Question

finding best location for T-Mobile home Internet gateway


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I'm confused about moving the unit around the house to find the best location. To do this must the unit be plugged in, or can it be done using battery power only? It seems crazy to have to walk around and keep plugging in and then  unplugging between locations. You should be able to just walk around on battery power only... and watch the signal meter on the top to find the best spot. Please advise as I just got mine and it's unclear how best to do this. 


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Userlevel 1
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The battery in the wireless router serves only one purpose and that is to do just what you think. Walking it around your place until you find the strongest signal. The battery provides no other function.

Userlevel 5
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When the router/gateway is  powered only by the battery it will not energize the WLAN radios. Keep in mind you need to establish uplinks to the tower before you need the WIFI for the local delivery. Just switch it on, it will initialize in a couple of minutes, tap the LED display on the top and swipe to have it show the bars if they are not presented. Once you can see the bars for signal power just take the can for a walk from window to window and see where you get the most bars. If the windows have screens that are metal they will knock down the signal like a Faraday cage.  Once you find the best window or glass door then you can slowly rotate the router a little at a time and see if the signal strength goes up a bar or two with a given exposure. The antennas in the router are radially around the can in a vertical pattern. There are (4) labeled 5G and (4) labeled WIFI. They alternate 5G, WIFI, 5G, WIFI… I found I could expose the portion of the router just to the left of the back panel toward the tower and it improves the 5G connection. Once you have the signal location established just follow the directions T-Mobile has for setting it up. You can use the default wireless settings to get connected but establishing your own wireless SSID and your own personal password for the admin user are best practice. Secure the wireless with at least WPA2. Some printers only support WPA security so WPA2/WPA is necessary in some cases. Older wireless printers might only have WPA. Depending upon the software code on the router the LAN ports may or may not work. I know they do work with version 1.2003.03.0178 and I would guess many newer T-Mobile/Nokia 5G home internet routers are shipping with this now. You can use the HTML communication 192.168.12.1 to see the reporting and configure the WIFI with a computer. It is a rather simple interface and is missing features that are needed really but it does get the basics done and provides some visibility to how the connections are working. If you get confused and are not familiar with setting up a router like this just call T-Mobile support and ask for a call back if there are no agents available. I have found they usually call back in 15-30 minutes and can make the setup complete in no time. They have visibility to the tower information to know how it is connected so it is helpful.

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 I have a signal - and its plugged in - showing 2-3 bars….
and then UN-plug it -
it only shows the TM logo and some slowly marching [] [] [] [] boxes -
but no way to scroll to the signal strength bars ???

Userlevel 5
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 I have a signal - and its plugged in - showing 2-3 bars….
and then UN-plug it -
it only shows the TM logo and some slowly marching [] [] [] [] boxes -
but no way to scroll to the signal strength bars ???

 

Usually, those marching boxes means the gateway is restarting.

 

Perhaps using the manual instructions, may get the gateway into battery mode for signal detection by keeping it unplugged, and recycling the on-off switch.

 

https://www.t-mobile.com/support/public-files/attachments/T-Mobile%20High-Speed%20Internet%20Gateway%20End%20User%20Guide.pdf , page 11.

 

Manual setup: identify an ideal location:

The following procedure will help determine the best location for your gateway.

1. Without using the provided power adapter, power-on the gateway by pressing its On/Off button.
2. Walk the gateway around your house and identify the window where it gets the best signal, as represented by the greatest number of bars on the LCD.

 

 

Userlevel 5
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As I recall when I remove the power to my Nokia router it will restart. Keep in mind if you remove the power and go to battery it will have to drop the WIFI radios & only operates the cellular radio. Once the router has a couple of minutes to complete the restart then the LED on top of the router should provide the bars and respond. 

My take is it is best to know where the tower is from the start. If you ask T-Mobile support where the tower(s) are in your location then you can focus on the windows which provide the best exposure to the signal. Once you get an initial idea of where it gets the best signal strength via the walkabout then I suggest to web into the 192.168.12.1 interface & see the actual signal strength for the primary & secondary cellular signals and also go the “Status” tab/page and find out the radio channels for both primary and secondary. If you post the signal parametric values to the conversation others can help you determine how it is functioning and how make suggestions that could help to improve the connections. Setting up a router via the cellular solution is a bit more demanding than just plugging in a cable modem so feel free to ask questions. The more you understand how it works the better you can get the solution to provide service you really want.

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tnx - after I unplugged it - and it had the marching [] bars…..
it did come back to the normal “bars” screen,
and I could walk around looking for more bars…. nope - still 2-3 -

So - ok - just put it back to it’s normal place…

 

Userlevel 5
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Is that the round shaped Nokia router or the rectangular with the rounded corners, the Arcadyan? If it is the Nokia router you can look at the details in the web interface and get a cellular connection metrics and the internet connection metrics and it will be much clearer as to how it is operating and the signal strength and quality.

 

So, I just hooked up my new 5G gateway, best signal I get is 2 bars, even opened my front door and held it outside, no change. Is there no option for an external antenna?

My internet speed seems pretty good, at least as good as my suddenlink cable internet, but the weak gateway signal strength worries me.

Ran speed test, 40.1 Mbps download but only 1.1 upload.

Userlevel 5
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Well, there are external antennas but connecting one and obtaining results needs a bit of research first. I would first ask if you have the Nokia round router or the Arcadyan router with the rounded off corners and squarish vertical router with the LED on the front vs the Nokia that has the small LED screen on the top of the router. 

The Nokia is pretty easy to add external antenna solutions to. Waveform.com has 2X2 MIMO antennas and a various host of antenna solutions. They have good info on the installation of the antenna as well at least for the Nokia router. On reddit they even posted information about their 4x4 MIMO antenna but if you are on n71 and not on a n41 channels 2X2 MIMO or another similar antenna is sufficient. The 4X4 MIMO is expensive. Start with $400 for the 4X4 antenna then add 4 lightning arrestors $200 and maybe some custom cables for length well you can see not cheap.

https://www.reddit.com/r/tmobileisp/comments/sn2wyf/product_launch_waveform_4x4_panel_antenna/

Guess mine is the Arcadian unit.

I found the waveform antenna kits, according to the cell antenna map I found online, the local t-mobile 5G is on the n71 band, and waveform says the 2x2 system will work for that on the arcadyan gateway, so less expensive. So far though today, the internet speed has been acceptable so will wait and see and may or may not mess with the external antenna. 

Userlevel 5
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When I spoke with the Waveform engineer he was very helpful and courteous. They currently have a guide for the Arcadyan router like they did for the Nokia.

https://www.waveform.com/a/b/guides/hotspots/t-mobile-5g-gateway-arcadyan#installing-external-antennas-to-the-t-mobile-5g-internet-gateway

He pointed me to the guide for the Arcadyan in no time. It seems very clear. Not as simple as the Nokia for opening but not bad. Pretty easy to crack it open and have it spill the beans.

When I spoke with the Waveform engineer he was very helpful and courteous. They currently have a guide for the Arcadyan router like they did for the Nokia.

https://www.waveform.com/a/b/guides/hotspots/t-mobile-5g-gateway-arcadyan#installing-external-antennas-to-the-t-mobile-5g-internet-gateway

He pointed me to the guide for the Arcadyan in no time. It seems very clear. Not as simple as the Nokia for opening but not bad. Pretty easy to crack it open and have it spill the beans.

Yes, as I stated above, I found the waveform antenna kits and their installation guide, and watched a few of the nater tater videos. Looks like a viable alternative, just very apprehensive about taking apart the gateway and possibly boogering something up.

And, obviously my gateway is providing me with internet service, a I’m using it now. Although, late last night my internet speeds totally tanked, was down in the single digits for download speed.

Also, I thought these gateways had battery backups that would allow you to unplug it and move it around to find the best placement for signal strength? Unplugged mine and it powers off and won’t power back on until I plug it back in. Then I have to wait for it to boot back up, makes moving it around to check the signal strength a PITA.

Userlevel 5
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Also, I thought these gateways had battery backups that would allow you to unplug it and move it around to find the best placement for signal strength? Unplugged mine and it powers off and won’t power back on until I plug it back in. Then I have to wait for it to boot back up, makes moving it around to check the signal strength a PITA.

 

Apparently, the Arcadyan does not have a battery like the Nokia does.

 

Options include using a very long extension cord, or a portable battery inverter, like the Ryobi.

 

 

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Yes I saw you had found the Waveform information on the antennas. I posted the reference to the manual for the Arcadyan router as others might find it useful and convenient if they review the conversation. I understand about considering taking it apart and the consequences if something was messed up by an unexpected event. 

With the unpredictable behavior of the signal I would really be suspicious that the T-Mobile engineers continue to work on the equipment feeding the traffic. 

So far, this T-Mobile deal is a little aggravating as far as speed. Right now the speed has tanked again, just checked and it is about 4 Mbps, earlier today it was running above 80 Mbps, and I have not changed anything.

So, after spending 45 minutes on the phone with T-Mobile, the support rep is telling me they are in the midst of doing enhancements to the local towers, and this is the most likely reason my speeds are going down in the evenings. They reset everything, reported the slow down to their support system, opened a ticket or whatever they call it. And, they are sure the problem will be resolved. Heck of a deal for a brand new customer to deal with right off the bat. We’ll see...

Userlevel 5
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I joined in the BETA phase so I expected the possibility of disruptions but I had no other reasonable option here. My options were Hughes Net, sucky or StarLink and a whole bunch of money up front and 2x the cost. We did have a few periods where disruptions took place and the reality I discovered was that most of the time it was tower related equipment. The down side is it is difficult to determine right off if the signal is lost or not as the clients stay connected to the WIFI and one cellular signal might be present but it fails to work. The LTE signal here is pretty lame and only the n71 channel seems to do the heavy lifting. 

After T-Mobile dials in the tower and gets it where it should be it will improve. It is ver frustrating when it is bouncing or just goes bananas. Maybe Donkey Kong climbs T-Mobile towers for fun and exercise. 😎

Well, last night I was trying to improve my reception, when I noticed that the tower CGI had changed since the T-Mobile rep had reset everything, and the current tower location was on the opposite side of my house from the original one, so I disconnected the gateway and moved it to a window on the other side of the house. That helped, had 3 bars showing instead of 2, but the internet speed only slightly improved, was still only about 5 Mbps. This morning when I got up and checked it on a few different servers, I got as high as 117 Mbps, but also as low as 24 Mbps. The problem with where the gateway is now is that it is so far away from my TV that the ethernet cable doesn’t come close to reaching, and the wifi refuses to stay connected to it. Nothing’s ever easy.

Userlevel 5
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OK, so I would guess you are in a more urban area than I am and there are multiple towers about. The signal can and will move based upon strength as the algorithms used dictate when a given tower has a lesser signal than another so the signal lock changes. It would be good to do a little research on T-Mobile towers in the area with cellmapper.net. If you have the Arcadyan router it does not provide the PCI value for the LTE or 5G signals. So, it is a hunt and peck OR if you have an iPhone you can put it into Field Test Mode and see what it reports. Dial *3001#12345#* and enter and then you can see what an iPhone will report. I am not using an Android here but I believe there are some good applications from the app store that provide the cellular information. 

With the cellmapper.net site you can filter for cellular vendor, LTE or 5G towers. I don’t recommend doing “all” as you will have so many towers that it will be too much clutter and hard to pick apart. With 5G NR, which is really what you want the mosts, you will see fewer towers and can use any map program you use to look at the topology in more detail and determine the distance to the various T-Mobile towers. You establish the location you want to look for towers within and then filter for what you want to see. 

You can call T-Mobile and ask them for tower locations around you and if they provide coordinates you can leverage your map of choice and determine distance and topology. If you are seeing multiple n41 and n71 5G towers around you that might explain the movement of the signal lock. Having a good signal on say the n41 mid-band signal would be best achieved say half a mile to 2 miles away. The n41 can reach out around 3 miles but as you reach the edge service diminishes. Speeds drop off and signal quality might suffer due to noise. The shorter mid-band mm frequency does not penetrate as well as the n71 lower frequency. The n71 on the other hand will reach out farther, theoretically ~10 miles but under best case conditions. We are 5.3 miles line of sight of a n71 tower with no obstructions and I get downloads at times up to 180 Mbs and uploads up to 60 Mbs but when weather and load conditions change that drops down. 

If you determine there is one of the towers nice and close with better access, i.e. fewer obstructions, you could request T-Mobile put your signal lock on that source. It will not hurt to ask. Also you need to, obviously look for a tower that provides you with a good local location in your home to meet your local network delivery needs. Sometimes i have seen community users state T-Mobile did a reset of their connection, in the tower switching I believe, and that improved matters. It will come down in the end to T-Mobile engineers getting the tower equipment stable and optimized and then internet nirvana sets in for a while. 

Yes, cellmapper is how I found the tower locations, how I knew the new direction of the currently used antenna. I don’t know if T-Mobile locked me into that tower, but it hasn’t changed since I conversed with them yesterday. The current tower is on the B66 band, previous tower was on N71. I am absolutely new to all of this, all my previous internet was cable, no choices on its setup, but suddenlink was TERRIBLE, went down OFTEN.

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The B66 is LTE so maybe it lost the n71 signal and now only sees the B66 LTE?

  • 4G: B2, B4, B5, B7, B12, B13, B14, B17, B25, B30, B41, B66, B71

  • 5G: n2, n25, n41, n66, n71

It is probable the n71 signal dropped and the primary signal is the B66 so it now locks ONLY to the B66. T-Mobile uses both the LTE and 5G i.e. primary and secondary cellular bands in unison for service. If you reset the router it might again pick up the both signals and you would see delivery on the 5G NR n71 band. I had times last year when I had to reboot the router to get the secondary channel back. Most often it would pickup both signals again UNLESS T-mobile engineers were working on the equipment then it might come back only to bounce up and down again. 

Yes, I was looking at the LTE metrics, when I checked the 5G side just now it shows the N41 band for it.

Not sure what tower the 5G N41 is coming from, the metric shown for the 5G aren’t as complete, but the tower for the LTE doesn’t show to have that N41 band on it.

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If you want I can take a look at the cellmapper.net info. I just need to know the general location so I can examine what you are referring to. The cellmapper.net information is roughly 80% complete as it relies upon users to make an account and upload data into their database. Somethings are there and some are not. The tower our n71 signal comes from does not have the n71 info on cellmapper.net.

 

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