Friday 13 November 2015

BWI5 (Deferral Account) Speed Problems - Check This Post

In about mid-August of 2015, I started to get fluctuating download speeds on my BWI5 (Deferral Account) service. At times the download speeds tested as low as .95 Mbps.

This was after I reported in this blog post of 10 Aug 2015 how steady the download speeds were for the past 12 months in spite of the growth in the number of users.

This slow down occurred at a time when the LED on the front of the Netgear unit went from green to blue, the receive signal strength went from around - 84 dBm to around -67 dBm, and the operating mode changed from HSDPA/HSUPA to LTE.  Common logic would indicate that these changes would indicate a better quality of service. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect.  

After working a few weeks with my Bell contacts, we may have identified the problem and come up with a solution for folks using the Netgear 1516 router.
After the last software update to the Netgear router, the HSPA (WCDMA) band does not play well with the LTE Band. That means that people like me who are located roughly where the signal from the LTE site, even though it is slightly farther away, overwhelms the HSPA signal and creates havoc.   

The same software upgrade disabled the ability for a user to disable a particular band on the Netgear router. After the upgrade, it seems the 700, 800, 1900 and 2100 bands are being treated as equal and the router decides which the best signal is. It seems the router is selecting the 700 band even though the installer aimed the external antenna at the Pine Shores tower. This site does not have a LTE capability. However, the back lobe on the antenna looks at Buttermilk and I assume this is where the LTE signal that comes into play originates.

 A tech provided the following info and asked me to try it.
            “New update of Netgear 1516 removed option to disable LTE
In cases where clients coverage is borderline HSPA / LTE and experiences drop connections or difficulty connected disable LTE and test

      Type the address below:
      From there you have the option to Enable/Disable Frequency Bands
      Disable the MBR1516: LTE B17 band (700 MHz)”
Note by Hermes: You need to sign in using the input you normally use to access the router web page.

I did as requested and even went one-step farther and disabled all bands except the 1900 band, which is the only band in use at the Pine Shore tower.  

 All the speed tests are now back to normal with speeds well above 5 Mbps.

I am not sure if you can do a similar thing with the Huawei router but one can check with Bell tech support.

For the moment, all is good in BWI5 land for me. J 


  1. Hi Hermes, I am trying to find out what internet options are available on St Joseph's Island. I am a programmer and need a fairly fast connection with a reasonable data cap. If you have any suggestions to look at please contact me.

  2. Hi Tim Besserer:

    There are currently two types of Broadband (high speed) Internet service on St Joseph Island – Bell DSL within Richards Landing and cellular based fixed wireless covering most of the Island..

    The Bell Internet details are available at the Bell website:

    The Bell Wireless Internet 5 provides coverage to most of the Island from one of the five Bell towers. BWI5 provides 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. The data cap is around 40 GB per month with an option for additional GBs. Call Bell direct sales for additional details. 1-866-668-9104

    Rogers standard data hub flex plan option is available from some locations on the Island. See:

    As of this writing, these are the only terrestrial based options for St. Joseph Island.

    1. Thanks for the quick reply. What are your thoughts on xplornet? or any other satellite service if any exist?

    2. Satellite broadband (high speed) Internet service has the problem of built-in latency to overcome. This latency is in the range of 800-1600 ms depending on the circumstances. In any case, satellite does not handle well applications that require real time or near-real time responses such as gaming. VoIP, etc. It also does not handle secure websites such banking or secure transactions in a timely manner.

      There are also data cap issues.

      Xplornet service is available for the Island. Unfortunately their new website does not provide any service details for the Island postal codes and you have to phone Xplornet for details. I would recommend a web search on Xplornet service to sees what other users think of the service.

  3. Is there any benefit to choosing Tbaytel in the Upper Island Lake area over the Rogers/Fido store in town? Does tbaytel include a signal repeater? The service we get is 'ok' but not great. Bell/Telus is almost nil in our location on the lake.

    1. Both Tbaytel and Fido are affiliated with Rogers and all three companies are using the same infrastructure. In this case, the actual signal at Upper Island Lake is coming from a Tbaytel cell site. Which site is being used depends on your location at Upper Island Lake – either the Bellevue site or the Heyden site.

      I am not sure what you mean by signal repeater. If you mean an external antenna connected to an in-house amplifier, this is a third party value added option. You can contact Northland Consultants for additional details.

      There is little if any technical difference between the service provided by Tbaytel or Fido at Upper Island Lake. Therefore your choice depends on which provider offers you the service you need at the price you are willing to pay.

      I am not aware of any near term upgrades to the networks of Tbaytel, Fido, Rogers, Bell or Telus that will improve the quality of the signal in the Upper Island Lake area. That is not to say upgrades are outside the realm of possibilities in the future.

  4. Great post Hermes. I had noticed similar behavior on my 1516. I assumed Bell had made some changes which had changed coverage where I am on Four Seasons Road. My 1516 would not consistently stay connected and when it did, speed all over the map.

    I applied the changes you mentioned in your post (disabled the LTE band) and my service has returned to normal. 5-6 MB down and consistent. For reference, I am also not using an external antenna.

  5. Great post - I've not had the chance to use my Bell service much in the past few weeks, to any extent, but this week I will have to run some speed tests and see how it performs. And possibly apply this workaround. Do you happen to know if the Nils Bay tower is provisioned for LTE?

    Also I have not applied any s/w upgrades to this router (its been in service since the BWI5 service was originally launched). Was the problematic version (the latest upgrade) on the 1516 at that time you purchased, or did you apply an upgrade?

    In any case, thanks for saving some of us the headache of trying to figure this out.

    1. Nils Bay is not listed as a LTE site. It is only HSPA (WCDMA) at 1900 MHz. The nearest Bell LTE sites are along Hwy 17 at Goulais (Buttermilk), Bellevue Valley Rd (not to be confused with the Tbaytel Bellevue site on the hill) and Heyden (Bell refers to it as Aweres)

      I am not sure how or exactly when the s/w upgrade was carried out but I first noticied the speed reduction in the late July/early August 2015 timeframe. It just took me awhile to sort it out. It must have been done remotely and clandestinely by Bell because like you I did not take any action.

      I have had a few people homed to the Nils Bay site report speed problems and applied the fix successfully.

      Good luck and let me know how it works out.

    2. Will do - thanks again....