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SIM / mobile account refresh? - Lynx - 26/04/2021

This morning I saw that my 4G router speeds had gone down to 10Mbit/s. I contacted Vodafone and they said that my SIM was not showing as registered on their network and advised me to take the SIM out and place it in a mobile, select 2G then connect to other mobile network then back to Vodafone and then back to 4G. Then put SIM back in router. I did all that and hey presto my speeds went back up. Any idea what happened there? Is there a way to avoid this or at least avoid having to take SIM out of router etc.?


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Seán - 26/04/2021

I'm not sure what triggered the not registered on network issue, unless their network expects to see your SIM connect in 2G mode occasionally. The next time this happens, you could try repeating those steps directly on the router. I'm not sure if the B818 has a 2G mode option, however, it should have the option to manually select a network.

That temporary 10Mbps limitation however does makes me wonder if Vodafone UK is testing what the Irish Vodafone network has done. When Vodafone Ireland introduced its unlimited data plans, they put a 10Mbps maximum speed on its unlimited data plans apart from their top most expensive bill pay plan. When the unlimited plans first launched, this speed limit was not enforced until a few months later.


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Lynx - 27/04/2021

In the UK Vodafone business offer so-called 'unlimited lite' with max speed 2Mbit/s; 'unlimited' with max speed 10Mbit/s and 'unlimited max' which is uncapped. My mobile outside window got 80Mbit/s so not to do with my normal mast being saturated.  It did feel like capped because the strength measurements (SINR, etc.) on LTE H-Monitor were all as good as they normally are. I think the CellID was as normal, but the eNB may have been different and when I clicked on 'Find Cell' it came up with 'Not Found' (Google Maps or CellMapper). Is that significant? 

By the way, my present readings are:

SINR: 21.0 dB
RSRQ: -5 dB
RSRP -93 dBm
and RSSI -113.0 dB,

I don't know if I trust the RSSI measurement because a few minutes after writing the above after forcing back to 3G and back to 4G the RSSI jumped up to -63.0 dBm.

Otherwise what is the significance, if any, of my RSSI being so high? Could this just be some flaw in the way the B818-263 measures RSSI?

I am still getting around 60-70 Mbit/s download and 17-22 Mbit/s upload. Seems pretty stable and is good enough for regular Zoom/HD streaming and my office work.


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Lynx - 29/04/2021

Argh; it happened again. This morning download limited to 10Mbit/s and upload limited to 8Mbit/s. Signal strength stats on LTE H-Monitor looked normal. Fixed by trying to manually connect to O2 network within router settings then switching back to automatic network selection. Then speed back up to 65Mbit/s download and 18Mbit/s upload. After some testing I see I can recreate this issue by restarting the router and in some of the restarts this issue will manifest. LTE H-Monitor shows same Cell Id and eNB Id in this throttled mode and the so I do not think it is because my router is connecting to a different mast.

So I think what is happening is that sometimes when my router connects to the mast it gets set to a throttled mode for some reason? Once in this throttled mode it seems I have to keep reconnecting and eventually I will get back onto the normal mode of operation. So it is as if for some reason there is a kind of mode selection on connection and it is not being consistently applied. Does this make any sense? Anything I can do?

Looking through this thread here:

https://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/Network-queries/100-proof-that-Vodafone-is-doing-something-with-the-services/td-p/2647250/page/2

I wonder if perhaps the problem lies with my local mast given the ultimate fix that sorted the complaint in that thread:

"Vodafone does not apply traffic management to customers on the Max Unlimited plan and so there should have been no reason for Mr XXXXX (Covered to protect Privacy) to experience better speeds via a VPN than he did when connecting directly to the Vodafone network. The testing we conducted revealed a faulty security gateway board that was resulting in slower speeds for customers’ services. This has been replaced and customers will now be experiencing faster speeds in the area."


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Lynx - 05/05/2021

Update: I have just discovered that performing the test on Google's internet speed test quite often results in 10Mbit/s, but actually performing the test via Ookla on speedtest.net shows the familiar higher bandwidth of around 60Mbit/s or above. 

What might be responsible for this huge difference I wonder? Is this evidence of some kind of traffic shaping? Or is there a less sinister possibility?


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Seán - 05/05/2021

That speed difference between Google and Ookla appears to indicate either traffic shaping or a peering issue, i.e. the route your connection takes between your router and the server.  I still suspect the 10Mbps speed to be traffic shaping as usually a bad or congested route will not give a consistent figure.  It's like Vodafone's gateway is falsely treating your traffic as the 10Mbps max plan. 

Ookla's speed test runs its traffic over the TCP port 8080, so if their traffic shaping only affects certain ports such as HTTPS (443), this would lead to the different test result figures.  Ookla also makes multiple simultaneous connections to its test server, whereas Google makes just a single connection:

   

One test you can try is with with a VPN as many VPN providers let you select different port #s.  A few years ago when Three was traffic shaping by port #, I used to run a VPN connection over port 8080, which gave me close to what Ookla's speed test was getting. 

The hide.me VPN has a 10GB free allowance which is plenty to test with.  First try running the Google speed test with its default setting.  If there is no change, then try going into its settings -> Advanced -> VPN Protocol.  Select "IKEv2", then on the Advanced Tab, select "Use custom ports" and change the IPSec SA Port to 8080.


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Lynx - 10/05/2021

Dear Seán, 

Thank you for your helpful thoughts. I have raised the issue with Vodafone. I am seeing several reports online of Vodafone UK users experiencing 10Mbit/s throttling on the so-called 'unlimited MAX' 4G service, which is explicitly advertised as being unthrottled.

See my post here:

https://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/Network-queries/10Mbit-s-throttling-on-unlimited-MAX-4G-service-Ofcom-issue/td-p/2687258

I am struggling to test the VPN service as Vodafone seem to completely block the main VPN sites including that hide.me service. Changing DNS does not help. Given the other reports from users I am seeing online, I imagine that using a VPN would circumvent this selective throttling.

I am consistently seeing 10Mbit/s throttling on Google's internet speed test, but 60-70Mbit/s via Oooka. If I keep reconnecting my router to the mast, then eventually I seem to latch onto an unthrottled connection state in which the Google internet speed test shows 60-70Mbit/s again. And yet in the throttled state I tested a random download of a big file and saw a download speed of 5Mbyte/s. So I am not sure what is going on here.

Any idea what the significance in terms of actual day-to-day use of this kind of selective throttling might be? Would this be likely to affect downloads, streaming, etc.? If this just means throttling of 10Mbit/s per single connection, could it be that in practice this won't significantly affect the end user experience?

Could this be a kind of experimental QOS in which Vodafone ensures any one connection does not eat up all of the available bandwidth?


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Seán - 10/05/2021

You'll probably not notice the 10Mbps with streaming. For example, Netflix HD requires 5Mbps for HD and YouTube uses around 4-5Mbps at 1080p, so these should work fine. On YouTube, you can check the network speed to the YouTube server by right-clicking a playing video and click Stats for Nerds in the pop-up.

General downloading will likely be affected, i.e. 10Mbps = 1.2MB/s. You can do a test download of the 100MB file from the following page (or somewhere else such as a Linux ISO file):
https://kb.leaseweb.com/network/link-speeds

To see if it's per download, you can try downloading several files simultaneously and see what the Windows task manger reports for the overall network speed (Press Shift+Ctrl+ESC, go into Performance tab -> Ethernet or Wi-Fi). E.g. if downloading 4 files simultaneously gives around 40Mbps, then it's per TCP connection. If the speed still averages around 10Mbps, then it's possible the whole connection apart from port 8080 being throttled to 10Mbps.

If it's a throttle per TCP connection, then it's possible they are doing this to prevent video streaming in 4K resolution.


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Lynx - 11/05/2021

Dear Seán,

I am perplexed. When in this 'selectively throttled' state:

Google's internet speed test reliably shows 10Mbit/s download.

Ookla reliably shows 50-70Mbit/s download.

Downloading files from the link you provided reliably shows between 4-5Mbyte/s.

I can run multiple Google internet speed tests at the same time and they all show 10Mbit/s. It is not dependent upon the browser; I can have one in chrome at 10Mbit/s and one in edge at 10Mbit/s at the same time, with combined 20Mbit/s download.

And if I keep reconnecting to the mast in about 1/2 connections Google's internet speed test shows 60-70Mbit/s.

I can recreate the issue with my Google pixel 3A phone. If I keep disconnecting from the Vodafone network and reconnect in about 1 in every 2 connections or perhaps 1 in 3, I get into this state in which Google's internet speed test maxes out at 10Mbit/s but Oookla still shows much higher.

Anything else I can try short of VPN? This seems so strange to me.


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Seán - 11/05/2021

I only just noticed that those leaseweb test files are http links, i.e. port 80 instead of 443.

The following is another set of test files you can try, which I double-checked are https:
https://ams-nl-ping.vultr.com/

To retest a download from vultr over http (port 80) - Right-click a link and copy link. Paste it in the address bar, remove the 's' from 'https://' and press Enter.

As you were getting 10Mbps simultaneously running the Google speed test across two browsers, that at least confirms it's per TCP connection throttling. For downloads that are affected, you can use something like a multithread download manager to speed up the download. These work by making multiple simultaneous connections to the server, each downloading a segment. I wouldn't worry about streaming as 10Mbps is more than enough for Full HD (1080p).


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Lynx - 12/05/2021

Dear Seán,

Bingo!

I can confirm that downloading from: https://ams-nl-ping.vultr.com/ is throttled at 10Mbit/s.

Whereas downloading from: https://kb.leaseweb.com/network/link-speeds is unthrottled.

So does this mean that all https port 443 connections are throttled at 10Mbit/s? 

I wonder what the significance of this is. Vodafone is apparently investigating, since I am paying for their unthrottled 'unlimited MAX' contract.


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Seán - 12/05/2021

That gives the impression that means all https (port 443) connections are capped at 10Mbps per TCP connection.

One other VPN-like service you can test is Cloudflare WARP. As Cloudflare is also a well known DNS provider (1.1.1.1), it's unlikely that Vodafone blocks their WARP service. You can download the Windows App on their 1.1.1.1 page:
https://1.1.1.1/

It is not an IP hider like most privacy VPNs, but instead reroutes your connection through Cloudflare's network. From a quick test here, it unblocks The Pirate Bay, so even if it doesn't get around the throttling, it should get around Vodafone's content blocking, assuming they haven't blocked Cloudflare's WARP service.


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Lynx - 12/05/2021

Dear Seán,

Thanks a lot for your help in diagnosing this, as I have been rather frustrated by it. 

And again - bingo! See here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/M7dsFpkmvcPVZwb59

The WARP VPN-like service results in Google's speed test and downloads reverting from the throttled, 10Mbit/s state to over 30Mbit/s.

I have raised a complaint with Vodafone.

Out of curiosity, do you use a VPN yourself? The B818-263 seems to have a VPN option. I presume the use of a VPN will generally hurt bandwidth / latency? My most important use case is Zoom for oral proceedings.

In any case, I feel I shouldn't have to use a VPN to overcome throttling on a 4G service, 'unlimited MAX', explicitly advertised as not throttled as compared to lesser expensive services with respective 2Mbit/s and 10Mbit/s caps


RE: SIM / mobile account refresh? - Seán - 13/05/2021

Cloudflare uses a Wireguard based VPN, which is unfortunately not supported by the B525. I'm not sure about newer Huawei models.

The latency difference should be very small with Cloudflare as they have local servers in Ireland, UK, etc. However, that is true in that users should not have to depend on a VPN or third party service to get around hidden limitations imposed by the ISP.

I use the hide.me VPN to get around a packet loss issue with my ISP that slows down downloads from most sites. However, I generally don't leave it on all the time, just when I need to make large downloads.