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 

Tuesday 10 November 2015

CRTC Reports Average Data Download Per User


The CRTC released recently their annual Communications Monitoring Report (CMR) for 2015, which covers the data collected over 2014. One can find an executive summary of the report at this link. This page in turn has links to the complete report and individual sections.  

Average Individual Data Usage

For a number of years, I have been publishing the growth of the average data downloads.

For 2014, the CRTC is reporting, "the average monthly amount downloaded by residential subscribers increased 49% between 2013 and 2014 to 66.5 GB per month, and an average of 46% annually over the last 5 years, indicating that Canadians are likely using more video content and other high-bandwidth consuming services. Uploads have also increased 43% in 2014, reaching 8.6 GB per month." [1]This totals 75.1 GB for data usage billing purposes. (For comparison, it was only in 2009 that the CRTC CMR reported the average total data transfer was 15.4 GB per month.)

Except for users on the basic terrestrial services of Bell, Eastlink, Shaw or Rogers, the chances are their monthly data download quotas cover this average CRTC identified download activity. If it doesn't, the terrestrial ISPs offer an upgrade option at a reasonable price which in most cases can double the download limit, enough to cover the download limit.

It is the user reliant on cellular wireless (mobile wireless) such as BWI5 (Deferral Account) or Data Hub flex Plans that are paying a price for the trend towards more data usage. Most of these plans have basic data caps that do not meet the 75 GB data transfer usage identified by the CRTC based on input collected nearly a year ago. If the current trend continues and all indications are that users will continue to use more data transfer than ever, the totals will grow in the 40% plus range.

Fixed wireless (Canopy users) may be slightly better off due to unlimited data usage but pay the price with speeds way below the advertised speeds.

The bottom line is that non-terrestrial based systems are not providing an adequate or acceptable level of service for users in suburban, rural or remote areas.

[1] Bold and underline added by Hermes  for emphasis