Troubleshooting 3G/4G mobile broadband and antennas

LTE panel antennaLike mobile phones, most mobile broadband routers are considered plug and play where you just insert your SIM card and it’s ready to use.  However, in some instances routers and modems will need some further tweaking to improve the connection stability or to even get online.

This guide is broken down into several parts, starting with troubleshooting steps that apply to all providers.  Outdoor antenna troubleshooting can be found further down the page.

Poor indoor reception, even near a window

Window SheepMost modern glass including replacement glass has a ‘Low-E’ coating to minimise the amount of infrared heat escaping outside through the glass, in improving energy efficiency.  A side-effect is that this coating is also very effective at blocking radio signals covering all the cellular bands.  As a result, the glass effectively acts like a sheet of metal to any wireless device placed next to it.

Some modern homes also have foil-backed insulation in the walls, which also blocks the cellular signals penetrating the walls.  Similarly, this also applies when foil insulation is used in the loft, resulting in poor reception in the loft.

Try placing the device between two panes of glass, particularly in a bay window (if any) where the glass panes meet at various angles.  There is good chance the frame of the window is not foil insulated, allowing the signal to pass through.

Unfortunately, if every part of the house is well insulated with foil-backed or low emissivity coatings, the only option would be to get an outdoor antenna.

Poor indoor reception with external antenna

Portable 4G antennaAs with using the router’s own antennas, the signal may be blocked or greatly reduced by the window’s ‘Low-E’ coating.  In this case, placing the antenna in the window or even on the glass (with suction cups), may not provide any improvement to the signal.

Directional antennas set up indoors may provide even worse performance than the router’s own antennas.  When the signal passes through the building, it bounces off various items, particularly metal objects and ‘Low-E’ coated glass.  Thus, the router’s internal antenna may be picking up some of the reflected signals that the directional antenna would not pick up.

If an antenna needs to be used indoors, such as due to building restrictions or renting, choose an omni-directional antenna.  Mount it as high up as possible, preferably in the loft.

Network search shows 4G network, but will not register

Network Register FailWith most desktop routers and especially outdoor antennas, the device will likely pick up 4G cell towers that are outside the range limit of the device.  While GSM (2G) signals have a 35km hard limit, the range limit of 4G can set by the mobile operator.  Once outside of the range limit, the device will not be able register with the mast regardless of the signal strength as the range is determined based on the round-trip delay, i.e. how long it takes for the signal to travel to the cell tower and back.

No signal iconThree & iD Mobile: The Three network goes a step further by limiting the range based on the type of device, which can be particularly problematic across bays, lakes or flatland.  If a phone gets a 4G signal on Three, but not the modem or router, then there is a very good chance the device is outside of Three’s range limit for data devices.  In this case, try testing the device in another area with strong 4G coverage to rule out a fault with the device.  If using an outdoor directional antenna, try aiming various directions as it may be aimed at a distance 4G cell tower or even picking up a reflection of the near-by cell-tower.

Vodafone will not go into 4G mode

With a new prepay SIM, it can take 24 hours before the SIM can use the 4G network after its first use.  The SIM may also need to be registered with My Vodafone.  If the SIM will still only go into 3G/HSPA mode, try contacting Vodafone as they may need to re-activate the account for 4G.  I had to get 4G reactivated with my prepay phone a few times already.  I have also heard of other people that had to contact Vodafone to reactivate 4G access again even with their prepay Vodafone broadband.

iD Mobile will not go into 4G mode

Unlike Three SIMs, an iD Mobile SIM needs to connect to the network in 3G mode first before it can hand over to 4G mode.  This can take up to 10 minutes after connecting in 3G mode.  If the device remains in 3G mode after 10 minutes, restart the device or temporarily set the network mode to 4G-only (if available).  Do not leave the device in forced 4G mode as it will not be able to reconnect if the connection drops or if the device is restarted.

iD Mobile cannot be used with 4G only devices such as outdoor LTE routers that do not support 3G mode.

Meteor will not go into 4G mode

While Meteor prepay phone SIMs will work in modems and routers, the SIM must be set up on a €20 or €30 Simplicity plan to connect in 4G mode.  The €20 simplicity plan gobbles up €20 of credit each month and provides 15GB of data.  All the other prepay phone plans including the €10 simplicity plan cannot access the 4G network.

Meteor’s prepay mobile broadband SIM provides 4G access, whether a bundle is purchased.  For example, it can connect in 4G mode even to bring up the “out of data” landing page.

Meteor gets no signal anywhere (prepay)

The SIM may have been deactivated, particularly with light usage.  If the SIM has not been topped up in 6 months, the SIM is deactivated.  This 6 month period coincides with the length of the 180 day pass.  To reactivate, a €10+ top-up is necessary (voucher or online banking) and then contact Meteor’s support to reactivate the SIM.  If a 180 day pass is approaching its expiry date, top it up by €30 before it expires and then purchase a new pass once the existing one runs out.

3G connection Intermittently drops

Mobile broadband disconnectionsIf the device is 4G capable, there is a good chance the device is picking up a 4G cell tower that is outside of the range limit as explained above.  If the device tries connecting to such a 4G mast, it will lose the connection as it unsuccessfully attempts to hand over to the 4G mast.  To prevent this happening, set the device’s network mode to ‘3G only’ or turn off ‘Enable LTE support’, depending on the device/model.

If near a bay, lake or even high up a hill, another possibility is that the device is picking up a stronger signal from a further away cell tower that is out of range, particularly if the nearby one is obstructed in some way such as behind a hill, trees or is also across the water.  In this case, try repositioning the device in different areas, even of the same room as this may help attenuate the unwanted signal.  It may be necessary to get an outdoor directional antenna, which would also attenuate the unwanted signal.

Check the APN setting is correct.  For example, if a broadband APN is used with a Meteor phone SIM, it will result in an intermittent connection.  Similarly, if there is a typo in the APN name.

SIM works in phone, but not in the modem/router

Huawei B593s-22 disconnectedFirst, double-check the APN is connect or retype it in.  Most routers automatically configure the APN based on the inserted SIM, so if the APN was configured before the SIM was inserted, it may have picked up an incorrect APN, especially if a phone SIM is placed in the router.

Try setting the device to 3G-only mode or turn off the ‘Enable LTE’ setting temporarily, especially with the Three network.  The device may be trying to register with a 4G network that is outside its range limit as explained above.  With the Three network, the 4G range limit can be shorter for modems and routers than it is for phones and Three is known to reduce the range limit of masts it upgrades.

Note that Lyca mobile actively blocks tethering on its network, so its SIMs will unlikely work in a router either.

Antenna troubleshooting

MIMO SMA connectionsWhile the right antenna can do wonders for the signal strength and speed, it can lead to additional issues or even no connectivity at all!  The first thing to check is that the antenna leads are properly connected and that the router is configured to use the external antennas if there is such a setting.

Before carrying out any performance troubleshooting, first check that the issue is not purely down to high contention, i.e. try running speed tests in the early hours of the morning.

Apart from surveying the area for alternative less congested masts at peak time, the following troubleshooting tips should only be carried during off-peak periods such as early on a weekday.  This is especially important with the Three network which faces high to severe contention in the evenings.

Modem/router will not connect with outdoor omni-directional antenna

4G MIMO antenna (Xpol)If the device can connect to 4G with its internal antennas only, it is quite possible that the outdoor antenna is picking up a stronger signal from a mast outside of the range limit, in which case the device will keep unsuccessfully trying to connect to it, ignoring the nearer mast that may be obstructed by a hill / trees.  First try swapping the two antenna leads as it may pick up a stronger signal on the nearby mast on the opposite polarity.

If swapping the cables does not work, try temporarily placing the antenna on each side of the house (e.g. using a DSLR camera tripod).  With the side that works and provides the strongest signal reading, mount it on that side / gable, ensuring it is obstructed by the wall/building in the opposite direction.  This way the unwanted signal is attenuated by the house.

If lowering the antenna height obstructs the line of sight or results in little improvement over the router’s internal antenna, then a directional antenna is required to mount it at a height.  This will provide better gain over the omni-directional antenna for the wanted signal, while also attenuating the signal of unwanted masts in other directions.

Unsatisfactory download performance with outdoor omni-directional antenna

YouTube strugglingOmni-directional antennas are only truly omni-directional for its vertical polarity element.  The horizontal element is sensitive to the direction it faces, just like a horizontally positioned FM radio antenna.  Try turning the antenna left/right by 30 degrees to aim its horizontal polarity element and rerunning the speed test.   Repeat until you achieve the highest consistent speed.

If the performance remains like the router’s built-in antenna, the mast may be congested, in which case a stronger signal will not provide any additional speed.  Try comparing the performance against the router’s internal antennas early in the morning such as before 8am.

If the performance is worse, the antenna may be picking up a stronger signal from a more congested cell tower than what the router’s internal antenna was picking up.  In this case, it would be worth taking down the antenna and trying it temporarily on each side of the house such as with the help of a DSLR camera tripod and rerunning the speed tests, then mount the antenna on the wall/gable on the side that provided the best performance.

Modem/router will not connect with outdoor directional antenna

MIMO 4G antenna (Proscan)If the device connects fine with its internal antennas, but not with the outdoor antenna, first try swapping the two leads to rule out a break in one of the cables.  Many routers establish the connection over antenna port #1, so if this antenna lead has a break, swapping over to the second lead may provide connectivity, although degraded due to the lack of the second antenna connection.

Is the antenna band specific?  Some patch antennas only pick up a specific band such as LTE band 20 (800MHz), 3 (1800MHz) or 7 (2600MHz).  Yagi antennas are similar.  For example, a Colinear LTE antenna pair typically only covers 1700MHz to 2700MHz and this will not work on LTE band 800MHz or the 900MHz 3G band.  Similarly an LTE band 3 patch antenna will not work on LTE band 20 or vice versa.  Most LOG antennas (triangle shape) are wideband and generally cover all the LTE bands between 800MHz and 2700MHz.

The higher frequency bands such as LTE band 3 (1800MHz) and the 2100MHz 3G band are typically used in built-up areas such as large towns.  Rural areas are mainly covered by LTE band 20 (800MHz) and the 900MHz 3G band, which propagates and penetrates a lot further than higher frequency signals.

Even with clear line of sight with a cell tower operating on a higher LTE band, that transmitter could be outside of its configured range limited, determined by the round trip delay between the device and the transmitter.  This is more common with multi-carrier transmitters where it hands over nearby devices to a high frequency band such as LTE band 3 which typically provides higher bandwidth and further away devices to the lower frequency such as LTE band 20 which propagates further.

If LTE coverage was lost after a cell tower upgrade, the upgrade may be providing multi-carrier support (4G+ / LTE Advanced support), in which case the cell tower likely also enforces range limits based on the LTE band.  In this case, a user that was using the high frequency band (e.g. LTE band 3 on Three) is now outside the allowed distance limit, in which case an LTE band 20 or wide band antenna is required to connect.

Unsatisfactory download performance with outdoor directional antenna

If the performance remains like the router’s built-in antenna, the mast it is aimed at may be congested, in which case a stronger signal will not provide any additional speed from that mast.  If the antenna can freely swing direction without facing the wall or other obstacles, try aiming the antenna at alternative masts, including 3G masts.  In many areas facing network congestion, many of the 3G masts in the area may have little congestion, especially with the Three network as most people let their routers automatically go into 4G mode.  A good directional antenna can take advantage of this by letting the user connect to any 3G mast within range, which may be substantially faster than the 4G mast during peak time.

Try adjusting the antenna’s angle of elevation, especially if the cell tower is located on a hill.  A few degrees of elevation can make a significant difference, particularly if the building is in a valley.

Try also turning the antenna left or right by a few degrees, even if it results in a slight dip in the signal strength.  The antenna may be picking interference near the direction of the mast, such as from another mast operating on the same frequency further off, such as across a bay or lake.

B593s-22 signal reading figuresIf the antenna is a panel/patch antenna mounted vertically, try mounting it horizontally.  This can have a significant effect on its performance, particularly with fringe reception.

If the antenna consists of two separate antennas, these must be mounted in opposite polarities, one vertically and the other horizontally.  Try also separating them further apart.  The two antennas can be mounted on separate poles, which will also improve the performance with fringe reception.  I have mine roughly 2m (6 feet) apart, so they don’t need to be right next to each other either.

To adjust one antenna at a time to optimise its performance, connect just that one antenna to port #1 of the modem/router.  Once optimised, disconnect that antenna and connect the other antenna to port #1 to adjust it.  Finally connect both antenna cables.

Unsatisfactory upload performance with external antenna

TestMy slow uploadMost modems and routers use port #1 for uploading.  In 3G mode, only port #1 is used for uploading, while port #2 is used for diversity.  Depending on the signal strength / quality of each polarity, the uplink performance can vary significantly between the two polarities.

Try running a few speed tests, then swap the two antenna cables and rerun the speed tests.  If one lead configuration provides greater upload performance, leave it in that configuration.

The signal strength also has a greater impact on the upload performance than it does for the download performance.  Increasing the antenna elevation will generally help.

Router will not boot or power up properly

The power supply may have failed.  In most instances where I experienced a failed power supply, it provides just enough power to light and LED or two of the router, giving a false impression that the router has a firmware or boot issue.

Check the voltage and amp rating of the router or of the existing power supply and try another power supply of the same voltage and at lease the amp rating mentioned.  Many routers such as Huawei routers use a 12V 2A power supply.  Do not attempt to connect a power supply with a higher voltage rating as the higher voltage will damage the router.

Meteor / Eir Mobile Broadband usage

Meteor prepay broadband usageYou can check your remaining allowance by sending the SMS ‘balance data’ to 50104 from the router web interface.  This also works for Meteor prepay broadband.

The following steps are based on the Huawei B315 router, which Eir has been supplying with its 4G broadband contract:

  1. In your web browser, go to http://192.168.1.1/
  2. Go into the ‘SMS’ menu.
  3. The default username and password are both admin.
  4. For the recipient, enter: 50104
  5. For the message, enter: balance data
  6. Send the message and the check the message that comes back.

This works even without registering for My Eir or MyMeteor.  As the router stores the messages on the SIM card, be sure to delete the messages afterwards.

20 thoughts on “Troubleshooting 3G/4G mobile broadband and antennas”

  1. Good day sir, may i ask if u have an idea on how to lock into a particular cell id? Im using B315s-936, my cell id that im connected to is too slow and congested, but when i bring my modem to my friends house approximately 150 meters away from my home, he can detect a cell id that is x10 much faster speed..

    1. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any way of locking a router to a specific cell ID.

      One potential option you can try is get a directional outdoor antenna, such as a MIMO LOG or Panel antenna that covers the band your network is using. Do a trial set up, such as mount the antenna on a camera tripod and aim it various directions until your router locks on to the stronger signal. If it locks on to the congested network, continue turning the antenna roughly 20-30 degrees at a time, then pause a minute. As the antenna faces towards the mast you’re after, it may take a minute or two for the router to hop over.

      Hopefully you are not too far from the required mast. Mobile operators can set a physical range limit on cells, which it can measure based on the round trip time between the cell and the user device. If it’s over a certain threshold, the cell will refuse access regardless of the signal strength. This issue is quite common over lakes and bays where a device can see a strong signal from a cell tower across the lake/bay, but is outside the cell’s maximum range limit.

  2. I forgot to tell you that I’m currently using a 24dbi MIMO Parabolic Grid Antenna. I have the line of sight on the tower, but every time i try to rotate the pole where my antenna was connected, I always got the same Cell ID. Even though I can see a lot of cell towers I always end up with the same cell id which is too slow and congested. And my friend only uses a 9dbi panel type antenna, no line of sight to the cell tower but still got the better cell id and internet speed than mine.

    1. The only other thing that comes to mind is if the network you’re with uses a band that your router doesn’t support, but which your friend’s router does. I don’t know what country you’re in or network you use, so this is just a guess. For example, in the UK, the networks use the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands on 4G. The B315s-936 lacks support for the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands, so if you happen to be in an area served by transmitters operating on 1800MHz and 2600MHz, your router will connect to the 1800MHz site only.

      One other possibility could be an issue with the antenna. 24dBi seems like an unusually high gain, something I would expect for a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi parabolic antenna that covers a very narrow frequency range, i.e. 2.4-2.5GHz. If the site’s 3G/4G frequency is outside the antenna range, this can cause strong reflections along the antenna cable whenever the router transmits. This would give the impression of a congested site as the router would be busy requesting retransmissions each time it loses packets due to signal reflections. A simple way to test would be to run a speed test early in the morning (before 7am). If the early-morning test is poor, then it’s likely an antenna/cable issue.

  3. By the way I’m from Philippines. I think it’s an antenna problem, coz my antenna range is only 1700-2100MHz even though its high gain dbi and my friend’s antenna has wider range 1700-2600MHz. Thanks a lot sir for giving me useful information about routers and antennas. Keep it up.

  4. I’m sorry I commented too early on another article of yours then read this one, Your the man I wanted to talk to!
    I would love to hear your expert opinion, I live in north country dublin on the top of a hill with no obstructions to the cell towers below, and have a tplink mr200 LTE router on a 3 pay as you go 20euro every 28 day package for unlimited 4g connection , when I first fired her up I got 3 bars from just the routers two on board externally mounted antennas, with the router mounted in the window reveal next to the glass, I was happy with the 3 bar coverage but one day it dropped to 1 bar, I since bought this antenna https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F252738536706, it came with 15m factory connected cables on the antenna side and I bought cable connector adaptors to fit the router,, I then mounted it on a 2 m pole,on top of the house and pointed it towards a group of towers that my oneplus3 would cycle connection between as i angled the phone east to west, and pointed the antenna slightly downwards facing the towers, and my results … The same one bar I have using the standard tplink antennas! , when I remove one cable the antenna drops to 4bars of 3g internet on both the standard tplink antennas and the external panel antenna, any ideas or if you need any further information to assist I would be very grateful, thanks in advance.

    1. What I suspect is that Three upgraded the mast that you originally picked up the 3 bar 4G signal from, such as to 4G+. With many of their upgrades, they also limit the maximum range devices can be for to connect, which is based on the physical round-trip time. For example, 4G devices very near the site will placed on the high bandwidth 1800MHz band (with 4G+ devices getting access to 800MHz also for carrier aggregation). Devices further away will be placed on the 800MHz band which has higher propagation. However, after a certain distance, devices will be deemed “out of range” regardless of the signal strength to try forcing them to find a nearer site. With Three, the 4G range limit of the upgraded sites is shorter for routers than phones.

      As you still get a 1 4G bar signal on your router, this means that there is still a site within range, which is likely from another direction or further away. For example, it could be from a rural 800MHz mast that has a much wider range limit. If you are able to aim your antenna at that site, there’s a good chance you’ll get a stronger signal. Before you do anything with the antenna, first try swapping the antenna leads around on the router. Some routers report the signal strength from one lead only.

      The next step would be to do a site survey, i.e. try the antenna in each direction to see where you are picking that 4G signal from. As your antenna has a 36 degree beamwidth, you can do this in roughly 30 degree increments all around. Generally I recommend doing this by setting up the antenna temporarily on a DSL or speaker tripod before finally mounting it on the house, so hopefully it’s not too awkward to get to with the ladder.

      For example, if you can see 270 degrees around, this would give roughly 9-10 test points and take about an hour, e.g. 5 minutes going up/down to turn it and check the connection. I wouldn’t worry that much about aiming down/up for this test unless it’s currently aimed at a very deep valley or tall hill. Each time you move the antenna, reboot the router to force it to reconnect and give it 2-3 minutes before moving the antenna angle to the next test point. If you get a 4G signal, run a speed test regardless of the signal strength. For example, even in the worst case scenario that you only pick up weak signals in various directions, you’ll likely pick up multiple 4G sites, which will have different network loads.

      Finally, aim the antenna back to where you achieved the highest speed test and fine-tune (e.g. ~5 degree increments) for the highest consistent speed test before tightening. Even if a small movement has no effect on the signal, it could mean a significant speed difference, particularly if a few degrees one direction means it’s peaking up less noise/interference from something in the distance.

  5. Hi Sean
    I am trying to set up exactly the same here, the house is in a valley with no reception but has 4G on the side of hill, I’ve had guys over from the uk, they want me to run cat6 cable and a power source to a waterproof box for their antenna and back too house joining to 3 sim router from the house, from what I’m reading there is a better approach to this , could you recommend a better set up and a company that could do it.

    1. Depending how high you need to go to get the 4G reception, you might be able to use a pair of directional antennas mounted 1-2 metres above the gable on a pole, similar to trying to get very fringe TV reception. Personally I would not recommend running a long Ethernet cable up a hill, particularly along the ground. If lightning strikes the hill, the cable could pick up a surge as the lightning dissipates through the ground.

      If I was faced with this, I would consider a solar-powered system for the hill. This would involve a 20-30W 12V solar kit (like this), a DC lead from its controller to the Three router (example), a 40-60Ah leisure battery (from an automotive parts supplier) and a plastic waterproof enclosure for the kit. On the house, I would use a Ubiquiti LiteBeam (or similar outdoor directional 5GHz Wi-Fi antenna) to connect to the Three router within the setup on the hill.

      Unfortunately I don’t know of any company involved with setting up outdoor kits. If you are into DIY (or know someone who is), this would be a good project to try. If you would like to try antennas high up above the gable, a TV antenna installer would be able to do this as most 4G antennas clamp on to the pole the same as a TV yagi aerial and the cabling is a similar diameter to satellite coax. They just need to use the coax supplied with the antenna as satellite/TV coax is not suitable.

      1. Thanks Sean
        I would be fairly handy at setting this up myself. It’s a bit of a mind field out there for tech and the right way.
        What they want to is to quote them
        “Morning Simon, we’re supplying an external antenna (omni directional rather than directional, based on experience – what you lose slightly on download speed, you gain in reliability and time in ongoing adjustment)

        Cat6 cable is needed at the antenna end, to connect the 4g router in the waterproof box, back to the wireless AP at the house. Power cable is needed at the antenna end, to power the 4g router. We will supply the coax cable required for this.”

        The house is in a valley surrounded by trees.Where I have found 4G receiption is on a hill about 50m from the house that goes to open field and is picking up a signal from a tower 5km away.
        What I can’t get my head around is , from pole you have antenna , they want a waterproof box that holds their own router and then a cat6 cable with electricity in plastic trunking/piping and then back to sim router in the house supplied by 3. I would have thought that there was a simpler way.
        Antenna to pole to co ax to house routers in the house???
        This is for a property I am managing for a guy in the UK. I think the installers in the uk are taking the mickey a little especially flying over and renting a car each time.
        Thanks for your speedy response

        1. Indeed I’m quite confused at their setup. The only way it would work is if they place the Three SIM in their router. In my area, an omni-directional antenna simply will not work. Then again, I’ve another issue in that I pick up interference from a 4G mast across an exposed bay, which I need the directional antenna to avoid picking up.

          If you would like to run cables to that location, I would suggest placing the physical Three router in the weatherproof enclosure on a pole in that location you get 4G coverage. Run a shielded (STP) network cable back to the house and ensure it is earthed at the house end (shielding connected to the mains earth wire). You can use a basic cable Wi-Fi router in the house to connect to the Three router, which in turn will provide Wi-Fi within the house. For power, I would suggest running a two core 1.5mm electrical wire to the router. A female 5.5mm jack will connect this wire to the router’s 12V power supply and a male 5.5mm male jack at the pole end will connect to the router. These adapters are widely available (example). Just make sure the polarity is correct with a multimeter (+ at the centre tip) before plugging into the router.

    1. Just one more thing , which directional antenna would you recommend . We have a mast about 3km away but in a hilly area
      Thanks again

      1. I suggest first checking what signal strength (RSRP and RSRQ figures) you get with the router in the location you get 4G coverage. To check these figures and the band when it is on 4G, first go into your router’s web interface (http://192.168.8.1), then click ‘Settings’ and log in. Enter the hidden URL http://192.168.8.1/api/device/signal and view the page source (right-click page and View Page source). Look for the lines ‘rsrq’ (signal quality), ‘rsrp’ (signal strength) and ‘band’ (LTE band number)’. Press F5 to update the figures. If it shows code ‘100003’, you need to log back into the router’s web interface again.

        If the RSRP is less negative than -105dB and the band # is 20, I would suggest the Novero Dabendorf LTE 800 MIMO antenna (link) and the 5m cable kit (link) (both on Amazon Germany). This antenna has very good feedback on fringe/rural reception from what I’ve been reading. It works on band 20 (800MHz) only, which is what Three uses in most rural areas.

        The antenna I currently use is the Wittenberg Lat 22, which is considerably larger band 20 antenna. It is more directional (which I need for my location), but I would only suggest going for it if the RSRP is more negative than -105dB without any antenna or the RSRQ value is more negative than -10dB. This antenna is here (includes 10m of coax) and requires a twin mount (such as this) to mount the pair side by side.

    1. Unfortunately, cellular repeaters are not currently legal for sale in Ireland and ComReg reportedly has customs seize them in transit. ComReg is working on legalising them and there’s a possibility they will be available to purchase over the next year. The only provider I’m aware of that sells EU complaint repeaters is StellaDoradus, but due to the current ComReg licensing, they cannot sell within Ireland.

      If your handset is Wi-Fi calling capable, Eir currently supports Wi-Fi calling, which uses an existing broadband connection to handle incoming/outgoing calls. From what I’ve heard, Vodafone plans introducing Wi-Fi calling over the next few months. I haven’t heard anything about Three or other providers.

  6. Hi Sean,

    Should it be possible to get 4/5 bar coverage on a Huawei B593 with Meteor, Three or Vodafone in the middle of Dublin?

    I’ve two paddle antennas connected to the router and have been cycling through the following settings, but to no avail:

    Setting the router to 3G only vs Automatic.
    Changing the antenna setting from Automatic to External
    Changing the location of the router
    Changing the orientation of the antennae
    Changing from data.eir.ie to data.myeirmobile.ie etc

    No matter what I try, I can’t seem to get any more than 1/2 bars worth of coverage.

    1. Try swapping the two antennas around or changing the antenna setting to Automatic with both antennas detached to see what signal you get with the router’s internal antenna. It could be a faulty antenna or connection, particularly if you get a full signal on your mobile.

      Note that the router’s signal read out is more sensitive than a phone’s read-out. For example, a 2 bar signal is the equivalent to 4 bars on a phone. However, if your phone is showing a steady 5 bar signal, the router should be be able to get at least 3 bars. If you still cannot achieve more than 2 bars and your phone shows a full signal on the same network, then the router likely has a faulty radio. The APN setting does not affect the signal read-out.

      If the house is very well insulated such as foil backed insulation in the walls and loft, this could also be the culprit. One way to test would be to try holding the router outside a window for 10 seconds. If its signal reading is much higher, then you may need to install an outdoor antenna for it.

      1. Great stuff, appreciate the suggestions. Thanks again.

        Is there any ‘killer’ antenna for this kind of router, by the way, even if only to ensure good 3G coverage? I gather that different antennas target 3G and others 4G.

        1. The antennas vary depending on the gain, i.e. the higher the gain (more sensitive), the larger the antenna. As you are in the middle of Dublin, antenna height is more important than going for a large very sensitive antenna. If you have access to the loft, see how the router performs up there. If you get a much stronger signal, that would be a good place for the antenna. The best place would be outside above the gable where it has clear view over the houses. A TV antenna installer may be able to help mount it high up and help aim it.

          If you are able to mount the antenna on the roof or in the loft, I suggest going for a wideband LOG antenna, such as the following. This covers all the 3G and 4G bands the Irish operators use and is directional.
          https://www.dipol.ie/cellular-systems/gsm-3g-lte-antennas/lte/lte-mimo-antenna-atk-log-lte-800-2170mhz-10m-cable-sma-plug.html

          If you are unable to access the roof, but can still mount it outside, I suggest going for a omni-directional antenna. As the signal bounces off buildings at a lower height, a directional antenna may perform worse by not catching the reflected signals. The Poynting XPOL A0001 is one I’ve heard good feedback on, although it’s quite expensive at around €100.

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