Broadband: 25Mbps down, 3Mbps up, and less than 100ms latency.
Neither fiber nor cable is available where I live. All the fixed wireless providers in Nevada County don’t serve my property. AT&T will provide me a DSL line running at the insanely slow speed of 768kbps. That’s around 90 Kilobytes per second download, and don’t get me started on upload. Although, better than a 56K modem, it’s not fast enough for my needs. Geosynchronous satellite’s latency is too high for real time interaction. Low earth satellite is not available yet. AT&T is the only cellular provider with adequate coverage, however only on the new LTE band 14, all the other bands are spotty. FirstNet LTE Band 14 has been installed all over the Country by AT&T funded by a giant grant from the Federal government. My options are really quite limited. Luckily, I did eventually find something that works. Check out all the internet options in Nevada County here:
Here is a list of phones that have this LTE band 14:
AT&T does not offer an inexpensive unlimited plan (<$100/month). Thus began my search for someone that did. I started out searching the Wiki article of all the MVNOs. (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) All the folks that resell time on the 4 major USA networks. I sorted it by the network column so I could filter all the AT&T MVNOs: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li…
I purchase the Netgear Nighthawk M1 (MR1100) directly from my local AT&T store. It supports all LTE bands that AT&T uses. It was ~$270 with tax purchased outright. I put it on the $10/month for 100MB BYOD business plan. They waived any activation fee. I was told after 3 months on the plan I can get a permanent carrier unlock. Some people online, including the official att site say it’s 60 days. I was warned to pop in the original SIM card at least once a month so it shows usage on the 100MB plan every month.
I’ll unlock it in case in the future I need to use it with T-mobile, or Verizon.
Although currently locked to AT&T, I can use it with any AT&T MVNO by changing the APN setting from the web gui.
By plugging in the USB to my computer, and telnetting into the M1 I played around with the different LTE bands around my home, and various combinations using carrier agregation.
telnet 192.168.1.1 5510
Edited the band selection dropdown:
AT!gstatus? AT!band=? AT!BAND=03,"LTE B2 (1900 MHz PCS)", 0, 2 AT!BAND=04,"LTE B4 (1700/2100 MHz AWS)", 0, 8 AT!BAND=05,"LTE B12 (700 MHz Lower B/C/A)", 0, 800 AT!BAND=06,"LTE B14 (FirstNet / 700 PS)", 0, 2000 AT!BAND=07,"LTE B30 (2300 MHz WCS)", 0, 20000000 AT!BAND=08,"LTE B66 (AWS-3)", 0, 0, 2 AT!BAND=09,"LTE CA (B2+B4+B12+B14+B30)", 0, 2000280a
You need to reboot the router before the changes show up in the web gui.
I connected to each band individually, and ran a speed test. I then ran a speed test with all bands aggregated. Carrier aggregation with Band 14 doesn’t seem to work. Also, the builtin All LTE option doesn’t seem to choose Band 14. However, when I choose it manually, I get a great connection. Simply locking the device to use Band 14 gave me the best speeds.
LTE Band 14 with WiFi turned off sitting on my desk.
Much better than 0.768Mbps DSL, but not quite broadband.
I took it outside and set it facing the direction of the tower.
Sweet! Broadband Internet. I’ll make an enclosure for it, and run power and ethernet out to it.
I may order a pair of yagis. A type of directional antenna. For even faster speeds. The M1 has two external TS9 antenna ports. I’ll set them up 90 degrees offset pointing at the same tower. I found my tower location using Opensignal app, then I used Google earth to find the heading. Which was for me 38 magnetic degrees from my house to the tower. I then used a compass app, or google maps to know where to point the antennas. I’m sure it will take some fine tuning. This is a great guide for doing line of sight with Google earth:
There are three ways to use the M1 as a modem. You can connect via ethernet, USB, or WiFi. I found the best performance was wither USB or Ethernet with WiFi off.
Stay tuned for my next article on how to combine DSL and Cellular for a more reliable connection.