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Author Topic: Three 4G broadband experience  (Read 4020 times)

vic0239

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #75 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!
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re0

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #76 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.
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aesmith

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #77 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.
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aesmith

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #78 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.
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re0

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #79 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) 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) 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.
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aesmith

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #80 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.
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re0

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #81 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!
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re0

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #82 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.
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re0

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #83 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 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.
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #84 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.
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aesmith

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #85 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.
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re0

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #86 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 (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.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 08:09:32 PM by re0 »
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aesmith

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #87 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.
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re0

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Re: Three 4G broadband experience
« Reply #88 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 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).
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 07:43:33 PM by re0 »
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