Speed issues with the ZTE MF275R Smarthub

Friendly Neighbour

Speed issues with the ZTE MF275R Smarthub

I live in a remote part of Northern BC; specifically, around the Houston, BC area. In November, Telus introduced the first - and only, I might add - internet service available to my current area. Using the ZTE MF275R hub and a "Wireless 500" plan, I was finally able to have an internet connection for the first time in two years!

 

I signed up back in November; and at first, I was quite happy with the service. The speeds averaged about 2 MB/s down and 0.5 up, which was incredible for me (living in rural areas my entire life, 2 MB/s down is still quite the feat). 

Unfortunately, within the last week or so, my speeds have -plummeted- to about 50 Kb/s down and about 500 b/s <-- yes, bytes/s, upload. All of these speeds are using an Ethernet connection.

At first I thought it may be an issue on my end (cell service can be wonky in the boonies sometimes), but after waiting a few days and resetting my hub and all of my devices several times, the issue is continual and doesn't seem to be affected either by the number of devices I have connected to the hub, nor by what they're doing. After waiting several hours both on the phone and on my computer wishing to speak with a representative several days in a row with no luck, I figured I'd ask for some help here, even if it's just to figure out beyond a shadow of a doubt the issue isn't on my end.

 

Thank you!

34 REPLIES 34
TELUS Employee

It's not you. It's oversaturation. It's a new issue they're running into with rural communities and these devices. When they first came out with these devices hardly anyone  knew about them. So they were super fast! Then word got out about them and everyone ran out to get them. Suddenly you have a bunch of neighbours in a small area using a lot of data on a limited amount of towers with a limited amount of coverage already. Then you get congestion slowing down the network. It varies on times and how many people are using it. 

Mobility Client Care Rep

I had exactly the same experience with this hub as other posts indicate.  I got mine hooked up last July, we live south of Calgary, just outside High River, and after 8 years of the worst service possible from Xplornet, trying out 4 different technologies, this hub was a godsend.  Xplornet would put up a new tower and oversell it, and just bog everyone down at night with speeds of 1 MBPS or less.   With the new Telus hub, during certain parts of the day, we would get 50 MBPS, and the slowest speed after supper was about 30 MBPS.  We were in heaven.  

 

But gradually from then until now, it started getting slower over the past 5 months as they sold more of these hubs in our area, now we are lucky to get 20 MBPS as our fastest speed but goes right down to 1 or 2 MPBS in the evening, sometimes even less than a 1 speed.  Netflix will just stop working and surfing the web becomes painful.  We are back to the Xplornet world now of crappy service and slow speeds.   Telus has sold so many of these hubs now, the speeds have deteriorated to the point of making streaming impossible at night, it has really spoiled it for everyone with hubs in the area. 

 

There has to be upgrades to the tower or new towers to handle the increased loading if Telus wants to keep selling these hubs.  We have gone from hating Xplornet to hating Telus.  I have reported this to the Telus technical people ( only a 2.5 hour wait, more crappy service) and they have made an internal trouble ticket for it, and they can only encourage customers to complain so Telus has a clue what is going on with their Hubs.  

 

In summary, Telus has to stop selling these hubs until they have the tower capacity to support them. 

Should also mention that I have tried resetting the hub, disconnecting the power, etc. and nothing helps or changes. I do get better speeds when it reconnects but it is only temporary and then slows right back down to where it was.   When I log on to the ZTE website to my hub, I tried changing the setting to "4 G only" as I have read in other posts, but software would not allow me to do that and it probably would not have helped anyway.   It works fine during the day at about 20 MBPS but after supper, it slows down further and further, being slowest between 9 PM and 10 PM.  Can't even watch Neflix anymore.   Then it gradually starts getting faster again towards midnight.   So it is just so many people using their hubs at the same time plus cell phone use.

 

It appears Telus got greedy and did not think ahead to the consequences on speed of selling so many hubs on existing towers. 

Community Power User

@Smart_Guy

   Your experience seems to parallel the experience many had with cable-based internet - the nodes would be so overloaded during prime time that throughput suffered for all users on that loop. Only corrected by increasing the bandwidth to the nodes. Telus would have a similar problem, except raising towers in any particular area is an expensive proposition.

 

NFtoBC
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@Smart Guy

    We have the same issue in Black Diamond, just south west of Calgary. Originally we had Telus home service internet which rivaled only dial up in its speed and frequent dropout in internet service.  Completing the research myself, I found out about the "Smart Hub". I purchased the Smart Hub and was assured by the Telus representative that it would show the same speeds as my cell phone, depending on my distance from the tower.  I was one of the first in the area to start using it and speed tested the connection weekly. It started at over 70 MB/sec down consistently and each week I noticed a consistent drop by 10 MB/sec. This morning it was so bad I couldn't even check my email. After the typical three hour phone pass around at Telus I was told that the speed is what I pay for. Same connection to the tower that my LTE cell phone has, which consistently speed tests at over 100 MB/sec. I called and asked why they couldn't unthrottle the hub and the service providers would pay more if the service was good. I was told no offer is available in our area like that.  My question is this,  why were our speeds so good off the start but now the towers are saturated and this thing is essentially a paper weight. After five hours on the phone with them this morning, they could not answer this question. There are no other service providers out here and Telus is very aware of this.   The representative on the phone told me to just cancel my service and try the other guys. I have been with Telus for twenty-four years and in the last 7 months the company is spiraling towards the worst I have ever had to deal with. Beware and don't buy this throttled piece of equipment. Strangely enough, after my five  hour go around on the phone,our speeds went right up to 25 MB/sec but Telus assures me they have no control over speeds. Time will tell.

Exact same story for me here. I'm just west of Edmonton. Internet has been a constant battle. Started with Platinum communications. They served me well for years. But got bought by xplornet and everything fell apart. I finally got so fed up, I thought I would try Telus' smart hub. it worked like a dream at first when I got it last March. Started having issues with it in May, then again in August. The first time it was resolved quickly. The second, it took countless phone calls and time before I finally got back use of the service I had payed for, but was not getting. About a month ago it started giving me nothing but grief again, I keep phoning; and wasting my time with their undertrained call centre staff only to get no resolution. Only promises that their engineers will contact me about the issue, and I never get a call back. This to me is completely unacceptable service and I would be embarrassed to be part of such a pathetically managed company.
After doing a bit more digging, I find that the issue is that Telus oversold their bandwidth (this is illegal) so they could make more money.
A class action suit comes to mind. These pricks should be held accountable for their breach of contract.
Friendly Neighbour

Following a suggestion from one of my slightly more tech-savvy friends, I've managed to return to my speeds to where they were (even slightly better), by changing some of my ZTE hub's settings; namely, forcing it to connect to 4G only. The signal strength is one bar weaker, but the speeds coming through are fast and consistent. This leads me to believe my previous speed issues had something to do with interruptions in the LTE network around here.

 

However, I would still love some advice on increasing my speeds as much as possible. I've heard murmurs that using a MIMO device will help alleviate some of the ZTE hub's inherent issues, being a rather "uncomplicated" device, but I've never used such a device before and I wouldn't quite know where to start.


@Dunkaroo wrote:

Following a suggestion from one of my slightly more tech-savvy friends, I've managed to return to my speeds to where they were (even slightly better), by changing some of my ZTE hub's settings; namely, forcing it to connect to 4G only. The signal strength is one bar weaker, but the speeds coming through are fast and consistent. This leads me to believe my previous speed issues had something to do with interruptions in the LTE network around here.

 

However, I would still love some advice on increasing my speeds as much as possible. I've heard murmurs that using a MIMO device will help alleviate some of the ZTE hub's inherent issues, being a rather "uncomplicated" device, but I've never used such a device before and I wouldn't quite know where to start.


It's no fun when you can't get a strong signal. I just had a situation where I was talking to someone in one room and walked into the other room only to lose the signal. In cases like that, it's usually something interfering with the signal you're getting from the cell tower. It could be electronics, your home's building materials, or even something crazy like a tree. If you want consistent cell coverage, you might want to look into a signal booster. www.signalbooster.com. I've been okay with my cell situation just because I know certain rooms are wonky and I'm less likely to get a good signal. However, I have thought about getting a booster.

There are quite a few things you can do to help. First thing to consider is how far the tower you are connecting to is from your location and its elevation, can find that here:

http://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/cancellsites.html

 

Looking at this map you will see one good and one really terrible Telus tower within a mile of each other just north of town off Radio Road (lol).  Depending on your exact location and how you are aiming the worse of the 2 towers could be picking up now with just a minor movement of your smart hub or antenna.

You will want an external antenna ... some like the one below specify your Smart Hub but others have the same connectors and will also work. Key here is make sure its MIMO and the Higher dBi usually the better unless its Chineesium with fake specs.  A YAGI or panel antenna (both aim directly) would suit your setup better than an omni directional antenna. The tower you want to use runs at a frequency of 1900 MHz, make sure you pick an antenna that supports this frequency, ideally it also covers the 850Mhz band for fallback with tower 2.

Use the GPS coordinates given on the cell tower map for convenient aiming of this antenna.

 

https://www.amazon.ca/MF275R-external-Periodic-antenna-highest/dp/B0182IV13G/ref=sr_1_1?m=A3UYCFPH12...

 

Finally, depending on your results and how serious you are, you may want to add an amplifier/booster, Ideally this will integrate with the antenna you already bought and connect to your SmartHub, don't forget the frequency range of your towers!

 

http://www.wilsonpro.com/residential-cell-phone-signal-boosters

 

This is a good start in getting set up with equipment that wont go to waste if you do want to go all the way and get as much as you can out of that signal.

 

 

This Calculator will give you some more information based on those tower stats you can use if you plan to build an antenna mast. Doesn't' hurt to look it over before mounting your external antenna.

http://www.afar.net/fresnel-zone-calculator/

 

 

If you end up with something that looks like this don't forget to ground it in case of LIGHTNING!!! Shouldn't have to say but this is not optional. medium.jpg

Guide/Stability wires are also a good idea to minimize sway and any possible weather damage.

 

Good Luck with the setup, its a fun project! Just watch out for your monthly data cap when its finished!

 

Hi, have the same issues with the ZTE MF 275 R Smart Hub. Now, I found this antenna:  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01B6MLP36/?coliid=I2PLNS8ZD4OHLU&colid=2LUFGVMXYZ9XH&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_...

Would that be the best solution or an overkill?

Friendly Neighbour

I've read the antenna doesn't help much since telus oversold too much.  I finally gave up on my smarthub today.  It was very good in the beginning and then degraded super fast until it has become really annoying.  Too bad telus is not the telus of old.

It is unfortunate that Telus has oversubscribed the Smart Hub service.  I have a seasonal location at Shuswap Lake just outside Salmon Arm. I purchased the Smart Hub in the spring of 2017 and set up an external antenna and speeds were great (up to 25 Mb's per second) last year.  Streaming movies in the evening was effortless.  Telus must have sold a bunch of Smart Hubs to residents in the vicinity of the tower over the winter because this year, I can get download speeds up to 12 Mb's per second in the morning, but by 7pm, I can barely get 1 Mb's per second if I am lucky.  I do an Ookla speed test on my Telus phone both connected to the Smart Hub via wireless and then directly to the cell network (wireless disabled) and get similar speeds.  So it is a traffic volume issue.  There is a Rogers tower nearby if I wanted to switch providers but I bet they have the same challenges...

Rural internet options are so frustrating!

I've also had the same steady decline in speeds over the last two years since we've had the hub, but lately been experiencing a worse problem and wondering if others are seeing similar?  We're 24kms from the tower and with rooftop yagi antennas we have consistently received 5 bar LTE signal (on the device webpage) for the last two years.  However in the past month is started dropping down to a weaker hardly usable 1 bar signal.  Reset it and it would latch on to the strong 5 bar frequency for some seconds or minutes, before dropping down again.  These days, it will rarely even pick up the strong frequency anymore, just connects to the borderline 1 bar (-- signal strength) frequency.  Setting the hub to '4G only' restores a consistent, 5 bar connection, albeit on the much slower 3G network (Telus admitted that 'LTE' on these devices is actually 4G, and 4G is actually 3G - I guess I wasted money on the second antenna for MIMO LTE).

 

Anyway, talking with a knowledgeable Telus Tech we surmised that the strong 5 bar signal we used to get is the lower 700 or 850 frequencies which are good over longer distances, and the 1 bar is the higher 1900 or 2100 frequencies, faster but only good for short distances.  He reckons it is over-saturation on the tower that results in my hub being bumped off the stronger frequency to an inconsistent weak one.  Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to outsmart the smart hub by limiting it to lower, longer distance frequencies.   Is anyone else who's a fair distance from a tower noticing this drastic drop in signal strength, rather than just speed?

 

 

Should also mention I bought a second used smart hub and swapped the sim, and it behaved exactly the same way.  So it is not a problem with the device.

Friendly Neighbour

I changed back to telus fibre with 330mbs up and down.  Had problems before with fibre as the box wouldn't identify one pc, long hassle with telus and finally switched to smart hub.  That worked for a short while then degraded rapidly to the point of dial up.  Anyway, finally, a nice telus tech came to my house, installed an impressive looking box and speeds have always been over 300mbs up and down any time of the day from then on.

 

My brother still has a smart hub.  It went from 80mbs down to 2mbs after several months, but then bounced back to 20mbs steady, so for him it worked out finally as he has no other option in his rural area.  Just for info for anyone, his 20mbs is just as fast surfing the web as my 330mbs is, no difference at all.  You only see the speed difference when you download or upload a file.  Thought I  should mention this as some, including myself thought with such blazing speeds, everything would be instantaneous but it isn't.  

 

Another thing everyone should be aware of is that during peak hours, up and download speeds of fibre at 330mbs stays the same but surfing the web slows down and there is lag everywhere when moving from site to site.  Just a tidbit.  At midnight almost no lag, so there is good and bad with fibre that most people myself were not aware of. 

 

 

Community Power User


@Foonus wrote:

There are quite a few things you can do to help. First thing to consider is how far the tower you are connecting to is from your location and its elevation, can find that here:

http://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/cancellsites.html

 

Looking at this map you will see one good and one really terrible Telus tower within a mile of each other just north of town off Radio Road (lol).  Depending on your exact location and how you are aiming the worse of the 2 towers could be picking up now with just a minor movement of your smart hub or antenna.

 


I expect if @Dunkaroo were to travel up Radio Road, he will find that there is only the one site, containing the two Telus frequencies, and the Rogers site. That mountain top has been used for all sorts of radio comms from Amateur Radio to TV and other telecommunications for decades - it pretty much has a clear line of sight to Prince George. It is very unlikely Telus has created another nearby site to host one band for Cellular. As such, aim any antenna to the higher elevation tower!

 

NFtoBC
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Friendly Neighbour

That's true; one of the hobbies of young folk in town with too much time to kill is to take a loud truck up that particular mountain. Not that I've done anything of the sort, of course! Heh.

 

Things are looking good on the antenna front. I'm lucky enough to live on a large hill directly south of the town, so the tower is almost directly north of me. The only problem seems to be, as this is Northern BC after all, some annoyingly large trees on my property. Hopefully I can raise it far enough to clear some of the denser foliage. 

Community Power User

@Dunkaroo

   Since those pesky trees aren't your neighbour's you could sell them to CanFor!

 

Let us know of your progress! 

NFtoBC
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Friendly Neighbour

The issue's extended to my 4G connection, as well. I'm starting to think there might be something wrong with my smarthub.

 

Customer Support told me there wasn't anything they could do to help, but that I could call them in a couple days if there's no change and ask to have the issue escalated; hopefully with the end result being an engineer goes out to look at the tower. 

 

To be blunt, this sucks. Right now I'm paying quite the premium and getting speeds worse than dial-up...

Dunkaroo, When have you been experiencing these poor speed times? We have noticed a decrease in Tower Service POWER on the weekends. Almost as though they power down to a lower level during off-peak service demand. Although we are remote, during weekdays there is much oilfield and services at work in our area. Service from our tower is also in peak performance during workaday times. On weekends, if you turn your head two inches you may even lose a call on Cellular. This could be why they asked you to call back in a couple of days to see if it improved!?  It may not be your HUB at all – but a “power cut” based on usage and based upon financial reasons that are not stated in the “join documents”. I sympathise with your issue. Although “Resolute Bay” can get assistance to receive High Speed Internet – we cannot. My costs have run well over $40,000 for business & home to get high speed since I left Dial-up --- you cant even update Windows on Dial-up nowadays!