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How to get faster Internet

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

The pandemic created hybrid working and this is likely to continue indefinitely. Hybrid working created a big demand for working at home, however many homes have a slow Internet service that is not compatible with working where on-line meetings are held using Zoom, Teams or similar, and when large files have to be transferred over the Internet.

How to get faster Internet

Copper wires used for DSL and Cable have a big problem; the attenuation of the signal is high. DSL can only connect a home that is within 3Km of the distribution center. There are plans to replace many slow DSL or cable connections with #fiber however this will take many years. #Opticalfiber had the big advantage of distance. A single fiber can communicate up to 60Km, and when used in a distribution network with an optical splitter the distance is reduced to 20Km; much better than a copper wire. Optical fiber is much more reliable as it is not subject to interference from electromagnetic sources. The home residents have a few options to get a faster #Internet service while they wait for optical fiber.

  • Connect to a WISP service, a WISP can provide a wireless point to point connection up to 100Mb/s when the receiver has line of sight to the transmission tower. This is called a fixed broadband connection.

  • Connect to a 5G wireless service. The receiver has to have line of sight to the transmission tower. Some mobile companies offered a fixed broadband service with unlimited data; some have a data cap. The wireless modem provided by the mobile phone company is a box installed in the residence. This limits the connection speed. If this box is connected to external antennas then a data speed of 300Mb/s can be obtained.

  • For residents who have no WISP service and no line of sight to a 5G tower there is the alternative of a satellite data connection. There are two technologies. The first is a geo-stationary orbit where the ground antenna points at one location in the sky. The data speed is a few tens of Mb/s. The delay or latency is high as the satellite is 22,000 miles away and the signal travels at the speed of light over this distance. HughesNet provide a geo-stationary satellite service. An alternative technology is low earth orbit (LEO) satellites where many satellites are passing overhead quickly at altitudes of a few hundred miles. The LEO service provided by Starlink can have a speed of 150Mb/s with a low latency. Starlink has faster speed but requires the purchase of an expensive antenna for businesses.

The first option to consider for #hybrid work or #remote working is a #5G wireless fixed #broadband service. Check that the home has a mobile phone signal and locate the tower that the phone connects to. There may be several towers in line of sight from the home. There are websites that help to locate mobile phone towers. Next purchase a 5G wireless fixed broadband #modem. Ensure that the modem can be returned if it does not work at the #home. It is possible that the mobile vendor does not have antennas on the nearby tower. Currently T-mobile is offering a contract at a good price with unlimited data. The T-mobile modem is shown in the photos.

T-Mobile 5G modem

T-mobile 5G modem connectors

The 5G modem has an antenna inside the enclosure. With the 5G modem installed in the home the antenna signal will be weak and the data speed will be lower than expected.

The next step is to connect outdoor antennas to the 5G modem. The connection depends on the modem model however there are always videos on YouTube explaining how this is done for each modem. The 5G modem has a MIMO antenna design which means that two external antennas are connected. The antennas are directional and can be panel or Yagi design. Yagi has a higher gain and will give the best reception. The next photo shows two Yagi antennas mounted on a mast that is installed on the roof of the house. The roof installation is dangerous so call a professional. The cable from each antenna is passed down the side of the house and through a hold in the wall to connect with the 5G modem.

Note that the two antennas are set at 90 degrees to each other. The reason for this is that the antenna is polarized and can be mounted for vertical or horizontal polarization. As we do not know the polarization of the antenna at the tower we cover our bases and set each antenna at a different polarization.

5G antennas for roof mounting

The final step is to rotate the antenna pole so that the antennas are pointing at the 5G tower. This will require the person on the roof with a mobile device connected to the 5G modem and running a data speed test. The person on the roof rotates the antenna pole very slowly until the fastest speed is obtained.

The difference between the 5G modem indoor antenna and the connection to the outdoor antenna, when correctly aligned, may be a factor of 3x difference so the outdoor antenna is worth the expense and effort.


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