Speed issues with the ZTE MF275R Smarthub

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Resident

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!

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Resident

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?

 

 

Resident

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.

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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. 

 

 

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Friendly Neighbour

@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.