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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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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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. 

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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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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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?

 

 

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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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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.

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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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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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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!

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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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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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