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Which 4G hardware solution?

PGNick

Member
Hi all,

I'm imminently moving to a new house which unfortunately has a sub 10Mb broadband connection. As such I'm looking at a 4G solution...

Signal strength at the new property isn't great though. EE seems to be the best option and at street level I'm getting 1/2 bars of 4G with a speed test on an iPhone showing around a 25Mb download speed.

The new house is fitted with data cabling and I intend to install my UniFi access points from my previous home to provide WiFi.

After some forum lurking it looks like the route of a Huawei B525 with an external Poynting omni-directional antenna (XPOL-A0001) is the widely accepted best option.

My questions are,

- Would an outdoor router, with PoE might be better option than an indoor router with external antenna, considering my low signal?

- Has anyone any experience with the Cat6 UK Outdoor 4G MIMO router from https://www.outdoorrouter.com?

- Other than the Huawei B525 has anyone an opinion on these alternative routers, or a better recommendation?

1. Teltonika RUTX09 or RUTX11
2. Huawei B618

All advise is greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Nick
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
I would say the outdoor router website you link to is more appropriate for very rural areas where the router would need to be mounted a long way from the house (they say 300ft LAN). I'm thinking a remote farm in a valley, or something similar. Their own 'case studies' show campsites, farms and caravan parks.

A 'normal' 4G router combined with an external antenna is probably more appropriate for a home - I believe the general consensus is that the max cable run between router and antenna should be <5m to maintain good signal quality.

From the routers you list I cannot say I've heard of Teletonika before but they look like the type that would ordinarily be fitted inside vehicles (e.g. busses/trains) to provide data signal for 'free wifi onboard'. You may find support/community knowledge/updates for this type of device few and far between.

The Huawei routers, B525 and B618, are both common and popular routers with wide commit support on various forums and I imagine receive good support (or at least good community knowledge) and probably somewhat frequent software updates.
FYI, if the B618 (a 4x4 router if using its internal antennas) was to be used with am external antenna then it can only perform at 2x2; effectively restricting it's performance.

Also be aware that not all 4G routers provide 'bridge mode' (a function to allow it to act as in a 'modem only' mode). Bridge mode allows pass-through for the external IP to another router on the LAN behind the 4g router. Lacking bridge mode can cause double-NAT and cause issues for things like remote access to IP security cameras and similar.


However saying all this, it's your local mast/masts configuration that determines things so it would be useful to know a couple of bits of info to be able to provide better advice of what you should be looking at in terms of a router that gives you the most from your local mast/mast configuration:
  • Which model of iPhone you have - different models have different capabilities - older phones lack some capabilities such as the ability to aggregate certain combinations of bands.
  • The postcode of your new house (or the postcode of a business close by, from Google maps - if not wishing to reveal your actual postcode) to determine which mast/masts are local to you and what their configurations look like and what bands they have and what level of MIMO they may be able to provide.
  • Which mobile providers you'd be willing to use. You mention you tried EE - did you try any others to see what their signal level was?
 

PGNick

Member
Thanks @GavinAshford.

- I was using an iPhone 11.
- Postcode is CV36 4NR.
- Have no preference on provider. I’ve experimented with EE, O2 and Three on my iPhone and EE appears to have the ‘best’ coverage.

Nick
 

Mark8253

Regular Member
I’m happy with my TP-Link/Archer MR600 router. It’s similar price and spec to the Huawei B525, but I was put off Huawei by my experience with the older B593 - clunky firmware and poorer performance than TP-Link. I have it hooked up to a Poynting XPOL-2 directional antenna, but that is in open countryside with a reasonably clear path to the mast 5 km away. In a semi-urban environment, the omni-directional is probably a better bet.

I’ve also played with the Cat 4 Teltonika RUT240. Its strength is the very highly customisable interface and depth of technical detail available on signal etc, but in terms of raw performance it consistently fell behind other Cat 4 routers in download speed.
 
Last edited:

GavinAshford

Pro Member
According to Cellmapper, which has a 'high accuracy' mast for Three and Vodafone signal for your postcode would come from the mast here: https://goo.gl/maps/GoATwKiWCyiHpKni9

However, there is a hill right ion the middle between that mast and you, blocking direct line-of-sight - use this surface elevation tool to see that https://www.solwise.co.uk/wireless-elevationtool.html (PC browser highly recommended, rather than a phone/tablet!)

Assuming you could mount an external antenna up at 10m on your house and the Three/Vodafone antennas were on the mast at 45m (doubtful it'd be that high up) then line-of-sight would be just possible, but even then trees etc on the hill, may hamper a signal.

For EE, the masts around the area are all 'low accuracy' meaning that there is not much data to use to accurately position their masts. It needs someone with an android phone and the cellmapper app to travel in the area to do more mapping to better locate the masts.
However, the signal level traces on cellmapper do show a higher signal level close to the postcode you gave than either Three or Vodafone - which sounds like this matches your testing experiences.

O2 is even less well mapped so I cannot comment on their masts at all.


Personally, if you're determined to go 4G and not traditional broadband (even 25mbps on 4G is better than 10!) I would suggest starting off with getting just a router and using an EE sim. Your EE phone sim would do if you have a good amount of data in your contract and can manage without it being in your phone while testing things out.
This would give you a chance to find the best place in your house for the router - generally higher up the better and close to/in a window facing the direction of the mast.
From that starting point you could then determine whether an external antenna could help give improved speeds or not - if you find you have a high signal level with just a router then its unlikely an external antenna would help a great deal and its likely that other factors are the cause of low speeds (e.g. lots of people connecting to your mast, low back-haul speed to the mast, etc).
 

Jmi

Member
I have found that the Huawei B535 is better at capturing a signal than the B525. The B618-22D is as good if not slightly better than the B535. With any router I have used, the position of it is critical within a tolerance of about 30mm. I have mine within the attic using internal aerials only, and that gives better download speeds than using an omni aerial or a directional one either outside or inside. Using external aerials reduced the signal capture and download speeds. I get about an average of 35Mbps from a mast about 10km away but probably with line of sight. That's using the Three network.
 
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