Rain gives customers free 4G outdoor antennas – But it may not help

Certain customers using Rain’s unlimited 4G packages can acquire an outdoor router to attempt to boost their download speeds, but this does not guarantee an improvement.

This is according to the experience of one Rain 4G customer who recently spoke to MyBroadband.

The customer claimed that although he was under full Rain network coverage, about 1.3km from the nearest tower, he had only recorded a maximum download speed of about 1.3Mbps. This would sometimes drop to as slow as 350kbps.

After lodging a complaint about the speeds he was getting on Rain’s network, the reader said that he was contacted by an agent and informed that his nearest tower was congested during peak times.

The agent stated that there was no quick solution to fix the problem, but offered the option to have a free-to-use 4G outdoor router delivered to the customer.

This would then be used to connect to a different tower with better conditions and intended to improve the network experience, the agent claimed.

Unfortunately, although the customer received and mounted the router, he did not observe any change in performance.

He admitted, however, that perhaps the installation would require a Rain technician.

Limited number of circumstances

While Rain typically offers a similar service for 5G customers, the process for 4G packages was not previously made public.

We asked Rain whether this service was available to all customers and what performance gains could be achieved with the outdoor router.

However, CEO Willem Roos told MyBroadband it does not offer any free-to-use routers on any of its 4G packages.

We simply provide customers with a SIM, and then advise them where they can buy a range of 4G/LTE capable devices,” Roos said.

However, in a “very limited” number of instances, the operator has offered to assist “selected customers” by providing them with a Huawei B2338 outdoor router, Roos noted.

This is intended to improve connection strength for a customer in poor radio conditions, such as when they may be far away from the tower, or the signal could be obstructed, he explained.

Below is an image of the Huawei B2338 outdoor LTE/4G router.

We were unable to locate any retailers which sold this particular unit, but another outdoor LTE router – the Huawei B222 – was available from PC Link Computers starting from R518.

Huawei B2338 outdoor router

Rain to consider offering SIM-only 5G

Roos said that the operator recommended customers use the “optimiser” process on the Rain website to improve signal.

“We show clients exactly where our towers are located, and then advise them to place their router close to a window in the direction of the tower.  In most instances, this will ensure much-improved signal strength.”

Rain does provide a  free-to-use router – the Huawei CPE 5G Pro – with its 5G packages, as these routers are not yet freely available in South Africa.

“It should also be noted that this router is locked to the Rain network, and will not function with another provider’s SIM card,” Roos reiterated.

He added that Rain may consider offering a SIM-only 5G product in future, allowing customers to use their own hardware.

Now read: Rain – Expectation versus reality

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Rain gives customers free 4G outdoor antennas – But it may not help