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Looking at building your own 4G mast?
Tuesday 18 August 2015 09:30:00 by Andrew Ferguson

While not everyone has a field that may have 4G available in one corner of it, many of us have one window upstairs where you can get a better mobile signal and thus it is worth testing whether 4G is available as there are easy to use 4G routers that are designed to be left on all the time and provide Wi-Fi and ethernet around your home.

The Huawei B593 is a popular router and the advantage of buying it in an unlocked state is that you can try SIM cards from the various mobile operators. At £100 to £150 for the router, the expensive part will usually be the data charges from the 4G or 3G service provider which is one reason why we mention the EE SIM offers that give you two months of 100GB of data for just £10 when they are running.

There are external antenna available for the Huawei routers and retailers like have a range on indoor and outdoor antenna to make grabbing a better 3G or 4G signal easier.


Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
I use a 3G solution on Three. Added a 2nd router on EE (Pole is somewhat more substantial now) 14Mb on Three 5 on EE. 2 small problems. 3G drops the connection at busy times, pain if you need VPN. Not everyone has a cool farmer who will let you get line of sight to a mast a 100m of armoured power cable alone a fence. Not a substitute for FTT[CP], but a life line
Posted by Cammy about 1 year ago
How do you go about finding which masts are 4G? Using the Ofcom database, I know the location of all the local masts but they are only 3G. There doesn't seem to be a way to filter on just the 4G masts.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
The B593 is a good choice for a mains powered router, for permanent use. For something slightly more mobile to use as a backup, but with travel in mind too, we have gone for the Huawei E5372. It has the smaller TS-9 anntenna connectors, which are a little less stable than the SMA ones.

To feed it with data when those 100GB offers aren't around, we spend around £15 on a 6GB (3 month expiry) PAYG SIM from EE. It costs more to top up subsequently ... or you just get a new 6GB SIM.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
In most cases, 4G comes from the existing masts, but not all of them.

If you go look at the operator's own coverage map, 4G often shows as a rough circle in some of the places, whereas 3G is more widespread. The mast at the centre of the circle is the one with 4G support
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
If you're like Llety, and need serious antenna, you probably need to consider a UK-specific equivalent to this:
Posted by victoriaonline about 1 year ago
I bought that router in October last year and put a video on YouTube showing how fast it can go. One thing to bear in mind is that you can chew through data rather quickly (ran the last 200 megs on my last 6GB card down in under 2 mins - and running a speed test is expensive if done a few times)

As WWWombat says, the sims aren't cheap and I'd run out of money to run it until the other day when amazon flogged the EE 6GB sims for under 6 quid!
Posted by ahockings about 1 year ago
@Cammy It's pretty easy since at the moment 4G is generally running at a lower power. With a 4G handset it's not too difficult to work out. It's quite easy down here as it's rural and hilly. Where it's more flat it can a bit more tricky. With an iPhone you can use field test mode to get the Cell IDs too.
Posted by ahockings about 1 year ago
I do precisely this. I have a b593 in an upstairs window where it gets -99 dBm 1 bar 3G and I get around 10-15 meg on DC-HSDPA on EE.
Bit concerned that when 4G comes (soon I hope) it will be too low a power to pick up since it generally runs about 20 dBm less than 3G so it will be around -119 dBm, almost the 4G cut off point.
We'll see.
Posted by DrMikeHuntHurtz about 1 year ago
It's a shame the mobile companies have formed a cartel so we can't fully take advantage of these solutions.
Posted by Arkbrit about 1 year ago
I've done this for 6 mths now - a TP-Link MR 3420 as my router & 4G from an EE Sim in an EE Kite (Huawei E5878s-32) in the router's USB. My old ADSL router is connected to the TP-Link WAN as backup. Rock solid 4G at 12-15MB compared to 1MB ADSL. My frustration is the cost - £50pm for 50GB which runs out at the end each month when I’m back to ADSL. Mobile Cos could offer this to rural slow spots today at a much more reasonable price - time they did. No hope of getting anything faster via fibre -my exchange is enabled but my village too far away from the cab to get anything acceptable.
Posted by FTTxEng about 1 year ago
@cammy try and filter the 4g option.
Posted by bigluap about 1 year ago
Lucky if you can get 2G in Warwick CV34. With the County Hospital next to the mast Contention is a Major Issue.
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