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Sudden terrible (and strange) data speeds at home, TMo Tells me the towers are "fine"

  • 5 October 2023
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I’ll try to be brief, but have a bit of data to share. First, let me state that T-Mobile supports reps are super nice, BUT cannot think outside of the narrow box they are trained in and really can’t help much. I have contacted and been on the phone with them 2 times now for hours trying to figure this problem out. Said they were going to toss it to network engineers and get back to me. Well, problem still exists, no call back, still getting really really awful speeds for no reason that I can think of other than tower or transport issues. 

Also, while I am not professing to be an expert in this arena, I am actually a network and infrastructure engineer at a massive/global manufacturing company by trade and have been for 2 decades now so I am very familiar with this space. 

The important bits:

T-Mobile Magenta Max (Veteran) Family Plan (so effectively unlimited data and something like 40GB or 60GB tethering, which we never use). 

6 Lines (2 lines are in TX and have NO issues at all, the other 4 are in Virginia, we are all having issues at home)

Had the same plan for almost 5 years now and this has never happened. 

Live in a rural area, but we have one tower that is .6 miles from my house. It is on a small mountain and I have a direct line of site, unobstructed to it. 

I get about 2-3 bars 5G or, if I set it to LTE for preferred, I get full bars. 

2 Fridays ago, I was doing some testing of speeds around my property outside. We wrote down download and upload speeds in about 25 different areas around the house. The average of all of these was around 60 Mbps/5 Mbps. This is actually not the fastest, but suitable considering the area. This was on 5G.

About a week ago, we started getting TERRIBLE performance on our phones. I am talking less than 1Mbps-2 Mbps down and like 50 Mbps upload for some reason, consistently. This happens on 3 different android phones (Pixels and Galaxy), and an iPhone 14. 

I get the same exact speed range no matter if I force 4G, 5G and no matter where i am at on the property for the most part. 

When we go elsewhere and run Speedtests, our speed is as would be expected for the most part. Like in a different city where I work. 

When I test via hotspot or tether, again..speeds exactly the same range of speed .

A few other things that may be related (since they seem to be data related)

None of these 4 lines can dial data-related short codes (i.e. #WEB#). We either get a message stating this Service is not available (or valid) your your account type -or- it will spin and then come back after like 2 minutes and say “Connection problem or invalid MMI Code”

When I look at my account online, it says for these lines that we have used 0.00GB of data which is not accurate at all. 

Again, these may not be related, but a little bit suspect IMO. 

When the reps say they look a the tower, there is no enhancement or upgrade going on. OK, fine but that doesn’t mean something isn’t messed up. There clearly is something going on. I know the exact tower identifier I am using (again, there is only one here) but they cannot confirm they are looking at the right one bc they say they don’t have that info (comeon...really?)

I use multiple sources for testing speed and they are all fairly in alignment. I am not exaggerating when I say I am getting such slow speeds, even on 5G or LTE. I tested just a minute ago and it was 876k down and 27 Mbps up. 

 

It’s not congestion

There is just no way. To start, most people in this part of my county either don’t have mobile phones still/yet (farming community) and, if they do, they use either Verizon or US Cellular. Population density is very sparse and we are not a place where people come in and out of and demand changes. So to go from 30-40Mbps average to 1.5Mbps or less in 2 weeks seems super far fetched. 

I am frustrated bc I keep getting told that it will get looked into but doesn’t seem to be an I never get a call back and the problem remains. I am at a loss on what to do. We rely on mobile phones this far out and this is frankly unacceptable. We are paying lot for nothing it seems. 

Does anyone have any advice or suggestions at all?

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Best answer by formercanuck 5 October 2023, 20:42

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Yep, same thing happen to us about an hour ago. Suddenly we go from 5G (3-4 bars) to LTE (2-bars). The fact that I have been on hold now for 40-mins tells me that others are experiencing the same thing. I hope they fix it soon!

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I don’t think this is what is happening to me. My issues has been going on for a few days and I have full bars LTE or 2 bars 5G with strong signal and can’t get above 1 Mbps. It is like we are super throttled or something. Hopefully your issue gets resolved soon.

 

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Reminds me of the backhaul issue i had a few years back, although i suspect not quite the same.

Tmobile deployed 5g in a town of 400, and i filed tickets for the issue, and i was told “network congestion, operating as expected “.  5g speed was 0.3Mbps/6Mbps.  This was a few hundred feet from the tower, full “bars” SINR of 30, RSRP -60dBm.  Forced a PUC complaint to find out what they mean by congested and working as expected.   Came back with “working as expected with t1 backhaul “.  After posting that to Neville Rays Twitter,  it was fixed in 1 month , and +300Mbps.

 

Being rural,  its also possible that wherever the service is aggregated to, its congested, and/or throttling.   It does also seem odd that youve gone from 60/5 to <1/50.  It would be easier to ‘play with the bands’ on Samsung to determine if you're using n71, n25 or n41 or SA vs. NSA.  Weak 5g/strong LTE typically indicates either  n41 same tower, or n71/n25 further away.  Samsung diagnostic + cellmapper / Singal Check Pro would help isolate bands.

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Hey thanks for the response. Absolutely could be backhaul issues. I am 100% they are using fiber as it isn’t quite as middle-of-nowhere rural, but rural/farming community it its own right. In any event, I can see the fiber going up the road and back towards town on my drive in. There is no one else up there. Not to mention, I as I said before, I was getting really great (for this area) speeds 2 weeks ago. 

The most frustrating part of the entire situation is that these frontline people just cannot fix or even understand/know the issues. I feel like actual network engineers, if they knew about the problem and that I wasn’t just some idiot complaining my cat videos run slow, that they’d want to actually fix it. Maybe that is just my work ethic, but I would hope so. In any event, I plan on testing a prepaid in a totally different phone to wholly eliminate any potential weird account issues that could be causing throttling or something. Not hopeful this is it. 

As far as bands, I was actually doing that testing last night. All bands are basically the same, though there is some evidence that n71 is messed up. Not by much though. Could just be that whatever issue is causing overall speed issues is hitting n71 the hardest. I have verified with cellmapper and SCP that I am only hitting one tower ever. 

 

That being said, n71 has decent stats. (FAR more than what my speeds indicate):

BAND71 (5G)

RSRP -81dBm

RSRQ -12dBm

SINR 8dB

 

BAND25 (5G)

RSRP -85dBm

RSRQ -11dBm

SINR 9dB

 

4G is even better, but speeds are honestly near exactly the same, which is very odd:

 

 

And this is what I am getting. This is from 1 device, but should be noted that this is experienced across ALL of my devices .The average for all of those would be about the same. The Yellow is Download and green upload. Notice the times, this is literally in as middle of the night as you can get. We have no overnight businesses here. Just a lot of us farmers who sleep at night. Notice the averages at the bottom as well.

 

 

But yeah, according to T-Mobile, everything “looks fine” with the tower. Sure...I feel the signal data plus the speeds are pretty definitive that there is something wrong. 

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I don’t think this is what is happening to me. My issues has been going on for a few days and I have full bars LTE or 2 bars 5G with strong signal and can’t get above 1 Mbps. It is like we are super throttled or something. Hopefully your issue gets resolved soon.

 

do your speeds improve once you leave your home area by say 5+ miles in any direction?

 

couple things to keep in mind..carriers usually dont have the full real time status of towers unless they actually own them..which most dont own the actual tower..they must send in tower issue request and then wait for that info to get back to them..same scenario with having someone go out and check them..you might opt to contact TMO through either Facebook or Twitter and have them put in a network ticket for you.

 

especially seeing as how the other phones on your account in a completely different state are working perfectly fine. so its pointing back at towers/that area

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I don’t think this is what is happening to me. My issues has been going on for a few days and I have full bars LTE or 2 bars 5G with strong signal and can’t get above 1 Mbps. It is like we are super throttled or something. Hopefully your issue gets resolved soon.

 

do your speeds improve once you leave your home area by say 5+ miles in any direction?

 

couple things to keep in mind..carriers usually dont have the full real time status of towers unless they actually own them..which most dont own the actual tower..they must send in tower issue request and then wait for that info to get back to them..same scenario with having someone go out and check them..you might opt to contact TMO through either Facebook or Twitter and have them put in a network ticket for you.

 

especially seeing as how the other phones on your account in a completely different state are working perfectly fine. so its pointing back at towers/that area

 

Yes, they do. All of them. As a matter of fact, my wife is about 15 miles from here in town and I asked her to run a speed test from one of the lines having issues here at home. 

This is what she got:

Same device, just got home. 

 

 

I actually don’t do Facebook or X, but maybe I will sign up for X just to do this. It’s really sad that you can’t get support by contacting support. 

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The other question is more … how much bandwidth is available on each band ?

LTE is kinda low, but decent (all 3 bands should aggregate) for ~100Mbps or more

RSRP is really good, while the SINR is kinda ‘meh’.

  1.  How much bandwidth is on n71 (eg.  I have 15x15)
  2. How much bandwidth is on n25 (eg.  I have 20x20).
  3. Does is make much difference toggling 5G SA vs NSA ?

Eg.  S23 will aggregate LTE B2 + B66 (B4) + 5G NSA  n41

Where I’m, 5G NSA doesn’t work with n25 … only SA.  Also, ‘if’ you could (Samsung) switch to n25 SA only … vs n71 SA only vs LTE only.

typical where I am, my SINR is better, but RSRP is worse - from the worst location indoors.

B2 LTE (15x15):  49Mbps / 4.4 Mbps

B66 LTE (20x20):  70Mbps/8Mbps

B12 LTE (5x5):  15Mbps/5.7Mbps

B71 LTE (10x10):  27Mbps/11Mbps

LTE B2+B66+B12 :   130Mbps/9Mbps

n25 SA (20x20):  90Mbps/14Mbps

n71 SA (15x15):  46Mbps/20Mbps

n41 SA (100 + 40) 245Mpbs/4Mpbs

5G SA auto (n71 + n41) 230/15Mbps

5G NSA + LTE (LTE B2 + LTE B66 +  n41) = 360Mbps/6Mbps

Best results (outdoor, clean line of site ≈ 700Mbps/140Mbps)

Better site (same spectrum) ~=2Gbps/140Mbps.

Tower ≈ 1200’ away through trees and part of a building

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ok so its for sure a tower issue then. if you havent yet contact TMO through anything but calling in and have them put in a network ticket for you. this forces someone to go out and actually check for issues that they might not be seeing in their system.

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I would tend to agree… either network aggregation (rural may be aggregating to an overloaded location), backhaul itself (microwave - being rural ?) … or something else along those lines.  Typically, in my travels at least, most rural areas are capped ~750Mbps (1gbps ports?), but typically obtain something quite decent - well above 200Mbps - even for LTE only.  Not too many rural subs.  Had something similar when I went to Estes park a few years back.  Service was so poor that calls wouldn’t hold - with ‘full bars’.  Even the T-Mobile app messaging would timeout.  Their ETA  to ‘fix’ was +8 months (i.e. in July they told me it would be fixed by the following April).  Of course, it was to take over a Sprint tower in the middle of town (all other carriers had a spot on the main street strip, except T-Mobile).

 

It definitely sounds like something between the tower and its aggregation point.  If you can’t get anything out of TMobile tech support - go up the food chain - BBB can open an escalation.  

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To be clear, it's not as rural as rural is sometimes taken to mean. It's not "middle of nowhere" rural. We are about 15 minutes from town. Backhaul is not microwave, at least not directly from this tower. I can see it clearly from my property. I have also seen the fiber markers going up the road to the tower. The tower is the only thing up that road. 

I have initiated a chat with TMobile on X, but a bit disheartened that they start out with something to the effect of we'll help but understand we can't guarantee coverage in all areas. I even linked them to this thread with all the data that discusses as little as 2 weeks ago, I had much better service. And if I'm getting signal lie I am but 1 or sub 1Mbps, something is up. 

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These are the speeds my wife wrote down 2 Fridays ago, around 5:45 PM. Same property same tower. 

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BBB escalation will get you a bit more than the typical locals, but I have had your message of “we can't guarantee coverage in all areas” often.

I’d almost recommend taking a ‘drive by’ the tower (½ mile away?) and taking a ‘test’.

and similarly network readings.

I did mention above that it took me a CPUC written complaint to get T-Mobile to ‘fix’ the 0.3Mbps 5G service, along with a BBB escalation.  8 months .

Then, after publishing the written response, it was fixed in 1 month.  Press them on the issue - tell them you have full bars, but effectively unusable service.  5G ‘should be’ +100Mbps (according to past reps).  1Mbps at ½ mile is pretty bad, especially with good power level, and usable SINR.

 

Why I mention microwave … I’m in a suburban area, the local tower here is microwave.  A ‘bump’ (wind, or other) can move these a bit out of alignment - or … something comes in between.  For the amount of spectrum available and signal, your results (2 weeks ago) were decent.

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BBB escalation will get you a bit more than the typical locals, but I have had your message of “we can't guarantee coverage in all areas” often.

I’d almost recommend taking a ‘drive by’ the tower (½ mile away?) and taking a ‘test’.

and similarly network readings.

I did mention above that it took me a CPUC written complaint to get T-Mobile to ‘fix’ the 0.3Mbps 5G service, along with a BBB escalation.  8 months .

Then, after publishing the written response, it was fixed in 1 month.  Press them on the issue - tell them you have full bars, but effectively unusable service.  5G ‘should be’ +100Mbps (according to past reps).  1Mbps at ½ mile is pretty bad, especially with good power level, and usable SINR.

 

Why I mention microwave … I’m in a suburban area, the local tower here is microwave.  A ‘bump’ (wind, or other) can move these a bit out of alignment - or … something comes in between.  For the amount of spectrum available and signal, your results (2 weeks ago) were decent.

 And you are right on the money with this. I apologize, because I was wrong. There is fiber going up that road but that could be for something else because there is a fixed wireless provider that's co-located on that Tower. There are indeed microwave antennas on the tower. Interestingly enough the weekend after it stopped working well was when Ophelia came this way and the wind was blowing like crazy. So your theory is very well plausible. They seem to be taking it a little bit more serious in the X support chat so we will see. I'm not demanding that it be fixed ASAP because I'm realistic but I'm just trying to at least get an acknowledgment that there is something going on and that is going to be looked into. That's all. 

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Well, looks like I am being given the “Usually when the upload speeds are high like that and download speeds are low like that, that means congestion” nickel and dime at this point. I figured as much. It’s frustrating to have so many people work so hard to not actually solve a problem that so clearly exists. Even a “hey, we will schedule a network engineer to check it out in the area, but it will be a month or x amount of time” is far better than “yeah, nah, just congestion!”. 

Congestion makes 0 sense here. I realized that I used Speedtest for the Friday, 9/22 tests we did, so it saved my results. This graph really show the literal dive my results took. To me, and anyone else who can think even remotely critically can look at this graph and see SOMETHING happened. We didn’t get a sudden influx of population all in one day in my county of 44,000. I am not trying to be insulting, just frustrated it is this hard to get any type of service in any way. 

I even referred them to this thread with all of the information and testing and proof and sadly, I don’t even think they read more than perhaps part of the first post to get a gist of what is going on. 

https://www.speedtest.net/results?sh=a4f51f27ae9c93e5b252163ff19d6fee

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Woops, didn’t mean to choose a best answer yet! I was trying to hit like!

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Surprise, surprise. Working with the rep on X was a worthless endeavor. Based on the language used and the not exactly correct English, I assume I was once again talking with the very nice, yet utterly incompetent reps you get when you call on the phone. All they did was create a “ticket” that will inevitably get closed with literally no action taken. This is the same exact thing that has happened 2 other times since this problem started. 

It’s honestly shameful how terrible all of these large companies are nowadays. Since T-Mobile is quite literally my only option out here, my only choice is to keep paying them for speeds that I cannot even hardly browse the web with or go without completely. 

They have proven they will absolutely go out of their way and above and beyond….to avoid doing anything to actually correct problems. WIth all of the evidence presented, can’t possibly be bothered to send a tech out to the area to investigate further. Will have to figure out my next move now I suppose since the one place to go that is supposed to help does not. 

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Okay here's a head scratcher for you guys since I've got this internet okay I've only been able to get three bars never anything more and to top it all off I've never been over three and a half four and a half megs per second during the daytime but yet at night it automatically jumps up to about 25 to 35 megs per second and then when the sun comes up it drops back down to 1.3 to 2.3 so I started kind of paying attention to the times now about 8:00 9:00 in the morning the bandwidth drops to below five megs and will not go higher all day after 10:00 it jumps up to about 25 and will f*** you wait all night long between about 25 and 35 I called T-Mobile multiple times explain the problem ask them what's going on they tell me everything's fine they said they're going to reset my deal they're going to do this and that and it should fix the problem but it still has yet to fix the problem. Oh and not to mention when I try to set up the the router with the T-Mobile app 90% of the time it tells me can't detect the signal I put in an invalid address and if I finally do get it to detect the signal it tells me I'm in a bad area for that signal and one time from a support guy I got the excuse of I'm in between two towers so it's constantly switching between towers. I've literally tried almost every location in my house for better signal never hits pay 3 bars and here are SS from app

 

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@Maniac0609 So, honestly, this sort of sounds like typical congestion. The times, for the most part, you are describing slower speeds are generally during what are peak times for any internet usage. This is different than my issue because your speeds go back up and they ebb and flow, go up and down during distinct periods of time. Mine, used to be high, then tanked and never change, no matter what I do. 

I could be totally wrong, but that is what I see in your description. One thing to try is to see what happens if you force 4G during these slow periods. It may be less congested on 4G, offering you better speeds, since more devices are starting to use 5G. Sort of like taking a side or back road instead of the packed highway during rush hour. 

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One thing to add that I thought about for my situation is that the only thing different about the device for which the speedtests recently posted is that it was a brand new device on the network and on that tower. That was the first day I turned it on and ran those speedtests that day, but then didn’t again until nearly 2 weeks later. Is it possible that the tower overall is throttled in general for everyone due to capacity issues but that this device, since it was new, was sort of allowed free reign until something kicked in to throttle the IMEI? Part of me thinks that seems far-fetched, but then part of me is like..absolutely carriers could do this. idk what to think at this point. I really have no choice but to keep pushing until something happens I guess. 

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Okay here's a head scratcher for you guys since I've got this internet okay I've only been able to get three bars never anything more and to top it all off I've never been over three and a half four and a half megs per second during the daytime but yet at night it automatically jumps up to about 25 to 35 megs per second and then when the sun comes up it drops back down to 1.3 to 2.3 so I started kind of paying attention to the times now about 8:00 9:00 in the morning the bandwidth drops to below five megs and will not go higher all day after 10:00 it jumps up to about 25 and will f*** you wait all night long between about 25 and 35 I called T-Mobile multiple times explain the problem ask them what's going on they tell me everything's fine they said they're going to reset my deal they're going to do this and that and it should fix the problem but it still has yet to fix the problem. Oh and not to mention when I try to set up the the router with the T-Mobile app 90% of the time it tells me can't detect the signal I put in an invalid address and if I finally do get it to detect the signal it tells me I'm in a bad area for that signal and one time from a support guy I got the excuse of I'm in between two towers so it's constantly switching between towers. I've literally tried almost every location in my house for better signal never hits pay 3 bars and here are SS from app

 

The interesting part, is that you have ‘really’ good service  sinr of 28, rsrp of -87, rsrq of -11?   Site must me across the street.

150-300Mbps could be seen as deprioritization or just congestion.   Im in suburbia, where signal isnt as good, but often have higher speeds.   As a note, your sinr on lte is not great, and having 5g NSA, it may be pulling down speeds (handset has more bands and can go 5g SA ).

I can hit +400 but higher on my S23

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One thing to add that I thought about for my situation is that the only thing different about the device for which the speedtests recently posted is that it was a brand new device on the network and on that tower. That was the first day I turned it on and ran those speedtests that day, but then didn’t again until nearly 2 weeks later. Is it possible that the tower overall is throttled in general for everyone due to capacity issues but that this device, since it was new, was sort of allowed free reign until something kicked in to throttle the IMEI? Part of me thinks that seems far-fetched, but then part of me is like..absolutely carriers could do this. idk what to think at this point. I really have no choice but to keep pushing until something happens I guess. 

Yours appears to be more of “it was good until a certain date for all devices at 1 location, 24x7”, which typically indicates something local or between the tower and upstream.

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One thing to add that I thought about for my situation is that the only thing different about the device for which the speedtests recently posted is that it was a brand new device on the network and on that tower. That was the first day I turned it on and ran those speedtests that day, but then didn’t again until nearly 2 weeks later. Is it possible that the tower overall is throttled in general for everyone due to capacity issues but that this device, since it was new, was sort of allowed free reign until something kicked in to throttle the IMEI? Part of me thinks that seems far-fetched, but then part of me is like..absolutely carriers could do this. idk what to think at this point. I really have no choice but to keep pushing until something happens I guess. 

Yours appears to be more of “it was good until a certain date for all devices at 1 location, 24x7”, which typically indicates something local or between the tower and upstream.

 

Yep, someone else contacted me via X this morning and I think it may actually be going a little further. I was told they did discover that there was some sort of backhaul issue and I think they are going to have an actual real live person go out there. I’ll believe it when I see it, but they are basically still only telling me something I already know! Had I not been as super persistent, who knows how long I and my entire community around me would have to deal with such crap service.

 

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Sadly, the more ‘rural’ coverage, the less important that T-Mobile sees it.

Eg.  When T-Mobile had an outage for 8 hours in Cambria (power), it took 2 weeks to find out and their response was ‘the generator was broken’, while AT&T and Verizon had backups .

When there’s an issue around LAX, or a busy urban area .. its fixed VERY quickly.

Ironically, YEARS ago, when T-Mobile was upgrading local sites (adding LTE B12), my area turned into a near dead zone, as everything was preferring B12 LTE, and not handing off.  I suspect that local teams were in the area checking service with the updates, as I had them check and send a map of a drive test within a few hours.  Similarly, spoke with them on the phone, and they dropped the handoff down from ~-120dBm to ~-116dBm, which allowed for handoffs.

Unfortunately, that was years ago.  Now its more of file a ticket … wait, and have some generic excuse of “Network is working as expected” … which only means IDK WTF it is , but my equipment isn’t complaining or down.

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TBH, even with my work phone on AT&T, their corporate response isn’t much better.

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I'm not sure how far the site is away from my house but the one thing I do know is during the day I don't go above three or four megs of bandwidth at all okay and I see all people all the time reporting 20 30 40 50 megs. All I know is is I'm getting tired of paying the $50 a month on paying for that kind of bandwidth during the day I've got another company sending me out a device that uses cell towers too for internet and they promise me a faster internet than what I'm getting right now at T-Mobile and I'm going to get 7 days to try it and if it works then I'm sitting down T-Mobile if not I don't know what I'm going to do I'm almost tempted to go back to cricket because when I was signed up with cricket I had a mobile hotspot yeah it wasn't the greatest mobile hotspot because it always had a type 3 connection and I could never get it off no matter what I did static IP and run it through a router open ports you know I did everything possibly I could to change that from type 3 to 2 and never did so they gave me connectivity issue but I would always get anywhere from 25 to 50 megs of bandwidth with it. Honestly I think it's just the luck I have lol. I want to thank all of you for your for your insight suggestions and advice I'm going to take it all under advisement but when it comes down to is I can get rid of my home internet and still have that kind of bandwidth on my console PC connecting through the hotspot on my phone or my cell phone and not have an extra bill the whole purpose of having that home internet package was supposed to get you know the 20 plus consistently in reliably and so far going on five six months now that it has yet to deliver

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