Slow 4G connection only, but only sometimes -- SOLVED


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I’ve had the T mobile home internet 5G gateway for 6 days now and it has been generally thrilling to get such high speeds after being stuck on a single-digit overpriced DSL connection for 9 years. I often get download speeds of over 100 for long stretches of time, but for me, anything over 50 is great.

So I’ve been reading a lot about this issue of how cellular connections work, since I just got a smartphone only last month. Although I’m not new to computers, and have been doing that for 50 years, starting with programming mainframes in college, but not as a profession. I was also on the internet starting in 1992.

In my rural area I am 5 miles from the only tower I connect to regularly, and have a signal strength of either 2 bars or 3 bars, depending where I place the gateway. I used a free tower mapper app to know I connect to only one tower and find out exactly where it is located so I could better orient the gateway.

However, I connect at three different band combinations, one which is great (over 100 a lot and rarely below 45 or so), one which is fine, (over 100 a lot and never below 30), and one which stinks, with connections between 4 and 20. I’ll speak of download speeds only, but the upload speeds are  good on the two combinations, and bad on the single.

Examining the GUI for the gateway at 192.168.12.1 (URL address), which shows more than the app, I know that my slow connection is a Primary signal only, which means 4G only. The good speeds are both from Primary Signal and Secondary Signal, combos in my case of B2/n41 or B66/n41. That means 5G basically, the non stand-alone pairing of 4G and 5G working together, which is the current state of 5G.

For the first five days as a new user of T mobile home internet, being switched to the slow speed was not a problem. It happened only twice that I know of. I rebooted the gateway and got a faster connection right away. However, today, I got stuck on that slow, halting connection, and rebooted six times and was still on it. What did I do to solve it?

Although it is counterintuitive, because usually higher bars means better connections and faster speeds, but it turns out sometimes not. By simply placing the gateway a few feet from the window, to a place where it gets only 2 bars instead of 3, I was able to connect right away to my fastest speed and remain there for the rest of the day.

Why does it do that? When there is a weaker signal, the gateway sometimes seeks out a better signal at the tower, maybe to compensate for a 2 bar signal? So if you are in a situation where you usually get a good signal, but sometimes get that really slow connection, then you should consider trying to put your gateway in a location where it gets one less bar.

This probably won’t work with everyone, and may not work at all for those of you who know you have never connected at a good speed, and are probably stuck most off the time on the 4G single primary signal. Why? Obstructions maybe, or intense area traffic, although 5G is supposed to handle more connections better than 4G could per tower.

That said, there are instances where people get a faster signal on 4G alone instead of 5G’s non stand-alone connection. But that’s pretty rare.

Setting the gateway where there is a lower signal strength is worth a try though, if you are trying to reboot the gateway for a faster connection that you’ve had in the past, but are stuck on the 4G one time after time.

In the GUI, I use the STATUS category on the left, and then press both drop down arrows next to the Primary and Secondary Signal, and that where you will find what bands you are on.

Here is the T-mobile site’s guide to all the bands. You see how n71 is a low-frequency band? It carries tremendous distances, and some people might get a fast connection on that, but most won’t.

I’d like to know what bands people are on, just out of curiosity, if you care to share. Tell us how far you are from the tower, how many obstructions like hills or buildings (I have few obstructions) and the speeds you get on average. I hope this helps someone. That’s why I wrote it.

5G

  • Frequencies that can provide 5G: 

    • Band n71 (600 MHz)

    • Band n41 (2.5 GHz)

    • Band n260 (39 GHz)

    • Band n261 (28 GHz)

  • With 5G, high amounts of data can be transmitted more efficiently than 4G LTE. 

  • One of the ways T-Mobile is rapidly deploying 5G is integrating mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum from Sprint.

  • Check out What is 5G? to learn how it works!

Extended Range 4G LTE

  • Frequencies that can provide Extended Range LTE

    • Band 12 (700 MHz)

    • Band 71 (600 MHz)

  • Our Extended Range LTE signal reaches 2X as far and penetrates walls for 4X better coverage in-buildings than ever before.

4G LTE

  • Frequencies that can provide LTE:

    • Band 2 (1900 MHz)

    • Band 5 (850 MHz)

    • Band 4 (1700/2100 MHz)

    • Band 66 (Extension of band 4 on 1700/2100 MHz).

  • 4G LTE offers fast download speeds, up to 50% faster speeds than 3G. See Data speeds.

  • Voice and data services only work at the same time when on you have VoLTE enabled on your device. Otherwise, LTE only provides data.

 

 


46 replies

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My phone and home internet used to use b66 and b12 a lot. Service went downhill for over a month, then I noticed my phone started connecting to b41 and speeds and service have been great. My phone shows 5g but I've never seen my router connect to a secondary signal. The router pretty much stays on b41, sometimes on b66. I hope the service continues to improve like this! 

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My phone and home internet used to use b66 and b12 a lot. Service went downhill for over a month, then I noticed my phone started connecting to b41 and speeds and service have been great. My phone shows 5g but I've never seen my router connect to a secondary signal. The router pretty much stays on b41, sometimes on b66. I hope the service continues to improve like this! 


Thank you for responding. This is the kind of thing I’m interested in. The phone app gives out information but for some reason leaves off the secondary signal, so that’s why I use the GUI for that.

Are you using the GUI or just the T mobile home internet phone app? And when you say the speed is great, what kind of speed we talkin about here?

“Great” is relative to what you had in the past or expect. For some people 40 is great, and others anything under 200 is disappointing.

Also, what’s your signal strength, on both your 5G phone and your gateway?

A commenter responded to a post of mine on another thread saying he got 400 down and 50 up on T mobile’s home internet 5G but dropped to 60 to 80 when on a primary 4G signal, and he gets stuck on that 4G signal for long periods which is totally unacceptable for him because he’s used to  steady speeds in the hundreds on cable. He gets 5 bars signal strength and indeed, by lowering that down (by putting foil over the gateway)  he can connect to 5G only with fewer bars, but then his speeds drop off way too much. 

However, if you are using the GUI at the address I mentioned in my first post, and showing no secondary signal, chances are your B12 and B66 are 4G only. And that isn’t bad! As long as the 4G works reasonably well for you. Also, the near future could be dramatic for you, when they install the 5G on your tower like n41, and you start getting that as your secondary signal. 

One form of 4G they put in Chicago, I read, and people can get speeds of 500Gbps if they are close enough to the tower.

About the 5G icon on your phone, here is a quote from an article:

T-Mobile has been adding this icon on their phones even when they are not connected to the 5G network, so if you are unsure, download the app Signal Spy (on Android) or enter Field Test Mode on your iPhone

 

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My phone and home internet used to use b66 and b12 a lot. Service went downhill for over a month, then I noticed my phone started connecting to b41 and speeds and service have been great. My phone shows 5g but I've never seen my router connect to a secondary signal. The router pretty much stays on b41, sometimes on b66. I hope the service continues to improve like this! 

I want to add that I'm also connecting to Sprint b25 as well. But mostly staying on b41 on all devices.

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I want to add that I'm also connecting to Sprint b25 as well. But mostly staying on b41 on all devices.

 

I see. Interesting. Indeed, B25 is a 4G LTE Sprint band, along with B26 and B41. T mobile merged with Sprint but I didn’t know they were using any other bands than the ones I listed in the chart, which is the ones they say they are using for their T mobile home internet 5G (gray cylinder gateway) service.

There’s a little confusion here, in how they are naming these bands, and I find it that way since “b” or usually “B” could be construed as just short for “band.” But that is not how it appears in the GUI. So you will know you are on 5G the first time you see a band you are using in the secondary signal that is an “n” band such as n71 (low frequency/slow, long range), n41 (mid frequency/faster), and  n260 or n261 (mmWave/fast, short range).

n41, the mid frequency, mid-range 5G band was part of T mobile’s interest in merging with Sprint. It carries a signal which yields good speeds farther from the tower, compared with n71, even though the signal doesn’t reach as far. It reaches much father than the mmWave high-frequency bands which are only good for one mile, and tend to work with the fastest speeds when you are a block or less from them, with no obstructions. 

Verizon is making a bigger push with the short-range, fast speed mmWave nodes.

So what is your average download speed, approximately, on the bands you get now, the speed you are happy with for now?

 

 

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My phone and home internet used to use b66 and b12 a lot. Service went downhill for over a month, then I noticed my phone started connecting to b41 and speeds and service have been great. My phone shows 5g but I've never seen my router connect to a secondary signal. The router pretty much stays on b41, sometimes on b66. I hope the service continues to improve like this! 


Thank you for responding. This is the kind of thing I’m interested in. The phone app gives out information but for some reason leaves off the secondary signal, so that’s why I use the GUI for that.

Are you using the GUI or just the T mobile home internet phone app? And when you say the speed is great, what kind of speed we talkin about here?

“Great” is relative to what you had in the past or expect. For some people 40 is great, and others anything under 200 is disappointing.

Also, what’s your signal strength, on both your 5G phone and your gateway?

A commenter responded to a post of mine on another thread saying he got 400 down and 50 up on T mobile’s home internet 5G but dropped to 60 to 80 when on a primary 4G signal, and he gets stuck on that 4G signal for long periods which is totally unacceptable for him because he’s used to  steady speeds in the hundreds on cable. He gets 5 bars signal strength and indeed, by lowering that down (by putting foil over the gateway)  he can connect to 5G only with fewer bars, but then his speeds drop off way too much. 

However, if you are using the GUI at the address I mentioned in my first post, and showing no secondary signal, chances are your B12 and B66 are 4G only. And that isn’t bad! As long as the 4G works reasonably well for you. Also, the near future could be dramatic for you, when they install the 5G on your tower like n41, and you start getting that as your secondary signal. 

One form of 4G they put in Chicago, I read, and people can get speeds of 500Gbps if they are close enough to the tower.

About the 5G icon on your phone, here is a quote from an article:

T-Mobile has been adding this icon on their phones even when they are not connected to the 5G network, so if you are unsure, download the app Signal Spy (on Android) or enter Field Test Mode on your iPhone

 

The app is useless. I use the web settings to check. When I first got home internet (old gateway), my speeds were the same as my phone on LTE, usually 10mbps-50mbps. Not sure what bands the old gateway was using. I think my phone would go between b12 and b66. I got the 5g gateway 3 months ago and got the same speeds, never showed secondary signal. My signal strength on both the old gateway and new one stay at 2 bars, no matter where I put it. It’s funny because the best spot is in the middle of my house, but it’s a small house and one level. My phone generally has full signal, sometimes drops down to 2 bars. There seem to be 3 different towers that I can connect to. The closest being 2 miles. Last month I started getting horrible service, slow speeds, no signal, on all of my devices, including my work Sprint phone. 2 weeks ago, the service improved on all devices. That’s when I noticed connecting to b41 and b25 (tagged as Sprint). I use signal checker pro on my android phone and tablet. It shows the tower/signal information in status bar. Another good app is LTE discovery. I use the web gui or app to see what the gateway is connected to. My home internet kept connecting to b12 for several weeks while I noticed the speeds slow to a crawl, under 1mbps. Now, with all devices consistently using b41 most of the time, my speeds are usually always above 20mbps. Usually hitting 100-150, even in the evenings during peak time. I’m not sure if the gateway ever connects to 5g, but my phone usually is on 5g, sometimes switching to 4g. It’s funny because it doesn’t seem to matter as speeds are the same and sometime worse on 5g throughout town. I never used to get 50 or 100 months ago. I would occasionally see 50 early mornings but that was it. Always consistently averaged about 15 and dropped to under 1 when they were upgrading the towers It’s great because I can stream and use everything normally normally now. I think with the latest firmware update on the 5g router and the service from the towers improving, all the issues with my home devices staying connected and streaming have disappeared. I’ve found that I also don’t have to reboot the gateway as I did regularly before because the signals were so wonky. My router still only shows primary signal and always on b41 now. Same with my phone, although I’m seeing more 4g on my phone than 5g at my house, but even on 5g it shows band as b41 or b25. I’m pretty sure at this point with the upgrades happening, even though it’s hard to tell if really on 5g or 4g sometimes, it doesn’t matter what “G” shows, it mattes what towers and bands you’re connecting to. Right now in my area, I’m seeing way more 5g coverage and signal strength but speeds are definitely faster on 4g and sometimes better than on 5g. I have never seen n71 yet on any device. I’ll be doing some more testing as I’m out and about in the next month. I’m happy with anything over 20mbps and definitely noticed when the service dropped out for several weeks. Now that I’m getting around 100 mpbs and staying well above 20mbps all the time, I’m very happy and impressed by the difference. I also don’t notice any difference in speed performance between my devices. Home Internet for me always matches my phone and sometimes performs better. Hopefully that answered your questions, sorry got long winded haha!

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Okay, well now I’ve got the full picture. Thanks. You’re a real pioneer being on this home cellular with that other device which didn’t have 5G.

Even though I got this just a week ago, I feel stunned being in the first year of 5G home internet by T mobile, at this price. I had to wait 7 years after broadband was available in the city 10 miles away for me to get it. So I was stuck on dialup forever it seemed, going to the library in town to do fast updates of Windows 10 using their wireless.

So I just got my first smartphone last month, and it is 4G only, and before that I was on a 3G phone that used to drop calls unless I used it in a part of my house where it wouldn’t do that. But the difference for me between the 4G phone was I got speeds on that of 10 to 60, with maybe an average of 25 or so. So I think my 5G speeds on this gateway are even better than the promise of 2x the speed of 4G that many people see. Tell me if you pick up a n41 somewhere in your travels with your phone and what kind of speeds you get on that.

 

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Well for me its primary b71 with no secondary during daytime hours. this is basically useless and doesnt hardly load a webpage and wont perform a speedtest without timing out.

At night time i connect to b66/n71 on this i get around 10 mbps nothing stable though i have gotten 40-50 mbps but rarely also the upload is .05-.5 mbps really horrible and the ping times are 800.

it seems like they really throttle the connection or kick you off towers or something nothing really works with any sort of reliability sometimes it doesnt work at night as well or its only after midnight -5 am its actually ridiculous ive spent countless hours moving this thing all over the place i even rigged up a fan mounted to the bottom idk 

losing hope

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Well for me its primary b71 with no secondary during daytime hours. this is basically useless and doesnt hardly load a webpage and wont perform a speedtest without timing out.

At night time i connect to b66/n71 on this i get around 10 mbps nothing stable though i have gotten 40-50 mbps but rarely also the upload is .05-.5 mbps really horrible and the ping times are 800.

it seems like they really throttle the connection or kick you off towers or something nothing really works with any sort of reliability sometimes it doesnt work at night as well or its only after midnight -5 am its actually ridiculous ive spent countless hours moving this thing all over the place i even rigged up a fan mounted to the bottom idk 

losing hope


I can see why you’re losing hope. I’ll be frank and say it sounds kind of hopeless. You didn’t mention your signal strength or your distance to the tower, and how many obstructions there are between the tower and you. Are you city or rural?

The only hope is that they are doing tower work, or have temporarily shifted you to a tower that is farther away and it will be this slow until the work is done. This is a slim chance, but it is possible. Call T mobile and ask if that is what is happening at your tower. Leave your number for the callback instead of waiting two bloody hours to speak to someone. (I just happened to have called them once, but it was about my account, to make sure  I was on autopay.)

Yeah, a ping of over 150 is bad, and if it is frequently over that into ping like 800, that will make your connection lag, stop, and be unusable most of the time. They are not throttling your speed. That would not influence ping.

Assuming there is no work being done on the tower, there is a possibility you’re in a dead zone with a lot of interference. This interference can be caused by overlapping signals from two towers, or something like a nearby electrical power station.

Do you have a 4G smartphone, and what provider is it, and what kind of speed were you getting with that?

If you were getting a speed of over 30 on a 4G smartphone, or better yet, were able to find someone with a T mobile 5G smartphone who could do a speed test in your house and got good speeds on 5G, I would say that could point to something being wrong with your gateway.

But reading about people’s experiences, and the ones who tried getting another gateway before giving up, it rarely is the gateway that is the problem.

I have my own story about encountering a dead zone, at my brother’s house. He is much closer to a t-mobile tower than I am. According to their coverage map, both T mobile’s 4G and 5G are a level better than what I can expect in my location. I went to his house with my 4G smartphone -- he doesn’t have a smartphone yet -- and I got a speed of 12 download, and went out to the park near him -- same speed. But looking at his tower location, there is a massive electrical substation located between him and the tower, about 6 blocks from him, and I wonder if that is it. I don’t know what his 5G speeds are but we’ll just wait until one of his friends gets a 5G phone and can test for him, before he tries the T mobile home internet.

Your pattern of getting a better signal at night, as bad as it is, is the same as nearly everyone. If you haven’t done it yet, you might also try doing a factory reset, using the hole located above the two yellow LAN ports on the gateway. Stick the end of a paper clip or something in there for 4 seconds. Then you’re going to have to start over with the app.

I admit that I consider myself to be terribly lucky, to be 5 miles from a tower, and that this tower has n41 instead of n71. But it was also predictable. My 4G speed on the T mobile smartphone was between 10 and 60 (with the high speeds at night only), and then with the 5G on the same tower, I expected to get 2x the speed and got 3x the speed instead.

But if you give up and turn it back in, which I probably would do in your situation, try to keep in contact with neighbors or something via a message board and find out what provider is getting the best 5G service in your area, because it may not be there now, but it most likely will be coming soon.

And remember if there is a store near you, you can turn the gateway back in to the store and not have to mail it back in, if that is more convenient.

Lastly, the traffic of cell phone use and streaming videos, video chat, downloading things and other things during the day is what gives most people faster speeds late at night or in the early morning hours when people aren’t doing those things.

And as I said before, ping is what is really killing you. Even if you were getting speeds of 300, a ping of 800 would cause so much lag, halting, well, that would be a problem.

But who knows, maybe with a tower in a different location from Verizon instead of T mobile, and this could work for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have done multiple factory resets and even purchased a external router for wifi instead of using the built in wifi so all the ssids are turned off with a ethernet cable going to the router that i connect my wifi devices to.

There are two towers i connect to the daytime one that i get primary b71 with no secondary signal from even though the tower says it has it on cell mapper is about 3 miles north in a idk small populated area im on the outside of town i find it weird that it connects to the tower that is in a more populated area during the daytime i only get 2 bars of b71 never had a secondary connection from this tower there really isnt any tall buildings in the area .

The second tower i usally only get connected to at night with the b66 2 bars /n71 3 bars connection is 2 miles south maybe less i would be surprised if there was 500 people that lived within a 3 mile radius of that tower lol its all farmland basically. i do notice the b71 4g signal on the tower with no secondary connection is stronger usally by a couple digits than the tower with b66 4g so i think its choosing that tower witch idk seems broken or something as no data hardly gos through it lol

Also i just noticed my boost mobile phone that has been horrible for the last year comes up as t-mobile ip address on speed test and has the same horrible connection. before this boostmobile was on sprint network and i had great speeds on 4g always 50mbps and up with 5 bars of service-i thought t-mobile merged with sprint i dont seem to get access to those sprint towers anymore as the same phone and service only has 1-2 bars of signal now and has been ridiculously bad ever since this changed not sure if that means anything.

im just thinking the t-mobile service is really bad in the area along with every other provider-currently i am on visible wireless that uses verizon towers and has unlimited hotspot data i get ok ping 90-150 usally but speeds are often 1-3 mbps during peak hours but it always works and is pretty stable i only get 1 measly bar of service on this and the ping times are so much better it works like regular internet lol but i also game so downloading/updating doesnt get you very far at these speeds.

its weird because it seems like they have put up new cell towers all over around here but none of them are on cell maper and no provider seems to have good service in this area but im surrounded by towers maybe they are all causing interference or something im really confused about how i used to have great connection to sprint towers and t-mobile has those towers now but it seems that they have them turned off or something.

anyways sorry for the ramble i basically have given up and try not to think about it as much as i was and idk most likely will be returning it at some point-also there is probably a store for every provider you can think of within a few miles i just dont understand why they would have storefront in small areas with no service lol the only one i havnt tried is at&t they are supposed to be pretty good around here but idk its expensive i do plan on trying cricket or puretalkusa next month witch is based on at&t towers it just sucks because this all costs money weather the service works or not doesnt mean you get stuff for free.

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I have done multiple factory resets and even purchased a external router for wifi instead of using the built in wifi so all the ssids are turned off with a ethernet cable going to the router that i connect my wifi devices to.

There are two towers i connect to the daytime one that i get primary b71 with no secondary signal from even though the tower says it has it on cell mapper is about 3 miles north in a idk small populated area im on the outside of town i find it weird that it connects to the tower that is in a more populated area during the daytime i only get 2 bars of b71 never had a secondary connection from this tower there really isnt any tall buildings in the area .

The second tower i usally only get connected to at night with the b66 2 bars /n71 3 bars connection is 2 miles south maybe less i would be surprised if there was 500 people that lived within a 3 mile radius of that tower lol its all farmland basically. i do notice the b71 4g signal on the tower with no secondary connection is stronger usally by a couple digits than the tower with b66 4g so i think its choosing that tower witch idk seems broken or something as no data hardly gos through it lol

Also i just noticed my boost mobile phone that has been horrible for the last year comes up as t-mobile ip address on speed test and has the same horrible connection. before this boostmobile was on sprint network and i had great speeds on 4g always 50mbps and up with 5 bars of service-i thought t-mobile merged with sprint i dont seem to get access to those sprint towers anymore as the same phone and service only has 1-2 bars of signal now and has been ridiculously bad ever since this changed not sure if that means anything.

im just thinking the t-mobile service is really bad in the area along with every other provider-currently i am on visible wireless that uses verizon towers and has unlimited hotspot data i get ok ping 90-150 usally but speeds are often 1-3 mbps during peak hours but it always works and is pretty stable i only get 1 measly bar of service on this and the ping times are so much better it works like regular internet lol but i also game so downloading/updating doesnt get you very far at these speeds.

its weird because it seems like they have put up new cell towers all over around here but none of them are on cell maper and no provider seems to have good service in this area but im surrounded by towers maybe they are all causing interference or something im really confused about how i used to have great connection to sprint towers and t-mobile has those towers now but it seems that they have them turned off or something.

anyways sorry for the ramble i basically have given up and try not to think about it as much as i was and idk most likely will be returning it at some point-also there is probably a store for every provider you can think of within a few miles i just dont understand why they would have storefront in small areas with no service lol the only one i havnt tried is at&t they are supposed to be pretty good around here but idk its expensive i do plan on trying cricket or puretalkusa next month witch is based on at&t towers it just sucks because this all costs money weather the service works or not doesnt mean you get stuff for free.


You answered all the questions I asked, thanks, and like many people’s slow speed problems, yours sound mysterious and/or complex, and out of the realm of my own short time (I’m in my second week) of having T mobile home internet.

I’d like to remind anyone reading this that I created this thread to offer a suggestion to people who had a specific problem. That is, they get good speeds for their area, like 50+ download consistently on a primary and secondary signal, but occasionally they get switched to a primary-only 4G LTE signal which is much slower, or slower and glitchy (with lag), and they can’t reboot the modem/router off it.

My suggestion is to move the router/modem to a place where it gets one bar or even two bars less signal, to see if when you reboot, it connects to the faster 5G primary and secondary pair, which is actually at 4G/5G pair of a “B” band with an “n” band. After it reboots to the faster speed paired signals/bands, you can then either leave the gateway where it is, or even move it back to where you get the best signal.

From a reader, I learned you can also temporarily knock a signal strength bar off your connection by covering it with foil (but don’t block the vents on top) and then you can connect to the faster bands, and take the foil off. This might be necessary for people who have only the same signal available pretty much everywhere in their house and can’t reduce it, even temporarily through placement.

What I lack in experience though, being retired and having time, before I got the 5G gateway and this service was even available in my area, I watched dozens of videos, and tried to read all the articles and about the experiences of people setting it up and using it.

Not only did I want to see patterns in people’s experiences how to get the best speed and signal I could in my situation, I thought it would be nice to help others starting out, that maybe have busy lives and aren’t retired with so much time to be reading about the experiences of others.

What I found in my reading of the experiences of others is that there are certain general patterns, like faster speeds as you get closer to a tower. Or people that connect to any B band paired to n41, usually get better speeds than people who get the B band paired to n71.

However, there are exceptions all over the place also, like people who have really bad connections who are less than a mile from the tower where they get the desirable n41 pairing. And some people with 200+ download speeds who are more than a few miles from a tower.

There are also people who get download speeds averaging over 100 for a few months, and then it  stops and they can’t get a good speed again and turn in their gateway.

Conversely, I’ve read of people who got low speeds on the first day of use, maybe 40 download, but then on the second day their speeds were doubled, to 80. One person had the n41 installed on their tower and their speed went way up.

I’ve read of some of the variables involved in the installation of new equipment, like it may take them time to tune the equipment (transceivers and antennas), and get the backhaul working properly. Backhaul is the connection between the tower and wireless equipment with the high speed, high capacity lines like fiber that connect to the internet through a substation or larger station.

In other words, it isn’t just a matter of sticking the new equipment up in a few hours, turning it on, and bang, fast speeds for everyone. You can see the evolution of this on youtube by watching people, a year ago, very close to new installations of 5G, and they were getting speeds in the 50 to 100 download area, and a year later people who are close to towers can get between 200 and 600. Sometimes when the installation is new, like a few days old, the speed isn’t fast. 

I read an article about a tiny town locally where only 30% of the residents can get any cell signal at all, and it is only if they have expensive boosters. The poorer people in town want a cell signal and from the time the town council approves getting a tower, it will take 4 years for the a company to build that small tower. This was a recent article. There are some residents who are objecting to the tower being unsightly.

But to your problems...it could be a tuning issue. The companies have their own challenges with a new technology like 5G. And there’s an unknown in this I would very much like to know. That is, in the first wave of 100,000 users of T mobile home internet, how many found the service functional enough to keep. Is it 50%? Is it 90%?

And then there are the various standards of users, like the person who gets over 300 download, and for whom it is $30+ cheaper than their cable, but it’s totally unacceptable because it doesn’t work with Hulu. What I would say to those people is I understand your priorities, but maybe you should have spent an hour or two looking into this service before you ordered it, you would have found that it doesn’t work for Hulu.

But that’s not your situation or the rest of us. It’s the first year of their rollout, and we are all taking a risk, being the first ones in our neighborhoods in many cases to get this, in the case of rural areas.

Sure, it’s got to be massively disappointing, especially for people who have such problems like yours, but weren’t miles and miles from a tower or towers in your case.

For me, I expected a possibility of being disappointed, because my 4G phone sometimes gets only one bar, and my 3G phone used to drop calls unless I went outside. Instead, I’m relieved and delighted I get such good speed (average download of 90, never below 35), and I haven’t gotten a one bar signal even once on the gateway. I get a steady three bars when the gateway is in the window, and two bars that work well in a few other places, the best of the two-bar spots being below the window.

And the window I use happens to be the one that is closest to the tower 5 miles away, where there is only one wall of my chicken wire and stucco (faux adobe) house to get to the signal through if it is below the window.The rest of the house shields me from connecting to the tower 10 miles away in another direction where I would probably get a slow speed. 

I presume that T mobile had enough success among their first 100,000 users, one-third which was rural with two-thirds city, that they will continue their expansion plans with 5G home internet.

A year from now more people will have 5G phones, and they won’t be the first in their neighborhoods finding out if T mobile home internet works for them.

About what you said at the end, that it all costs money to try. I agree it is a bad situation.

One commenter who was trying T mobile home internet, said that when he discontinued his high-speed cable service, they sent him an offer to reconnect for $20/month for one year. He was paying $110/month. So he’s going to keep both his services, and see if his T mobile will get better maybe. Right now it was working well for a while, but started glitching out. He has that luxury.

Those kinds of offers are sometimes available to city and suburban people, but never to people in rural areas. As I have mentioned before, I was considering Starlink, but then the $500 for equipment and $100/month, keeping snow off the satellite dish in winter, slower speeds in the rain. I thought I’d wait.

T mobile has an offer for certain models of  iphone, that customers with any phone plan can download a special T mobile app and use T mobile’s service for one month free, just to see how it is in their area. No signing up for anything, giving out credit card info or anything.

I consider your situation and story to be among the 10% worst cases, probably. But when you consider that 5G was hardly anywhere a year ago, and now it is all over, almost, even though there are pockets where it won’t work or it’s terrible, maybe in 6 months that will change.

In 2001, I was living in a more isolated area than I am now, and there was talk of the “last-mile” connectivity for rural users about a new wireless technology WiMax. For 8 years they were talking about it as a wireless solution for rural users, and it never went commercial in the US at all.  

5G is different. 5G is going to only get better and better from a technology standpoint. From a practical standpoint through, maybe with more people crowding the towers, that could still be a problem. But that shouldn’t be the problem for rural users, only city users.

I think it would be nice if T mobile would at least tell you that if in a few months, they get the issues worked out in your area and speeds are up, they give you the offer of trying it free for a month, and if you like it, the $50 price, if that’s what you were paying before. But they probably don’t do stuff like that.

I felt like I was in the clutches of telephone companies decades ago, up until I ditched my landline. This is the first time I’m the one doing the clutching, hanging on to this amazing 5G service I get, hoping it continues through the future months and years.

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I have done multiple factory resets and even purchased a external router for wifi instead of using the built in wifi so all the ssids are turned off with a ethernet cable going to the router that i connect my wifi devices to.

Did someone say your wifi could be the problem, and that you should try an external router? An external router is usually only necessary if the wifi isn’t reaching all the parts of your house you want it to be reaching. (That can easily be the case with the T mobile 5G gateway because the wifi range of it is not very good.)

Another thing using an external router can do is relieve your gateway (modem/router) of its router duties, thereby helping to keep it a little cooler, in addition to making the wifi signal go farther.

Although the best YouTube vlogger on issues concerning T mobile home internet that I’ve found, Nater Tater (his channel name), uses a mesh network successfully, I think someone mentioned getting slower speeds with his router connected. Maybe it depends on kind of router or settings. But the router itself can’t enhance signal strength from the tower or improve connection speed. I guess  you probably understand that.

You mentioned something about maps of towers. I agree. It’s all confusing trying to figure out what tower has what equipment, and at what power they are operating. I’ve read where some towers can have more than one company’s equipment attached, and know that to be a case with the tower I connect to.

The tower I connect to is owned by a private local internet provider, and when I saw it on my mapper, I realized they must rent space out on it to T mobile.

Tim… thank you for sharing your insights in your post! I have been having a similar issue and your post is the only thing I found that directly addresses the problem. You are a scholar and a gentleman!

In my case, my secondary signal drops from time to time. When that happens my connection is basically useless. At that point, I run a continuous ping [ping www.google.com -t] and see ping spikes that always look the same. They build up over 4 pings and then drop back down. Something like this:

 

ping 1: 78ms

ping 2: 245ms

ping 3: 679 ms

ping 4: 1084 ms

ping 5: 84 ms

ping 6: 455 ms

ping 7: 872 ms

ping 8: timed out

 

After a while, magically, the signal will stabilize and reconnect on the secondary signal and all my pings are sub 100ms.

What I don’t understand is why the secondary signal drops, at all. Why not just stay connected?

Any insights on that?

Thanks again!!

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In my case, my secondary signal drops from time to time. When that happens my connection is basically useless. At that point, I run a continuous ping [ping www.google.com -t] and see ping spikes that always look the same. They build up over 4 pings and then drop back down. Something like this:

 

ping 1: 78ms

ping 2: 245ms

ping 3: 679 ms

ping 4: 1084 ms

ping 5: 84 ms

ping 6: 455 ms

ping 7: 872 ms

ping 8: timed out

 

After a while, magically, the signal will stabilize and reconnect on the secondary signal and all my pings are sub 100ms.

What I don’t understand is why the secondary signal drops, at all. Why not just stay connected?

Any insights on that?

 

Thanks for your kind remarks. If you told me the timing out on your continuous ping test was happening all the time, instead of only when your secondary signal is dropped, I would suggest turning your firewall off, at least temporarily, to see if it stops that. You might try that anyway, to see if might stop you from dropping the secondary signal.

To turn the firewall off in Windows 10, you hit the Windows key, type in “firewall” and then OPEN, and then on the left you can go to a menu item that gives you the option of turning the firewall off.

If it works, then you’ll  want to explore what firewall setting you can change to keep it working, but get the firewall back on, because you don’t want to just leave your firewall off.

Your continuous ping pattern being rather high and then timing out when you have the primary alone suggests its unstable and that’s probably similar to my experience where I live, that the 4G LTE signal is less stable, on my phone anyway. 

Now that I’ve had the gateway for over a month, by finding the position in the window facing the tower, I haven’t had the issue of dropping to a slow primary-only signal even once.

Have you fully explored trying all manner of positions for your gateway, seeing if there might be one that helps stop you from dropping the secondary signal? (You didn’t say, so that’s why I’m asking that.)

Also, just to see how my continuous ping is -- I haven’t done that test in years -- it’s of note that my continuous ping does not time out and fluctuates between 50 and 150, even though I rarely get a ping of over 50 on a standard test. So that you are getting continuous pings of sub 100ms is good on the 5G signal pair.

 

 

Thank you for the suggestions. My firewall has already been neutered so I think I can eliminate that.

Its harder for me to move my router around for reasons I can’t disclose here. Lol. But, I think your point is well taken. There must be something happening with stability in my signal that is making the router drop my 5g band. I will experiment with that. Hopefully, if I figure it out, I will remember to come on here and update the thread.

Also, I’m very glad to hear that you have a stable, strong signal. I bet you are so happy! I know I will be if I can get it to stabilize. I have had CenturyLink DSL for years and OMG…. torture! Of course you had dial up so I can’t complain. I mean seriously… how is dial up still a thing? :)))

Thanks for responding!

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This has been an interesting thread. I got the T-Mobile GW on the beta program back in early January  and the GW ran solid until the end of June with little to no attention. Speeds were relatively good so I did not take a great deal of focus on mine. Then in July repeated tower disconnects of both the primary and secondary signal became a daily frustration. I did a fair amount of investigation and tinkered with my T-Mobile GW/router for weeks. I made 4 support calls and did a great deal of investigating. In my case the tower, i finally confirmed, is 5.3 miles line of sight with no obstructions. The primary signal always locks on B2 and the secondary signal picks up on n71. Well, I could see the RSRP and RSRQ and SNR values were commonly in the good to excellent range but the signal drops over and over were irritating. In my investigations I came across the waveform.com site and they have an very good guide about the device and a step by step for connecting an external MIMO antenna to the router. Well, once I paid attention to the design of the router it gave me ideas. If you examine the device you can see there are 4 5G antennas and 4 WIFI antennas and they are clearly labeled. What I took away from that was a more detailed investigation of systematically rotating the can to influence the exposure of the antenna responsible for the 5G n71 connection. I found I could give up a bar on the B2 LTE signal and pick up 4 bars on the 5G n71 and low and behold the speed tests improved nicely. While testing i used a Linux client to run concurrent PINGs to 8.8.8.8 9.9.9.9 & 1.1.1.1, i.e. google, quad9, and cloud flare DNS servers. When the disconnects took place is was obvious and the PING latency for each was easy to compare and get a clear picture of when the tower connection returned and improved or became unstable. For the investigation of how the gateway was running I used my MacBook Pro with a CAT 6 cable connected direct to the router on LAN1. The HTML interface on a computer is much better than the mobile application though it lacks advanced functionality it really needs. The overview and status pages were quite helpful in getting better visibility to operation. Knowing the signal strength, signal quality and signal to noise ratio are really helpful in understanding what your connections are doing. I recorded the values over and over and evaluated operation when the unit would ONLY pick up the primary B2 channel and fail to maintain any connection to the n71 channel. Once I started experimenting with rotating the can to influence the signal wash over the various antennas I discovered how much that could help. I read about others complaining about heat and the influence of heat on operation so I put my router outside on the patio, in the shade under the second story deck above in 88 degree weather and for 5 hours it ran solid without a single signal drop for a period of time. It never threw any alarms for over heating. Sure it was running warmer when I brought it in but it returned to a cooler state and suffered no ill effects. The testing was done to confirm, in my mind, that the location inside the glass door was still a good place or not to have it. Given the download speeds of 157-170 Mbs and 50+ Mbs upload testing with speedtest.net I feel it is doing pretty well. The key though to getting it to favor the n71 channel. Upon the fourth call with T-Mobile the support engineer did confirm that they had received multiple trouble calls on that tower and were upgrading it. I had seen the disruptions and even on Monday morning when the T-Mobile engineer contacted me it bounced but after that it has been stable. The take away for me is that being out on the edge of the range of the signal where it is still in the good range and has good to excellent signal quality means that if I decide to buy the external MIMO antenna I can probably improve the communication 3-4 dBm and not have to be so concerned about having it in a specific window. It will also allow better utilization of the 2.4 and 5 ghz WIFI signals in the house. I have seen pretty good signal strength with the router either centered upstairs or downstairs and I am using it to cover 3300 square feet of home on two levels. Actually I am pretty impressed with the unit though I do feel the antenna design might be a bit limiting. If you slip the outer shell off and look at it the antenna layout is super obvious as it is all tagged for 5G-1, 5G-2 etc… and WIFI-1, WIFI-2, etc… After seeing the document at waveform.com a neighbor told me he had dropped his SIM into the replacement router by mistake and it was stuck somewhere in the can. Well, I have handled networking gear for 22 years so I offered to get the SIMs out of it. That is when I got a real good look at the design of the router. My take away is that if you need to remove and replace a SIM, as was the case here, be sure to have the router on its side with the SIM carrier so the retention screw is to the right of the SIM when you carefully remove the nano SIM. If you turn the can upside down and try to remove the SIM it can fall right out of the carrier and into the slot and get stuck in there. It was fairly simple to get it out but it took some small tweezers and care to get it to come back out. The SIM carrier does NOT hold the nano SIM at all. The SIM card just rest on the carrier and can easily fall out or off the carrier. From what I could see it is a pretty simple task to connect an external MIMO antenna to the router and that would probably make many marginal installations better. We are in rural East TN with pastures and farms between us and the tower so I don’t expect much more but the T-Mobile home internet router solution is 10X the speed I had in CA with bonded DSL lines and $25/month less. My only other option was Hughes net, so well, that was not going to happen. They would have been $20 more per month after two months with a 2 year contract for a solution with higher latency. Duh… not on my watch.  Now that the tower upgrade was done it appears to be a positive improvement. Like previous posts in this thread it is my hope that if anyone reads this and it helps them to improve their solution then it is worth the time sharing as T-Mobile support can help customers some but we can also help one another. 

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I felt like I was in the clutches of telephone companies decades ago, up until I ditched my landline. This is the first time I’m the one doing the clutching, hanging on to this amazing 5G service I get, hoping it continues through the future months and years.

What are you kidding?  Do you repeat that 3 times while clicking your heels together?

 

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OK very very interesting thread!!!

Just may have saved T-Mobile a customer.

Several takeaways.

-The download speed you get on your phone in the same spot has nothing to do with what you will get on the can.

-Take all the signal strength, SNR, bars, everything and forget about it as none of it matters.

-Fact you can get better download speed with less bars again forget about them.

I started out in a window that I could see the tower with m eyes. There it is line of site from the window can in that window. Good signal all looks good how can you get any better you can see the tower it’s right there. Crap speed total crap speed was getting ready to send it back and stick with Comcast.

This thread popped up gave it a read yea took a while. Took the can on a UPS with my laptop moved around the house doing just download speed tests. Found several places with good download speed that just did not make sense. Not near a window, tower nowhere in sight, in the middle of a room. Crazy acceptable download speed. Tried several windows with towers not good speed this does not make any sense.

Made a list of places and found that many inside places gave good speeds. In the end put it in the center of my home and it is there now with good speed. Just for giggles I moved it to the window where I can see the tower man it is right there you can see it and 2m download speed total crap. Move it back to the center of my home where I have worse signal, worse readings, less bars, and I get speed.

So now we leave it sit here for a few days, a week, and let’s see how we do. I don't need that much speed just enough to have 2 zoom calls my wife on one me on the other and maybe a kid watching a 4k show.

Again forget bars, signal strength, all that stuff the only thing that matters is speed and you may get that with less bars and worse signal.

 

 

 

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I tend to agree the download speed of one device or another could have no bearing on the matter. The radios and antenna configurations could be very different the same as drivers etc… but as a reference point for trouble shooting having multiple devices did help here. The reporting by the software and/or the LED panel on top of the Nokia router are not very impressive. The signal strength indicator is just a quick reference so sure it is probably not sufficient. It does take effort and attention to optimize the placement of the router. I would speculate that the current location of the router in the middle of the house may have something to do with the signal bounce off surfaces in the house. It does seem crazy wrong that having it in the window with direct line of sight to the tower would not provide a better reception. It is easy to overlook screens that are not nylon or in one odd case here I discovered my wife and daughter were pulling down the “metal” blind inside the glass door which totally shielded the router. They did it to themselves but did not think about the aluminum blind between the glass when using it to darken the room. 

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I tend to agree the download speed of one device or another could have no bearing on the matter. The radios and antenna configurations could be very different the same as drivers etc… but as a reference point for trouble shooting having multiple devices did help here. The reporting by the software and/or the LED panel on top of the Nokia router are not very impressive. The signal strength indicator is just a quick reference so sure it is probably not sufficient. It does take effort and attention to optimize the placement of the router. I would speculate that the current location of the router in the middle of the house may have something to do with the signal bounce off surfaces in the house. It does seem crazy wrong that having it in the window with direct line of sight to the tower would not provide a better reception. It is easy to overlook screens that are not nylon or in one odd case here I discovered my wife and daughter were pulling down the “metal” blind inside the glass door which totally shielded the router. They did it to themselves but did not think about the aluminum blind between the glass when using it to darken the room. 

 

Today things are not as good in that spot down 30-70 varies.

When I test in windows I remove the metal screen.

None of this makes sense and sure I get the phone and can are diff but so odd that my phone gets 10 times the download speed in the same spot. Further the day I got this can I set it on my desk, it was hot from being in the UPS truck. I turned it on and was getting 300 down, I put in in the window that is direct line of sight of the tower and was getting 500+ no problem. I said this is great I left it, to bad I did not check the bands that day. Overnight it got updated to the latest FW and then I was getting 1-9 down. Noting I do brings back anything over 100 down. But my phone can easy get 300-500 in many spots around my home. But the best I can do with the can is 100 and that seems rare now. I think if I could get 50 it would be enough to dump cable. But what baffles me the can was getting 500+ and now it just cannot no matter where I put it. Note I don't think it is related to the new FW if it was other would be having the same issue I would think.

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More testing with long extension cord today.

Found another spot that today is working ok 100 down that’s all I need if it says that way.

For sure tuning the can makes a big diff so you do have to test, rotate, test, rotate…

Nothing about this device makes any sense really but in the end all I care is can it supply me with what I need for internet.

Also been doing some reading and at one point I had 500+ down so that means I had to have an N41 signal right? But looking at all the cell maps there is only 1 tower in my area registered with N41 and really it’s to far I think 5 miles. So now I wonder how did I get that speed with no towers in the area that would support it? I wonder it TM is upgrading the closer towers and was testing when I caught that speed?

 

 

I get b66/n41 currently which is normally guaranteed to be better than the old 10 Mbps max per phone line I got with DSL for the last decade. Speeds have been fairly inconsistent although normally (but not always!) better than 10 Mbps. I get 3 bars with b66 and 2 with n41.

I have seen over 200 Mbps but also disconnects from time to time. Usually it’s over 100 Mbps which is still great for me. I’ve had it for 3 days now.

I like using https://fast.com/ for a quick Netflix specific test and http://www.dslreports.com/speedtest to keep track. That’s ‘http’ and not ‘https’ since the secure connection doesn’t always work with the test for some reason.

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Hey timsw, et. al.,

(I you want to skip my intro - go down to “=====”)

I’ll join the club of reporting here.

First, I have been programming since 1968 - my have things changed.

Also, I am a ham radio guy - “extra class” (3 rd level license).

I also have a brother who was 30 years a Verizon network guy last number of years in VOIP.

I thought I knew something - until I met this device ...

I have lived in a house in a reception “hole” for ever.  Things good up the street in one direction, good down the street in another direction - just not at my house.

I got t-mobile in 1998 (actually it one of the companies it acquired later).

I have lived with having to go outside or to the top of my 3 story house to make a call.

Finally I got a t-mobile “cell spot” which was a total savior. I good finally be in any place in the house and it worked.

But my internet has always been  AT&T - dialup, then DSL, then U-Verse. ALWAYS lousy - but my only other choice was more expensive and super unreliable Comcast.

So the best I ever had was UVerse 10M down and 1.2M up. Yeah - and for $60 / mo.

So I jumped all over this deal.

It is definitely a keeper because at worst I am doing 6 times better than UVerse and $10 cheaper a month.

=====================

BUT - TO MY EXPERIENCE WITH 5G21-12W-A.

Top floor - windows N/S/E

Mid floor - windows N/S

basement - window S

Now line of sight to nothing - hill N/S/E.  West house 20 ft away, trees, etc.

Brick house N, siding S/E/W.

all floors, “about” the same” - but getting 2 of 4 bands - varying from time to time.

pairs are bands are:

b2 / n71

b2 / n41

b12 / b2

b66 / n71

b66 / n41

b12 is seldom seen.  b2/n71 is most common.

ALWAYS 2 bars of Five on the unit.

Just taking B2 ones and looking at

Location      Direction  RSSI   RSRQ   RSRP   SINR

Basement    S              -83      -11         -113     8.2

Ground Flr   S              -76      -11         -107     6.3

Top Flr         S              -73      -12         -105     6.8

NOTE - the SINR 8.2 in the basement - MAKES NO SENSE - especially on same band/tower and facing a thick woods and hill.

But just showing readings from the basement and internet speeds from computer on network plugged into the can’s ethernet port, taken at various times of day over 2 days:

Band          Up       Down

b2 / n71      112      14.6

                    89        7.2

                    177      20.2

                    171      17.8

                    126      18.7

                    174       23.1

                    143       15

                    148       19.6

b2 / n41       166       7.4

                    205.3    6.5

 

I am assuming difference must be loads on the cell tower(s). 

I get no better speeds - on average - at ANY of the other locations.

 

And yeah - the UI’s are pretty bad.  Lack of settings worse.

The lack of making the 2.4GHz Wifi to anything but 1/6/11 is really bad as I have signals IN THE HOUSE from neighbors nearly as strong as mine, and the best channel is 8 - but cannot use.

So I have external ASUS router - and using wifi from it.

 

That’s my story …

Steve

 

 

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Interesting that you see so many different channels. I would guess you are in a higher density population area than where I am. It would probably be beneficial for you to investigate the tower locations about your area. I would recommend going to cellmapper.net and locate the various T-Mobile tower locations around your house. It should help clarify why signal strength is better in one location in the house vs another. Plus if your windows and screens are older make be sure to rule out aluminum screens as an influence on the signal penetration into the home. Given you are a veteran ham radios operator (pretty cool) it would surprise me if you have not considered this already. If you have been through the thread you may have come across the reference I made to waveform.com and their guide for MIMO antennas and the router. https://www.waveform.com/a/b/guides/hotspots

Here the B2 4G LTE band seems the most prevalent and n71 for the 5G NR channel. I have mapped out the tower locations and signals sent out from the 4G and 5G towers here and that has helped me clarify router location in our house. You know how important a good antenna is given your background so looking into the MIMO antennas is a good thing. 

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Itinkeralot,

Thanks for the reply.

I am in a NW suberb of Atlanta - outside the I285 perimeter.

I have looked into the MIMO antennas and getting into the box - yeah - as a ham that was irresistible to avoid looking into.

But currently - it seems - I am fine with 50M+ down and 10+ up.  I am not a gamer or streamer - and I have an advanced antenna (necessary) in the attic for TV and MythTV as my VCR - the same box running Xubuntu Linux has been at it for 11 years now … and has only required that I replaced the external video decoder box (because the first one failed).

Never had cable …

 

I DO appreciate pushing me to cell mapper - had not looked into it yet.

Interesting results:

Nearest 5G tower - 3 miles to West.  I have no west window.

All the 5G towers are basically next to I75.  Which handles a TRMENDOUS amount of traffic - 11+ lanes EACH DIRECTION when it hits I 285.  Ridiculous.

 

There is a CLUSTER of 3 tower at a park nearby  0.7 miles.

BUT there is a hill between us. A direct line to tower from my upper floor would be about 50 down in the dirt or so …

 

But sitting at my desk IN THE BASEMENT - no windows - my phone shows a B12 connection to a tower 0.76 miles - to the SW.  This is the only one Ihave been able to identify.

 

At the basement window I am connected to a B2 but I cannot find it by PCI, or any other number I have found.  Cellmapper wants not accept the 7 digit CellID from OpenSignal - and I cannot seem to make it lock onto the one that the T-Mobile can is seeing.

Unfortunately the CAN only gives PCI, Band, EARFCN.

And try as I might, I have not been able to located that tower on Cellmapper.

Also - it seems that the 3 programs I have to try to find this stuff - all disagree to some extant and worse they use deferent sets of identifiers.

For example I have found no one else that uses the eNB ID that cellmapper uses.

 

 

So at this point I still have no idea where the b2, b66, n41 and n71 I sometimes hit are.

 

 

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iTinkeralot was tactful enough  to send me direct message saying I had my up and down columns reversed.

Thanks … wrote it in a hurry and somehow reversed them.

Maybe because I am left handed …

 

 

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