Speed issues with the ZTE MF275R Smarthub

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Dunkaroo
Friendly Neighbour

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!

Dunkaroo
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
Friendly Neighbour

Up-update... 

I've experienced quite a few drops in service where my speeds will decrease to the 50 kb/s level, even on 4G only. Is there some serious issue with the network in my area? Now I'm just confused. 

Foonus
Coach

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!

 

Dunkaroo
Friendly Neighbour

Thank you for your post! 

I'll definitely look into getting an antenna; you did mention that it being MIMO is important, but I don't believe the one you linked is, unless I'm missing something. Would the one you linked (it being YAGI), be better than one like this?

 

https://www.amazon.ca/Indoor-Outdoor-Antenna-MF275R-Rocket/dp/B0182ISUX0/ref=pd_bxgy_107_img_2?_enco...

 

It's not YAGI, but it does specify that it's MIMO.

 

Ahh, Fresnel. I almost pity people in larger cities; they don't get to mess around as much with casual physics just to get internet service!

 

I appreciate all the help. 

Community Power User
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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Dunkaroo
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
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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Dunkaroo
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...

Rare
Resident

Hello,

 

Just checking to see if there were any updates on this? Did you get everything working?

StarsThunder
Resident

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!

TELUS Employee
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
ponyboy
Neighbour

I have poor signal at my place and would like to put up a external antenna. So i called local communications store and they told me that the rabbit ears on the smart hub are for wifi output not signal input. Is this correct? It sounds to me like people are hooking up externals and getting way better signal. Any clarification on this would be awesome! Thanks in advance

Community Power User
Community Power User

You could look to a Signal booster, which would be the same as for any cellphone. Which is the suggestion earlier in this thread discussed. With few exceptions, cellular antennae are contained within the device these days.

 

NFtoBC
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TELUS Employee
TELUS Employee

You're probably right! Would they specifically sell accessories for it like this? If it had the best external antenna? 

 

http://www.citywireless.ca/product_info.php?product_id=ZTE275LPYAGI&PHPSESSID=df99bfa74bdf75f389385b...

Mobility Client Care Rep
ponyboy
Neighbour

Yes thank you that is what i'm talking about. So is the guy at the electronics store wrong? I am still confused. Do I have to just spend the money and find out for myself maybe lol. Thanks 

klrman
Neighbour

My ZTE has slowed from average of 30 Mbps to around 3 and often to around .1  It has been a disaster and I live 2 blocks from the tower.  

Community Power User
Community Power User

@klrman

Have you tried restarting it?

 

NFtoBC
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klrman
Neighbour

Yes, I have tried to restart often.  Telus oversubscribed.  After midnight, speeds are always back up to 25-30 again. They told me they would never oversubscribe as it is running of the mobile towers, but so much for that.

NordeggAB
Neighbour

My Telus Hub worked great for the trail period and now its crap. Telus has it degraded to less than 1 MB download speed and they tell me that is acceptable. I have had my phone with Telus for over 35 years and now I'm done.