LTE Cellspot weaker than Network Tower

  • 17 November 2018
  • 32 replies
  • 143 views

Userlevel 6

The tower my phone normally connects to has a strong signal but capacity is very congested and speeds are very weak. So I tried out the LTE cellspot and noticed that 90% of the time my phone stays connected to band 66 on the tower and disconnects from band 4 cellspot frequently. Checking the signal strength I find the cellspot a little better in strength but speeds are quite horrible. This result is based on no other devices connected to Wi-Fi at the time so there should be no drain on my ISP connection and it's very doubtful there's more than one or two other T-Mobile customers who are within range of the cellspot.

I can see the phone automatically connecting to the stronger signal or the better signal in relation to capacity and speed. However I don't understand why a near-perfect cellspot signal with plenty of capacity can be overridden by a tower with weaker signal and a lot more users in relation to capacity.

Is this a band 4 vs band 66 issue?


32 replies

I suspect it is a band 4 vs 66 issue and how the phone prioritizes which one to use.  I know they phones won't use Band 12 unless there is virtually no Band 2,4,66 since Band 12 is in most all markets only a 5x5 channel so to keep it from getting to congested and keep it for when you can't get the others.  If you think about it Band 66 is really Band 4 + an extra download only band so in theory if it is available and the phone see's it then it should be faster than straight up band 4.  Of course the phone see's the cell spot as a cell tower with Band 4 only not realizing it is not on the TMO backhaul versus your own backhaul. 

Of course this is just a WAG but based on how they are set to use band 12 thinking it is a pretty good WAG 🙂

Userlevel 6

Sounds like something T-Mobile might want to pay attention to and tweak. But I'm also assuming that if someone is having to use an LTE cellspot then T-Mobile is probably assuming that they have no other signal whatsoever for a phone to have to compete with.

Userlevel 6

Maybe some sort of crazy Network management protocol.

Userlevel 6
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I've only heard a few folks mentioning band prioritization but I think your situation is a little different. Sorry if this sounds like a silly question, but have you experienced this band 66 vs band 4 connection ratio after getting the device?

Userlevel 6

Yes I typically stay on band 66 throughout my town all the time but the cellspot works off band 4 and band 2. The cellspot does not have 66 or 12. after getting the cellspot this is when I noticed that the phone would latch onto 66 far more times than 4.

Userlevel 6
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Have you run speed tests to see the differences you're getting? I've reached out to my internal folks to clarify if there's any kind of prioritization, but I'd like to give them more info about the speeds you're seeing.

Userlevel 6

All of my speed test indicate that the cellspot runs considerably slower than the network tower.

Userlevel 6
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Thanks for that info. I've sent this up to get more info about what happening. Got a question for you. Do you have a phone where you can turn of LTE to see if it keeps you locked on band 4? I know that's not the most ideal solution, but it could help. Once I get more specifics of other possible causes, I'll reply back here.

Userlevel 6

If I switch to 2 or 3G only, it locks to the tower as well, but the signal is almost nill with 2G .

I know the cellspot works, just phones won't stay connected to it.

Userlevel 6

Verified again today that when connected to the cellspot with a -51 decibel signal on band 4 download speeds of 4 megabits per second uploads of 8. When connected to band 66 Network tower speeds are 12 down 8 up with a -115 decibel signal.

Rare is it that ever see upload speeds faster than download.  Typically DL is much faster than UL.

Userlevel 6

Okay so here's an update from T-Mobile tech team. Despite the tower having a weaker slower signal the cellspot is not designed to be used anywhere you have any tower signal whatsoever and at least for LG phones the phone will not prioritize the stronger faster cellspot signal over the weak or slower tower signal. As it was explained to me there is no way around this and LG does not support any settings that allow you to choose one band over the other. basically what I was told was that T-Mobile has a T-Mobile branded device that does not work with all of T-Mobile equipment or network configurations.

Userlevel 6
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That's interesting you've gotten faster upload than download. I've only heard of a few instances of this but haven't found any correlation as to why. You still should be able to use the device and get the fastest speeds possible. I reached out to my internal team about this and they did mention the only other thing that could impact data speeds while connected to the cellspot is home internet. I'm still digging for a more solid answer about prioritization I can give you, but this is good info I can give my support teams.

Userlevel 6
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I'm still working to get a solid answer on any network prioritization with our signal. I don't have the answer yet, but I'm getting the right folks involved. I'll keep the thread open and let you know what I find.

Userlevel 5

Hey, @snn555​!

I just wanted to give you a heads up that MC is out of the office until next Wednesday. Fingers crossed he'll have some answers for you at that point. 

Userlevel 6

Three Network tickets have resulted in pretty much a non-answer. No one really has an answer and don't really know if it has to do with network prioritization whether it's some weird fluke or what it may be. There were theories to tower modernization affecting the issue however nothing is any more than vague at this point.

Userlevel 5

Blergh. Sounds super unhelpful. 😥 Fingers crossed that MC has some good news waiting in his inbox when he returns to share with you. I'm sure it would be great to get a solid answer on why this is happening.

Userlevel 6

I have kinda given up on the cellspot for now. Will check it again in a few days. Until then, it's just using power and slowing my ISP, if there is anyone else able to connect that is.

Userlevel 6
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I checked my inbox and haven't gotten any news about this yet, but I'm still working to get an answer. I haven't forgotten, and I'll keep bringing this up with folks to get more info.

Userlevel 6

there was another thread started yesterday or this morning that I replied and it had to do a lot with the same sort of issue however this user was using and LTE booster from T-Mobile. It seemed like they were having some of the similar issues I was having.  I failed to remember the thread at this point but it was very recent.

Userlevel 6
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I think I've found someone internally that can give us more info on this. Do you mind if I get at least the zip code of where you are? We'd like to get an idea of the area you're in.

Userlevel 5

Hey, @snn555​!

Not sure if you saw MC's message, but if you can share your zip code with him, he can pass that along to the internal team he's working with. 😊  

Userlevel 6

I passed along my ZIP code. I did so through direct message.

Userlevel 6
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Hey. I sent you a PM. Can you check out for me please? Our engineers would like to know the results of your testing so we can try to help you out a bit more. Thanks.

Userlevel 6

No PM received.

Userlevel 6

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