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Author Topic: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)  (Read 1537 times)

DaveC

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Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« on: October 30, 2021, 04:47:09 PM »

Hi,

My setup is this:

ZTE MF823 USB modem (LTE Cat3)
Rooter GL AR150 portable router with USB support (powered over POE)
Internal 4G antenna (not sure of the exact model, but looks similar to https://www.amazon.co.uk//dp/B09C8ZQ5CP)

This equipment is all a few years old, but I've just set it up again with a Smarty Unlimited SIM.  I'm located in South-East London, and the equipment is located in my loft, connected via ethernet to my Firebrick FB2900.

Speedtest is reaching a max of about 40Mbits/s download (but mostly around 15-20)  and around 15Mbits/s upload, and I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to increase that, or if I am limited by mast congestion.  I should be in a 5G area, but I'm not sure I want to go to the expense of a 5G modem.

My modem is showing the following info:

Active band: LTE B3 (1800)
RSSI: -49 dBm (varies between about -42 and -52)
RSRP: -79dBm
SINR: 17dB (varies between about 16 and 20)

If I'm understanding correctly, the RSSI is comfortably "excellent", RSRP is just at the low end of "excellent", whereas the SINR could be a little better (I see 20db+ rated as "excellent").

So I'm wondering what my best bet is for increasing throughput (on a limited budget) ? 
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2021, 11:04:58 PM »

I'm not a fan of USB modems, they are limited by their size and power profile.

I upgraded from a portable router to the HUAWEI B535-232 which has carrier aggregation, that doubled my speed.

The Hauwei H122-373 gained 20Mbit over that when I briefly tested it on 4G, but obviously an insane cost for that, but I do reach 700Mbit on that with 5G.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 11:09:14 PM by Alex Atkin UK »
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INTAKE (ECI) Home Hub 5A (OpenWRT) on Zen, Hauwei CPE Pro 2 H122-373 on Lebara 4G, Hauwei CPE Pro 2 H122-373 on Three 5G Router: pfSense (i5-7200U) WiFi: Zyxel NWA210AX + Ubiquiti nanoHD (OpenWRT)
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Weaver

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2021, 11:08:09 PM »

You do definitely need a 5G modem, any chance of a cheap one in ebay?
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2021, 11:10:13 PM »

You do definitely need a 5G modem, any chance of a cheap one in ebay?

I doubt it, there's so few of them out right now that they retain the price premium.
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INTAKE (ECI) Home Hub 5A (OpenWRT) on Zen, Hauwei CPE Pro 2 H122-373 on Lebara 4G, Hauwei CPE Pro 2 H122-373 on Three 5G Router: pfSense (i5-7200U) WiFi: Zyxel NWA210AX + Ubiquiti nanoHD (OpenWRT)
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DaveC

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2021, 11:24:00 PM »

Hmm, the HUAWEI B535-232 seems interesting (and relatively affordable, if bought used).  What speeds are you seeing?

Also, are you using an external antenna, or just the ones that come with it?

I do worry that my speed is simply limited by congestion though - I've been doing speedtests for the last 12 hours or so, and whilst they seem to peak at around 40Mbits/s, they rarely achive more than about 20Mbits/s.

« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 11:58:36 PM by DaveC »
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2021, 02:26:47 AM »

Hmm, the HUAWEI B535-232 seems interesting (and relatively affordable, if bought used).  What speeds are you seeing?

Also, are you using an external antenna, or just the ones that come with it?

I do worry that my speed is simply limited by congestion though - I've been doing speedtests for the last 12 hours or so, and whilst they seem to peak at around 40Mbits/s, they rarely achive more than about 20Mbits/s.

The one I bought came with external antennas as well as internal, but I so no benefit from them compared to the internal ones.

I got 120Mbit on Vodafone (140Mbit on the H122-373) from a very close by tower (only 100m or so away),  Three was more hit and miss as the tower is well obstructed and overloaded, but for a while got 100Mbit off that too.  That same Three tower that I can get 700Mbit off now on a good day on the H122-373, usually does at least 400Mbit.

I'd be surprised if you didn't see an improvement, the carrier aggregation really helps as I believe it means it can latch onto two different frequencies at the same time?  Also the much bigger antennas means a stronger signal.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2021, 02:29:41 AM by Alex Atkin UK »
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meritez

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2021, 11:06:09 AM »

Hi DaveC,

Can you get hold of a ZTE Softbank 403zt Cat7 Usb Dongle:
https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32961337689.html

Code: [Select]
4G Modem Technical Specifications:

* LTE Category 7 USB Modem

* Chipset: Qualcomm MDM9230

- AXGP system: Band 41(2.5GHz)
- FDD-LTE system: Band 1/3/8/25 (800MHz/900MHz/1.7GHz/1.9GHz/2.1GHz)
- WCDMA system (850/900/2100MHz)
- GSM system (850/900/1800/1900MHz)

* Shape: USB stick (USB2.0 High Speed)

* AXGP peak download speed to 165 Mbps, upload speed to 10Mbps

* FDD-LTE maximum download speed to 187.5Mbps and upload speed to 37.5Mbps

* 3G download speed to 42Mbps and upload speed to 5.7Mbps

Currently around £20 from Ali express

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DaveC

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2021, 12:11:07 PM »

Can you get hold of a ZTE Softbank 403zt Cat7 Usb Dongle:
https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32961337689.html

Thanks, although that site seems very broken to me, and trying the Desktop version of the link here:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32961337689.html

says the item is no longer available.

But I'm doubting that my hardware is the main issue - I'm blaming Three's network.  Over the past 24 hours, my speedtests have varied between about 6Mbits/s download (a few minutes ago), and about 60Mbits/s (in the early hours of the morning), with upload being pretty stable at around 15-17Mbits/s.

So maybe I'll just wait until 5G routers become more affordable.
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meritez

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2021, 01:06:44 PM »

Thanks, although that site seems very broken to me, and trying the Desktop version of the link here:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32961337689.html

says the item is no longer available.

But I'm doubting that my hardware is the main issue - I'm blaming Three's network.  Over the past 24 hours, my speedtests have varied between about 6Mbits/s download (a few minutes ago), and about 60Mbits/s (in the early hours of the morning), with upload being pretty stable at around 15-17Mbits/s.

So maybe I'll just wait until 5G routers become more affordable.

At the moment you're only using a single band that three offer, band 3.
Three aggregate bands to improve upload and download speeds, they offer:
Band 28, Band 32, Band 1, Band 20 and Band 3.

https://halberdbastion.com/intelligence/mobile-networks/three-uk-3

The current mf823 you are using has no carrier aggregate, so while you are connecting to 15mhz of bandwidth, when the band gets busy, your usb dongle has no wriggle room, it has to wait for a free space to transmit and receive data again.

Usb is also outdated, the cat7 is probably the last version produced.
Are you interested in replacing the firebrick, or are you looking for a pass through modem?
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DaveC

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2021, 02:12:08 PM »

Thanks. 

At the moment I'm just experimenting, to see what 4G performance could be like. 
 
I'm looking at the B535-232 suggested by Alex, although there seems to be lots of Three users reporting problems with it.
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2021, 04:50:11 PM »

I'm looking at the B535-232 suggested by Alex, although there seems to be lots of Three users reporting problems with it.

Worked absolutely fine for me other than congestion on the tower.

They key with Three is to NOT use 3internet for the APN, there's some weird issue with it that regularly causes packet loss and low speeds, even on 5G.  You have to use three.co.uk which goes over their CGNAT platform and doesn't suffer these problems.

Its kinda annoying as its useful that Three issue public IPs on 3internet, but not so much if there is packet loss.

I'd definitely avoid USB dongles as their reception is so much weaker which makes getting the faster bands less likely.  Even with the portable hotspot I had, I could get faster speeds sometimes if I put it in exactly the right spot in the house to pickup the faster band, the B535 had no such problem locking onto the faster band anywhere but would perform fastest if placed in the right spots.

Mostly this seems to be down to uploads, you need the unit in the right place so the tower can hear you clearly or you will get low upstream which of course limits the downstream performance.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2021, 04:55:23 PM by Alex Atkin UK »
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Weaver

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2021, 10:18:07 PM »

Can the ZTE be a PPP-speaking bridge/modem ? Or is it an ethernet-speaking meddling ‘router’ ? ie working at L3.
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DaveC

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2021, 10:42:23 AM »

Can the ZTE be a PPP-speaking bridge/modem ? Or is it an ethernet-speaking meddling ‘router’ ? ie working at L3.

I'm not sure which ZTE you're talking about, but the MF823 can:

https://support.aa.net.uk/FireBrick_2700_with_4G_ZTE_MF823

But it probably depends on the firmware version - like most things mobile, the firmwares are often customised (locked-down) by the network provider.  e.g. the Huawei B535-232 has a bridge mode with the vanilla firmware, but that's disabled in the version sold by Three (if I understand correctly).

They key with Three is to NOT use 3internet for the APN, there's some weird issue with it that regularly causes packet loss and low speeds, even on 5G.  You have to use three.co.uk which goes over their CGNAT platform and doesn't suffer these problems.

Thanks - I checked this, and it was using 3internet.  I've changed it to three.co.uk and don't really see much difference.  I guess it's something I would notice over time with real usage.

I'm now on the lookout for a bargain B535-232 on ebay, which I'll need to power over POE.  I don't suppose anyone can confirm the size of the power connector?  Googling suggests its 2.1mm.
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2021, 06:33:55 PM »

But it probably depends on the firmware version - like most things mobile, the firmwares are often customised (locked-down) by the network provider.  e.g. the Huawei B535-232 has a bridge mode with the vanilla firmware, but that's disabled in the version sold by Three (if I understand correctly).

Indeed, I have no idea which firmware my B535-232 has (no visible branding) but its missing bridge mode.  How cheap are you looking for, I'm thinking of selling mine?

Its why I bought the H122-373 retail from Amazon as that DOES have bridge mode, though I then discovered the problem with the 3internet APN so bridge mode was not useful anyway and all other providers use CGNAT only AFAIK.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2021, 06:36:33 PM by Alex Atkin UK »
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INTAKE (ECI) Home Hub 5A (OpenWRT) on Zen, Hauwei CPE Pro 2 H122-373 on Lebara 4G, Hauwei CPE Pro 2 H122-373 on Three 5G Router: pfSense (i5-7200U) WiFi: Zyxel NWA210AX + Ubiquiti nanoHD (OpenWRT)
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DaveC

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Re: Maximising my speed (Three 4G)
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2021, 07:01:34 PM »

The last two auctions I've been monitoring on ebay have ended at £60 and £56.25, and there is an auction ending shortly where the current bid is £57.80 - so that seems to be the current rates.  "buy it now" is at least £79.99.

However, I'm contemplating the jump to 5G myself as well, although something I hadn't realised until today was that the UK networks are using 4G for upload - is that still the case?  What kind of upload speeds are you getting?

If I did make the jump to 5G, it would be to increase my upload speeds and perhaps decrease the costs (I currently have two bonded VDSL lines from AAISP, giving me consistent speedtests of around 135/35), and would be using an AAISP L2TP connection for most/all of the traffic.
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