member
Hi Everyone

Sorry I took so long to reply. I've only just got the kit up. We ended up catching COVID, then Christmas, then the guy who came to help me do the antennas came and it was too windy, then his van broke down for two weeks. Anyway there up now. Here's some quick stats. Speed tests I did over WiFi for convenience. I have a good bit of spare cable left per antenna so was thinking if it's easy enough to do I may consider shorten them as that might improve stats further.

Vodafone
CELL_ID 130719498
RSRQ -14.0dB to -10.0dB
RSRP -81dBm to -82dBm
RSSI -53dBm
SINR 1dB to 4dB

Three
CELL_ID 2669824
RSRQ -3.0dB to -4.0dB
RSRP -80dBm
RSSI -57dBm
SINR 12dB to 14dB

Thanks
Jason
 

Lucian

ULTIMATE Member
@jagnew that sounds good, seems like it will sort you out for a while.
If you want to investigate squeezing more out of it (at the cost of extra complexity) you could look at openmtcprouter.

 

kommando828

ULTIMATE Member
Hi Everyone

Sorry I took so long to reply. I've only just got the kit up. We ended up catching COVID, then Christmas, then the guy who came to help me do the antennas came and it was too windy, then his van broke down for two weeks. Anyway there up now. Here's some quick stats. Speed tests I did over WiFi for convenience. I have a good bit of spare cable left per antenna so was thinking if it's easy enough to do I may consider shorten them as that might improve stats further.

Vodafone
CELL_ID 130719498
RSRQ -14.0dB to -10.0dB
RSRP -81dBm to -82dBm
RSSI -53dBm
SINR 1dB to 4dB

Three
CELL_ID 2669824
RSRQ -3.0dB to -4.0dB
RSRP -80dBm
RSSI -57dBm
SINR 12dB to 14dB

Thanks
Jason
Your Voda speedtest shows a larger upload than download, when I have experienced this a small tweak to the antenna has increased the download even if the connection stats show slightly lower figures. It may be you are pointed at a mast where you are in the middle of 2 emitters and there is interference. Shorter coax cables will help too if you can't get to the antenna.
 
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