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Chateau LTE or 5G? Or stay with B818?
#1
Let me please use the expertise in this forum for my reception situation in Austria. This is how my LTE world looks like:


Type. Cell-ID Provider PLMN. Signal Quality Frequency (MHz) Bandwidth
4G LTE 17cde-2b T-Mobile Austria 23203. -102 dBm -14 dB. 927.5 / 882.5 5 MHz
4G LTE 17cde-17. T-Mobile Austria 23203. -107 dBm -11 dB. 816.0 / 857.0. 10 MHz
4G LTE 17cde-0d. T-Mobile Austria 23203. -109 dBm -16 dB. 1815.0 / 1720.0 20 MHz
4G LTE 12702-15. T-Mobile Austria 23203 -107 dBm -16 dB 816.0 / 857.0. 10 MHz


The distance to the tower 17cde-xx is 6.2km. The area is rural, there are trees obstrusting the direct view to the tower.
My first attempt was setting up an AVM FritzBox 6890, a very popular CAT6 device in german speaking countries. Given the very poor reception, download rates around 20Mbit/s seemed to be what I could expect (locking the modem to band 3).
When I found a cheap Huawei B818-263, I gave it a try, based on the experiences of users in this forum.
This router is a real game changer: now I am consistently achieving 50Mbit/s to 60Mbit/s. Upload rates went up similarly.
Contrary to the FritzBox, I have achieved these download rates with zero configuration. Playing around with the settings only made things worse.

Now, I need to move towards an outdoor solution, since I need to move the router from it's present location.
The easiest solution seems to be getting 2 Poynting XPOL2 for 4x MIMO and recabling the B818-263 with 4 SMA connectors.
Considering that the B818-263 is a great modem but not the greatest router, I would switch it to bridge mode and use another router behind it.
Since I need to invest into a router, anyway, I am considering buying a Mikrotik Chateau to act as, both,  a modem and a router. Together with 2 Poynting XPOL2 antennas, I should be able to achieve even better download rates.
For the moment, there is no 5G coverage in my area, but the network is only 2 villages away and my operator is moving fast. Though for the moment, LTE should be enough, also because I don't think that I can take any advantage of the cat20 modem in the 5G version.
I would welcome your thoughts. Thanks, Gabor
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#2
Going by your signal readings, you are picking up two band 20 cells, a band 8 cell and a band 3 cell. The band 3 one indeed has the highest capacity here (20MHz). Going by the two band 20 readings, you are midway between these two cells (same -107dBm signal strength), so you will definitely benefit from a directional outdoor antenna.

Only the band 3 cell is 4x4 MIMO capable if the mast is using it in your area. This is quite possible with the substantial speed improvement you got with the B818.

If you were happy with the Fritz Box router capabilities apart from the LTE, I suggest try bridging the Huawei B818 and using the Fritz Box as your main router, i.e. run the network cable from the B818 to the blue WAN port of the Fritz Box. There should be an option to switch from LTE to the Ethernet WAN connection in its web interface (Internet -> Account information on my old DSL based Fritz Box 7360). This would give you the best of both routers until 5G reaches your area.

If you can afford the 5G model of the XPOL2, I suggest going for the XPOL2-5G directional antenna over the regular XPOL2. This way when 5G reaches your area, you will not need to replace your antennas if they operate 5G on the 3.6GHz band (the regular XPOL2 will work with 5G on T-Mobile's lower bands n1 and n28, but not n78). Once 5G is live there, that would also be a good time to upgrade to the MikroTik Chateau 5G. I have a guide in this thread for internal wiring of the SMA ports on the Chateau 5G, depending which 5G band T-Mobile operates on.
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#3
(10/09/2021, 05:22 PM)Seán Wrote: Going by your signal readings, you are picking up two band 20 cells, a band 8 cell and a band 3 cell.  The band 3 one indeed has the highest capacity here (20MHz).  Going by the two band 20 readings, you are midway between these two cells (same -107dBm signal strength), so you will definitely benefit from a directional outdoor antenna.

Only the band 3 cell is 4x4 MIMO capable if the mast is using it in your area.  This is quite possible with the substantial speed improvement you got with the B818. 

If you were happy with the Fritz Box router capabilities apart from the LTE, I suggest try bridging the Huawei B818 and using the Fritz Box as your main router, i.e. run the network cable from the B818 to the blue WAN port of the Fritz Box.  There should be an option to switch from LTE to the Ethernet WAN connection in its web interface (Internet -> Account information on my old DSL based Fritz Box 7360). This would give you the best of both routers until 5G reaches your area. 

If you can afford the 5G model of the XPOL2, I suggest going for the XPOL2-5G directional antenna over the regular XPOL2.  This way when 5G reaches your area, you will not need to replace your antennas if they operate 5G on the 3.6GHz band (the regular XPOL2 will work with 5G on T-Mobile's lower bands n1 and n28, but not n78).  Once 5G is live there, that would also be a good time to upgrade to the MikroTik Chateau 5G.  I have a guide in this thread for internal wiring of the SMA ports on the Chateau 5G, depending which 5G band T-Mobile operates on.

Hello Sean, thank you very much for your expert advice. Meanwhile, I have configured the FritzBox to act as a router behind the Huawei modem.
That solution works very well since a couple of days. In future, the FritzBox will also act as a voice gateway.

As for the antennas, I agree that going for a setup with 2xXPOL2 5G is the best solution for staying future proof. This is certainly not the cheapest solution, but I depend on internet for my work. I have found some information on the internet on how to replace the internal antennas inside the Huawei modem with 4 SMA connectors. That looks to be the most promising route. 

I have decided postponing the purchase of the Mikrotik Chateau. For LTE, I can hardly expect better reception compared to the B818-263 and the present version of the Chateau 5G lacks support for band n70 that my operator plans to deploy in future.
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#4
With my old Fritz Box 7360, I just use it for VoIP. I remember when I got two Fritz handsets, my parents got surprised wondering how when someone is using one phone, another incoming call gets through on the second cordless phone. Big Grin As we have very poor mobile coverage here, we mainly use the "landline" for calls, although this is gradually transitioning to WhatsApp calls.

Another benefit of waiting is that 5G routers should come down in price by then. It doesn't really make sense why 5G routers cost so much, especially with 5G phones available for under €200, not to mention that router's don't have cameras, screen, large RAM, storage, etc.

From the info I could find between GSMArena and cacombos, there is not a single phone or router that supports 5G band n70, so it's unlikely to be deployed until phones or routers become available supporting this 5G band. This means that whenever it gets deployed in your area, it should have very little contention. Here in Ireland, this is a similar situation with 4G band 28 where all the 4G routers supplied by mobile operators up until a year ago did not support this band. This means most areas with band 28 coverage have little traffic on the band.
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#5
An epilogue to the story:
The B818-263 (with the latest Vodafone Germany software) started crashing frequently. Before I could install a ZigBee controlled power plug to restart the device every night, the router crashed so badly that only a factory reset brought it back to life.
Unacceptable, when remote access to the house automation system depends on it, including heating and warm water.
Luckily, I was able to purchase a Mikrotik Chateau 5G (with firmware 7.0.3 out of the box) for a good price.
Of course, I did LTE performance measurements with both routers, but did not notice any difference in throughput on average.
When I come to it, I will add 2 SMA ports to the Chateau and change the antenna wiring (as in Seans post)  to connect a pair of Poynting xpol-2-5g. The FritzBox will remain as a SIP gateway and as a backup if something bad should happen to the Chateau.
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