For help, advice and discussion about stuff not related to aviation. Play nice: no religion, no politics and no axe grinding please.
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By PaulSS
#1827555
We're in the process of buying a house where the local Internet, piped down the telephone line, is s....l....o....w and no sign of fibre at the moment. The current owner has a 4G external booster thingy on a mast but I was wondering if anyone had any experience of the external 4G antennas, similar to the one linked below.

Essentially I would like to receive the Internet over the 4G network (apparently Vodaphone is good in the area) and then pipe it to a router so I can then connect LAN cables etc, instead of just relying on WIFI. I realise the external antennas act as a WIFI transmitter (and this may come in use up the garden) but within the house I would expect to use the router's WIFI capabilities and, possibly, link that in with the Google mesh jobbers that I already own.

What is this august collection of techies' opinions?

https://www.outdoorrouter.com/product/outdoor-uk-4g-router-external-wifi-cat4/?alg_currency=GBP&gclid=Cj0KCQiA4L2BBhCvARIsAO0SBdaK37OLx-4fFAjh8e9FhuYU1zNlBZQhCr-gnDZkwqqGYGPRUp_QyB0aAifrEALw_wcB
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By rikur_
#1827586
I've got a earlier model of this https://www.broadbandbuyer.com/products ... pol-a0001/
It works really well. We normally have it as a standby for the FTTC connection, but also take it on holidays with us. Had 100mbps off it at Loch Goil!
It's only really video calls when you notice that it's just not quite as stable as FTTC , but nonetheless pretty good.

Edit to add: Upload speeds tend to be a bit low (i.e. 2mbps - 4mbps range)
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By stevelup
#1827648
I don't see the point in putting the whole kit and caboodle outdoors like that first one. That's more suitable for a boat or something.

Just get any decent 4G router than can accept an external antenna. You can do it for half the cost of the one in the first post - as per rikur's suggestion.
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By PaulSS
#1827697
I don't see the point in putting the whole kit and caboodle outdoors like that first one.


All donations to my knowledge bank are gratefully received :D I originally thought my first idea was the way ahead but, with Rikur's suggestion, now know about 4G routers that can accept an external antenna. As you say, a much simpler idea and I will do some more research....especially where I'm meant to put the 4G sim card. We're going to have to go with Vodaphone for this, as they are the best 4G provider in the area (according to Cellmapper).
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By rikur_
#1827710
@PaulSS A few other things learnt along the way:
- not all 4G routers do carrier aggregation (aka 4G+) - this can make a notable difference (without it I found that the 4G router would connect to the strongest 4G signal available, which tends to be band 20 / 800MHz, which tends to be lower bandwidth than e.g. band 1 2100MHz / band 38 2600MHz )
- it's possibly worth getting some PAYG SIMs and experimenting. At our location the strongest signal is Vodafone and O2 (shared infrastructure), but EE offers a more stable 4G throughput. I *think* this may be because the Vodafone cell is a single band infill cell for the village, and everyone locally chooses Vodafone as it is strongest signal.
- I didn't find the external antenna made a huge difference. Admittedly our 4G router lives in the loft with only felt and clay tiles between it and the mast.
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By PaulSS
#1827733
Thank you for your extra advice. This house will be a bit out in the sticks of the Isle Of Wight. I've looked at the cellmapper data and, although I get pretty good coverage on my GiffGaff (O2) card in my phone, the consensus is that Vodaphone is the way to go as far as data is concerned. I think I'll be able to get line of sight between me and the Rowridge transmitting mast, so am tempted by a directional antenna and, hopefully, some decent coverage.

At the moment I am steering towards the Huwaei B818 router. This is not because I want to spend extra money on a router but because it has ability to plug a phone into it. Yes, I know, what the heck do I want that for? Well, Mrs SS has an antique 1950s phone that she really wants to be able to use. At the moment it is plugged into our Sky router and with a magic box twixt it and the router it works for the two times per year that someone rings our 'landline'. The trick after all that is to see how I'm meant to get a number for it if it's just connected to a 4G router but I'll cross that bridge later :)

Once all that nonsense is sorted out I'll have to see how I can disguise my ATOM station antennas on a Victorian house :?
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By stevelup
#1827771
I wouldn't count on that working. It needs explicit and specific support by the telco.

Stick with a VoIP adapter and buy a VoIP service from somewhere. I'd recommend Andrews and Arnold - £1.20 per month.
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By Sooty25
#1827921
The benefit of the unit in the first post, is you do not suffer any cable losses between antenna and RF stage.

You can see all the benefits of a cheaper unit mounted indoors, wiped out by the losses in the feeder to your external antenna!
rikur_ liked this
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By rikur_
#1827949
Sooty25 wrote:The benefit of the unit in the first post, is you do not suffer any cable losses between antenna and RF stage.

A lot of this debate goes on with the ADS-B hobbyists, and you see people mounting their raspberry pi in a weather proof box on the antenna mounting! The cable loss on my antenna is 0.5dB/m - i.e. a 6m cable would halve the signal strength.

Personally I found an external antenna made a disappointing level of difference. I don't notice much difference between the router sat in the loft using it's own antennas (with roof tiles giving about 6dB of loss), or it connected to the external antenna via 2m cables (1dB loss) - even thought the maths suggests the external should be much better.

Another consideration is many of the external antennas are directional. For example the one listed in my original post is available with an 11dBi directional antenna. At which point the directional gain becomes the significant factor (albeit this requires you to work out which mast offers the best signal, which isn't always the nearest).