4G Internet

Problems/advice relating to your PC/Mac/Phone/Television/ Satellite TV/DVD/Blu ray......

Moderator: Moderators

Post Reply
martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2086
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

4G Internet

Post by martyn94 » Tue 30 Oct 2018 16:39

I had intended to post asking for advice, but the site was on holiday so I went ahead anyway.

The big storm ten days ago fried the internet on my freebox, and I got so brassed off trying to report the fault that I started thinking about what my freebox sub was worth. We had managed perfectly well for a few days with WiFi hotspots on our mobile phones, so I thought about switching to 4G full time (encouraged by the fact that Allan has seemed to find it OK).

I bought a TP-Link router on Amazon for about €75, and signed up to the best data deal I could find - €8.90 a month for 80 gigs, for a year, and then falling back to free’s standard €15.99/€19.99 tariff. Which is better than just shy of €40 a month for ADSL.

So far, it has been entirely OK. Usually a lot faster than my old ADSL connection (25-30 Mbps against 12Mps), and never worse, even around tea-time when the kids get home from school. I have lost my landline number, which no-one ever rings, the Blu-Ray player on my freebox (but I have no Blu-Ray discs), and lots of useless TV channels and other gimmicks on the freebox that I never used. So it seems all good.

A few questions for anyone that might know

- the last time I looked at this, a few years ago, there was some question that free might get a bit snotty if you used their sims (designed for telephone service) permanently in a modem. I’ve seen no hint of this so far, and from what I gather of Allan’s experience, he hasn’t either. Is that right?

- how reliable are they? Mine seems to have dropped for 5 or ten minutes a couple of times, but nothing serious.

- what about an aerial? I have no concerns about signal strength here, but a 4g rig might be good at my gaff in Normandy on the rare occasions I go back there. It has apparently got 4g coverage since I was last there, but I know that my house is geographically challenged. Does an external aerial make a lot of difference? The router I’ve bought, without thinking very hard, has no outlet for an external aerial. Can anyone recommend one which has, and the aerial to go with it? (And ideally the cable to go between them: the last time I looked, there seemed to be a mad variety of different possible terminations).

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1379
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Re: 4G Internet

Post by Allan » Tue 30 Oct 2018 22:23

I’ve been happily using SIMs from Free for data for nearly 2 years with no issues. I have scoured Free’s terms and conditions and have found no mention of any restriction on their use, so I think the stories are just an urban myth.

I’ve found 4G very reliable, certainly more so that the ADSL that I had from Orange.

As for an external aerial, I use Huaweii B315 routers which can take an external aerial. When I first started with 4G I used Bouygues and the external aerial made a significant difference but since I switched to Free it makes little difference so presume I now have a stronger signal.

The aerial that I have is https://www.3grouterstore.co.uk/3G/Full ... tenna.html

What I have found is that height makes a considerable difference, I have 2 routers in weatherproof boxes high up on an outside wall the same side of the house as the transmitter.

A point to note about TP-Link equipment, it often has a setting for the country in which it is installed. This does very little other than limit the router’s Wi-Fi signal strength and equipment configured for use in th US generally has stronger Wi-Fi. You might be breaching an obscure communications rule but my outdoor access point doubled its range when I changed the country to USA.

I know you are not bothered about UK TV but a VPN running over Free’s 4G seems to suffer a significant overhead and provides a much slower speed.

User avatar
Gus Morris
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 252
Joined: Sat 07 Mar 2015 05:45
Contact:

Re: 4G Internet

Post by Gus Morris » Wed 31 Oct 2018 12:16

This subject of this topic is way beyond my capabilities to give advice.

I would, however, like to inject a bit of balance. Concerning Orange. I live virtually at the end of the line. My Orange subscription costs just over one Euro a day. For this I get phone calls via VOIP, unlimited calls to land lines in the UK and USA, unrestricted broadband with speeds adequate for my needs and a mobile phone. I too have had my telecoms destroyed by lightning. Orange sorted it all within a couple of days.

Gus

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2086
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Re: 4G Internet

Post by martyn94 » Wed 31 Oct 2018 14:06

I can’t speak for Allan, but I doubt that there is anything specially bad about Orange. Any ADSL service from anyone is going to be delivered over Orange’s “historic” local wires in any event. The quality of your service will largely depend on how long they are (and how often they’ve been patched): never very long in Port Vendres, and probably not so often patched as mine in Normandy where they are regularly mistaken for gibier by the local hunters.

I had a deal much like yours, from free, but being struck by lightning set me thinking whether I needed all the bells and whistles given that we already have much the same telephone deal on each of two mobile phones. So far, I’m happy to get my basic needs covered for €8.90 a month.

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2086
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Re: 4G Internet

Post by martyn94 » Wed 31 Oct 2018 14:27

Allan wrote:
Tue 30 Oct 2018 22:23
I’ve been happily using SIMs from Free for data for nearly 2 years with no issues. I have scoured Free’s terms and conditions and have found no mention of any restriction on their use, so I think the stories are just an urban myth.

I’ve found 4G very reliable, certainly more so that the ADSL that I had from Orange.

As for an external aerial, I use Huaweii B315 routers which can take an external aerial. When I first started with 4G I used Bouygues and the external aerial made a significant difference but since I switched to Free it makes little difference so presume I now have a stronger signal.

The aerial that I have is https://www.3grouterstore.co.uk/3G/Full ... tenna.html

What I have found is that height makes a considerable difference, I have 2 routers in weatherproof boxes high up on an outside wall the same side of the house as the transmitter.

A point to note about TP-Link equipment, it often has a setting for the country in which it is installed. This does very little other than limit the router’s Wi-Fi signal strength and equipment configured for use in th US generally has stronger Wi-Fi. You might be breaching an obscure communications rule but my outdoor access point doubled its range when I changed the country to USA.

I know you are not bothered about UK TV but a VPN running over Free’s 4G seems to suffer a significant overhead and provides a much slower speed.
Many thanks for this. The speed is quite enough for me here using the internal aerials (I can see the local free antenna through my bathroom window), but it may well be good to know when I’m next in Normandy.

I’ve used the higher power US WiFi signal on an older router, but this one doesn’t seem to have the option, but the signal is pretty good everywhere as it is.

CD
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed 11 Oct 2006 16:50
Contact:

Re: 4G Internet

Post by CD » Sun 09 Dec 2018 17:44

A big thank you for this thread!

We're just too far from the exchange for ADSL to get over 1Mb/s so have been using Nordnet's satellite service for the last 6 years. At 40 euro a month for an average of 1 to 2Mb/s it works for normal email and browsing, but is pony for downloading.

There has been talk of Fibre coming up the road past us to the village for many a long year. Still waiting...

But, we do have a reasonable 4G signal, so I took a punt and bought a Huawei B315 and a Poynting external aerial on Ebay & Amazon respectively.

First try (without the external aerial) using the SIM from my phone gave 35Mb/s download and 25Mb/s upload. What a result!

Since then, speeds seem to be between 6 & 28Mb/s, easily 10x better than before.

I bought a new SIM from RedBySFR giving 40GB a month for 10 euro and we'll see how it goes consumption wise. They also have 100GB for 20 euro which is still half what we were paying for not a lot of speed.

A bit more research and advice has produced a solution using SmartDNSProxy that means we can program our Sky plus box for Catch-Up and iPlayer at just $20 a year.

I'll try the external aerial after the festive season, which should provide a more stable connection.

Next idea is to ditch the landline as we can plug a phone into the 4G modem.

Incidentally we can add inclusive calls on our SIMs to the UK for only 1 euro a month and N America for 2 euro.

Technology is wonderful, until it stops working! Fingers crossed...

Cheers,

Chris

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2086
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Re: 4G Internet

Post by martyn94 » Mon 10 Dec 2018 11:16

CD wrote:
Sun 09 Dec 2018 17:44
A big thank you for this thread!

We're just too far from the exchange for ADSL to get over 1Mb/s so have been using Nordnet's satellite service for the last 6 years. At 40 euro a month for an average of 1 to 2Mb/s it works for normal email and browsing, but is pony for downloading.

There has been talk of Fibre coming up the road past us to the village for many a long year. Still waiting...

But, we do have a reasonable 4G signal, so I took a punt and bought a Huawei B315 and a Poynting external aerial on Ebay & Amazon respectively.

First try (without the external aerial) using the SIM from my phone gave 35Mb/s download and 25Mb/s upload. What a result!

Since then, speeds seem to be between 6 & 28Mb/s, easily 10x better than before.

I bought a new SIM from RedBySFR giving 40GB a month for 10 euro and we'll see how it goes consumption wise. They also have 100GB for 20 euro which is still half what we were paying for not a lot of speed.

A bit more research and advice has produced a solution using SmartDNSProxy that means we can program our Sky plus box for Catch-Up and iPlayer at just $20 a year.

I'll try the external aerial after the festive season, which should provide a more stable connection.

Next idea is to ditch the landline as we can plug a phone into the 4G modem.

Incidentally we can add inclusive calls on our SIMs to the UK for only 1 euro a month and N America for 2 euro.

Technology is wonderful, until it stops working! Fingers crossed...

Cheers,

Chris
That’s helpful. As I gather from your post (and from a bit of digging) the Huawei router will deliver the phone service from your SIM (if it has it) to an RJ11 port and hence to domestic phones. If so, I might cough for it. I don’t really need a “fixe”, but I have a house full of DECT phones currently doing nothing, and I do sometimes let my mobile go flat.

Serves me right for not doing more research before buying a cheaper router.

Let us know about your experience with the aerials, and the phone.

User avatar
Madeleine
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu 18 Oct 2018 18:22
Contact:

Re: 4G Internet

Post by Madeleine » Mon 10 Dec 2018 17:37

Thanks for the information. I've been thinking of moving to 4G as the broadband speed here is very slow, and I object to Bouygestel continually putting up the price of the broadband package with stuff I don't need and haven't asked for.

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2086
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Re: 4G Internet

Post by martyn94 » Mon 10 Dec 2018 20:06

I’m very much in the same boat. I was a reasonably happy customer with free for a few years: they had a fancy box with much stuff I didn’t want, but the overall offer was competitive enough. They have just launched two new boxes which are variously insanely expensive for stuff that I don’t want or already have or can already get, or are just very expensive, ditto. And their existing box (which I had before it broke) continues at a silly price too.

It always used to mystify me in the U.K. when people used to pay £50 or £60 a month for the full-monty Sky packages: I could understand that they valued that content an awful lot more than I did, but I still couldn’t understand how they found the time to watch enough to make it worthwhile. Free seem to have got well beyond that point for me.

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1379
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Re: 4G Internet

Post by Allan » Mon 10 Dec 2018 20:18

CD wrote:
Sun 09 Dec 2018 17:44
But, we do have a reasonable 4G signal, so I took a punt and bought a Huawei B315 and a Poynting external aerial on Ebay & Amazon respectively.
I bought a new SIM from RedBySFR giving 40GB a month for 10 euro and we'll see how it goes consumption wise. They also have 100GB for 20 euro which is still half what we were paying for not a lot of speed.

A bit more research and advice has produced a solution using SmartDNSProxy that means we can program our Sky plus box for Catch-Up and iPlayer at just $20 a year.

I'll try the external aerial after the festive season.
Before settling on a 4G provider, I strongly suggest that you try sims from a variety of providers. I’ve been using the internet via 4G for a number of years and at the outset I bought sims from all the main suppliers and there was a big difference between them. Here is an online map that will show you the location of each providers masts. https://www.antennesmobiles.fr/

I think currently Free offers the best price option but that’s no good if the signal isn’t strong where you live.

I’ll be interested to hear how you get on with the Poynting aerial, I think Poynting only make omni-directional aerials which I would not expect to make much difference unless you live in a built up area.

Be careful if relying on 4G to provide you with access to Sky’s catch up service, I have a private VPN that can run over 4G or ADSL, Sky works fine over ADSL but not at all over 4G.

The company that you mention offers both VPN and Smart DNS services but Sky stopped working on most Smart DNS services a few years ago. Again, try before you buy.

Good luck.

User avatar
Madeleine
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu 18 Oct 2018 18:22
Contact:

Re: 4G Internet

Post by Madeleine » Tue 11 Dec 2018 10:00

martyn94 wrote:
Mon 10 Dec 2018 20:06
I’m very much in the same boat. I was a reasonably happy customer with free for a few years: they had a fancy box with much stuff I didn’t want, but the overall offer was competitive enough. They have just launched two new boxes which are variously insanely expensive for stuff that I don’t want or already have or can already get, or are just very expensive, ditto. And their existing box (which I had before it broke) continues at a silly price too.

It always used to mystify me in the U.K. when people used to pay £50 or £60 a month for the full-monty Sky packages: I could understand that they valued that content an awful lot more than I did, but I still couldn’t understand how they found the time to watch enough to make it worthwhile. Free seem to have got well beyond that point for me.
We don't watch UK TV but use the Bouyguestel Bbox Miami to get English language news, but they've started charging an extra €3 per month for the decoder rental, and supplying a "Bouquet Press" that they say is free but they actually charge €1 a month for, and I can't opt out of. The whole package now comes to €41.99 per month when what I signed up for was about €32 after the first 12 months. It's not huge amounts of money, just annoying that they keep putting the price up.

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1379
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Re: 4G Internet

Post by Allan » Tue 11 Dec 2018 11:11

Currently Free are offering 60gb of 4G a month for 8.99€ a month for 12 months including all calls to fixed and mobile numbers in France and all calls to fixed numbers in most other countries. The offer is for a year and then reverts to their normal tariff of 19.99€ a month for 100gb and the same inclusive calls.

When I signed up with Free, their offer was 0.99€ a month for 100gb, supposedly for a year, but at the end of the year they said that they had decided to make a new offer of 9.99€ a month.

So my 2 year average with them works out at 5.49€ a month for 100gb. Fortunately for me, where I live they also provide the best 4G signal.

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2086
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Re: 4G Internet

Post by martyn94 » Tue 11 Dec 2018 20:16

Free have just announced their latest “box” (which has been trailed for about three years). It seems to be extremely capable, but they have taken so long that I have already got every capability that they offer that is any use to me. And all for €60 a month.

They also have three other boxes at diminishing monthly subscriptions: all priced quite high enough to be unattractive for what they offer. It’s about the polar opposite of what attracted me to them in the first place. But I’m still content to buy some 4g service from them. Though I’m glad I don’t have shares in them.

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1379
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Re: 4G Internet

Post by Allan » Wed 12 Dec 2018 00:23

martyn94 wrote:
Tue 11 Dec 2018 20:16
Free have just announced their latest “box” (which has been trailed for about three years). It seems to be extremely capable, but they have taken so long that I have already got every capability that they offer that is any use to me. And all for €60 a month.

They also have three other boxes at diminishing monthly subscriptions: all priced quite high enough to be unattractive for what they offer. It’s about the polar opposite of what attracted me to them in the first place. But I’m still content to buy some 4g service from them. Though I’m glad I don’t have shares in them.
I think it is fair to say that you are not the target market for their new box. From what I can see, it is similar to the internet and TV packages available in the UK from Sky, BT and Virgin, all of which are substantially dearer than Free’s new box.

Their basic service has actually come down in price and is currently on offer at 9.99€ a month.

Lots of French tv channels is probably not of interest to the English speaking community but a similar service in the UK at a similar price would be widely accepted.

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2086
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Re: 4G Internet

Post by martyn94 » Thu 13 Dec 2018 11:30

Allan wrote:
Wed 12 Dec 2018 00:23
martyn94 wrote:
Tue 11 Dec 2018 20:16
Free have just announced their latest “box” (which has been trailed for about three years). It seems to be extremely capable, but they have taken so long that I have already got every capability that they offer that is any use to me. And all for €60 a month.

They also have three other boxes at diminishing monthly subscriptions: all priced quite high enough to be unattractive for what they offer. It’s about the polar opposite of what attracted me to them in the first place. But I’m still content to buy some 4g service from them. Though I’m glad I don’t have shares in them.
I think it is fair to say that you are not the target market for their new box. From what I can see, it is similar to the internet and TV packages available in the UK from Sky, BT and Virgin, all of which are substantially dearer than Free’s new box.

Their basic service has actually come down in price and is currently on offer at 9.99€ a month.

Lots of French tv channels is probably not of interest to the English speaking community but a similar service in the UK at a similar price would be widely accepted.
It wasn’t really the media offering I was on about. But the stuff you get in the basic sub is pretty near worthless if you already have the French free-to-air channels through an aerial. They offer an impressive number of channels, but on closer inspection they are of minimal interest, even to a français de souche, or are in Arabic or Polish or Italian. Or else pornography. Anything of interest (football, say, or recentish films) costs an extra monthly sub, and can be got elsewhere. The latest top-price subs have Netflix included, but again you can get that separately at a modest cost (or for nothing, if you borrow a spare sign-in from family or friends, as I am currently doing).

The latest top-price box is evidently meant to be a swiss-army knife. It offers an apparently-very-fancy speaker, a “domotique” hub, Alexa capabilities, a DECT station and a biggish hard disc (as well as internet, phone, and tv).

But I already have all of that, by one means or another. If you had none of it, and wanted it all, and valued the convenience, I can just see the point. But it is still bloody expensive.

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2086
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Re: 4G Internet

Post by martyn94 » Fri 21 Dec 2018 15:58

martyn94 wrote:
Mon 10 Dec 2018 11:16
CD wrote:
Sun 09 Dec 2018 17:44



Let us know about your experience with the aerials, and the phone.
I have just set up a HUAWEI B315 router, plus “wired” phone, with a special offer Free mobile subscription.

The set-up itself was easy enough, except that the router must be one of the few devices left which still uses a full size SIM card. Fortunately my local Maison de la Presse has a Free terminal which allows you to exchange an existing SIM card for a different-sized one, at a cost of €10 (but be warned: you have to have the existing SIM card in a phone as you do this, in order to receive a verification code on line). Apart from changing the network name and password through the router interface, there was nothing else to do.

Once you plug a phone into the router, it just works, on the mobile number associated with your SIM. I have any incoming voice messages sent to me by email, and HUAWEI have an app (Hi-Link) which picks up SMS messages. I don’t imagine the line will get much use, but the marginal cost is zero (so long as your SIM has voice service), and some older friends still prefer to call us on a landline in the first instance on the assumption that it will cost them less (I won’t disabuse them).

I believe that you can also set up the router to send and receive voice calls using SIP, but I decided long ago that that was well above my pay grade.

The internet speeds and WiFi coverage were pretty much identical to my previous router, so I doubt that I’ll bother with external aerials.

Ted & Jemima
Rank 1
Rank 1
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri 14 Sep 2018 08:58
Contact:

Re: 4G Internet

Post by Ted & Jemima » Sun 23 Dec 2018 11:55

On a related issue, there is a useful web site to determine if your village/town has 4G coverage:
https://www.ariase.com/couverture/aude-11
This is the Aude page but you can select your own departement. Our village was only graced with 4G a couple of months ago and it made a significant difference to internet speeds. Also a useful site for expanding fibre optic cable coverage which can achieve a speed of 1Gb/s in towns such as Carcassonne with prices starting at 20 Euros/month.

Yours,
Ted & Jemima

Post Reply