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Broadband Related => Broadband Technology => Topic started by: re0 on February 27, 2019, 11:14:25 PM

Title: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on February 27, 2019, 11:14:25 PM
Introduction
I had been reading a lot about Three’s HomeFi and special offers on their unlimited phone SIM (which is £20/month and has no restrictions on being used in a 4G router) on various websites. After a lot of thought, I decided to take the plunge and delve into a world of 4G broadband by ordering the phone SIM.

I do not live very close to the nearest Three mast; in fact, it’s over 2km away. My handsets (on Three) very much like to switch to HSPA from 4G LTE very quickly indoors, and outdoors it can be a bit hit or miss whether 4G is preferable. Even in the window, held up high it would be a struggle to see past 20 Mbps download (perhaps upload was closer to 10 Mbps) on my handsets while on 4G. Situated anywhere else and … well, good luck; HSPA will work but speeds would be single digits. It was not looking like a great candidate to try 4G broadband.

Initial Testing
I first started off with the Huawei B311 router – it was basic and only cost £59.99 direct from Three (including 1GB PAYG data, which I had no intention of using). A perfect device for testing the waters since it is not exceeding expensive but is a decent enough device at a decent enough price point.

Once I got the SIM and the router, I hooked it all up and after a short while of faffing around I found the best location for it (in the window). I was very pleased to see speeds of mostly somewhere between 35-45 Mbps downstream (peaking at ~50 Mbps), ~20 Mbps upstream (peaking at ~25 Mbps). This was just on the internal antenna.

External Antenna
Since the B311 only had a single antenna, I could only use one of the pair of antennas I bought (HAUNT-BL315). Even still, in the right position (and ensuring the set the antenna settings to external) the downstream speeds were slightly better at mostly between 40-50 Mbps (peaking ~55 Mbps), ~20 Mbps (the upstream peak was a bit lower at ~23 Mbps, but not a massive difference). To me, it was a worthwhile addition considering the antennas can be found under £20 including shipping for 5 Mbps more downstream.

The Upgrade
I was at the crossroads, not sure whether a better router would make a significant difference to my speeds. It was a decision between not bothering or going ahead with either B525 or E5186. I took the plunge and ordered a B525-23a (can be found new for about ~£120) since it was slightly newer, has support for L2TP (even though I may never use it) and Bridging (which I may also never use).

With the B525, I found the speeds had increased again. Most results were falling between the 45-65 Mbps range for downstream (peaking at ~70 Mbps)! Upstream was mostly unchanged, hovering around the same range as before.

I am pretty sure there is a capability to go faster if I installed an antenna external to the building, since my phone has shown throughput of over 80 Mbps a few times for a few moments when in a room where the router can face towards the mast. But I have not counted this as a peak speed since it was inconsistent.

I should note that I used the included antennas with the B525 – they are the same as I purchased before (HAUNT-BL315, or HUANT-W315 if the white B525).

Another External Antenna
Given that I have limited options for antennas since external ones are not an option at present, I tried my luck buying a DMM-7-27-2SP for a smidge under £27. I will not go into a lot of detail since it was an utter disappointment, but the performance was inferior to using the B525’s internal antennas, so it was no match for its included external antennas. I guess I just got a bit carried away on my journey to improve the speeds further. Do not buy this, unless you only want to place your router no more than 2 meters away from a good signal spot.

NOTE: I have not tried any of the following antennas. I am going based on information that I have collected over the weeks.

There are better alternatives to using this external antenna, such as the Poynting 4G-XPOL-A0001 which, while any gain is essentially lost through its long cable length (5m), does allow for itself to be positioned in better signal areas. This may be one of the better choices if you do not have LoS (Line of Sight) to the mast.

4G-XPOL-A0002 is one of the better options if you have a direct LoS to the mast. Though will require some work to get it setup.

Do not buy any of the cheap junk that is advertising ridiculous double-digit gains for little money. You will only be left disappointed.

Experience
The general experience I have had so far has been positive. Speeds are great virtually all day, only with a minor slowdown during peak times. Speeds can still sit quite comfortably within the ranges mentioned above most of the time.

For general web activities such as web browsing, email and Video on Demand (VoD) I found it to be not much different to using my FTTC connection. The latency, being mostly in the 40-50ms range to UK servers, mean things respond a tiny weeny bit slower in comparison to the FTTC connection (~10ms to UK servers) but it is usually not noticeable.

While the latency is not ideal for gaming, especially competitive gaming, it can be done, and I did try it. Even though the jitter could sometimes be double digits, I did not notice anything funky. It was smooth, and I could not complain. I do not play often enough to test it extensively, but from the limited testing I did I can say it was no issue.

One thing I have not done is streamed live video from the internet. HD (720p), Full HD (1080p), QHD (1440p) and 4K UHD 30 FPS (2160p) should be fine. 4K at 60 fps may be inconsistent as speeds may occasionally fall below the video bitrate (range for live YouTube is 20,000-51,000 Kbps). Note, this is live video – VoD would be absolutely fine at the same resolutions.

Conclusion & Costs
For £20 a month, I would say it would be worth picking up an unlimited phone SIM if you are looking for a landline replacement or a connection to complement a landline connection (balancing, backup, etc.). Even the £22 a month HomeFi may be a nice option if you do not mind the 24-month contract (as opposed to the 12-month contract with phone SIMs), and you do get the added benefit of having the B311 included with no upfront fee.

From a cost perspective over a 24-month period, HomeFi costs £528 which is £48 more than the unlimited phone SIM which costs £480. Taking into the account the cost of a new B311 from Three being £59.99 (with 1GB PAYG, but you cannot buy without) effectively means the cost for the for the HomeFi SIM alone is £468.01 over 24 months (or ~£19.50 a month).

Quidco and TopCashBack also offer £70 and £55 cashback for Three SIM and HomeFI contracts likewise. If successfully tracked and paid, 24 months of a normal, unlimited Three SIM would cost £410 versus £473 with HomeFi.

In short, if you are looking to supply your own router, use your SIM for calls and texts or just want a shorter contractual term then the unlimited SIM is the better or possibly only choice. Otherwise, if you do not care about a 24-month contract, only planning on using the supplied router and never plan on using the SIM for calls and texts then the HomeFi is a good choice.

Of course, there are downsides to a 4G connection from Three, such as no static IP (which some people find important), questionable support for when issues arise, and potential bandwidth issues due to people using a lot of data on the Three network. There may be a few more things, but I cannot find any more to note right now.

Just to note, be prepared to fork out about £80-120 for a decently capable 4G router with good WiFi and Ethernet provisions. The B311 only supports 802.11/b/g/n and only has 1 Gigabit Ethernet which may or may not be a problem.

(Additional) Things to consider
Masts may have a lot of users or poor backhaul, which means your experience may vary wildly from mine. Fortunately, you can cancel within the 14-day period without penalty (only pay for what you use) if you encounter such issues. Even after the 14-day period, you may be able to convince complaints to release you from contract if it is terrible.

While it is possible to make and receive calls through your router with your SIM (if you have a phone SIM, not a HomeFi data SIM) by plugging in an analogue phone (I know some Huawei routers support RJ11 phones), bear in mind that no router (not even the B311 supplied by Three themselves) supports VoLTE on the Three network (and I am pretty sure Three disabled phone call capabilities on their own supplied device) so in order for it to work properly you will need to set the network mode on your router to 3G ONLY. Setting 3G/4G may induce some oddities, though I can’t remember if it was in relation to dialling or receiving calls.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: burakkucat on February 28, 2019, 12:53:46 AM
Thank you for providing the report on your experiences. Most interesting.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on February 28, 2019, 07:56:33 AM
I recently got Three Mobile WiFi myself as a backup for my home connection and to avoid garbage Hotel WiFi when I spend the odd weekend away from home.

It seems my tower must be pretty heavily used as I can get anything from 10-40Mbit.  More frustratingly though, its hard to keep it working as a backup sometimes as the latency under load will rocket to 2000ms with HUGE packet loss which understandably pfSense throws a hissy fit at.

I knew contention on cell towers can be bad, but I honestly thought 4G was supposed to have better handling than this.

So while its perfectly usable most of the time for simple web browsing, and it feels fast enough doing that, for downloads its an utter PITA.

I've decided instead to get a second line fitted for home and use this as a second SIM for data only on a Galaxy S10.  It will be interesting to see how the service performs where I can move it around more freely between towers and with better line if sight to my local tower, which granted has a lot of houses between me and it.

Perhaps the most dodgy thing about the deal is that Three advertise this service as up to 150/50 but the AP only supports 2.4Ghz, making 45Mbit the realistic maximum speed, unless you connect over USB which is contrary to its advertised purpose.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: ktz392837 on February 28, 2019, 08:50:36 AM
Re0 thanks for posting this in depth experience very handy.   

I have reasonable FTTC so it is more of a interest to me but a couple of points that may help other users is the 525 modem has a 65a revision which may be a better bet and there is at least one mobile "reseller" that let's you try for 25/month no contract (can't think of name, post if you can't find it and I will try searching for it).

Obviously do your own research though as I do not have experience of either :)
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on February 28, 2019, 08:54:56 AM
It seems my tower must be pretty heavily used as I can get anything from 10-40Mbit.
That's a shame. I know there can be bit of variance but presumably you mean even speed tests/average speeds can be as low as 10 Mbps?

Perhaps the most dodgy thing about the deal is that Three advertise this service as up to 150/50 but the AP only supports 2.4Ghz, making 45Mbit the realistic maximum speed, unless you connect over USB which is contrary to its advertised purpose.
I don't think I've seen Three advertise a speed for their service. The B311 supports LTE Cat 4, which is up to 150/50 Mbps with 20 MHz bandwidth (theoretical, of course). To my knowledge, Three only has 15 MHz of 1800 MHz (band 3).

Anyway, the most I could get out of Its WiFi was about 50 Mbps. Once a few devices are connected wirelessly, good luck. Fortunately, there is the option of gigabit Ethernet for wired devices.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on February 28, 2019, 09:16:05 AM
... is the 525 modem has a 65a revision which may be a better bet ...
In the case where you plan on using your router abroad, indeed (with another SIM, of course, because it's not unlimited out there) due to different bands. But none of the big boys home in the UK currently use bands other than 1 (2600 MHz), 3 (1800 MHz) and 20 (800 MHz) on 4G. Perhaps it may be more useful to have once spectrum is refarmed, but no crystal ball for that.  ;D

... there is at least one mobile "reseller" that let's you try for 25/month no contract ...
Since you have 14 days to cancel with Three and you'll only pay for what you've used, or if there are issues after that period then contacting complaints may (not guaranteed, never tired it) get you off the hook by releasing you from contract so it's not really a risk. Though what you suggest may be a better option for people who don't fancy being in contract.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Ronski on February 28, 2019, 10:25:49 AM
Nice write up, thanks. I get around 100/30 on my phone, but I have direct line of site to the mast which is about 500 meters away.

It's the lack of static ip and CGNat that puts the downer on it for me.

Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on February 28, 2019, 11:00:04 AM
Nice write up, thanks. I get around 100/30 on my phone, but I have direct line of site to the mast which is about 500 meters away.

It's the lack of static ip and CGNat that puts the downer on it for me.

I may be wrong, but I don't think they use CGNAT on contracts, only on PAYG.  Although I wouldn't fancy gaming or running servers over 4G anyway.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on February 28, 2019, 12:25:00 PM
Even if they don't use CGNAT, based on what virtually every other provider is doing both landline and wireless it won't be long until it'll be implemented.

I have not found any significant evidence that supports the claim that they are using CGNAT, and I think I've been getting all public IP address. I would have to check to be sure. Not sure about PAYG either.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on February 28, 2019, 03:53:02 PM
For anyone interested in my stats and wants to compare, taken a few minutes ago:
Code: [Select]
RSRQ: -9dB
RSRP: -94dBm
RSSI: -63dBm
SINR: 16dB
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on February 28, 2019, 05:43:05 PM
Even if they don't use CGNAT, based on what virtually every other provider is doing both landline and wireless it won't be long until it'll be implemented.

I have not found any significant evidence that supports the claim that they are using CGNAT, and I think I've been getting all public IP address. I would have to check to be sure. Not sure about PAYG either.

Ah I found where the WAN IP is hidden and its 188.28.40.x, although not helpful as you can't set a static DHCP address or do port forwarding on this device.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on February 28, 2019, 05:45:02 PM
For anyone interested in my stats and wants to compare, taken a few minutes ago:
Code: [Select]
RSRQ: -9dB
RSRP: -94dBm
RSSI: -63dBm
SINR: 16dB

I wish I could get the stats, they are not visible on this stupid device, at least not the Three branded UI.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on February 28, 2019, 05:53:25 PM
What device are you using?
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on February 28, 2019, 06:05:45 PM
What device are you using?

Huawei E5573Bs.  It appears to be a bargain basement type device with no frills.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on February 28, 2019, 06:29:46 PM
Huawei E5573Bs.  It appears to be a bargain basement type device with no frills.
Note: The below assumes you are using the default IP address. Just change as needed.

I don't know anything about this device, but usually the stats are listed on the Device Information page, which itself is under System in the Settings (http://192.168.8.1/html/deviceinformation.html, directly).

If there are no stats or if the aforesaid page does not exist, http://192.168.8.1/api/device/signal should give you some information about the device's signal, as long as the API is not restricted for some reason. For me, it orders the stats like: RSRQ, RSRP, RSSI, SINR.

LTEWatch (https://www.lte-anbieter.info/ltewatch/huawei.php) can show these stats and can be used to monitor signal and quality as long as the device is using HiLink API. Huawei E5573Bs-320 is listed as as tested here (https://www.lte-anbieter.info/lte-forum/threads/lteinspector-huawei-4g-router-%C3%9Cberwachungssoftware.4172/), but if the above API does not show stats then I imagine it will not work as this probably accessess the same API.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on February 28, 2019, 10:10:44 PM
Note: The below assumes you are using the default IP address. Just change as needed.

I don't know anything about this device, but usually the stats are listed on the Device Information page, which itself is under System in the Settings (http://192.168.8.1/html/deviceinformation.html, directly).

If there are no stats or if the aforesaid page does not exist, http://192.168.8.1/api/device/signal should give you some information about the device's signal, as long as the API is not restricted for some reason. For me, it orders the stats like: RSRQ, RSRP, RSSI, SINR.

LTEWatch (https://www.lte-anbieter.info/ltewatch/huawei.php) can show these stats and can be used to monitor signal and quality as long as the device is using HiLink API. Huawei E5573Bs-320 is listed as as tested here (https://www.lte-anbieter.info/lte-forum/threads/lteinspector-huawei-4g-router-%C3%9Cberwachungssoftware.4172/), but if the above API does not show stats then I imagine it will not work as this probably accessess the same API.

Mines the E5573Bs-322 and no stats on that page other than the WAN IP address.  The API url also just brings up an error.

LTEWatch on the other hand DOES work, which is nice.  Its allowed me to test around the house to find a more reliable spot.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on February 28, 2019, 10:29:50 PM
Mines the E5573Bs-322 and no stats on that page other than the WAN IP address.  The API url also just brings up an error.

LTEWatch on the other hand DOES work, which is nice.  Its allowed me to test around the house to find a more reliable spot.
Interesting. So perhaps LTEWatch uses a different part of the API. Noted. Would be interesting to know which part at some point.

What stats do you have in your new location?
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 01, 2019, 09:48:47 AM
Interesting. So perhaps LTEWatch uses a different part of the API. Noted. Would be interesting to know which part at some point.

What stats do you have in your new location?

Actually it occurs I may have forgotten to login to the web UI BEFORE trying that API URL. LTEWatch wouldn't work without the login password either.

I figured out why my performance was so random before, it was falling back to Band 20 which as we know Band 3 is where all the bandwidth is.  I can totally understand why they would throttle bulk traffic like crazy on Band 20, otherwise VoLTE wouldn't work.  But my goodness Three, tell us in the UI for crying out loud!

Left appeared to be a good signal in the UI but yeah not so much.  Middle is the new position last night followed by the same position right now.
(https://csdprojects.co.uk/forums/LTEWatchH_2019-03-01.png)

Combined connection speed:
(https://www.speedtest.net/result/8078907141.png)

The upload seems to lock onto whichever ISP it identified, as does the ping test.  So basically the result here only shows downstream combined, everything else seems to be the Three connection.

DSLReports typically fails if it tries to test upload over Three (presumably because I'm doing the DSL test as I need the higher threads to get a sensible result of the load balancing), but trying a few times it too seemed to lock-on to the Zen connection for upload giving this:
(you might have to right click, view image for it to appear as it seems their cdn is blocking hotlinking)
(https://forum.kitz.co.uk/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fdfkrkqaqb1zsx.cloudfront.net%2Fspeedtest%2Fcdn%2F46722748.png&hash=36a75f4a8e913496862aa183bc917684)

This is a HUGE improvement over before, bufferbloat was skyrocketing in the old location!
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 01, 2019, 11:22:22 AM
You may want to hide your Cell ID, for obvious reasons.

Actually it occurs I may have forgotten to login to the web UI BEFORE trying that API URL. LTEWatch wouldn't work without the login password either.
That certainly seems like the reason, as it would be foolish to leave API open without authentication.

I figured out why my performance was so random before, it was falling back to Band 20 which as we know Band 3 is where all the bandwidth is.  I can totally understand why they would throttle bulk traffic like crazy on Band 20, otherwise VoLTE wouldn't work.  But my goodness Three, tell us in the UI for crying out loud!
Band 20 is not only slower because it occupies lower frequencies, but also because it is limited to 5 MHz (versus 15 MHz that Three use on Band 3). I found Band 20 to give sub-10 Mbps speeds, more realistically around 6 Mbps.

Some 4G routers have the option to force specific bands in the UI, but I imagine yours does not. You can actually set the Band manually in LTEWatch by clicking the + next to "Frequency Band" as opposed to using automatic, just in case it would rather hop onto Band 20. Note: I do not know if this change is permenant in the API after a reboot.

Left appeared to be a good signal in the UI but yeah not so much.  Middle is the new position last night followed by the same position right now.
(https://csdprojects.co.uk/forums/LTEWatchH_2019-03-01.png)
The UI can be deceiving. But those stats are looking reasonable. The fact it was using Band 20 or perhaps switching between the two Bands may explain why the speeds were poor/inconsistent. Not a guarantee that it was the reason, since high utilisation on your tower may be the biggest issue.

You could benefit from using antennas by a small degree, or even buying a router with better internal antennas (or even better, using a new router with external antennas). You could try your luck with purchasing this (https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/UNLOCKED-HUAWEI-B525s-23a-CAT6-300Mbps-4G-LTE-WIFI-ROUTER-VOIP-LAN-BRIDGE-MODE/292777063363) B525 from eBay since it's just a penny under £115. It's what I have, and even if it doesn't improve your 4G connection, you'll have better WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, etc., and antennas are included with this one.

The upload seems to lock onto whichever ISP it identified, as does the ping test.  So basically the result here only shows downstream combined, everything else seems to be the Three connection.
I do not know how pfSense works but presumably it would be, in your case, down to metrics. I am assuming that both connections have the same metrics, so it just picks whichever connection. Though for network transmissions that using multithreading can utilise both connections. If you used singlethreading (which is an option on speedtest.net) then it will just use one. It looks you were already aware of this, however. :)

Sorry, I do ramble on a bit. Hope it's not an annoyance!
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 01, 2019, 12:08:08 PM
My very professional installation - I'm a huge fan of self adhesive velcro strips:
(https://csdprojects.co.uk/forums/20190228_223354.jpg)

In all honesty for its size, the reception is quite impressive as I have aluminium blinds which can't be great for reception.  It may also explain why that particular spot is getting a good signal, wouldn't be surprised if adjusting the blinds angle made a huge difference.

I'm going to get that second landline re-activated and keep swapping it around for the latest offers at the end of the contract (assuming neither G.FAST or FTTP becomes viable in the next 18 months) so I don't think its worth throwing more money at this.  I'm actually considering putting the sim in a Galaxy S10 for data only while using my existing O2 PAYG for calls, or just slapping it in my Note 4 and seeing how that compared to the WiFi AP solution.

Out of curiosity I've requested the desk survey for FTTPoD, but honestly for the installation price I could probably get a THIRD or even FOURTH VDSL line and come out better off. (do they charge more for a new drop cable installation?)
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 01, 2019, 12:38:17 PM
My very professional installation - I'm a huge fan of self adhesive velcro strips:
Nice setup. Haha. I was thinking about getting a Netgear AirCard antenna and using suction cups to keep it on the window. But it's directional to my knowledge, so would need relocation to a different room. Furthermore, it won't improve the low, peaktime speeds at all; perhaps only off-peak, night-time speeds though not guaranteed.

Out of curiosity I've requested the desk survey for FTTPoD, but honestly for the installation price I could probably get a THIRD or even FOURTH VDSL line and come out better off. (do they charge more for a new drop cable installation?)
When I had a new drop cable, it was included in the new "fibre" installation costs. Though the complexity comes in when you consider whether or not there are any D-side pairs available (which most likely will be) and if there are any additional works required in relation to ducting or overhead cabling. To my knowledge, as long as the works can be completed within the installation window it should be at no extra cost.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 01, 2019, 11:19:11 PM
Of note, even with the new location I'm still getting issues with it randomly not loading for double-digit seconds.

I can't be sure its the Three connection due to the balancing, but its pretty much 99.9% going to be as that simply doesn't happen on the VDSL line except on very specific websites.

So I stand by my original point.  Its certainly usable, but I really wouldn't want it as my only connection.  Although I do wonder if its the WiFi AP as the UI page also has a nasty habit of lagging sometimes which is odd.  Maybe a firmware update at a later date will fix it.  I suppose in all fairness, its not designed to be running 24/7. (its certainly not going to do the battery any favours)

It will certainly be interesting seeing how it performs in a different device.  Just need to wait for the Galaxy S10 to release.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 02, 2019, 01:01:24 PM
I've never had any issues with double-digit loading times for pages on my Three connection, even at peak times.

While it could be an issue of many users, I think you have already considered the problem being the device itself (or more specficially, the WiFi aspect). Though even the UI on my B525 seems a bit sluggish, so it does not necessary mean anything. But it could still be the device, whether or not it is the WiFi itself.

I would have suggested perhaps it is a DNS resolution issue, but since you mentioned high latencies previously then it is likely something else.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 02, 2019, 04:02:37 PM
Yeah its unlikely to be DNS as that should come from Unbounds cache when accessing the same site over and over, plus its load balanced over both connections.

Its not WiFi as it happened over USB too.

I suspect its either temporary reception issues/crosstalk or just contention.  The UI freezing just bothered me as that usually means the CPU is maxed out on the router which would also cause the problem.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 02, 2019, 04:40:57 PM
Sorry, I made an assumption there that it was the WiFi mentioned. :(

I do not think these devices are the best as a permenant fixture (more of a temporary unit or for those on the go, though I've never used one), but only way to tell is to try another device when you get one and cross your fingers. :fingers:

I am quite fortunate to not experience any major issues, and minor issues are few. But it's only been about a month at this point since I've been using it as a backup connection and a connection for my other devices (since my main network has no WiFi, so all wireless devices use the 4G broadband connection).
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 04, 2019, 06:39:04 PM
Yeah I've decomissioned it from my main PC right now as I keep getting random "protocol errors" in Firefox, not sure what's going on there.

Once I have two VDSL lines they will become tier 1, with 4G being tier 2 (only used if both VDSL lines goes down I believe).

I still have it enabled for my games consoles though which was really curious earlier as the Xbox One was all over the place.  Sometimes it was stuck in single-digit Megabits, other times it went up to 115Mbit.  The really weird thing is sometimes it got confused and said it was doing 200+Mbit after a bought of slowness which obviously is impossible.  I can only guess there was some buffering in the Xbox OS as its recombining out of order packets causing that discrepancy, as this never seems to happen on PC.

It kinda makes sense though that combining two connections with vastly different latency and especially jitter, is going to cause some issues.  Used simply as a backup with automatic failover should be much more reliable.  At least on pfSense its really easy to leave a firewall rule that applies different behaviour to the routing on there but just toggle it on and off as required.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 04, 2019, 07:57:53 PM
Shame you have been getting those errors. I have never had them.

I have thought about using a firewall to route traffic via specific ports/protocols through the 4G connection and the rest over FTTC (or vice versa). Since my FTTC has an allowance, I thought about just using it for SSH, ICMP and DNS while the rest can just pretty much go over 4G.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Weaver on March 04, 2019, 09:21:01 PM
I couldn’t do selective per-protocol+port routing as I don’t use different IP addresses for the different links that I currently have. I have no nat and the same source address is seen on everything that gives upstream regardless of which link it is. I don’t have different WAN addresses on different DSL interfaces; the one WAN-facing address is for all uplinks DSL and 3G, so I couldn’t even test things by setting source addresses specifically when sending diagnostic pings. To improve that I added an additional IPv4 address to the 3G NIC for ping-test purposes, so that now has two IPv4 addresses but these are never used apart from in diagnostic tests and by the router itself.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 05, 2019, 01:35:12 PM
Shame you have been getting those errors. I have never had them.

I have thought about using a firewall to route traffic via specific ports/protocols through the 4G connection and the rest over FTTC (or vice versa). Since my FTTC has an allowance, I thought about just using it for SSH, ICMP and DNS while the rest can just pretty much go over 4G.

The niggling thing in the back of my mind has been MTU and indeed the Three MTU is 1440, as also mentioned in a thread on this forum.

I wonder if Firefox (or maybe even pfSense) is tripping up on the fact Zen is 1500 and Three is 1440?  Does the OpenWRT box I'm using as the gateway to connect to the MiFi being 1500 also have an impact?

I would have thought path discovery would be functioning here, but you never know.

It certainly seems to not be an issue except when trying to balance across both connections, so would suggest balancing across different MTU connections could be the issue.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: vic0239 on March 08, 2019, 03:36:47 PM
I've been following this topic with interest particularly as I have been struggling to get 3G backup working on my ZyXel VMG8924-B10A (I've gone back to that after ceasing my second line and retiring my Firebrick 2700 meantime). I was using a 3G dongle with the ZyXel, but I could not get it to connect, despite having success when it was connected directly to my computer.

So I decided to try the Huawei B310 with a PAYG Three data SIM which I could connect to my switch in the event of a broadband failure and am astonished with the result. I am not in a 4g area and initially the modem in auto connected at 3g, but I had noticed that my iPhone occasionally displayed 4g so decided to set that explicitly and lo it connected! The Three checker says:

Quote
Sorry, there's no 4G coverage in your area right now. You might be able to access the internet using our 3G network. Just so you know, indoor signal strength may vary.Great news. Our new 4G Super-Voice signal is available in this area, kicking Indoor Blackspots' ass.

So I must be benefiting from 4G Super Voice. With the modem placed in the window I am getting a consistent 30Mbs down and 11Mbps up which is fine for backup purposes (I've no PSTN phone so VoIP continuity is essential). Plugging an analogue phone into the B310's phone socket also allows calls to be made from the mobile number, which is useful.

I also have a AAISP SIM which works in the B310 and gives me a fixed IPv4 address, but has a more expensive data tariff and ongoing monthly charge. So as this will just be idling away most of the time I think I will go with the Three SIM and maintain a small credit to keep it going.

A big thanks to the previous contributors for the inspiration.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 09, 2019, 01:17:48 PM
I am happy to see contributions made here have been an inspiration for you. :)

So I must be benefiting from 4G Super Voice. With the modem placed in the window I am getting a consistent 30Mbs down and 11Mbps up which is fine for backup purposes (I've no PSTN phone so VoIP continuity is essential).
At those speeds, you are certainly not using Three's "SuperVoice" (VoLTE) 800 MHz band (Band 20) - you're going to be connected using the normal 1800 MHz band (Band 3). Band 20 is not notoriously slow, but in most cases the downstream is going to be slower than 3G in the single figures. You can use LTEWatch (https://www.lte-anbieter.info/ltewatch/index-en.php) to check your connection stats and force specific bands if you need to.

Plugging an analogue phone into the B310's phone socket also allows calls to be made from the mobile number, which is useful.
To my knowledge, B310 does not support VoLTE. But even still, Three only officially supports devices sold by them to use their VoLTE. Furthermore, VoLTE is only supported on Band 20 with Three. Though calls on 3G should not present any issues.

My advice is if you want to reliably make and receive voice calls via your router using the mobile number, it may be best to set the network mode to 3G only since auto induced some oddities for me on my B525 and 4G only calling will not work even if you forced Band 20, which is Three's only VoLTE-enabled band, since the router needs to support VoLTE and needs to be supported by SuperVoice.

I know my B525 does not support VoLTE (at least with the current firmware, since I believe there firmwares out there with this support). But by oddities related to auto mode, I think inbound calls would not switch the connection to 3G to receive a voice call (though, outbound was okay I think). You may or may not have the same issue.

If you have experienced something different, please post here because I would be intrigued
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: vic0239 on March 09, 2019, 04:09:53 PM
LTEWatch reveals that I am on a 4G connection (see screenshot). However, the only frequency band I can connect to is the 800MHz Band 20 which confirms the Three coverage checker is correct. I did try all the others bands with LTEWatch, but none would connect. Speed tests on the 2G and 3G setting were only around the 5-6 Mbps mark.  :(

You are correct about the phone calls, no dial tone when set to 4G, I must have checked that out when connected at 3G.

Many thanks for the info, very useful to someone with no knowledge of mobile comms.  :)
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 09, 2019, 05:25:15 PM
I've relegated mine to SIM2 in my Galaxy S10 now as pfSense really doesn't work well with a connection that fluctuates so much.

There doesn't seem to be a way to tell the DNS to only use the connection if the others are down, its all or nothing which meant regular DNS timeouts due to lookups routing over Three.

It might indeed have been possible in the firewall rules but then there is the second issue where there have been some rough days where the connection had so much packet loss pfSense kept marking the gateway as down then up again, bouncing the connection, which causes connectivity issues as the firewall restarts.  A backup isn't much good if it makes day to day usage garbage.

Clearly you need a router that is 4G aware to accommodate for all these things.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 09, 2019, 05:56:33 PM
LTEWatch reveals that I am on a 4G connection (see screenshot). However, the only frequency band I can connect to is the 800MHz Band 20 which confirms the Three coverage checker is correct. I did try all the others bands with LTEWatch, but none would connect. Speed tests on the 2G and 3G setting were only around the 5-6 Mbps mark.  :(
How are you getting 30 Mbps downstream on Band 20? That band is only using 5 MHz, versus 15 MHz on Band 3 with Three. I can only get under 10 Mbps downstream with Band 20, but pretty consistently above 40 Mbps on Band 3.

Are you sure you are not using Band 3 (1800 MHz)?

By the way, Three doesn't have 2G connectivity.

Also, you may want to remove your IMEI from your screenshot.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: rpdmallett on March 09, 2019, 09:34:07 PM
I've been on the Three unlimited data PAYG scheme for several months now... and I've found out what happens if you go over the 1TB per month limit.

Basically they terminate your month of unlimited data early.  See attached image for text they sent me.

Solution appears to be just pay for another month a bit earlier than you'd expected to.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 09, 2019, 09:55:30 PM
Interesting. I was unaware of what would happen on PAYG if you hit the 1000GB. On pay monthly, I have been reading that the limit is more of a soft limit rather than a hard limit - some sources say they just throttle you with traffic management. I imagine they could take action if you are persistently hitting 1000GB on pay monthly.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: vic0239 on March 09, 2019, 10:12:43 PM
How are you getting 30 Mbps downstream on Band 20? That band is only using 5 MHz, versus 15 MHz on Band 3 with Three. I can only get under 10 Mbps downstream with Band 20, but pretty consistently above 40 Mbps on Band 3.

Are you sure you are not using Band 3 (1800 MHz)?

By the way, Three doesn't have 2G connectivity.

Also, you may want to remove your IMEI from your screenshot.
Just going by the modem status and LTEWatch, but I’ll check it again. Speed tests are quite expensive though!   :( I did get ~24Mbps on my phone on 3G but that was outside in the garden so I am totally confused. I’m beginning to think that the modem is just doing its own thing, as it quite happily let me select 2G only on the network settings. Perhaps it is showing 4G but simply dropping down to the best connection.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 10, 2019, 12:31:46 AM
Just going by the modem status and LTEWatch, but I’ll check it again. Speed tests are quite expensive though!   :( I did get ~24Mbps on my phone on 3G but that was outside in the garden so I am totally confused. I’m beginning to think that the modem is just doing its own thing, as it quite happily let me select 2G only on the network settings. Perhaps it is showing 4G but simply dropping down to the best connection.
I think I am maybe creating a bit of confusion. I am terrible like that sometimes.

If you're using the Three SIM, 2G will not work; won't connect. Three only has 3G and 4G servies operating. The modem will allow you to select 2G but it should just not connect. If you select Auto, it'll pick what it determines to be best and the API will report which connection it is using (you will be able to see that in LTEWatch). If you select 2G and it does connect then perhaps it is a bug with the router firmware, but it'll certainly be connecting over 3G/4G and not over 2G.

What I was trying to say is that if you are connected to Band LTE 20 (800 MHz), I think it is highly unlikely for you to be receiving in excess of 30 Mbps downstream - I can only get around 6-8 Mbps. In my case, I find UTRA Band 1 (3G, 2100 MHz) to be faster than LTE Band 20 for downstream by approx. 2 times, and LTE Band 3 (1800 MHz) to be 3-4 times faster than 3G.

For me, when I change the network mode in my router UI, the connectivity type does update in LTEWatch, but the frequency band does not. If you have it set to 4G and it switches to 800 MHz from 1800 MHz for some reason, LTEWatch won't show the band it has changed to - perhaps the application needs to be closed and reopened, but I haven't tested this.

Also, if you are monitoring the data transfer rate in LTEWatch, be warned it is innaccurate and seems to display speeds much above the actual rate.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: vic0239 on March 10, 2019, 08:22:13 AM
Don't worry confusion is a common occurrence for me these days!

I've run through the settings again and observed the following. The router was rebooted after each change.

Network Connection    Home Screen    LTEWatch      Speedtest
Auto                          3G 4 bars          UMTS (3G)    5.6/3.3   
3G Only                     3G 4 bars          UMTS (3G)    4.5/2.9
4G Only                     4G 3 bars          LTE (4G)       14/8

The speeds are a bit lower as the modem was not by the window (laziness as well as confusion).
Perhaps it's the modem that is confused!   :-\
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 10, 2019, 07:24:59 PM
I decided to do a few speedtests using different techologies on Three. About 30 minutes ago I completed them all.

I found making a table annoying, so I just did the average of 3 tests on each technology. RSRP, RSSI, RSRQ and SINR figures are not an average and were taken when connection was idle.

ConnectionBandLatency (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)RSRP (dBm)RSSI (dBm)RSRQ (dB)SINR (dB)UI signal (bars)
LTE (4G)Band 3 (1800 MHz)43.0058.0115.57-95-69-6164
LTE (4G)Band 20 (800 MHz)44.673.403.47-85-59-13114
UMTS (3G)Band 1 (2100 MHz)27.3315.442.38N/A-75N/AN/A5

And standard deviation (didn't want to make the table too wide):
ConnectionBandLatency deviation (ms)Download deviation (Mbps)Upload deviation (Mbps)
LTE (4G)Band 3 (1800 MHz)11.273.481.34
LTE (4G)Band 20 (800 MHz)4.930.480.37
UMTS (3G)Band 1 (2100 MHz)1.531.120.04

LTE Band 20 is looking worse than usual, at half at what I am used to seeing - perhaps it is not in the optimal position for 800 MHz. I actually tried different servers and no faster, so that can't be to blame.

UMTS has the best latency, average under 30 ms with little deviation. Respectable downstream, better than LTE Band 20.

LTE Band 3 has the best speeds, both downstream and upstream by a sizeable margin.

I understand that there may be more optimal positions depending on the frequency, but I just did the tests using the position I usually use for LTE Band 3 using the external antennas which presumably are fully compatible with the frequencies used. I could always try again with internal antennas at a different time if I feel the need.

Sample size not great, but I can always revisit later.

Edit: Added table with standard deviation.
Edit 2: Fixed grammar.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 11, 2019, 10:56:02 AM
Apologies if this has been covered, but has anyone tried a VoIP phone using SIP over one of these services?  Technically there's no reason why it shouldn't work, even with CGNAT, assuming typical SIP equipment like the Gigaset that I use.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: vic0239 on March 11, 2019, 11:36:15 AM
Yes, I've tested VoIP and if works perfectly. I used my Gigaset N300A and an OBi202 adapter and was able to make and receive calls on both.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 11, 2019, 03:33:46 PM
Now we have a gap in the weather I've done some more testing with the Three SIM in my S10 and the results have been much better.

In the location I had the MiFi using WiFi hot spot:
(https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104210153.png) (https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104210153)

In a location that previously was bad using WiFi:
(https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104218429.png) (https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104218429)

Same location using USB tethering:
(https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104226683.png) (https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104226683)

Another previously poor location, whilst wireless charging, over WiFi:
(https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104270822.png) (https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104270822)

For reference, O2 which seems to claim band 1 and is my nearest cell tower:
(https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104441050.png) (https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104441050)
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 11, 2019, 05:42:20 PM
Looks those "poor signal" tests were still on band 3 but its not congested today.  In fact I can't seem to convince it to connect to band 20 at all.
Getting your phone or MiFi to connect via Band 20?

Band 20 would be slower anyway, which probably would hold true even at peak times.

For reference, O2 which seems to claim band 1 and is my nearest cell tower:
(https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104441050.png) (https://www.speedtest.net/result/8104441050)
Pretty fast that is, shame there are no high data allowance plans. Though, can you confirm this is absolutely Band 1?
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 11, 2019, 08:23:44 PM
Yup, I got my bands reversed so yeah its good I'm getting band 3. ;)

Getting your phone or MiFi to connect via Band 20?

Band 20 would be slower anyway, which probably would hold true even at peak times.
Pretty fast that is, shame there are no high data allowance plans. Though, can you confirm this is absolutely Band 1?

LTE Discovery claims its band 1 on O2 DL Freq 2129.9MHz UP 1939.9Mhz.  Considering how close I am to the tower it would make sense.

I understand the confusion as many sites suggest that is 3G only.  This mast was built AFTER 4G launched, is it possible they are reusing that frequency on 4G now?


Tried a different app and that too says I'm on LTE on both SIM cards which is even more confusing when everything I read suggested the S10 can only connect to LTE on one SIM at a time.  But turning off SIM2 changes nothing, still claims Band 1 LTE for O2.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 11, 2019, 09:00:10 PM
I understand the confusion as many sites suggest that is 3G only.  This mast was built AFTER 4G launched, is it possible they are reusing that frequency on 4G now?
I was under the impression that O2 had 10 MHz of 2100 MHz for 4G LTE. Not sure how widely deployed 4G is on 2100 MHz with O2. But re-farming 2100 MHz from 3G is certainly happening in mobile telecommunications.

Tried a different app and that too says I'm on LTE on both SIM cards which is even more confusing when everything I read suggested the S10 can only connect to LTE on one SIM at a time.
It's possible that the S10 supports dual active SIM with LTE since sources are telling me that it supports dual VoLTE (which means data service would need to be active on both SIMs).

Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: TheKeymeister on March 11, 2019, 09:01:57 PM
So glad to have stumbled upon this thread!

I'm currently using Plusnet FTTC, but the cab I'm connected to is right at the other end of the village (approx 1km D side length). On a good day I could get around 25mb, but that has been in rapid decline in the last few months and its around 10mb now.  Because the cab feeds most of the village, crosstalk and peak loading seem to be big problems in addition to the excessive length.  There's another cab less than 100m away, but alas it doesn't feed me, and the chances of any copper rearrangement or FTTP are probably about nil, all the really remote places round here are getting FTTP but we fall into the category of "crap, but not crap enough" speeds.

What we do have at this end of the village though, is a Three mast in line of sight, it was even upgraded last year! I've been a customer of theirs for a while, so might even get a deal out of them. The 4G signal at home on my phone is excellent and I often turn the WiFi off when browsing on my phone and revert to 4G for a bit of speed.  Only got 2 months left on my contract, so assuming the product still exists then, I'll have it  ;D 

Working from home and IPTV will be once again possible hopefully (my fault for moving from a city to the country!)
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 11, 2019, 09:24:50 PM
So glad to have stumbled upon this thread!
So glad the contributions by members here are helpful for you.

What we do have at this end of the village though, is a Three mast in line of sight, it was even upgraded last year! I've been a customer of theirs for a while, so might even get a deal out of them. The 4G signal at home on my phone is excellent and I often turn the WiFi off when browsing on my phone and revert to 4G for a bit of speed.
Looks like you may be in an excellent position to benefit from using Three 4G for your broadband. Being in a rural area, hopefully the mast has a decent enough backhaul. Judging from the experience you've had, it is pretty good. What sort of speeds do you get?

Only got 2 months left on my contract, so assuming the product still exists then, I'll have it  ;D 
Looks like the price for unlimited data phone SIM is now back to the regular £27/m. :( You might be able to negotiate the price down when your contract ends if you want unlimited for tethering or for use in a router. Or if you can find a reason to complain, they might try and reimburse you with credit and/or reduce the price to keep you "happy".

The other option is to take out a 24 month unlimited HomeFi plan at £22/m. No upfront fees, included B311 (decent enough for starters). Don't forget £55 TCB/Quidco cashback if you want a few bob back (not guranteed but cashback from one of my contracts has been successful).
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 12, 2019, 10:58:48 AM
I was under the impression that O2 had 10 MHz of 2100 MHz for 4G LTE. Not sure how widely deployed 4G is on 2100 MHz with O2. But re-farming 2100 MHz from 3G is certainly happening in mobile telecommunications.
It's possible that the S10 supports dual active SIM with LTE since sources are telling me that it supports dual VoLTE (which means data service would need to be active on both SIMs).

Yes, I wonder if what they meant was you can only actively USE one LTE band at a time while both will remain connected while idle.

So basically if I was using VoLTE on O2 I wouldn't have data on Three during a call.

I was pleased to see VoLTE and WiFi calling as options, my Note 4 was "supposed" to support these but even flashing the Three firmware never enabled it.  Of course then I switched back to O2 due to the masts proximity and they don't support it on PAYG anyway.

The statistics I'm getting:
(https://csdprojects.co.uk/forums/Screenshot_20190311-203346_Network Cell Info Lite.jpg)
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 12, 2019, 11:07:56 AM
Something else I noticed, the specification for the Three router says it supports up to 32 devices.   Has anyone seen whether this is a hard limit, and if so does it apply at the Ethernet level for example number of learned MAC addresses, or IP (max arp ARP or NAT limits)?   Or does it just apply to the wireless?
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 12, 2019, 07:48:11 PM
Something else I noticed, the specification for the Three router says it supports up to 32 devices.   Has anyone seen whether this is a hard limit, and if so does it apply at the Ethernet level for example number of learned MAC addresses, or IP (max arp ARP or NAT limits)?   Or does it just apply to the wireless?
Going by the manual for the B311, the device supports a maximum of 32 connected stations. It does go on to say:
Quote
A maximum of 32 devices can be connected to the WLAN in theory; the actual number of devices that can be connected and served depends on actual conditions.
No mention of how it is limited. Though I imagine that the limitation is only affecting WiFi devices, as with other routers - I see no sufficient evidence that would suggest otherwise.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 12, 2019, 11:17:06 PM
Makes sense, NAT entries is down to active connections rather than actual clients.  You can theoretically have one client max out the NAT table and 100s of clients never do so.  It all depends on what kind of traffic you are doing.

Just running Bittorrent used to be able to max out old routers, these days I'd be surprised if you hit the NAT table limit as routers have far more RAM.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 13, 2019, 01:25:00 AM
Alex, the fact you have tried different mobile providers has got me interested in trying a few different ones myself since I do actually have 4G coverage from the big players: EE, O2 and Vodafone alongside Three. Though it would be a little bit costly since I'd have to top up the SIMs enough to cover testing. :( Also, seems a bit of a waste since I'd not actually be switching or have any other use for the credit. Maybe I'll give it a try if I ever win the lottery. ;D
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 14, 2019, 12:30:03 AM
Alex, the fact you have tried different mobile providers has got me interested in trying a few different ones myself since I do actually have 4G coverage from the big players: EE, O2 and Vodafone alongside Three. Though it would be a little bit costly since I'd have to top up the SIMs enough to cover testing. :( Also, seems a bit of a waste since I'd not actually be switching or have any other use for the credit. Maybe I'll give it a try if I ever win the lottery. ;D

Apparently it cost me over £2 just to do that single speedtest on O2.

Its a given that the ones that have tighter data allowances are less likely to have slow down. ;)
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 14, 2019, 01:00:03 AM
Apparently it cost me over £2 just to do that single speedtest on O2.
Classic PAYG? Might have been better off purchasing one of their "Big Bundles" since £10 gives you 2GB of data (alongside 500 minutes and 5000 texts, though not important the purpose you intended). Otherwise you are paying 1p per MB, lasting half the time.

£2 sounds about a bit more than expected, though speedtest.net will use more data on faster connections so it is possible. The most my Three connection used was about 120-130 MB, and those tests were approx 65/20 Mbps. You can see data usage on the mobile app, but the website doesn't show... I think.

Its a given that the ones that have tighter data allowances are less likely to have slow down. ;)
I thought the same thing many times. Three users have basically, for as long a I can remember, consumed more data due to generous data allowances. I wonder how sustainable it is for them to run such a network, since before there was the forced mass exodus of people from the old One Plan. I think even 1TB fair use is generous given the nature of the connection, and the price people are paying.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 16, 2019, 11:05:06 AM
Sorry, another question.  Does anyone know whether the Three "Unlimited Everything" SIM will work in a router?  It's £29/month but only a one month contract, so would be a good way of trialling without committing to a 24 month contract.   My testing so far has used up my 200meg free initial allowance, but I've proved function using my Billion router and a borrowed Huawei E3372 "dongle".  Presumably performance would be better in a dedicated 4G router even just using a 2.2dBi aerial.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 16, 2019, 12:19:35 PM
Sorry, another question.  Does anyone know whether the Three "Unlimited Everything" SIM will work in a router?
Yes, absolutely. I said about it in my opening post. ;D It's what I do.

It's £29/month but only a one month contract, so would be a good way of trialling without committing to a 24 month contract.
Normal phone SIMs only have 1 and 12 month contracts - 24 month contract is only applicable to HomeFi unlimited data package. Worth noting that if you're on a phone SIM, you would have to take out a new plan if you wanted to switch to a HomeFi SIM since they are different products, though you'd probably be better off continuing using the phone SIM because otherwise you would lose your inclusive calls and texts (which you may want to keep if you setup your router for them or use the SIM in a handset) and you'd have to wait 24 months as opposed to 12 with the phone SIM before potentially negotiating a better price.

My testing so far has used up my 200meg free initial allowance, but I've proved function using my Billion router and a borrowed Huawei E3372 "dongle".  Presumably performance would be better in a dedicated 4G router even just using a 2.2dBi aerial.
Presumably the Billion router is using USB 2.0, and so the theoretical bus speed should not be a limitation to performance when using a USB modem. Of course, many factors involved, but what's important is to have a device that has a good 4G chipset with decent internal antennas, or external antenna connectors if you want to use an external antenna of course... That'll give you the opportunity place/position better, which may be faster if your mast/local network is not congested.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 16, 2019, 12:32:14 PM
Before I forget, Quidco and TopCashBack does good amounts of cashback for taking 12 month unlimited phone SIM (£70 at the moment). Cashback is not a given, but in most cases as long as you read and abide by the terms you should get it without issue.

Also should add, as I mentioned in my opening post, that taking a 12 month phone contract is not too risky since you have the right to cancel within 14 days (paying only for what you have consumed). Even after this period, it is possible that they may release you from contract if you are not happy and can give a decent enough reason to why. Happened to me before when the 4G signal was worse than predicted, so I got released less than a month in (and still got cashback).
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 16, 2019, 09:06:17 PM
I wouldn't assume a dedicated 4G router is better than a dongle, especially if said dongle has an external antenna port.  I've been quite surprised that my Galaxy S10 has WAY better reception than the MiFi that Three provided, bonus its dual-SIM so I still have PAYG for calls on O2.

Like all routers these things are built down to a cost, the most high-end routers that support 4G tend to do so via a dongle I believe.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 17, 2019, 09:58:34 AM
Not sure what to conclude so far.  First test with the SIM in the phone gave me 20meg download from upstairs.  Using the Billion router with E3372 dongle gives only just under/over 6/5meg (down/up) in the same room.   Sticking it back in the phone to double check and it gives 25/5.  There don't seem to be any detailed settings or statistics available from the dongle.  Dongle directly in the laptop gives 7 down and 5 up.  #

The dongle just shows a default profile, do you think I should be filling in the APN stuff specifically?   See screenshots ..
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 17, 2019, 03:06:31 PM
Not sure what to conclude so far.  First test with the SIM in the phone gave me 20meg download from upstairs.  Using the Billion router with E3372 dongle gives only just under/over 6/5meg (down/up) in the same room.   Sticking it back in the phone to double check and it gives 25/5. . . . Dongle directly in the laptop gives 7 down and 5 up.
Perhaps phone is using a different Band? Maybe phone has a better positioning and/or better internal antenna?

There don't seem to be any detailed settings or statistics available from the dongle.
UI tends to have limited statistics, perhaps even more so with MiFi and USB modems. If your firmware version has HiLink, then you should be able to use LTEWatch (https://www.lte-anbieter.info/ltewatch/index-en.php). Huawei E3372 is listed as compatible with LTEInspector (a different program, but using same API I guess), so it would be able to provide you with more in-depth statistics and give the option to force Band.

The dongle just shows a default profile, do you think I should be filling in the APN stuff specifically?   See screenshots ..
There should be no need to make changes to the APN.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 17, 2019, 04:00:42 PM
Cheers.  The dongle doesn't belong to me so I don't want to spend too much time worrying about it, or any money of course.  LTEwatch doesn't give me anything except "A connection cannot be made" when I give the dongle's IP address.   Your suggestion about bands may well be correct, but I don't think I have any way of getting that detail out of either the dongle or the phone (Iphone SE).
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 17, 2019, 04:19:13 PM
Sadly, I cannot really comment on the iPhone SE. I have no clue with tools are available on iOS.

As for the dongle, apparently E3372h is the version that ships with HiLink firmware (software version 22.x as opposed to 21.x with E3372s; I am under the impression that "h" denotes "HiLink" and "s" denotes "stick"). Don't take my word for it since I have done very little research on it, though what I have said mostly comes from here (https://www.0xf8.org/2017/01/flashing-a-huawei-e3372h-4g-lte-stick-from-hilink-to-stick-mode/). I wouldn't suggest flashing it anyway seeing as it is not yours. ;D
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 20, 2019, 11:19:33 PM
I had a doctors appointment yesterday and so was in direct line-of-sight with the Three mast.  Upload improved but download still as random as usual.

So that pretty much confirms that it really IS contention causing my random performance rather than the weather.

Direct line-of-sight (I can physically see the mast and am holding my phone facing it):
(https://www.speedtest.net/result/a/4784455465.png) (https://www.speedtest.net/result/a/4784455465)
Early morning at home:
(https://www.speedtest.net/result/a/4785772601.png) (https://www.speedtest.net/result/a/4785772601)

NOTE:  The mobile app detects carrier based on SIM1 despite the actual test using SIM2.  Quite confusing as the actual test was done on Three despite it saying O2.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 21, 2019, 07:23:52 PM
I've just received my Ebay Huawei B525.  Initial test in the living room LTEwatch showed RSRP -108dBm and a download speed of 7meg.  Already nearly twice as fast as our DSL.  Moving to the spare bedroom gave -94dB and speed test of 18meg down and 6 up.  Fiddling with the aerials has improved to -90dB, raising the router up by about a foot gave -85.  That's all on Band 20 which seems to be the only one available.

I'm now onto my third free 200meg SIM.  A couple of speed tests seem to use the allowance, so I don't have a test at -90 or -85dB  However I think it's promising enough for me to think about getting a real SIM.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on March 21, 2019, 08:24:35 PM
I've just received my Ebay Huawei B525.  Initial test in the living room LTEwatch showed RSRP -108dBm and a download speed of 7meg.  Already nearly twice as fast as our DSL.  Moving to the spare bedroom gave -94dB and speed test of 18meg down and 6 up.  Fiddling with the aerials has improved to -90dB, raising the router up by about a foot gave -85.  That's all on Band 20 which seems to be the only one available.

I'm now onto my third free 200meg SIM.  A couple of speed tests seem to use the allowance, so I don't have a test at -90 or -85dB  However I think it's promising enough for me to think about getting a real SIM.

As long as you aren't gaming I'd expect even at worst it to be comparable to DSL, on average much better.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 21, 2019, 10:22:52 PM
I've just received my Ebay Huawei B525.  Initial test in the living room LTEwatch showed RSRP -108dBm and a download speed of 7meg.  Already nearly twice as fast as our DSL.  Moving to the spare bedroom gave -94dB and speed test of 18meg down and 6 up.  Fiddling with the aerials has improved to -90dB, raising the router up by about a foot gave -85.  That's all on Band 20 which seems to be the only one available.

I'm now onto my third free 200meg SIM.  A couple of speed tests seem to use the allowance, so I don't have a test at -90 or -85dB  However I think it's promising enough for me to think about getting a real SIM.
The most I have ever gotten on Band 20 was about 20 Mbps downstream, and that only happened during an off-peak period early morning. But generally, it's single digits (as I have said too many times, so I feel like I going insane ???, though it is my choice to mention it :D).

Please be aware that the settings in the router will default to Auto for Antennas (this can be changed in the system settings). It may decide that External is better (if they are plugged in, of course) but as I discovered the other morning, I could get more downstream (at the cost of 1/2 the upstream) by using forcing Internal (though I imagine the location it was in was prime for the internal antennas); approx. 60-65 vs. 70-75 Mbps downstream even though the signal was weaker. But I haven't extensively tried it so it may have been just a fluke, and at peak times the difference may be nil anyway.

Regardless, worth testing some different configurations and positions until you find something good. Though with -85 dBm RSRP on Band 20, I'm surprised that you have no Band 3 at all. Perhaps there is something it can't penetrate.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 22, 2019, 09:15:53 AM
Cheers again.  I think there's promise here compared to our DSL which on a good day can just about manage a 4 meg speed test, with around 48ms ping times due to fairly heavy interleaving.   The other factor is that BT has our DSL classes as impacted by REIN from an electric fence, which basically gives them the right to walk away from any sort of fault.   So that's quite a low bar for 4G to meet in terms of both speed and reliability.

I'll try to do some more tests this weekend, see whether I can pick up band 3 outside for example which might mean an external aerial would make sense.  One thing I noticed was the reported RSRP seems amazingly sensitive to small changes in antenna position.  Best orientation turned out to be angled out around 45 degrees when view from the front, but angled back by around 15 degrees.   I still have two more 200meg SIMs that I can use, but it seems like I can only get one and a bit speed tests from each before they're empty.

The other thing I note is that the B525 seems pretty limited as a router, with for example a silly limit that you can't have the same SSID for both 2.4 and 5GHz wireless.  I may look at either a better router, or maybe configuring the B525 purely as a 4G modem or whatever the equivalent is.  If it came to it I could enable one of the two wireless channels on a separate SSID so I could connect for management purposes.

In case anyone's interested, screenshot from LTE Watch showing the effects of the final move to raise the router by a bit less than a foot. 
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: ktz392837 on March 22, 2019, 10:55:43 AM
Do not forget that Smarty offers an unlimited plan on the 3 network for 25 a month (no contract) if you want to invest in some realistic testing rather than struggling with trials.  I believe they are owned by 3 (just their more budget oriented brand).  If you do give them a try please post experience.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 22, 2019, 12:09:16 PM
I didn't know that, thanks.  According to their blurb it should work .. "Our Unlimited data SIM only plans also work with tablets and mobile broadband devices like dongles and WiFi routers. Simply choose your plan, pop your SMARTY SIM in, and you're good to go."  Seems like it's a renewing prepaid plan rather than a conventional monthly contract.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: ktz392837 on March 22, 2019, 12:37:03 PM
I have them bookmarked just in case I ever have a need to investigate them further.

It does seem to be an easy (and relatively cheap) way to give it a proper try for a month - running just a few speed tests gives only a very limited view of how well of a replacement to DSL it would be.

I also quite like they explicitly say how you can use for tethering etc.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 22, 2019, 04:10:59 PM
Do not forget that Smarty offers an unlimited plan on the 3 network for 25 a month (no contract) if you want to invest in some realistic testing rather than struggling with trials.  I believe they are owned by 3 (just their more budget oriented brand).  If you do give them a try please post experience.
It's nice that their unlimited plan is only 1 month, but I'd be more inclined to only try them for testing rather than for long-term use. Three is likely going to be cheaper in the long run if they do the discounted SIM again, even more so with retentions. Have no idea of Smarty and their retentions.

One thing I noticed was the reported RSRP seems amazingly sensitive to small changes in antenna position.
Normal. Moving just a couple of centimeters can be detrimental to speed in some cases.

The other thing I note is that the B525 seems pretty limited as a router, with for example a silly limit that you can't have the same SSID for both 2.4 and 5GHz wireless.  I may look at either a better router, or maybe configuring the B525 purely as a 4G modem or whatever the equivalent is.  If it came to it I could enable one of the two wireless channels on a separate SSID so I could connect for management purposes.
I didn't try to have both wireless bands with the same SSID, but that's interesting that it doesn't work. But I would agree that the router side of the device is farily limited, though it is better than the couple of 4G-enabled routers I have tried from Huawei before.

If you want to use it as a 4G modem, you may have the option of Bridge Mode. I said "may" because it appears not all devices ship with the firmware version where the feature is enabled from what I have been reading. Mine has it, and if you have it then it will be under "Security".
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 22, 2019, 06:09:43 PM
Cheers.  My inclination at the moment would be as you say to test with Smarty with a view to switching to a 12 month contract if I want to keep the service.  By the way I notice hidden in the small print from Smarty is a 1TB cap.  "We’ve set a usage cap at 1,000GB in order to identify commercial use
of our service for example, which is not permitted under our terms. "
  In a way that's reassurance in my case because it should mean they have no beef with usage of a few hundred gig.   For me a hard limit of 1TB is as good as no limit.

Regarding the B525, have you been able to find a manual?  All I can find is the quick start guide. 
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 22, 2019, 10:31:15 PM
Cheers.  My inclination at the moment would be as you say to test with Smarty with a view to switching to a 12 month contract if I want to keep the service.  By the way I notice hidden in the small print from Smarty is a 1TB cap.  "We’ve set a usage cap at 1,000GB in order to identify commercial use
of our service for example, which is not permitted under our terms. "
  In a way that's reassurance in my case because it should mean they have no beef with usage of a few hundred gig.   For me a hard limit of 1TB is as good as no limit.
It's the same for Three:
Quote
Unlimited data gives you worry free internet use. Even if you used your phone for every minute of every day you could only use, subject to TrafficSense™, around 1000GB each month. We may use this cap to identify inappropriate use of the service, such as commercial use, which isn't permitted under our terms and conditions.
Not surprised there. :D Though 1TB is quite a lot. I don't generally use more than about 400 GB a month on my main network.

Regarding the B525, have you been able to find a manual?  All I can find is the quick start guide. 
I have not searched extensively, but from the tiny amount of searching I did all I could find were datasheets and the quick start guide.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 23, 2019, 07:48:32 AM
Looks like mine doesn't support bridge mode.  I could still use it outside my existing router, I'm not 100% convinced that double NAT does any harm unless the initial NAT is re-writing payloads and subsequent once don't.  Apart from that scenario any "damage" done by NAT is caused as soon as the source IP/port is changed from he original values. 
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: vic0239 on March 23, 2019, 12:33:42 PM
Decided to return the B310, too cumbersome with the large external antennas and not performing that well on 3G and dubious 4G band connectivity. Instead I thought I'd try a mobile Wi-Fi device, useful at home and perhaps handy on holiday too. I picked up a refurbished Huawei E5577Cs-321 on Amazon and I am really impressed with it. Great performance on 3G ~16Mbps DS just sitting on the window sill, but not picking up 4G at all which is probably correct as only band 20 available. Easy to setup with the Huawei App, but can't get LTE Watch to connect. I have a couple of TP-Link TL-NR802N APs which I might and reverse engineer - wireless to the Huawei and Ethernet into my switch. Such fun!
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on March 23, 2019, 02:46:17 PM
Looks like mine doesn't support bridge mode.  I could still use it outside my existing router, I'm not 100% convinced that double NAT does any harm unless the initial NAT is re-writing payloads and subsequent once don't.  Apart from that scenario any "damage" done by NAT is caused as soon as the source IP/port is changed from he original values. 
There is no option for Bridge Mode under Settings -> Security?

I picked up a refurbished Huawei E5577Cs-321 on Amazon and I am really impressed with it. Great performance on 3G ~16Mbps DS just sitting on the window sill, but not picking up 4G at all which is probably correct as only band 20 available.
Device apparently supports LTE Band 20. If it's not picking up 4G, then it's because it is set to Auto and prefers 3G (perhaps it isn't even strong enough). You could try and force 4G, but results and speeds may vary if you're on the fringe. Though I would have thought that 800 MHz would have been preferable given it is a lower frequency and therefore has greater coverage (though it does assume it is provided from the same mast). Approx. 16 Mbps is good for 3G anyway.

Easy to setup with the Huawei App, but can't get LTE Watch to connect.
Got to be dead honest, I don't really know how the HiLink API works and how the API can be used on each device. I was under the impression that if the device was compatible with the HiLink App then the HiLink API would be exposed - this appears not to be so black and white.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on March 23, 2019, 05:54:27 PM
There is no option for Bridge Mode under Settings -> Security?
No.  Looking around I see a few people commenting on it being removed from some service provider issued B525s.

On another note and just out of interest I tried the missus' Tesco Mobile (O2) SIM, and with the router in the same location got RSRP of -81dB and Ookla speed test gave ping time of 37ms, 62meg download and 21 upload, on Band 20.  My Plusnet (EE) SIM gave -94dB, 35ms ping, 41meg download and 18meg up, in this case Band 3.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on April 02, 2019, 12:58:30 PM
I decided to try with Smarty, £25 per month with a free month.  They were not 100% clear that they support all the same bands as Three, but said I could cancel in 14 days if it wasn't satisfactory.  The Huawei has been returned as suggested by the seller, due to limitations in the Irish Three specific firmware.   I decided to dip my toe in the Mikrotik world (technically quite interesting) with an SXT LTE.   Coupled with the Smarty SIM and connected up in the spare bedroom it gives just over 20meg download.   Still need to get the wall mount bracket and play around with potential exterior mounting points, but so far so good.  As with the Huawei it only picks up Band 20 indoors, we'll see if it can get Band 3 when mounted outside.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on April 02, 2019, 04:00:12 PM
I decided to try with Smarty, £25 per month with a free month.  They were not 100% clear that they support all the same bands as Three ...
To my knowledge, the same bands are used.

... but said I could cancel in 14 days if it wasn't satisfactory.
Standard practice.

The Huawei has been returned as suggested by the seller, due to limitations in the Irish Three specific firmware.
Ah, I suppose you purchased a Three (Ireland) branded B525 then (I can't recall whether you mentioned it before :-[). I had been reading that those devices utilising that firmware do not have bridge mode. Good that you returned it, since flashing it may have been risky (or impossible without soldering).

I decided to dip my toe in the Mikrotik world (technically quite interesting) with an SXT LTE.   Coupled with the Smarty SIM and connected up in the spare bedroom it gives just over 20meg download.   Still need to get the wall mount bracket and play around with potential exterior mounting points, but so far so good.  As with the Huawei it only picks up Band 20 indoors, we'll see if it can get Band 3 when mounted outside.
I did look at Mikrotik for a piece of kit, but I think I would be pushing into realm of diminishing returns (I mean, the B525 was a nice upgrade but as for 4G performance I do not think there are massive improvements for me to have by investing more into 4G kit). I only really use it for my other devices, and so 40-70 Mbps down and 15-28 Mbps up is way more than I need and is sufficient for a backup. I might stick my B525 into bridge mode and configure RouterOS to route certain traffic over it one day.

By the way, to my knowledge, the SXT LTE has NO IP rating. Doesn't mean that it can't withstand weathering, but I have read in a couple of places (including the one here (https://forum.mikrotik.com/viewtopic.php?t=67431)) that their device had been damaged by the elements. Understandably, these are old posts. Furthermore, perhaps it was down to incorrect installation for the ones that failed. I don't know, but perhaps it is worth reading through some of the topics about them if you are going to mount it outside.

On side note, Pulse8 has had SIMO, 30 day "4G Data" plans appear on their website (here (https://pulse8broadband.co.uk/mobile-rental)) starting at £36/mo (incl. VAT). I have no idea how long it's been there fore. I wonder who they are reselling since £45.60/mo for unlimited everything would be regarded as being quite steep if they are reselling Three considering Smarty offers similar service for £25/mo, and Three themselves were selling their service for £20/mo (now currently £24/mo, albeit 12 month contract). In a way, I'm hoping it would be EE (since they have more 4G bandwidth and maybe even Carrier Aggregation enabled here) or O2 (probably less congested... for now), but that seems fairly unlikely given that none of them offer unlimited data and Pulse8 would be really undercutting.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on April 02, 2019, 04:42:36 PM
Interesting regarding Pulse8, their 450 gig per month @£36 would be plenty for us.  I've asked Mikrotik about outdoor use, I guess if it came to it I could install it in the roof space instead.  Yes the B525 was branded Three and the web interface links all pointed to three Ireland.  It was sold as "unlocked" which it was.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on April 02, 2019, 06:15:38 PM
Following my last post, Pulse8 uses Three Business for their 4G Data SIMO plans. I am not sure how much of a difference it will be over retail, but I imagine the only difference will be from a support perspective. Still, that doesn't seem like terrible pricing for a "business" mobile connection at all. But I'll stick with my £14/mo unlimited. :P Though going up by a massive 2.5% in May... >:(

I've asked Mikrotik about outdoor use, I guess if it came to it I could install it in the roof space instead.
It is for outdoor usage, but I'd just be careful and ensure precautions are taken to ensure moisture is unlikely to make its way into the plastic case and onto the components. If I was in your shoes, I would probably just install an antenna on the same mount as an existing TV antenna if it was possible to point it in the right direction and just run the cable through the wall to connect to a 4G modem.

Yes the B525 was branded Three and the web interface links all pointed to three Ireland.  It was sold as "unlocked" which it was.
I purchased a Three Ireland branded B525 and luckily cancelled it before dispatch. The reason for cancellation was because I was concerned that the branded version would have firmware that removed features (such as Bridge Mode and maybe even disabled Voice functionality, even though I use neither right now). Seems I was right about the Bridge Mode, so certainly dodged a bullet there!
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on April 07, 2019, 09:14:56 PM
Seems my phone has started picking up LTE carrier aggregation (4G+) recently, which is nice. But the B525 isn't picking it up for some reason. :( I've not see the UI show 4G+ once. I haven't spent much time on this, but I would like to see it working.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on April 08, 2019, 05:28:56 PM
After a bit of investigation, I have come to the conclusion that the LTE modem in the B525-23a is likely not able to do Carrier Aggregation with the CA bands Three mobile uses. According to Wikipedia on the List of LTE networks in Europe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks_in_Europe) page (yeah, I know... Wikipedia... lacking an official source and can't see it referenced there either), Three is using 1A-3A (Band 1 (2100 MHz) + Band 3(1800 MHz)). If that is the case in my area, then the B525-23a is not going to cut it since it can't do B1+B3 interband. However, the B525-65a can (buyer's remorse? :'().

It's confusing since I cannot see any evidence of Band 1 being enabled for LTE here since I can only connect via Band 3 and Band 20. I would have anticipated 3A-20A since those are the only Bands I can connect to, but clearly I am missing something.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on April 10, 2019, 12:11:58 PM
Seems my phone has started picking up LTE carrier aggregation (4G+) recently, which is nice. But the B525 isn't picking it up for some reason. :( I've not see the UI show 4G+ once. I haven't spent much time on this, but I would like to see it working.

Yeah I noticed 4G+ in Sheffield City Centre but its EXACTLY the same speed as at home on bog standard 4G.  I guess for a city centre that's impressive, not unusual to have single-digits.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on April 12, 2019, 07:05:57 PM
We've now been running on the LTE connection pretty much constantly.  One annoyance is that on occasion RSRP drops from -90dB to -110dB and performance drops to a crawl, resolved by a disconnect/reconnect.  I'm hoping that an external install will fix this.  I must admit to being unclear the significance of the other LTE readings which at the moment  RSRQ = -8.5dB, SINR = 17dB and CQI = 15.   Of these SINR seems to vary between around 5 and 20, and CQI sometimes stops being reported.

By "a crawl" I mean around 3-4meg throughput, so actually no worse than DSL.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on April 13, 2019, 11:42:05 PM
Having the RSRP fluctuate, or rather drop, by such a margin would concern me a bit. Are you sure it's not changing Band? The difference between Band 20 (800 MHz) and Band 3 (1800 MHz) for me is approx. 10 dBm.

RSRQ is basically the quality of the connection (it literally means Reference Signal Received Quality). Ideally, you want it higher than -10. Mine usually sits idle at anywhere between -5 and -15(ish) Band 3. It's usually lower when downloading or if there is something reducing the received quality.

SINR (Signal-to-interface-plus-noise ratio) is pretty much like SNR (Signal-to-noise ratio) with DSL. Higher margin = better.

CQI apparently means Channel Quality Indicator - don't know anything about it myself, but apparently 15 is a very good value according to this (https://ytd2525.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/cqi-channel-quality-indicator/) (CAUTION: is a Wordpress site, plus not sure how accurate the information is).

You should pay attention to these stats when/if you mount it outside since they will help you find the optimal location/position.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: aesmith on April 14, 2019, 05:17:42 PM
I'm just working out cable routes to get the device into the loft space.  Just hand holding it I was able to get RSRP to -80dB, a 10dB improvement on the current location.  It's not that easy standing on a latter with the SXT in one hand and watching the app on the iPhone at the same time.  Need to rig a semi-permanent mount.

Meanwhile I've imported the Mikrotik MIB into PRTG so I can log everything while I'm evaluating.  I was intending to log RTT (using OpenDNS as a sensible target),  RSRP and traffic.
Title: Re: Three 4G broadband experience
Post by: re0 on April 15, 2019, 07:40:13 PM
I hope you can put a plan into action, since I imagine a good configuration there is going to offer much better throughput than a slow DSL link.

Before I forget, looks like the Three Unlimited SIM is back at £20/m. May be worth opting for it if you're satisfied enough to commit to 12 months.

I've almost stopped caring about the positioning. I was getting bored of putting it in the window since it's a bit of a faff to plug things into it there so I've located it on the shelf (where all my other devices are located; xDSL modem, router, switch, etc.), at the far end nearest to the window. This comes with a slight penalty to speed, most noticeably upstream being half-ish, but still seeing 35-50 Mbps down during the day and 50-65 Mbps during the night. Another benefit is that my speakers aren't picking up on the interference anywhere near as much, so that's a nice bonus.

I was considering getting a couple of A-DASH-0001-01 (https://www.solwise.co.uk/dash-1-1) antennas to mount in the window, but the speed disparity is telling me the difference during the day will probably be minimal; only the night will see real benefits. I think the better option for me would be to invest in a B525-65a that should be able to utilise LTE-A bands that Three use. But I think I might just swap out the SIM into my mobile when G.fast is enabled, and cancel my current plan which is out of contract once the credit runs out (I don't think I have paid a phone bill in a couple of months thanks to credit :P).