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.

 

 


49 replies

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If you have an Apple iPhone put it into “field test mode” and see where it connects. To get into field test mode on the iPhone turn off WIFI on it and then dial/call: *3001#12345#* From field test mode you can find the cell identifier possibly. I am just outside of Tusculum TN so I had a pretty solid idea of the tower the router connects to. Today I ran field test mode on my iPhone 12 and found the cell identifier that the phone radio connects to. I can see on cellmapper.net the cell identifier and confirm that is the tower. The only odd element here was I found the cell identifier and it was tagged as 5G which the phone also reported to being connected with. In cellmapper I found that by selecting the 4G LTE NOT 5G. The information on cellmapper is not updated. I joined the T-Mobile home internet BETA back in January so the fact that the information about that tower is not updated on cellmapper does not surprise me too much. I am highly confident that the tower IS indeed the one the router connects to as it was confirmed with the coordinates via a conversation with a T-Mobile support engineer. If people would just be kind to the support engineers they would find they receive mutual respect. I went out of my way to maintain a level tone and tried to be helpful with them and it got results. It bothers and boggles me that people tend to seem to think putting lots of negative trash on the forums will get positive results. 

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New data:

Wife got home with ere Galaxy GS9 and I tested with it - turns out - as you said - cellmapper is out of date which is why I could not find the cell towers the T-Mobile CAN was finding.

They are ALL on the same physical tower - the 0.7 miles away tower through a TON of heavy woods - but then only Line-of-sight (except for woods) cell tower I have anywhere near.

in addition to the 12,66 it says in cellmapper, it has b2, b41 and b71.

So that accounts for every connection the can has made from anywhere in the house. and the PCI’s match and the cellmapper cell identifier when I could get a phone to give it to me.

Again, to describe my situation - imagine a canyon (Atlanta is hilly), and I live 2/3 way up the canyon - and down the canyon is basically straight west.

And I have NO west windows.

So the North and Sorth, west corner windows are the best available and where I get the best signal - EVEN in the basement, (which again, surprises the heck out of me).

 

so - if I come to a point of needing it - mounting a MIMO on the west side of the house - 3 stories up - should actually give me a SUPER signal … I should probably do that sometime before I can’t climb a 32 ladder anymore ...

 

as for other matters - not quite technical ...

 

I agree totally on the “tone”, iTineralot - in fact, I have ALWAYS for well more than a decade got prompt and helpful response from t-mobile service.  And I try not to comment on forums (and I don’t do social media), unless I have something to “add” to the conversation.  I have not bothered t-mobile this time, since I knew this was basically brand new with them - and the poor service call folks were probably covered up. 

I don’t comment “too” much about the limited S/W -because I am hoping that gets better - and the cell towers get better, etc. 

I don’t have an Apple anything - almost everyone else in my extended family does - and I am so fed up with M$ - that as soon as my current Dell Laptop finally dies (it is only 2.5 years old and the screen is “separating”), I think I will finally get a MacBook.

The problem is ALL the S/W I have built up (and written) over the years for Windoze.

 

 

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I was just thinking if now have the towers located you might be able to leverage one of the north or south facing windows on the third floor. Assuming there are some. If you decided to use a MIMO external antenna you might find it best to not put it on the west wall. The reasoning is that if the noise from other towers is shielded on the north or south facing window sides of the house then you could still point the antenna west and achieve the end goal without climbing a big dangerous ladder. When I spoke with the waveform engineer he stated it is a good practice to leverage the installation to shield the antenna from unwanted influences. In the long run even using the panel MIMO would be a huge improvement and make it much more satisfying. It is a bit of expense as you also need to get lightning arrestors with the antenna. Waveform will also provide the coax cables with a custom length if your needs were such. For me I would need roughly 50 feet of cable to locate the router more central to meet the service delivery with the WIFI inside the house. If i can take full advantage of the onboard WIFI with the 802.11ax then it is actually cheaper to use the external MIMO antenna than add a mesh WIFI solution to cover the low coverage locations.

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Actually we have a covered screened porch on the Southside I could put the antenna on the side of the house on the South Side while standing on the roof of that porch. I had been thinking of that after discussing it with my wife. But I was wondering if I would be better off with the yagi versus the panel. Since I now know that I'm getting everything from one particular point.

I certainly hear you on the lightning arrestor. I actually have two 12 ft copper ground wires on a 12ft to part on the south side of the house grounding the house wiring. Because I found out that crazy builders had not even grounded the interior grounds. I also use a one shot lightning arrester on my ham antenna.  And PHYSICALLY unscrew the coax cable outside when not using it.  We have a LOT of lightning here in Atlanta.

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On Monday just go to waveform.com and have a chat with one of their support engineers. I would guess he would recommend the MIMO panel antenna vs the YAGI due to the trees. The guide they have also covers all that. The YAGIs are best for line of sight with no obstructions as I read it. When I had a chat with them he pretty much went to the YAGI due to the fact that i have line of sight with no trees between me and the tower. The attachment is a clip taken from a picture looking north at the tower. A YAGI here is a clear winner. We tend to have a fair amount of lightning here as well and we are on the top of a ridge.

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iTinkeralot - Wow - nice.  Looks like a place I would like to live.

And looks like a place one of my brothers lives in TN.

The other two also live outside of small towns. 

BTW - on lightning - I am a REAL believer in it.

Neighbor on one side - lightning hit tree on the other side of the yard next to the other sides fence and exploded bark all the way across the fence in between and into our yard. from about 15 ftup the tree.

Houses across in the front and diagonal in the front - lightning hit trees and came in on cable line and from there fried just about every piece of electronics in the house - including garage door opener.

Both houses - separate times.

We had a big oak tree in the front hit - and one side of it from a split about 20 feet up - just died totally.

With that and having 4 different houses no more than 2 houses away have trees fall on them from near tornado winds over the years - I had all trees that might split the house cut down in the last 10 years.

A number of other folks have too.

This is a 45-50 year old neighborhood and one of the largest trees I had cut - within 50 foot of house - was an oak over 120 ft tall.  the base where they cut measured 5.5 feet wide - and I counted tree rings putting it back to about 1870 - soon after Sherman came through and burned nearly everything in Atlanta.

 

We also live in what is called tornado alley - or at least GA’s version.  We have had 3 tornados within 1 miles of house in the 37 years we have lived here. The alley stretches from mid AL to to here.

the other reason not to have large trees ….

 

 

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I tried to post to this thread earlier but it was sent to moderation and never showed.

I’m on B66/n41 no matter where I place the router with B66 getting 3 bars at best and n41 getting two.

I get ~225Mbps at best although there has been some brief instability in my first week with speeds temporarily dropping. My old internet was so awful that it’s still 10-20 times faster with TMobile. I ordered the external antenna and will see what that does for me. 

My TMobile/Nokia (cylinder) gateway is sitting high up at the top of a cabinet on the north west of my house. I don’t use the wireless that comes with the gateway since I have a better one in use already. I hooked the cylinder up to my LAN via Cat-6. I had to switch everything else to the 192.168.12.x subnet which was annoying but had no problems beyond that.

I tried seeing if I could move the router and get switched to the n41 band but all I got was a really slow B66 connection. There’s probably just one tower I can really reach.

In my particular location I have mountains to the East and a valley to the West. I assume that really fake looking tree down the street is the tower 🙂 Local “geographic features” prevented me from using other wireless services. I tried signing up and was told it wouldn’t work so was really happy when the 5G router worked. I wish I had known sooner as the older LTE router probably would have been an improvement over my old DSL. I can’t get good digital TV signals here for many stations btw.

Line of sight actually goes down towards the tower so it has trees and houses and whatnot in the way so I’m good with 3 bars if that’s all I ever get. It’s still better than the 10Mbps DSL phone lines I had for the previous 10+ years.

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The B66 is probably the primary signal and is a 4G LTE band 4 extension band operating on the 1700-2100 Mhz frequency. The n41 is a 5G NR channel operates at 2.5 GHz and is commonly seen on the secondary signal. it may likely be the tower the router associates with only has the n41 radio currently but there might be, or could be plans to also deploy an n71 5G NR there. The way to know the location of the tower and know what radios are there is to goto www.cellmapper.net and select T-Mobile as the carrier and then look for both 4G and 5G NR towers in your area. If you are going to target for the connection with an external MIMO antenna you need to confirm the PCI listed in the T-Mobile web UI with those towers you locate in the area. Then you can obtain the best results with less effort when making the connection. If you have a T-Mobile SIM and iPhone you can put it in “field test mode” *3001#12345#* and get pretty good information. Android phones have some locator apps available you can download for the task. It really does help. Using the information at cellmapper.net is very good to have as well. Don’t make assumptions. With just a little homework you can have the data in hand to make an informed decision as to where to locate the router and an external antenna. I spent considerable time with this router here and through multiple sources, including confirming on a call with T-Mobile support the tower coordinates and location. Using the cellular statistics, the overview information and status information from the router web UI over time recording values you can profile the operation of the router. If you are going to use an external antenna from waveform talk to those guys. They are helpful and the guide they have for the Nokia router is very good. 

I had a similar situation where my options for internet were limited to satellite or T-Mobile home internet. There was no contest there. I commonly get 10X the speed that I had with DSL from the service we had in CA and at less cost. It was a no brainer. I found the WIFI from this Nokia router/gateway actually works pretty well. I get very good results here in our 3300 sq ft home with just the Nokia WIFI. If the clients have good radios they do well. Only my MacBook Pro gave me grief so I wire it in with CAT 6 cable and it is good to go. It does take a little time to dial in the router location in some places to get the best results but it is well worth the time and effort to get the facts and experiment. Good luck, I hope it turns out to be as good a solution for you as it has for me. 

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I have posted in many threads and I have done tons of testing.

At this point I have 2 places in my home that the can can go.

Here are some issues I have discovered.

I have 2 4G towers one is .5 miles on the west the other is 2 miles direct line of site no obstruction to the south.

I have only one 5G tower in range 1.5 miles to the north west.

If I locate the can on the west side it gets the 4G tower and the 5G tower ok signal not great but ok. I get speeds day not so great in the 50’s many times much less. At night as in 2am good speeds over 100. So seems these towers are overloaded in the day and I would think so there are several hundred homes there.

If I locate the can in the south window it gets great signal from the 4G tower as it is viewable with just the eye. But it gets not so good 5G signal since that is around to the NW. Speeds are like 1-2 as the can wants to use the 5G that is really bad signal.

Now testing with a phone. Phone on 4G on the west window same issue as the can slow 50ish. Same with 5G as these towers I know have many ppl on them.

Take the phone to the south window where it gets that 2 mile away tower that has no homes around it and the phone easily gets 150+ down.

I don't understand why the can does not get the same speed in the south window. Seems the can if it has a 5G signal even if crap it wants to use it even though the 4G signal it has would yield way better speed.

Thoughts?

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007BondM16 have you identified the tower connections 100% i.e. you know the PCI the router reports for both the 4G and 5G NR channels? Use http://www.cellmapper.net/ and confirm the tower(s) that are used as the PCI, physical cell ID can be determined and checked agains what the router reports. In my testing early on with this router I made incorrect assumptions and burned way too much time before I used cellmpapper to have 100% verification. I had a call with T-Mobile support they told me the tower coordinates, of the tower, and I confirmed it all using cellmapper.net to be clear about both the 4G and 5G NR connections. With that information you can know the radios that are present on the towers and see the 4G LTE cell identifications. Since the radios are not commonly omnidirectional it provides more clues as to what cell is sending in the location where you are. It takes a bit of time to pick it apart but is well worth the effort. Use that information and the reporting from the Nokia router to have the facts. One suggestion was made to use Opensignal to locate the tower but it does NOT provide sufficient detail nor does the app differentiate between carrier. It also does not currently support 5G NR signaling. Using www.cellmapper.net with a local computer takes a little to get used to but is very informative. When I open the web page it has me in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Africa. If everything is blue zoom out till you can see where you are on the map. Then orient yourself to where you need to be and dial it in. You would find using the T-Mobile USA - 310260 with a 5G tower search to start is less cluttered than using 4G LTE towers as a beginning. There are fewer 5G NR towers reported so it is not as cluttered and you can better see the details of the map. Going from one to the other is a simple and quick selection. In 5-10 minutes you will clearly know what T-Mobile towers are around you and be able to identify the one(s) that you connect to via the PCI reported. The cell phone and router may or may not latch onto the same tower. An iPhone in field test mode will identify the PCI just as the router identifies the PCI for each signal. Start with confirmation of the actual tower the router links to. If you have speeds over 100 Mbs down then your RSRP and RSRQ and SNR values should be decent. 

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007BondM16 I forgot to mention that with this router here I discovered with a little rotation of the router I could get the signal of the 5G NR to have 2-3 dBm improvement. I know some users have stated rotating the router made no difference but for me it did help. When I was able to get the 5G NR signal to go up by rotating the router the B2 4G LTE signal would tend to go down pretty much the same amount. I know using the bars on the LED panel on top are meh… but with the n71 5G NR signal improved 2-3 dBm I would get 4 bars vs. 3 bars reported & in test results & RSRP, RSRQ & SNR values plus considering latency & down/up load results my communication was improved. If you are no more than half a mile to two miles from the towers you should get some impressive results. Your post does not seem to note the 5G band but with +150 Mbs down that is not bad. Here n71 extended range LTE is the only option as none of the 5G N/NR towers in the area have n41 radios currently. Even if they are installed it would not help me as I am 5.3 miles from the tower. The 5G NR n41 2.5 GHz band is supposed to have good range and penetration but I don’t know that it would be good for +5 miles out. There can be multiple cell configurations so knowing the cell ID would be helpful in the location process. Sorry for the long response. Hope something here helps you get improvement.

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Yet another datapoint for those who may be testing.

(BTW, iTinkeralot, I am definitely going to look into the external antenna - but quite busy at the moment, it may be 2-3 months).

 

I have continued monitoring my unit and doing speed test BECAUSE it switches among cell tower bands.

I have traced them ALL to the same tower I mentioned above - hidden by LOTS of trees but theoretically near line of site 0.7+ miles away.

What I have found is very interesting:

Speed measured with browser on laptop connected via ethernet cable:

Primary  Secondary  Down   Up

b2          n71             112.3    14.6
                                 177.2    20.2
                                 171.0    17.8
                                 126.6    18.7
                                 174.5    23.1
                                 143.0    15.0
                                 147.7    19.6

                                 124.5    19.5
b2          n41             165.9     7.4
                                 265.3     6.5

                                 170.3     4.64
b66        n41             186.5     9.13
 

As you can see the download speed increases, but the upload speed to to poor whenever n41 is in use,

whether b66 is primary or b2.

My guess is the n41 (2.5GHz) is scattered more by the trees and the n71 (600MHz) can make it through even though theoretically it is slower speed - but only, of course, given equal signal strengths.

It could also be that the n41 power of the T-Mobile CAN is insufficient to make it through the trees, for upload, but the cell tower has sufficient power to make it through the trees for reception by the CAN.

So you might keep that in mind - that the n71 will both go farther and through more obstacles than n41.

(And forget n260 or n261 - unless you live next to them with line of sight! - I think they are for mounting on buildings only.)

 

Another thing to consider - I think the cell towers are never omni-directional.  I.E. they have beam antennas that cover various beams depending on the need.

For example, one near me is pointing AWAY from me and is a VERY narrow beam designed to go straight down an incredibly heavy traffic road.

So even if you have 5 bands on a tower (I have at least that many on the one mentioned), They may or may not be pointing in your direction.

So it could be that n71 is more in my direction than the n41 one.

 

one thing you learn as an amateur radio operator - radio wave propagation is extremely complicated when you through in all the variables.

itinkeralot, from that photo, has a near perfect line of sight - assuming that antenna has a beam pointing in his direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is clear you are doing your homework. :wink: I would have to only take issue with the “I think” statement. You have put considerable thought into your analysis and your logic seems spot on with regard to the various channels and how they behave. I did a considerable amount of reading investigating the problem and I agree 100% radio wave propagation is extremely complicated. It would be easy to make a simple mistake standing up equipment on a tower. From what I have read the n71 band does have more reach than the n41 but one source did suggest n41 has good penetration. I guess it is all relative to power and lots of other factors. It is not like modulating a signal down a highly controlled path. The n260 or n261 bands are probably only going to be useful in cities and will probably be more expensive to have. I would guess they will be leveraged more for business customers. The n71 signal we receive down here is probably just one of multiple cell paths off that tower as it is just south of the highway and feeds signals along the highway and probably primarily south as the population north of that tower is pretty sparse. The cellmapper information about that string of towers is not “verified” information so it does not provide significant details like the 4G LTE information. The information from cellmapper is only as good as what is loaded into the database. 

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007BondM16 have you identified the tower connections 100% i.e. you know the PCI the router reports for both the 4G and 5G NR channels? Use http://www.cellmapper.net/ and confirm the tower(s) that are used as the PCI, physical cell ID can be determined and checked agains what the router reports. In my testing early on with this router I made incorrect assumptions and burned way too much time before I used cellmpapper to have 100% verification. I had a call with T-Mobile support they told me the tower coordinates, of the tower, and I confirmed it all using cellmapper.net to be clear about both the 4G and 5G NR connections. With that information you can know the radios that are present on the towers and see the 4G LTE cell identifications. Since the radios are not commonly omnidirectional it provides more clues as to what cell is sending in the location where you are. It takes a bit of time to pick it apart but is well worth the effort. Use that information and the reporting from the Nokia router to have the facts. One suggestion was made to use Opensignal to locate the tower but it does NOT provide sufficient detail nor does the app differentiate between carrier. It also does not currently support 5G NR signaling. Using www.cellmapper.net with a local computer takes a little to get used to but is very informative. When I open the web page it has me in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Africa. If everything is blue zoom out till you can see where you are on the map. Then orient yourself to where you need to be and dial it in. You would find using the T-Mobile USA - 310260 with a 5G tower search to start is less cluttered than using 4G LTE towers as a beginning. There are fewer 5G NR towers reported so it is not as cluttered and you can better see the details of the map. Going from one to the other is a simple and quick selection. In 5-10 minutes you will clearly know what T-Mobile towers are around you and be able to identify the one(s) that you connect to via the PCI reported. The cell phone and router may or may not latch onto the same tower. An iPhone in field test mode will identify the PCI just as the router identifies the PCI for each signal. Start with confirmation of the actual tower the router links to. If you have speeds over 100 Mbs down then your RSRP and RSRQ and SNR values should be decent. 

Yes rotation even very little can make a big diff.

 

I have not found an online source of tower data that is really even 75% up to date. At least in my area half of the towers are not even in the correct lat long. The 5G is almost not at all up to date as to which tower has what. I read that many towers and building are lower so they don't have to register the details with the FCC. Anyways I will have some more time to play in a few days had to do some pay the bills work lately.

 

But past few days I have not moved my can and speeds vary wide from 1 to 150 various times of the day. When I check the can signal always the same so seems to be congestion.

 

I do love all the in depth details you are going into I think it helps.

 

 

Just got the Gateway last Saturday. Speeds were terrible.  
 

Overnight the firmware updated to 1609.  Performance is better.  100 down and 10 up. Band b41. No 5G. 
 

Did factory reset last night.  This morning I was b2, then b66.  Speeds still bad. Moved it upstairs. Now I am back on b41 with 100/10. 

I think cellmapper has issues. 

I think the major problem is people look at the cell towers as omnidirectional.  They are anything but.   They are phased arrays that can steer the energy beaming it where they want. 

I have ordered a panel antenna kit from waveform.  We’ll see how that works.

I am north of Ringgold GA  

Retired electrical engineer that did control systems used to make cookies.

 

Dennis

 

 


 


 

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Just got the Gateway last Saturday. Speeds were terrible.  
 

Overnight the firmware updated to 1609.  Performance is better.  100 down and 10 up. Band b41. No 5G. 
 

Did factory reset last night.  This morning I was b2, then b66.  Speeds still bad. Moved it upstairs. Now I am back on b41 with 100/10. 

I think cellmapper has issues. 

I think the major problem is people look at the cell towers as omnidirectional.  They are anything but.   They are phased arrays that can steer the energy beaming it where they want. 

I have ordered a panel antenna kit from waveform.  We’ll see how that works.

I am north of Ringgold GA  

Retired electrical engineer that did control systems used to make cookies.

 

Dennis

 

IMO Cellmapper at least in my area is next to useless none of the tower data is even close to accurate.

What I have done is just drive around with my phone and do testing at the tower and out towards my home. The can is really fussy in rotation makes a big difference. Since I got the new firmware my can will not hold the 5G signal as the SNR is near 0 so it stays locked on LTE b66 I get 60-70 ish but seems stable. Note I am in a Ultra 5G coverage area so I have no idea why my can does not get att the very least an ok 5G signal. I am on the fence about the external antenna as I don't know how much it will really help. Testing with my phone very close to the towers only shows speeds in the 100 ish area. There is only one tower that is 3.5 miles away that gives 200ish speeds but my can will not ever lock on that tower as there are 2 closer towers one half mile, one 1 mile, oh yea another 2 miles. So if my 5G phone is not getting the speeds next to the towers I don't see how the can can.

 

One very odd thing is once in a while in just one window of my home the can and my phone can get 500+ speeds. It does not last sometimes I see it for minutes sometimes longer but then it’s gone and speeds in that window drop to10. Makes me think of the old days on CB and shortwave when signals would bounce off the atmosphere and I would be talking to someone on the other side of the world.

 

 
 


 

 

 

In my area n71 band is on towers next to the interstate.  At least cellmapper says they are there. That is 600 MHz band.  What used to be used by UHF channels like 39-55.  
My b41 tower was a Sprint cell. 
The app really needs some work as does the firmware.  At least there needs to be a search button to force it to find another tower.  It needs to remember and display previous towers along with SINR. This is not hard to do. 
 

Dennis

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I hooked up an external antenna and it helped not one bit. I still just get 2 bars on 5G as a secondary connection to go along with my 3 bars of 4G coverage, Walking around doesn’t seem to improve the connection but it’s hard to tell since the meter on the cylinder just shows the best 3bar connection and not specifically 5G. I don’t have a 5G phone to test with.

Looking at the Cellmapper web site I don’t see the only 5G connection I can get; N41 / PCI 7.

Supposedly my area has “5G Ultra Capacity” coverage but the towers to support that don’t show up on cellmapper.net; mostly just along the freeways. I guess it only has what users submit.

Maybe I should hook up the external antenna to the 4G line and try to get more than 3 bars.

Usually the 4G is much better than what I used to have but sometimes it’s spotty with even poorer performance than my old 10 megabit DSL.I suspect that the router doesn’t do that great of a job handling the drastically shifting speeds available so I get lots of bufferbloat and whatnot. Upload speeds are often < 1 megabit with tests often failing to even complete when there are slowdowns.

Edit: I still get 2 bars on my antenna for 5G even with the antenna disconnected so maybe I didn’t get it connected right. The again, it was the same with the internal antenna so perhaps I just can’t get a freaking 5G signal at my house despite being in a “5G ultra capacity” zone. :|

Cellmapper has multiple entries for T-Mobile when you search.  I found that when I looked up the b41 tower/cell I am connecting to.  Turns out it came from Sprint. I think one of the cell tower metrics is CID.  Long number.  First 6 digits are the carrier.  It showed up as T-Mobile Sprint not T-Mobile. 

We will see when the panel antenna gets here. 

I hope the software jockeys that wrote this are running it at their houses.  They need to eat their own dog food.  

I wrote control system software for a living. I know all software has bugs, those you know about and those you don’t.  The latter you really worry about. 

In the software business there is a saying…

“if builders built buildings the way programmers write programs, the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization.”

Users today are debugging the software.  Why do you think apps get updated so frequently?  Throw that spaghetti code against the wall and see if it sticks.  
 

Dennis
 

 

Metric is not CID, but CGI. 

Just correcting the record. 
 

Dennis

One more rant for the developers…

Around 8% of males in the US are colorblind. Red-green. I am one of those. 

The color choices for the signal strength bars on the top of the can are terrible. Difficult to distinguish.  

I hate the combo red/green LEDs   I can see it change  color but can’t tell you what it changed from and to   
 

Climbing down from soap box…

 

Dennis

 

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Depends on combination of bands as what download speed is. B2 with n71 I average over 50 Mbps download. But a lot more buffering trying to watch tv. B66 with n71 getting 15 to 40 Mbps has much less buffering. The horrible scenario is no secondary band. I too often get B71. Two bars but only a few kbps. Usually if I get any at all on B71 it’s 100 - 150 kbps!

Hello, I wanted to reply here to bump this post up and say thanks to the community for helping me fix my issue. I didn’t get into the depth of signal and tower mapping that others did here, but a specific part of the OP’s comments here stood out to me, and I thought might be helpful to others struggling with their connectivity/signal strength issues as well.

TL/DR from the OP:
“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.”

More on my specific experience, if you are interested...

I have been wrestling with spotty connectivity since I got the service a couple weeks ago, and experiencing similar problems as others are (overwhelmingly) reporting here. Super intermittent speeds, frequent drop-outs, needing to reset the gateway multiple times a day. For the most part it was working well enough, and even with the disruptions slightly preferable to the 40mbps DSL I was moving away from, but...really not ideal. So I spent 2 worthless hours on the phone with T-Mobile support, and a lot of time here combing through threads, considering buying a fan, asking for a new gateway, etc. 

Ultimately, the most important thing to me was the reliability of the signal to my main home PC, which acts as a media center for the house. We have lots of other devices that were working pretty well (Sonos, Fire TVs, phones/laptops, etc.) but the Windows 10 PC is down in the basement, and I could not get a dependable connection there even after buying a new PCI wifi card (TP-Link AC1200, fwiw). I was messing with the gateway settings, frequency bands, etc. and nothing really worked. I could sit at that desk with my laptop and pull 100+ mpbs while the PC was struggling to maintain single digits. Not great!

After reading this thread, I decided to revisit the very first assumption I made when setting up the gateway. It should be on an upper floor, by a window, to get the strongest signal, right? The best placement upstairs got me 3 bars, and seemed intuitively better than putting it in the basement, where I could only get 2 bars. But I found a location by a basement window (just 10 feet below my original placement), where even though I am only getting 2 bars, it DRASTICALLY improved my connectivity and signal strength to the PC and everywhere else. A little trade-off for a couple of the Fire TVs that it is now further away from, but still getting durable 40-80mbps for those, so no noticeable loss in streaming performance. I think moving it resulted in a change in the primary band I was connecting to (from 12 to 2) and this seemed to make the difference. 

So that’s my story, and my recommendation. Even though you might sacrifice a bar, do not be afraid to get creative with your placement, and see if you get better results with 2 bars then with 3. This really seemed to solve the issue for me, and will likely make the difference with me keeping the service rather than going back to DSL.

Best of luck to everyone...this was pretty frustrating and while I typically appreciate T-Mobile’s customer service, they are apparently pretty terrible on the home internet front. So while we are left to our own devices I’m glad there are helpful people like you all out there! :)  

One thing to be aware of with wireless signals — and this applies to both the OP’s experience and what @tjweller just posted — is that it’s important to understand how obstructions affect signal quality, AND the physics of how signals are obstructed. One of the most counterintuitive aspects is that if a signal has to pass through a solid object (a wall, window pane, etc.), the closer you get to that obstruction, the more of the signal it blocks.

The reason is simple trigonometry: When you pass through a solid object at an angle, it appears thinnest when you take an exactly perpendicular path (pass through it head-on). If you approach it at an angle, the farther from perpendicular you get, the thicker the object appears.

Consider this diagram:

Signals passing through solid objects​​​​​​

The red arrow represents a perpendicular path, the thickness of the object is the same as triangle side ‘a’. But if we take the blue path, the length of side ‘c’ represents the apparent thickness of the object (in terms of the wireless signal). The length of ‘c’ can be computed in terms of ‘a’ and the angle at ‘x’. (See formulas. The last one just solves from Pythagoras: c² = a² + b².)

When x is 45°, c is roughly 1.4×a. When it’s 30°, c is 2×a. At 15°, c grows to nearly 4×a.

Now, a wireless signal is nothing like a straight arrow; that’s a massive oversimplification. In truth, the properties of wifi signals are almost impossibly complicated, and calculating or predicting them is a science unto itself.

But the basic premise here still holds: A solid obstruction like a wall will obscure more of the signal being received at steep angles, when you’re right next to it.

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