4G on the fringe.....antennas and connections
azbruski
Newbie

I live East of Phoenix about 30 miles.  I have no high speed internet available to me except my wireless connection.  When 4G came available I was the first guy in line and purchased a UML290 primarily because it has and external antenna port(s).  I figured that I would need an antenna to make my 4G connection reliable as I did in the early stages of 3G.  Sure enough I can only get a signal out side of my home and it is sketchy at best.  I purchased a dual freq panel antenna from the 3G store when it became available.  No luck...except....I today I placed the antenna on one of my building 30ft above the ground where the horizon was visablke 360 degrees.  My intention (because the antenna is directional) was to 'find' the best tower with 4G. My calls to Verizon to determine where the physical locations of the 4G antennas were never answered.  I was determined to find a signal.  I actually located a tower and the connection isn't too bad...ping of 70ms with 9.8 down and 1.8 up.  I have been asuured by Verizon that in the next few months there will be more coverage in my area.

 

I'm curious if any one has experienced this:

 

When the modem is locked on LTE only it never find a signal or the network, however if I lock it to Global it finds the 4G signal and connects (unless I ge the dreaded WMC604 message, which no one seems to understand).   I'm also aware to the handoff issues with the UML290 and the apparent bugs in Access Manager and hope that Verizon will provide the patches soon.

 

When I'm in a strong area I have seen 28.9 down.....

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19 Replies
spkay31
Enthusiast - Level 3

I finally got back on the roof to finish installing and aligning the YAGI antenna properly. I added a couple of chain-link fence poles to get the antenna up about 5 ft above the TV antenna (about 9 ft above roof peak). At the same time I swapped out the existing 15' LMR240 cable with a 25' LMR400 cable since I needed more height and figured the lower loss would more than make up for the additional 10' of cable run. I did get a slightly better connection but found the big boost came when I swapped out the 25' RG58 cable to the indoor panel antenna with the LMR240 I took from the outside antenna. Wow, now I am getting an average RSSI (4G LTE) -59dBm and LTE SINR 10dB. Huge improvement from before, and now with the antenna up another 10' higher I can crank the gains all the way up on the 801865 w/ no feedback problems.

So I am much happier with the performance now, I am getting speedtest results now typically of 55ms ping, 12mpb/s down, 5mbp/s up. The connection is very solid now and doesn't disconnect from 4G (set to force 4G LTE only mode).

Now I am trying to figure out how to configure it as a primary connection on my new Cradlepoint MBR1200, but so far I have connected but have lots of issues to fix with the modem configuration and eliminating disconnects from LTE when using it in the MBR1200.

spkay31
Enthusiast - Level 3

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this great thread. I am in the process of setting up a 4G connection at my home and just reading all this information and having some contacts is a relief.

I live in central Massachusetts but believe it or not there are a few towns like mine, where I don't have access to cable, DSL (too far from CO), fiber, and my only option for reasonable latency internet is a municipal wireless system that is pretty slow and unreliable. 3G was not so hot until the last 18 mos but now I am on the edge of full 4G based on the Verizon maps (right near full 4G coverage, just in 4G extended).  So I decided to try a UML290 with an antenna.

So far only 3G with the modem, but wardriving it around I found a tower about 3 miles from my home where I got a whopping 35Mbps down/7.2Mbps up during a couple of tests.  So I decided to go for broke and ordered a Wilson electronics bundle with a 15dBm YAGI antenna, 4G LTE Booster amplifier, and in home Panel Antenna (4G up/down to phones/modems in house).  I am still waiting for the order to arrive but will post again once I have some testing done and some results to share.

I'm also disappointed that Verizon doesn't recognize underserved rural areas with a discounted rate on a higher monthly capped plan as well. I don't mind $80/mo but think the 10GB cap (plus $10/GB overage) is gouging for people with no other internet options. I will offset this by using my unlimited plan on two phones (grandfathered) to allow me to live within the 10GB modem cap but I'd rather just have Verizon recognize communities and areas that are using this as a sole source for internet connectivity and allow some price/data considerations for such areas.

I'll post more information on my complete rig if others are interested, so far I'm at about $350 for all the gear and I expect to get a very solid  10-15Mpbs down/ 3-5Mbps up with this antenna and amplifier once it is aligned, tuned and tweaked.

spkay31
Enthusiast - Level 3

Followup to my last post with the gear I purchased for this system (using SolidSignal dot com )


Wilson Electronics 971116 N Male Crimp for RG58U Cable (971116)       $4.95       4       $19.80

Wilson Electronics 4G Signal Booster Repeater LTE 700 with Yagi Antenna Kit (801865-BUNDLE1) $299.99 1  $299.99

  -  includes 801865 amplifier, 301135 Inside Paneal Ant, 301111 Outside YAGI Ant

Wilson Electronics 951125 20 Foot White RG58 Low Loss Foam Coax Cable (951125)    $20.95  1    $20.95

Wilson Electronics 951110 2 Foot Extension Cable RG58 Low Loss Foam Coax (951110)   $10.95  1   $10.95

Wilson Electronics 359921 External Antenna Adapter Cable for Pantech UML290  LG Merlin Samsung Audiovox Models (359921)   $10.95   1    $10.95

I also purchased a 15' LMR240 cable 2X N-type Male connectors for 19.95 on eBay for connecting the YAGI antenna to the 4G LTE amplifier, since this cable is a very low loss cable ideal for antenna to signal amp connections.

The Wilson 4G bundle price is really good for all three components and should yield the best possible results when properly aligned to target 4G tower location. If all of this works well and I get some good test data I'll post another update and share my knowledge gained installing and setting up the system.

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dmc271
Enthusiast - Level 3

Thanks for sharing.  Very interested in hearing about your results.

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spkay31
Enthusiast - Level 3

So I got my 4G LTE gear in this week and cables came in Friday so this weekend was initial setup and test. I have a colonial and the nearest corner to the towers I've tested for 4G is the east side of the house. I reluctantly mounted the YAGI ~ 2.5 ft below a large TV antenna (yes it's less than optimal) but I ran into some setup issues and want to at least give it a try and that was the best location for quick installation.

I aimed at a tower right around 4 miles away and just used estimated positioning based on a few landmarks (actually hard to see a lot through the woods and over a hill. But I was confident I was withing +/- 5 degrees, unfortunately I can't see a light or identifying feature on the tower itself. I hooked up the external antenna and after soldering my N connectors on a 35' RG58 cable, I hooked up the internal antenna to the inside panel antenna.

I applied power to the amplifier (in the attic) and saw a blinking green light and was hoping for the best. When I went down and got my laptop I didn't see any 4G connection in Vz Access Mngr so I walked upstairs with it and viola!  4G LTE connection available. I connected and as soon as I went to run a speed test the connection went back to 3G - sh*t. So I ran upstairs and saw the amplifier now had a solid RED light on so I knew the connection has dropped for some reason. After reading about the amplifier setup I saw one problem was the internal antenna was too close to the outside antenna so I quickly moved it as far away as possible. Next trip to the laptop was a little better but the signal still dropped out to 3G after a minute or so. I read some more on the amplifier setup and realized my gain settings may be too high resulting in feedback so I dropped down the downlink about 5bB (from 70 to 65) and dropped the uplink gain (internal antenna amplification) down around 10-12 dB to around 58dB. 

That got me in business and now my 4G LTE access is showing 2 bars and speed tests are giving me the following:

http://www.speedtest.net/result/1739047557.png

The setup of the antenna was a challenge simply because I need to get up on the roof but overall not too difficult for someone with some engineering and mechanical ability. I'm hoping over the next few weeks to be able to get tweaked and get in the 10-12down / 4-5up range but I'll need to get back on the roof and get the diagnostic mode going for Vz Access Manager.

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dmc271
Enthusiast - Level 3

Thanks for reporting on your results, and congrats on getting connected!

You might try locking your modem into LTE-only mode using VZAM. This should allow it to attempt a 4G connection with a lower signal strength. After locking the modem into LTE-only mode, are you able to connect without the amp, and if so, would you mind reporting back with the speeds? (Also, I wonder if 35' of RG58 is causing substantial signal loss?)

Thanks again for following-up. I'm eyeing the same setup to improve the connection on my Thunderbolt. (I also have a UML290 with the 301135 antenna alone that really helps.)

Cheers,

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dmc271
Enthusiast - Level 3

Also, I noticed that you have an external adapter cable for the UML290. Have you tried plugging the outside antenna directly into the UML290 (with no amp of course)? I'm curious about the speeds because the UML290 is supposed to support MIMO, and with an external antenna plugged in, there has been speculation that the UML290 can use the external antenna + its existing internal antenna as a MIMO setup.

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spkay31
Enthusiast - Level 3

Thanks for the tips dmc!

Yes dmc271, I did buy the antenna adapter and male N connector to FME female jumper to go from the antenna to the antenna adapter cable. But since I was setting up the antenna inside (on a Mic stand 😉  and trying to get the 4G signal with no amp I guess I just didn't have a strong enough signal to connect 4G. This was a kind of a bummer since my plan was to find the strongest 4G signal (if any) that way and then mount the YAGI outside and connect the amp and internal antenna to connect the entire house.

Last night was the first night of usage and I ran a couple of tests that got me 10.5Mbps down / 2.1up which is very good based on the current anemic municipal ISP speeds.  I imagine I will improve on that over the coming week and hopefully also improve on the consistency (a couple of drops back to 3G over a few hours). Once my son is back on his feet (down with Mononucleosis ;-(   )  I'll be able to adjust the antenna and have a test tech in the house to monitor the amplifier and run connectivity and speed/bandwidth tests while I'm on the roof.

And MCAPPLE, do you have 4G in the vicinity around your house? If so this equipment will provide a few miles of extended range and improved reliability. It does require some legwork and elbow grease on your part though. In my case I was just tired of waiting forever for web pages to load and updates, etc. to download.  Now that I have 4G throughout the house I am really looking forward to upgrading both android phones to 4G when I'm eligible for upgrade in April. That will also allow me to live with the 10Gb cap more easily since the phones are both older on the unlimited plan, so I'll use them for any netflix or high capacity traffic and use the modem for day to day internet activity which shouldn't burn more than 10G a month.

MCAPPLE
Enthusiast - Level 2

Wish you would come fix me up! I want 4g!!

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azbruski
Newbie

An update....

 

After using antennasearch.com and Google Earth I was able to find the nearest tower.  My panel antenna is about 30 feet off the ground and after plotting a line between my house & the tower and using a compass I pointed the antenna directly at the tower.  I have a very consistent signal and am able to see around Mbps down and 3.5 up with a ping time of around Ms.  At times I am able to get up to Mbps.  I have noticed an anomaly though, sometimes my d/l speed is much slower than the u/l speed something I attribute to Verizon, not the signal.

 

Once I had a good signal using Access Manager (the modem is locked to LTE), I connected through a Nexaria BC2 which eliminated Access Manager which seems very buggy.  I've been up and running for 48 hours with no disconnect.  Verizon has to be working on the 4G system as it (speed) is very inconsistent, but it is at least 3-5 times faster than 3G. 

 

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flrver
Newbie

I am in the Orlando area and I move back and forth between 2 RV parks all winter. One park has great 4g service but the other seems weak -80 db and 10 db rssi. Seems to say 2 bars but service is spotty. Very fast at times and then nothing. I had the wmc604 the first week after connecting with my MAC  and before support knew anything about it so then replaced my modem (UML290), The replacement did not seem to work as good as the first and finally just about stopped working so I am on my 2nd one.

I am very interested in the external antenna you are using and the adaptor for the connection. If you can shed any more light on it I would appreciate it.
As a Ham radio operator one thing to consider is the length of the wire you are running to the antenna. The longer the run the more signal loss you have. AT high frequency this come into play and putting the antenna higher with a longer run can in some cases not pay off with more signal.

When I get the wmc604 I have been able to get out of it with setting the modem to LTE mode and then back to Global. If all else fails I go back to 3g. just to get online and stay connected.

I have very high pings 200 ms or more. I have not seen anyone else having that long latency from the post that I have seen on  a lot of the blogs.

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azbruski
Newbie

Here is the link for the panel antenna I use.  It comes with a 20' extension cable.

 

http://3gstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=443_138_466&products_id=2784

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vwereskisr
Newbie

.i also notice cannot play any online games...my old 3g modem works perfectly with the same games but this new service as far as online games or this modem apparently has issues...i have had nothing but problems, high ping rates and packet loss as well as jitter and no one with the exception of 1 service tech apparently cares...they only care that you can connect and brows web to a degree....i have spoke to 8 techs only one cares and states their is a problem....i have tested this on speedtest.com upload and download speed is fast remarkably fast but inconsistant, the ping is terible and jitter and packet loss is even worse...i am going to try to replace the modem as last form of troubleshoooting, if that doesnt work then 4g can go in the trash until they resolve the problem....they advertise online gameing and video streaming for 4g...i cannot do online gaming will not even connect to game host due to high pings and data loss...and yet the new service wich is supposed to be much better and support online gaming doesnt work and my 3g device works without a problem, can play games all day long without i hitch and no one from tech can explain why....sounds like a problem..i have spoke with several people on forums they have all said the same thing....release tech and dontr know how to fix the problems....the response you will get is all we care about is that you can connect and view the web!!! wow so when i buy a car i guess all they care about is the car moves, they dont care if the ac worrks or anything else does to...thats the way its been explained to me time and time again...except for 1 tech..so my suggestion to you is try a new modem, possably new sim card if still doesnt work go back to 3g device because i m not sure 4g is ready for complete service!!  but thtas my opinion as of now..

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BikingBob
Newbie
My connection is real slow also. I'm only 3 miles from an antennas. My download speed is only 0.484 mbps. I'm taking back my 4 g card tomorrow and going back to 3g it's faster. My speed is like a dial-up!!!! I wanted to download movies but sure can't with this card. Good luck to the rest of you folks.
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steveanderson13
Contributor - Level 2

 


BikingBob wrote:
My connection is real slow also. I'm only 3 miles from an antennas. My download speed is only 0.484 mbps. I'm taking back my 4 g card tomorrow and going back to 3g it's faster. My speed is like a dial-up!!!! I wanted to download movies but sure can't with this card. Good luck to the rest of you folks.

Hi Bob, I'm sure you know (well, not sure) that a movie might be 1.5-2 gigs, so just a heads up.

 

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MSSurvivor
Newbie

LTE Advanced is the real 4G according the ITU certification.  March 2011 will be the release of 4G specification by the ITU.  Many are claiming 4G when in fact its 3.5G.  This is how T-Mobile, WiMax (Sprint) and now Verizon is getting around it.  Its a little faster than 3G depending on market.

 

With regard to your device.  FM signal is line of site.  Foil backed insulation isn't a help either.  Your device maybe LTE Advanced ready.  By turning off LTE and going global most likely is hitting 3G or 3.5G depending on your market.

 

I anticipate 4G on a wider scale in 2012/13.

 

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BikingBob
Newbie

Changing rooms in my house sure helped my connection speed, THANKS

Now all I need is an antenna so I can use in my office.

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Neander
Contributor - Level 2

Same UML290, same plan,  but well in the 4G area, .7 mile from a tower.

 

And the signal is dancing around from zero to 4 bars! I constantly getting disconnected,

and what are those **bleep**WMC604 &WMC104 errors all about anyway?

 

What kind of Wizard of Oz Verizon engineer is screwing around with the signal?  Can't they get any kind of consistancy?

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mc1lean
Enthusiast - Level 2

I have the same hardware. Access manager was giving me fits too (WCM604, flaky 4G/3G). Support won't help me with towers either. All they want do is blame my client. I was hoping they'd be better than Sprint in that regard. Maybe they both have the same call center. ;-)>

 

Use:

Cell Phone Tower Maps | Antenna Guy USA and AntennaSearch - Search for Cell Towers, Cell Reception, Hidden Antennas and more.

 

to find towers.

 

I have my UML290 in a Nexaira BC2 router and locked to LTE and it works flawlessly. I briefly saw a 76mb down on speedtest.net today. Verizon wants us to use Verizon Online -- FiOS Speedtest BTW, although it reports consistently low speeds.

 

I think Access Manger is a POS. I took my modem and netbook and sat next to my closest tower (7mi from home) and was still flopping around between 3G/4G with Access mangler.

 

This site is great too (in addition to evodo forums) DSL · Cable · VOIP · Security · Satellite · Fiber · News · Tips · Reviews · Community · Tools - dslr...

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