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Simply broadband 4G & Fritzbox LTE modem
#1
Hi Sean,

I was wondering if you (or someone else) would be able to tell me if Vodafone's "Simply broadband 4G" SIM will work in my Fritzbox 6840LTE modem/router. I want to keep this box functional for several reasons, most importantly the DECT telephony system.

The background for this question is, that I have been in a Vodafone store to enquire about the (predecessor of) this 4G home broadband package, to which I wanted to upgrade from my existing "Red MBB Super" plan, as the data cap becomes tighter and tighter every month.
However that would require using their modem (which I did not want to use), and consequently a new contract.
Basically they did not want, or were not able to upgrade my existing plan, and I was put in contact over the phone with an advisor. This guy insisted that my existing modem would not work (he even "guaranteed" as much), and when I tried to figure out why that would be problematic, considering I had a working connection already, he answered that "something" had to be changed in their "back end". Not really the most useful answer...

So I hope that someone just can confirm that the Vodafone "Simply broadband 4G" SIM will or won't work in a third party LTE modem. So far I have not been able to find the answer.
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#2
With Vodafone's earlier 150GB home broadband plan, the SIM worked in third party routers with the hs.vodafone.ie APN.  However, I have yet to hear of anyone try using the SIM from the current Simply Broadband 4G 300GB plan in a third party router. 

One possible workaround is to check if your Fritz Box can connect to another router.  When I cancelled my DSL service back in 2018, I reconfigured the DSL Fritz Box 7360 I had from Digiweb as a second router, so it connects to the Huawei 4G router via its LAN 1 port as a virtual WAN socket.  In the Fritz Box web interface, I went into Internet Connection and changed the Internet service provider drop-down to "Existing connection over LAN".  The only minor drawback is that it creates a double NAT, however, we left everything connected to the Fritz Box and it in turn connects to the 4G router via its LAN 1 port.  The VoIP and DECT functionality all work fine configured for Goldfish (I porting my number before cancelling the DSL) and we have two Fritz Fon handsets linked with the Fritz Box.  

One other thing to watch out for is that Vodafone may cap the speed on the new Simply Broadband 4G plan.  A few on the Boards forum mentioned about their speed being limited such as to 20Mbps in this post. The T&C's for the 300GB plan mention "A speed cap of 10mbps is imposed on this tariff plan."

If you haven't tried Three in a year or more, I suggest trying a Three voice SIM in your router to see there is any improvement with their service.  In our area around Co. Donegal, just over two years ago, the Three network was barely usable in most of the county after 6pm.  Now, many of their 4G areas get at least 10Mbps in the evening.  My current download speed is 19.6Mbps as I write this post (8:30pm).
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#3
Hello Seán,

Thank you very much for your elaborate answer, it is just the push I need to go to the store again and purchase this plan.

I did try with Three, but I could never get the modem to connect. I (still) live on the very edge of Three's coverage area, apparently the signals are not strong enough. And also, I am quite happy with Vodafone's service. I never got more than about 20 Mbps anyway (30 was the maximum, but I have the impression that I can not get that speed anymore - at the moment it is only about 6). Reliability, and non-interruption are more important to me, and Vodafone's service is quite satisfactory to me. I just hope that they keep the cap at 20 Mbps instead of the 10 Mbps they put down in their T&C's. But also 10 Mbps will be acceptable, just a little less convenient at times.

I have checked the Fritzbox settings again, but I can not find a way to set up a virtual WAN-port as you described, unfortunately.
Worst case scenario is that I will have to replace my Fritzbox by a model that has a proper WAN-port, I guess.
Nor can I find a way to route the telephone system over a different internet connection.
But considering that the 150GB plan worked with third party modems, I am reasonably confident that it will also work that way for the current 300GB plan.

So up to the store, and I will let you know whether I am ordering a new Fritzbox or can use the SIM in my old one.

(Btw I also have the option to subscribe to Imagine's "5G ready" service, but at €60 / month I consider that really overpriced for a service that is essentially 4G, with no mention when they will actually switch me over to 5G. "If you subscribe now, you will have a reservation on the mast" the man told me at the door. Right. Sales people....)
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#4
Best of luck with the SIM working in your Fritz Box router.  Even in the worst case scenario that you need to replace the Fritz Box, your current box should get good resale value being an LTE model.  

This is the screenshot from my DSL Fritz Box showing what I changed to configure for an existing connection:
   

Whenever I replace my Fritz Box, it will certainly be with another Fritz model such as the 7530 or 7590 for the DECT and VoIP capabilities.  The 7590 has a dedicated WAN port and the cheaper 7530 mentions it can connect to an existing Internet or cable connection via its LAN 1 port (like mine).
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#5
So I picked up the Simply Broadband 4G yesterday.
I first tried the new SIM in the old MIFI device I got with the Red MBB plan, and that worked.
Then I grabbed the ladder and made my way up to the attic to replace the SIM in my Fritz box.
That was also successful.
Next I tried the telephone, the VPN connection to my work, a download of a half GB, and did a speed test.
The speeds are comparable with what I had before, around the 12 Mbps mark. I will try again at a quiet time, see what speed I can get squeeze out of the connection then.
In short, I don't notice any difference.
I cancelled my old plan today, and now have a new and unused B528, still in the box..... I could not purchase this plan without it.
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#6
Thanks for confirming this and great that the SIM of the new simply broadband 4G plan works in your Fritz Box. 

If you are currently using the Fritz Box with its internal antennas, I suggest testing it outside on a dry calm day, such as with a long extension lead.  This will help determine if an outdoor antenna will help, particularly if you get let's say get 20Mbps or higher outside.  Alternatively, if your Fritz box shows the LTE signal readings (RSRP, RSRQ and SINR), post them below for both early in the day (e.g. 8am) and during peak time (e.g. 9pm). 

It's a pity Vodafone got rid of the rolling 30 day plans it had a few years back.  On the other hand, at least you have the router as a backup.
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#7
Edit: How can I make the picture below visible? I can see it properly in the editor, but not when I watch the forum thread?

Hi Seán,

I appreciate your thoughts and comments, thank you.

Below graphs of my RSRP/RSRQ/SINR values over the last 24 hours (screenshot taken @ 13:00)

   

Some speed tests:

Tuesday 9:30:
  • download 8.5...12.5 / upload 9...11 Mbps  (3.5 / 5 in one test), ping 35...40 ms
  • RSRP -104 ... -108
  • SINR 2 ... 12
  • RSRQ -6 ... -23 (seen -39 once, odd outlyer?)

Tuesday 22:15:
  • download 4 ... 10 / upload8.5 ... 12.5, ping appr. 40
  • RSRP -104 ... -109
  • SINR 1 ... 7
  • RSRQ -7 ... -27

Today 10:30:
  • 8.5 ... 13.5 / 5.5 ... 12.5 (meter hitting > 16 for DL once) ping 40 ms ... 70 ms
  • RSRP -103 ... -109
  • SINR 2 ... 12
  • RSRQ -6 ... -20

A few years ago I would get download speeds of up to 30 Mbps.

One problem here might be, that there is forestry bordering to our site, in the direction of the mast.

I suspect that the growth of the trees may have halved the data rates over the years.

(And I have no idea when these trees will be felled, judging by their height I would think it will not be too long now.)

So yes, I would be interested to know if an external antenna would help countering that effect (preferably without sticking a high pole in the air), and what antenna type would be best? 

I am usually using the low frequency band (800 MHz), because that works reliable, but I have also seen the Fritzbox connecting to the 1800 MHz cell a few times. But that connection usually lasts for only a minute.

PS my B528 is still in the box, and Vodafone seems to have a shortage of them..... Apparently I was just lucky that they a new batch had just arrived on Friday when I picked my new plan up in the store, and they could not just give me a new SIM without the device.
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#8
I love how your Fritz Box produces a 24-hour graph of these readings.  Cool

I reckon you will get a fair improvement in speed with a directional outdoor antenna as the signal (RSRP) is very weak, likely due to the forestry you mention.  The SINR is actually pretty good for the weak signal reading, which means you don't seem to have much interference from neighbouring masts, so a compact panel antenna should work well, such as the following:

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01E7CWNSI

As you mention it picking up 1800MHz occasionally, there is a very good chance it will work on that band with the antenna outside as building material (walls, roof, etc) heavily attenuate higher frequencies.  Assuming Vodafone hasn't capped your speed, I wouldn't be surprised if you get over 50Mbps on the 1800MHz band, especially as you are managing to get 10Mbps with such a week signal on the more congested 800MHz band.

The best place for the antenna is on gable or below the gutter, as long as there is nothing nearby obstructing its view (e.g. outside shed, high vehicles, etc.)  You can use a TV or satellite dish mounting pole to mount it.  The antenna needs two 8mm holes for the two coaxial cables to pass through the wall.  Alternatively you can try the antenna in your loft, although this may not provide enough improvement for the 1800MHz band.  

[Image note: This forum doesn't seem to support pasting images, so I reuploaded it. The main way to insert an image is click the "Browse..." button below the editor, select the image and after it uploads, click the "Insert into post" button to the right. ]
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