dslreports logo
site
 
    All Forums Hot Topics Gallery
spc

spacer




how-to block ads


Search Topic:
uniqs
16947
share rss forum feed

inlinehockey

join:2007-12-21
Xenia, OH

LTE Tower Range

I recently updated my phone to an LTE capable phone. I am grandfathered in with unlimited 4G data and unlimited 4G hotspot. I can get a 4G signal within 1/4 mile of my house. We are listed as being in the 4G Extended Area. I would really like to use my hotspot at home as 4G is much faster than any other internet option I can currently get.

There are 2 towers 4.5 miles from my home that have 4G enabled. I purchased a Wilson 4G LTE amplifier kit and installed it. I cannot get a strong enough signal from either tower using the amplifier. I used Google Earth to map the locations and get the appropriate heading so I know where to aim the Yagi (which is approximately 20 ft in the air). The amplifier seems to be working properly as both the tower uplink overload and oscillation protections are both working.

There is one thing that really has me confused. The closest of the 2 towers is 4.4 miles and I will pull a 3G signal from that tower on my phone without any external antenna or amplification. If I can get a 3G signal, why can't I get a 4G signal with an amplifier? Is Verizon currently running the LTE signal at a lower output power than their 3G signals?


davidhoffman
Premium
join:2009-11-19
Warner Robins, GA
kudos:2

What happens if you take the amplifier out of the set up and just use the Yagi?


inlinehockey

join:2007-12-21
Xenia, OH

I don't have a way to use just the antenna. My phone (Droid Bionic) doesn't have an antenna port to plug into. I had the same thought when I was messing with the setup.

I have also been able to get the phone to connect and lock on 4G in my driveway a couple of times.

Since we finally have a nice day outdoors, I am going to make another go of it this afternoon! Maybe I will hit one of the towers and lock a signal...



xrayman

join:2008-12-09
Kansas City
kudos:1
reply to inlinehockey

Are you 100% sure that the tower at 4.5 miles is transmitting a LTE signal. At 4.5 miles you should be in the best Coverage Area for LTE, if you don't have a hill in the line of sight. The 700Mhz LTE signal has much larger coverage then the 1900Mhz 3G.
I have set up LTE systems around the KC area that only needed an USB extension cable to position the LTE modem device in a better area inside the house. LTE at 4.5 miles from the tower gave a signal of -72 db with no external antenna or amp system.
I have never installed the Wilson Amp system you are using. I set up all my wireless broadband accounts with USB modems that have external antenna ports. If you are located in the 4G LTE Extended Coverage Area an external antenna most likely will be needed to get a good inside connection.


inlinehockey

join:2007-12-21
Xenia, OH

I have been to the tower site to verify there are indeed LTE panels on the tower. I actually have 2 towers within 4.5 miles and have verified the panels on both.

As an extra step before I started setting up the amplifier, I drove to these locations with my phone to verify the signal. I have downloaded the OpenSignal and Sensorly apps to the phone to help with this process.

I have used the LigoWave link calculator to verify I have good line of sight and not too many obstructions in the fresnel zone. This is also shows the elevation and terrain variations between 2 points. I live in a location where my elevation is similar to both tower sites with valleys in between. The tower height is about 100 ft above my current elevation. This fact has me questioning if the panels are canted at a greater angle to hit the low lying areas and not allowing the signal to reach my location. I have tried the antenna at roof line level (~15 ft high) and with an additional 8' additional height.

I am indeed in an Extended Coverage Area but I am on the very outside edge. I understand that 700 mhz can propagate a much further distance than the PCS band if the power outputs are identical. I am in the Dayton, OH market and it almost appears the towers are not operating at full power yet as some of the pockets of service are rather small. I fully expected that being less than 5 miles from 2 towers would give me good usable sign, especially when using an amplifier.

I am currently at a loss of what to do next. I am wondering if there is a problem with the amplifier itself...


StLCardsFan

join:2011-06-06
Lafayette, LA

i think you either have a bad antenna or bad amplifier...or the cable is bad between then.


inlinehockey

join:2007-12-21
Xenia, OH

said by StLCardsFan:

i think you either have a bad antenna or bad amplifier...or the cable is bad between then.

I am beginning to think the same thing. I have eliminated the yagi antenna by testing it with my existing 3G USB modem. Without the antenna, I get -95 to -105 dbm signal strength but with the antenna I get -85 to -80 dbm. I have also used both cables with the same result.

I might have a bad amplifier or the interior antenna with the system may be defective. The weird part is that the amplifier's built in oscillation protection and tower overload protection have both kicked in. If I get the interior antenna too close (75 ft) to the exterior antenna, the amp goes into protection mode. I have reset the amp exactly as described in the manual from Wilson...

dmc271

join:2008-09-02
Stillwater, OK

Is it possible for you to lock your phone in LTE-only mode, and then test? I live on the border of 4G and Extended 4G, and my phone (Thunderbolt) is able to pick up a 4G signal if I leave it near a window, locked into LTE-only mode. I'm 7 miles from the LTE tower.

If you can pick up a 4G signal in your driveway, then one would think that your setup should work.

Maybe the yagi is aimed incorrectly? Perhaps you can try using the yagi indoors and the panel antenna outdoors to eliminate the need to aim perfectly. Then, rotate the panel in 45-deg increments to see if you can get a signal. I added a panel antenna to my UML290, and it did wonders for the signal.

Too bad these phones don't have 4G signal-strength indicators.


inlinehockey

join:2007-12-21
Xenia, OH

said by dmc271:

Is it possible for you to lock your phone in LTE-only mode, and then test? I live on the border of 4G and Extended 4G, and my phone (Thunderbolt) is able to pick up a 4G signal if I leave it near a window, locked into LTE-only mode. I'm 7 miles from the LTE tower.

I have been able to lock the phone in LTE via the ##program menu but I still cannot get a usable signal. I normally lock mine in LTE only and have the wife keep hers in normal 3G/4G mode.

I have checked and rechecked my aiming of the yagi. I even took another drive this afternoon just to verify the signal existed at the towers. Both towers were showing good signal strength when less than 1/2 mile away but both signals quickly diminished after a 1-2 mile radius.

I am able to see the 4G signal strength when I lock the phone in 4G and use an app called Sensorly. I tested it in a good 4G area and it worked great. I even retested the cables and outdoor yagi antenna. I might try swapping the indoor panel to the outdoors to see if it makes any difference. I did get the amp to go into tower upload overload protection again this afternoon but couldn't get anything down. I really think the local towers (both are in urban areas and I am rural) are just not running full power yet. I have enough output power to hit the tower but there just isn't enough power to establish the downlink connection...

I have tried every window in my house (1st and 2nd floor) with no connection. We only hit 4G in the driveway twice since Christmas. On a positive note, I drove to another known Verizon tower that is the closest tower (I currently pull 3G off of it for my internet connection) that now has LTE panels mounted but no signal yet! It is only 3 miles from me and I have a great line of site to the tower. I am hoping it will come on soon and all of this hassle will be over!

I tried again today and the closest usable signal is about 0.5-1 mile minimum from my house. It seems to have gotten weaker from where we were hitting the signal even a few days ago. I have contacted Verizon to bring this to their attention and hopefully they can check things out.

Wow, that was novel! Sorry for being so long winded!

dmc271

join:2008-09-02
Stillwater, OK

Yes, I think you're right--it does sound like limited tower range. Hopefully they extend the coverage soon. Please update us if you make further progress. I'm eyeing a similar setup.


inlinehockey

join:2007-12-21
Xenia, OH

I will absolutely update the thread as things progress.

I have watched one of the video reviews putting the Wilson amplifier against the Cellphone-Mate amplifier and the results are definitely impressive. I was able to get the Wilson amplifier, indoor panel antenna and outdoor yagi antenna from www.solidsignal.com for $299. The kit doesn't include the low loss cable but each house is different. The Cellphone-Mate (which was slightly better) is about $100 more. It was by far the most cost effective place to buy the kit and I looked everywhere. For me, paying and extra $100 on a tight budget wasn't justified for an extra 2-3 mbps boost when speeds are already near 20 Mbps!

Hopefully the signal comes on sooner than later!


jeepwrang3

join:2011-02-24
North East, MD
reply to inlinehockey

What is the max signal distance LTE can travel over water? I basically live across the a mile wide river from an LTE tower in Aberdeen MD. I get a nice 4g connection from a neighbors house up the street, his elevation is slightly above mine, but he doesnt have any cliff's off the water. Getting a single bar to 0 bars just for voice, not to mention 1x for internet is frustrating when it works just 500 yards away. At this point i'm wondering what height i need to put a booster just to solve my issues.


bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today

I live across from turkey point near stemmer's run and it's shown as extended coverage. Not. No signal at all 3g signal is not all that great either.


spkay

join:2005-11-10
Princeton, MA
reply to inlinehockey

Nice thread, I'll add info as I gain more experience myself. I live in Princeton MA (central north of Worcester) and the next town over Leominster just got 4G LTE live a few months ago. I signed up for a 4G usb modem (3G phones not yet upgradable) and decided to try an outdoor antenna + LTE amplifier + indoor antenna to get to a LTE tower a little over 4 miles away. So far I have decent signal strength with the Wilson 15dBm YAGI, the 801865 LTE amp and indoor Panel antenna. I am getting on average -72 dBm RSSI (4G LET) and 2.0dB LTE SINR. Not great but good enought to get about 6Mbps down/2Mbps up, a lot better than other options.

I still need to spend more time aligning and tuning the YAGI antenna, amp and indoor antenna but it's working OK right now. I did find the best way to select the tower to target was simply wardriving my UML290 equipt laptop around all the local cell tower sites and see if I got a solid 4G signal and run a speedtest to verify available bandwidth on the tower. The closest tower to my house which I believe is the main 3G tower for my home apparently does not yet have 4G or doesn't have the equipment activated yet. I know only by testing directly around the tower location w/ the 4G modem. The tower 4 miles aways however was providing a very strong signal and I was running tests and routinely getting 36+Mbs down/7+Mbps up around this tower.

So even though it's a bit far and has a big hill/high point that makes direct LOS to the tower impossible I'm still getting adequate RSSI to maintain a decent connection. For me all the effort and the equipment cost ($450 for everything) is worth it for a decent internet connection with the potential of excellent performance when completely optimized.


spkay

join:2005-11-10
Princeton, MA
reply to jeepwrang3

I think at full power the 4G LTE equipment Verizon is using near Leominster can provide a usable connection at somewhere between 1mi to 1.5mi. I am willing to guess that under ideal conditions you may be able to connect and use it beyond that, possibly close to 2mi. But with an external antenna and booster amp I've seen people getting good RSSI/SINR as far away as 6 miles.


bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today

1 edit
reply to inlinehockey

I got my first taste at the LTE bar on Friday 2/10/12 in Newark Delaware 21.000kbps wow can't wait for more expansion. I was up at the Christiana Mall yesterday and tower right there at the mall is a 4g tower signal is real strong there but you get two miles on way or the other it goes to 3g. The range does to me seem pretty short on 4g.



mc1lean

join:2007-11-18
Lincolnton, NC
Reviews:
·AT&T Wireless Br..
·Verizon Wireless..
reply to inlinehockey

I live at least 6 miles from the nearest tower - I say at least because the closest tower wasn't 4G last time I sat next to it with my uml290 in my netbook - the tower I think I'm hitting would be at least 10 (same line of sight). I have a Yagi and with it am getting -67db, SINR hops up to 20, usually in the low teens. Been getting 12 down, 12 up since the new year.


bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today

Do you get any kind of signal without the external antenna.


jeepwrang3

join:2011-02-24
North East, MD
reply to bcltoys

Nice. My wife and i came close to purchasing a place in Pearce Creek.

I was pulling in 2 bars of 4G from the lighthouse.

I'm on the side facing White Crystal Beach, can see straight across to it. The Verizon map stops literally at my driveway so i cant say its false advertising, just the terrain. It just stinks that my neighbors 1000feet away get 4G service, and i cant even pull down 3G in my house. Guess its tower time, just need to find a low cost option to get elevation.


bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today
reply to inlinehockey

With a usb card and a external antenna it would proly work over here but phone's just don't have the power to reach across that far to hook onto the tower's over there.


jeepwrang3

join:2011-02-24
North East, MD
reply to inlinehockey

Maybe buy 3 cans of this stuff, and all of our problems are fixed
»news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-573···-a-can/?


bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today
reply to inlinehockey

I'm getting a 55gal drum and covering my whole 2 acres of trees .


spkay

join:2005-11-10
Princeton, MA

Hahah, that's a riot. Spray on antenna, I wonder if you spray on your head if you can get great 4G anywhere you go



mc1lean

join:2007-11-18
Lincolnton, NC
reply to bcltoys

bcltoys: Been a while since I tried but I was only able to get '3G'. Even with the yagi my MBR95 router only registers 1 bar (20%).


spkay

join:2005-11-10
Princeton, MA

I tried at first with just the YAGI antenna hooked directly to the Pantech UML290 antenna port with a pigtail adapter and couldn't acquire the signal. Now my antenna was inside pointing out a window that was roughly the same vector as it is now up 10' above my roof peak. But there was not enough gain without amplification for me to connect.

Now with the 8 element YAGI -> 25' LMR400 -> Wilson 801865 amp -> 15' LMR240 -> Wilson 301135 indoor panel, I am getting around -58dBm RSSI (4G LTE) and 9dB LTE SINR. That's good enough to stay near 45ms ping, 10.5Mbps down, 5Mbps up typically.

I'm still on the prowl to try and boost my rates to 15Mbps down and 7Mbps up, but will need better inside cable and possibly higher gain outside antenna. I know the Cellphone-Mate CM700V has actually received better reviews than the Wilson 4G LTE amp, mainly because the uplink speeds were superior. I don't think I will go that route unless I find the up speeds start to fall to far.


bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today
reply to inlinehockey

I know I never had luck with a yagi on 3g so if I was in your shoe's I would give a grid antenna a shot I think you will get much better results.


spkay

join:2005-11-10
Princeton, MA

Thanks for the advice bcl,
I seen a 17dBm parabolic grid antenna on ZDA Comms site. I also exchanged some emails with a distributor in the antenna biz who also agreed most of the smaller YAGI's have greatly exaggerated gain claims over what testing yields. Since a 750MHz parabolic grid costs only a little more than a YAGI it's worth trying to see if I can hop up to 4 bar status


inlinehockey

join:2007-12-21
Xenia, OH
reply to inlinehockey

UPDATE:

I moved the antenna even higher. I have the antenna approximately 35' above ground level. I still cannot get a usable signal.

With the antenna in the new location, it is even easier to put the amplifier into the uplink overload protection mode. I have more than enough power to get my signal to the tower but I still can't pull down a usable signal.

I am a bit concerned that I might have a faulty amplifier on the downlink side. I have contacted customer service at Wilson to help work through the setup and determine if I possibly have a defective unit. My last option is to swap the current Yagi for a grid antenna and see if that helps.

There is a VZW tower only 3.5 miles from me that has LTE panels on it but is not live yet. Come on Verizon, turn it on already!!


bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today

Do you have line of site to any tower. If not the yagi will be useless and a grid will serve you better. Being 35 feet high it's almost impossible to get any antenna level. But the yagi from the get go if it is not level will not work.


inlinehockey

join:2007-12-21
Xenia, OH

said by bcltoys:

Do you have line of site to any tower. If not the yagi will be useless and a grid will serve you better. Being 35 feet high it's almost impossible to get any antenna level. But the yagi from the get go if it is not level will not work.

I checked for line of sight prior to ordering the yagi setup. I do have line of sight to most towers around me. I am located on the top of a hill and at one of the highest points in the county. I used the LigoWave link calculator (normally used for PTP communications to determine LOS and minimum tower height required) for every tower within 10 miles. It's a really online cool tool as it pulls in terrain data and shows you a cross-section of the terrain along with the LOS and fresnel zone...

When I installed my mount, I was very careful to ensure I was getting the yagi level. I do understand the requirement for these to be level to function properly.

I am still considering ordering a grid antenna. I use one currently with my 3G setup. I have my doubts that it will help. After seeing the 4G signal strength drop off after only 2 miles from the closest towers, it appears we are just in a dead zone. Unfortunately I can't amplify a signal that doesn't exist...

I guess I just need to be a bit more patient and wait until Verizon either increases the signal strength or turns on another tower.

I did contact Verizon Wireless and explain that we are listed as being an Extended Service area but get no signal anywhere on the property (even on the roof, I tried today!) and had to drive to get a signal. They blew me off and sent me a canned response about contacting CS. I am not surprised...