Three 4G HomeFi

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This topic contains 56 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by Dave Rice 1 day, 16 hours ago.

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  • #33216

    Dave Rice
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    @ricedg

    I mentioned before about providing a whole home BB service using Three’s Huawei E5573bs-322 4G Mobile Wi-Fi, well now I’ve got my hands on the proper HomeFi kit.

    It uses a Huawei B311 Wireless Router which has an Ethernet port and the ability to add an external antenna. The firmware covers all the bases and then some, much more than your usual ISP box. It even has a VPN client which I’ve used to join two offices together in a HQ (Draytek) – Branch (Huawei) test scenario. The interface is extremely well laid out and everything is where you would expect it to be.

    It says it can deal with 32 WiFi “gadgets” which I take to mean IOT devices. I would be surprised it if could handle that many full fat devices but I can’t see your average home would have any issues. Having an Ethernet socket means you can connect as much as you like via a switch, which is what I’ll be doing as a UAP will be handling the WiFi duties.

    I only have a landline because I need BB. Sat nowhere special it’s getting 25 down 20 up. TBH 95% of the time that would do me just fine but with an external patch antenna up high pointing at the Three mast I’ll bet I could put that up to FTTC speeds. I have some customers backing up their Synology servers to mine for free, but with Synology’s new C2 cloud backup only costing $10 a year for 100GB daily backup I think that may change!

    At £22 a month for unlimited data, if you have a 4G signal of adequate quality for your needs then this is a serious contender. Be in no doubt, this is not dumbed down consumer fodder, it looks like the future.

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  • #33217

    blacklion1725
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    @blacklion1725
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    Very interesting Dave. I’m on Vodafone BB (£26/month less £60 cash back over 18 months – all good so far. My mobile is with three and I get terrific and consistent speeds (recently cut back from unlimited to 12GB)….so I think this would be viable. I assume I could plug my router in to this via the ethernet port and use this (Huawei) as a modem in the way that my openreach modem works with FTTC now – leaving the current router to handle all the VPN, DHCP etc) If so I’ll have a think when my 18 months is up. One odd thing with Three round here is that when they do (occasional) maintenance work they notify you (which is good) but always seem to do it during core hours (which is less good). Good stuff though- food for thought.

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    #33222

    Drezha
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    @drezha
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    <p style=”text-align: left;”>We’ve looked at it from a cadet perspective, as we don’t have a phone line running to the cadet hut since they rebuilt it. I think the only issue for us is that for some reason we need a business line, not a home user line (don’t know if that’s because we’re a registered charity?). Currently running a TP-Link 4G router that I use a Giff Gaff SIM in. Was fine with just me using it, but now I’ve got more staff, I think we’re going to have to upgrade the required download, was using about 4-5GB a month, which is quite a bit considering we’re only down for 5 hours a week! However, if it was unlimited, I couldn’t really complain. Not sure how it would cope with 5 or 6 machines accessing the web at once mind. Maybe we’ll try with my current one and see how we get on.</p>
    Downside for home usage (when I looked) was ping for gaming and that we don’t have great Three signal.

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    #33224

    The Duke
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    @sgb101
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    This is the step to 5g. It’s what America is terrified of! The more we move to 5g the less control USA have over the net.

    This is why trump is tryingto ostracise huawei.

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    #33229

    Dave Rice
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    @ricedg
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    BL: it doesn’t have a “bridge” mode, but in theory you connect it to an Ethernet router (most VDSL routers can do this) then create a DMZ pointing to that routers WAN port IP. That will allow Port Forwarding etc. to work even though there is double NAT going on.

    Drezha: I think half a dozen concurrent users will be fine on your TPL.

    There are chunkier Huawei and TPL 4G routers available, I’ve heard good things about the £122 B525 It is dual band g/n/ac 300mbps, 4 Ethernet ports and will take better external antenna (dual connections). There’s a 618 with 600mbps WiFi too but that’s too many £££s. There are other better ways to do the same spending less.

    I had a quick look at the TP-Link kit and user guides. Even the 6400 has a Guest network plus a PPTP and OpenVPN server built in! That’s a £70 device, impressed. Of course many routers, like the Drayteks, can take a USB dongle but check for support.

    I concentrated on the Huawei as that’s what comes bundled by Three (but you can use the sim in anything). Whilst the TPL kit is just as capable, if not more, and cheaper, I like the external 4G antenna option of the Huawei. I suspect placement of any unit using it’s internal antenna will be key and even adding a “rubber duck” would help. If you can get the antenna outside, even better. A directional antenna pointing at the mast, marvellous.

    Mine should be installed in the next week or so at the housing charity and will be dealing with 12 residents (via UAP WiFi), a SOHO office and remote access to a 6 camera CCTV setup.

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    #33637

    PlaneMan
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    @planeman
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    I’ve just ordered a B525 to see what kind of speeds I can get at home an hopefully get shot of the muppets that are Virgin Media.

    If it improves my signal on Smarty (3), I’ll go for the 3 deal and either flog the supplied router or send this one back to Amazon. The one I went for was a refurb with 2 external aerials supplied by Amazon for £99. My signal should be better than it is (I get anywhere between 2 and 20 down and 0.5 to 5 up depending on where I am in the house.

    I’ll report back when it arrives (due Wednesday).

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    #33645

    tadka
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    @tadka
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    I take it it’s a different SIM card to those for mobile phones? I mean I can’t use it in my phone when I’m out and about and as MiFi when I’m at home?

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    #33646

    PlaneMan
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    @planeman
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    Bog standard SIM. You can use whatever one you want.

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    #33649

    tadka
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    @tadka
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    Bog standard SIM. You can use whatever one you want.

    But what about calls and texts? They have no mention of them.

    Some years ago I used to connect my PC to my mobile and use the data for the internet and even play games. Wasn’t great but it did the job. Then mobile phone companies caught on and did something to stop it. They somehow knew when the data was being used by a PC and blocked it. I think I had a discussion going about it on the old MM forum. There was a “hack” to over come it but I didn’t use it so I guess it wasn’t that great a solution.

    I’m just wondering if they now ok with PCs using data through phones or those are data only SIMs.

    It be great if I just plug in my phone into the computer and use the data for the internet. No need to pay for BB.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by tadka.
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    #33652

    PlaneMan
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    @planeman
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    It all depends on your tariff. If it allows tethering then you can hotspot from your phone. Some tariffs like the Smarty £25 one have no restrictions at all on how you use the allowances.

    If your home phone has the right socket (rj 11 IIRC) you can plug into the router and make calls. I believe texts need an app installed on your phone. I went for this router because I want to try out all the options available at mum’s place as well as she is also sick of Virgin but needs some kind of ‘home phone’ that her fella understands. If it works as it should I can just plug their DECT phones into the router and there’s nothing new for him to learn (apart from the new phone number).

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    #33665

    The Duke
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    @sgb101
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    I have found if your phone is open, you have no issue with hotspoting (tethering), it’s when your phone is locked to a provider peeps run in to issues. As the provider has their own in build apps that detect hotspoting etc.. Mainly cos they want to charge to let you do it.

    Moral is alway get your contract 9hiens from carphone warehouse, and not from o2/ee/etc…

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    #33670

    Dave Rice
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    @ricedg
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    Texts are sent / received from the web interface of the Huawei routers, even my little portable one.

    Three do an unlimited everything sim for £20 / £22 / £26 depending on contract length.  With BT line rental @ £16+ a month this is starting to look like a no brainer if the technical side is OK.

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    #33671

    Wheels-Of-Fire
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    @grahamdearsley
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    Back in 2004 I had no phone line at my new flat for 6 months. I had a Pentium 3 PC back then and a Motorola V series phone on O2.

    To get on the internet I brought a bluetooth dongle for the PC and used it to tether the phone.

    Considering it was only 2.5G it worked really well but it got expensive because I only had 20Mb of data a month for free.

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    #33675

    The Duke
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    @sgb101
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    I can remeber working on the train around 04, getting online with a USB to my phone. Problay a Sony Ericsson jobbie or Samsung flip, my laptop after that had a sim slot, so I’d just pop the sim out of my phome and into my laptop. As that got a better connection than the phone/tether got.

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    #33738

    Drezha
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    @drezha
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    I normally now use my work iPhone connection for conecting when travelling for work, rather than rely on the wifi at hotels – take this trip at the minute – free Premier Inn wifi is capped at 1Mbps. I get far faster than that on the iPhone and I’ve got the data to cover it!

    We did appear to break the TP-Link at cadets the other night though – all the computers being on and getting Windows updates seemed to use all the bandwidth up which was an issue.

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    #33744

    PlaneMan
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    @planeman
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    Got the B525 today and in the first location I tried at mum’s it got 50 down and 25 up. Plenty for her.

    At my place I can’t get better than 12 down and 5 up using it. It doesn’t get the same signal as any of my phones (which get roughly the same) in any location. I suspect it’s all the houses getting in the way even though there’s a 3 mast .36 of a KM away.

     

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    #33753

    Dave Rice
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    @ricedg
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    Don’t forget you can use an external antenna, but just getting out of the brick walls can make a huge difference as will height. A more directional antenna pointing at the mast will improve things even further, however a long cable could lose more than it gains. A lot of people don’t know that (Michael Caine voice).

    A good first bet is to place it on a window sill upstairs on the mast side of the house and see how it goes. Give it 10 -15 mins in each to find the best one.

    For a boost there’s a £21 indoor external 49 dbi antenna for £22 on Amazon that has good reviews, mount that in the window. The larger Huawei units usually have SMA connectors, but check they’re not TS9 if you have anything else.

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    #33767

    PlaneMan
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    @planeman
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    Dave, I’ve got a different antenna coming today. 35db job.

    Strangely the exact listing isn’t on Amazon anymore, it was a multiple choice job with SMA, ts9 and another type of connector variants of the same antenna. The order is now showing as a ts9 one but I know I selected SMA. 😕

    Have to wait and see which one turns up.

    I saw the one you linked to but it’s 3 day delivery.

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    #33768

    Dave Rice
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    @ricedg
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    I believe you can get adaptors between SMA and TS9 etc. One thing I learned from the WISP days was the cable is as important as the antenna which is why you see moans on Amazon about using them with extension leads.

    In my case I have Ethernet from the attic to the workshop and a good WiFi backbone too. I’ve deliberately not put all my eggs in one basket so changing the way the internet is presented should be pretty painless and I don’t care about the WiFi on any ISP provided kit.

    It looks like the B311 has a pass through (modem) mode, I’m on site tomorrow and will have a proper look. That means you could just plug it into the Ethernet WAN port of any decent router. My Dect base station is on the ground floor and the phones work just fine upstairs so reversing the location shouldn’t be an issue. I have until 1st September 2020 to plan, not that I’m counting the days or anything 😀

    A lot could happen between now and then including 5G. My guess is that Three’s offering will do well and the others will start to offer the same services, especially Vodaphone. It’s a game changer that’s for sure.

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    #33769

    PlaneMan
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    @planeman
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    If they have sent the wrong one it’s going back and I’ll get another with the correct connectors.

    The one I’ve got coming is an internal/external one that you can allegedly stick onto a window. Not sure I’d trust that though.

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    #33770

    Dave Rice
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    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 2,275

    There will be no weight to it. Ubiquiti do a rubber cup windows mount and they work well so it may be OK.

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