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Antenna installation and alignment

Azimuth

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Sep 25, 2013
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2,195
#1

Image credit to: poynting-europe.com

Right, so this is my first attempt at joining the big boys with serious mobile broadband. This was all because I wanted the best possible LTE signal so that I could finally shrug off the oppressive yoke of high-attenuation low-SNR ADSL. :D

Area: Helderkruin
Mobile broadband of choice: Telkom Mobile
Distance from tower: 1622m (updated 30/07/2014)
Cell ID: 174 (Helderkruin Laerskool)
Antennas used: 2 * Poynting all-band LPDA-0092's in horizontal/vertical diversity (MIMO)
Bracket: medium wall bracket from Poynting
Mast: 3m mast from Poynting
Router: Huawei B593-u91 LTE CPE (2300MHz only)
Before antennas: -106dBm, 2 bars
After antennas: -69dBm, 5 bars
Antenna cable length: 7m
Extension cable: +5m additional, dropping signal to -73dBm
Speeds:
Telkom Mobile LTE Speedtest Results
Installation cost: approximately R3.5k (updated 30/01/2014)
Contract or prepaid: prepaid (Telkom Mobile 60+60GB)

I originally stated R8k for the install but this included Ubiquiti network equipment as well, which should be accounted for separately.

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Resources:

The B593 discussion thread

The Poynting antenna discussion thread

External antenna discussions

How to improve your wireless experience

External antenna positioning for best results

More on SA cell towers




Terminology:

LTE = Long Term Evolution, an upgrade path from 3G/HSPA for cell networks
CPE = Customer Premises Equipment, a "black box" for internet and/or networking
MIMO = Multiple-in and Multiple-out, multi antenna technology a transmitter and receiver ends
SNR = Signal to Noise Ratio, more prevalent in ADSL discussions and not important for this thread
LPDA = Log Periodic Dipola Antenna, a multi-element, directional, narrow-beam antenna that operates over a broad band of frequencies
LOS = Line of Sight
NLOS = No Line of Sight
 
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Azimuth

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#5
Share your home equipment setup

Sorry, been editing my post so more detail has already been added.
 
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IceQB

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2,613
#6
Thanks, just the type of thread I was looking for.
Can't seem to make up my mind on what type of setup to get myself.
 

Azimuth

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#7
Nice. That thing is going to catch some serious lightening strikes though...
The whole installation was a proof-of-concept. Now that it's been grafting for a week, I'll make everything more permanent. This includes:

- "Teeing" off the top of the mast to help with lightning strikes
- Earthing the mast
- Cable management

Note that the antennas have a DC-short on them to prevent static build up. There are lots of much higher trees around so I *hope* to never have a strike. Historically we've never had direct strikes, only hectic surges through the Telkom lines that fry the ADSL equipment and burn the RJ11 boxes!
 
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Azimuth

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#8
For the first 3 days I was pointing at the Vodacom tower. :p (Edit: wasn't even a cell tower)

Edit: Telkom mobile sectors are on the MTN tower, so I was only pointing at Vodacom in error, not Vodacom *and* MTN as previously stated. Point at MTN and you're guaranteed to be pointing at Telkom Mobile.

To date I've not had a reply from Telkom Mobile re: antenna direction but I guess I finally found that elusive tower. Your eye kinda gets trained on these things.

Next I'm going to build a drone to map the whole area! ;)
 
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Azimuth

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#9
Can't seem to make up my mind on what type of setup to get myself.
I was lucky because I just mimicked this setup:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BAaAWdwUjJo

Poynting were pretty awesome in all emails and telecoms and I even met with them at their Samrand office for a demo and discussion.

If memory serves they had 2 bars signal and -93dBm gain. They started off with ~ 3Mbps and ended up with 50Mbps after perfect alignment. I'm at a loss how to boost my own speeds like that. (Edit: note not all cell towers are 100Mbps towers nor will they all be upgraded; some towers are still stuck on 30Mbps)
 
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toxicehc

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Aug 27, 2008
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123
#10
but why?

For the first 3 days I was pointing at the MTN and Vodacom towers. :p

To date I've not had a reply from Telkom Mobile re: antenna direction but I guess I finally found that elusive tower. Your eye kinda gets trained on these things.

Next I'm going to build a drone to map the whole area! ;)
So I have to ask, why?

I got 10mbps Telkom ADSL, 1MB/sec peak download speed, I can drop 1080p video content into my house in less than 40 minutes for a 50 minute episode ( granted real time streaming is still a challenge from overseas ) cost is not to bad, I can live with it, so why stick a huge lightning pole on your roof and take internet from the poor cellphone users living in your area?
 

Azimuth

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#12
So I have to ask, why?

I got 10mbps Telkom ADSL, 1MB/sec peak download speed, I can drop 1080p video content into my house in less than 40 minutes for a 50 minute episode ( granted real time streaming is still a challenge from overseas ) cost is not to bad, I can live with it, so why stick a huge lightning pole on your roof and take internet from the poor cellphone users living in your area?
This was all because I wanted the best possible LTE signal so that I could finally shrug off the oppressive yoke of high-attenuation low-SNR ADSL. :D
I'm not using 3G, I'm using LTE which is data-only last I checked. ;)

I was forced to go this route after 6 years of 4Mbps -> 6Mbps -> 2Mbps ADSL. Right now my SNR is 13dB at 2Mbps. It becomes 6dB at 4Mbps. Attenuation has always been 55dB. ADSL is *always* gonna suck for me.

With LTE now available, it has become a light at the end of the tunnel.

- Two users (maybe more, untested) on my network can stream 1080p from YouTube
- I watched the iTunes Festival live
- Peak downloads are 1.5MB/s
- Internet browsing and Tapatalk are liquid smooth
 
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Segg

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#13
I'm not using 3G, I'm using LTE which is data-only last I checked. ;)

I was forced to go this route after 6 years of 4Mbps - 6Mbps - 2Mbps ADSL. Right now my SNR is 13dB at 2Mbps. It becomes 6dB at 4Mbps. Attenuation has always been 55dB. ADSL is *always* gonna suck for me.

With LTE now available, it has become a light at the end if the tunnel.

- Two users on my network can stream 1080p from YouTube.
- I watched the iTunes Festival live.
- Peak downloads are 1.5MB/s.
- Internet browsing and Tapatalk are liquid smooth.
I'm guessing you're using Neotel, as I would think caps would defeat the object of having such decent speeds
 

Azimuth

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#14
Nope.

Contract or prepaid: prepaid (Telkom Mobile 60+60GB)
Neotel is R2899pm for a 10Mbps DL and 3.3Mbps UL service. Yes it's uncapped but I don't need uncapped data. 20GB 8ta and 10GB MTN covers the 25GB pm I always had with ADSL.
 
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toxicehc

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Aug 27, 2008
Messages
123
#15
Nope.



Neotel is R2899pm for a 10Mbps DL and 3.3Mbps UL service. Yes it's uncapped but I don't need uncapped data. 20GB 8ta and 10GB MTN covers the 25GB pm I always had with ADSL.
Granted.

I am fortunate to have moved into a 4mbps area, only to find out I am less than 2km from one of the biggest Telkom exchanges in the West Rand and can actually get 10mbps. ( which I now have )
Yes, I can't get 20 or 40 MBPS but at least I can get a solid 10MBPS and trust me I am not greedy and I cannot sometimes find anything for the poor line to do, she is idle most of the time.

Anyhow, I did the Antenna on the roof thing with Neotel back in the day which was great until they cancelled my contract and gave my money back when my 3mbps connection could only sustain a 128kbps connection ( similar to your setup -> pointed direct line of sight at their tower.
 

Azimuth

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Sep 25, 2013
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#17
Share your home equipment setup

Then I switch to MTN. :) I've got signal for both.

Wow the pessimism is as thick as mist in here.
 
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Azimuth

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#20
That's great to know, thanks! Did you tee them off at the top of the mast? Also keen to know how to properly earth the mast as well - and where to connect *on* the mast.
 
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