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Old 22-10-2013, 00:13
matty1000kk
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More of an observation but maybe someone can answer why this is the case.

I have noticed that the 4G signal strength seems to be weaker than the comparable 2G signal strength. For example, it's fairly obvious in Colchester which masts have been upgraded to 4G due to the 4G coverage but also the 2G edge coverage which has now been switched on. At the moment if receive a good to very good 2G signal floating somewhere between 75 and 90 dBm inside my house. If I switch to 4G it drops to somewhere between 105 to 120 dBm, sometimes dropping to 3G on an odd occasion. Now from reading online, the way in which the 4G signal is measured, you should expect to add around 20 dBm to the 2G figure to get a comparable measurement. Based on this theory I should in effect receive a stronger 4G signal. Now I know they use the same frequency so the question is are they running at different power levels?

I often hear people talking about increased coverage on 4G but so far I can't see this happening. Even the coverage maps looking closely, give the impression that the 4G signal does not travel as well as 2G or even 3G for that matter. Is this how it will remain or will 4G mast be increased in power as more sites come online and areas start to become densely covered?
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Old 22-10-2013, 00:23
daveyfs
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I notice this in Cardiff too. Whereas (on EE) the 2G GPRS/EDGE signal is ubiquitous and strong, the 4G signal on the same frequency is far more patchy.

I think they've rolled out 4G quickly from fewer base stations for the initial rollout to be able to say that such and such a place is 'covered', the reality being that the actual coverage ranges between good and quite marginal.

Even for EE who are further ahead than the other operators its still fairly early days for 4G rollout. Over the next year or two though, I fully expect the coverage to increase substantially, nearly to the point where 4G coverage replicates that of current 2G.
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Old 22-10-2013, 00:31
enapace
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As Davey says above

One other thing I thought I would say is that EE and Three have applied to Ofcom to be allowed to increase maximum power on 1800MHz and 800MHz which should have an impact. It will be a while before all of MBNL is 4G.
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Old 22-10-2013, 07:53
jchamier
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I think they've rolled out 4G quickly from fewer base stations for the initial rollout to be able to say that such and such a place is 'covered', the reality being that the actual coverage ranges between good and quite marginal.
In my town and the neighboring town we have more than 6 masts for EE covering 2G and 3G but only the "main" 2 have been upgraded to 4G. These are the tallest masts in the area, giving the biggest coverage. One is on a very tall metal gantry, the other is on the top of a 10 storey office block.

You can actually see the pattern on the EE coverage checker if you click on 4G on the left, then on the right the green is in two shades. The darker is the closer to the mast, the light green is the optimistic coverage (often wrong!).

I'm in good proximity to one of the upgraded masts, but my friend is exactly between two MBNL masts. One upgraded to 4G and one older one. In his home you find you switch from EDGE to GRPS constantly as you move between the two masts. Calls are also problematic.
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Old 22-10-2013, 08:53
SkyPlatinum
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More of an observation but maybe someone can answer why this is the case.

I have noticed that the 4G signal strength seems to be weaker than the comparable 2G signal strength. For example, it's fairly obvious in Colchester which masts have been upgraded to 4G due to the 4G coverage but also the 2G edge coverage which has now been switched on. At the moment if receive a good to very good 2G signal floating somewhere between 75 and 90 dBm inside my house. If I switch to 4G it drops to somewhere between 105 to 120 dBm, sometimes dropping to 3G on an odd occasion. Now from reading online, the way in which the 4G signal is measured, you should expect to add around 20 dBm to the 2G figure to get a comparable measurement. Based on this theory I should in effect receive a stronger 4G signal. Now I know they use the same frequency so the question is are they running at different power levels?

I often hear people talking about increased coverage on 4G but so far I can't see this happening. Even the coverage maps looking closely, give the impression that the 4G signal does not travel as well as 2G or even 3G for that matter. Is this how it will remain or will 4G mast be increased in power as more sites come online and areas start to become densely covered?
4G in Colchester is really poor
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Old 22-10-2013, 13:18
The Lord Lucan
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Generally speaking very few masts are actually operating with 4G live. Even key launch cities that have seen most masts (nearly all, only planning/location/parts issues holding a few sites up in each city) upgraded (tri band antennas/2g refreshed/Huawei cabbed/FVM backhaul etc) few have actually been lit up. They are largely being turned on in waves and as demand requires. No point having a full 4G network in a city if you only have a handful using it. This is allowing EE to expand the roll out aggressively as seen. However I'm told 20 large cities (excluding London) will have much 'depth' added to them in November and any recent slight speed decreases (and strange quirks) shall be sorted.
Also expect half a dozen or so new locations announced shortly (likely at tariff launch), although roll out now is entering another phase.. I've not been told what that means but I assume in England for example that is adding depth and joining the dots. Scotland/Wales/NI as work is mostly done in the urban areas this means rural expansion in my view. I will seek clarification. I have been off the ball with other commitments and illness so apologies for lack of input

It is worth noting Phases are always way ahead of actual live roll out, so just because say Aberdeen or Dundee doesn't have 4G doesn't mean the work hasn't already been done.

Certainly here in my city ( a launch location) I know that as of last month only 1/5th of capable transmitters were broadcasting 4G. This is set to be tripled by the end of Nov so that around 60% will be.

London is an exception to this rule as there are so many 3G mast sites needed to allow for cell breathing (in that I am covering several issues by just calling it that) in busy areas (ie the whole London lol) that the actual percentage is quite low for 4G but that's not an issue as 4G doesn't need the same requirements as 3G. However the mast roll out in London is at an advanced stage where many areas are saturated ie do not need an additional sites for 4G if that makes sense. 'Depth' between the networks in London is very comparable I'm told. O2/Voda choosing to blanket the city from launch but that causes a slow roll out, high capacity network with barely anyone on it.

EE thin crispy but nearly everywhere it needs to be, running just under capacity but meaning they have to revisit areas to add depth causing ongoing local disruption as we've seen.
O2/Voda barely anywhere with slow roll out, large city wide disruption whilst upgrades take place but area is largely done once live and with little ongoing disruption once it is.

So two very differing roll outs, same end objective, similar coverage by 2015.
EE (three too) the eager hare, O2/Voda the lumbering turtle.
I think my pain killers are causing me to waffle now haha.

EDIT:
As for power output I'm told that is on a site by site basis, antenna level differing values, throughout the day it varies. That covers 3G & 4G.. Not sure how that ties in with 2G (I assume the same 1800 antennas..) as no one talks about that anymore lol. Maybe Plymouth or japitts would like to add as they know far more in that area and are better placed to explain than my simplistic version.
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Old 22-10-2013, 15:14
paulker
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Generally speaking very few masts are actually operating with 4G live. Even key launch cities that have seen most masts (nearly all, only planning/location/parts issues holding a few sites up in each city) upgraded (tri band antennas/2g refreshed/Huawei cabbed/FVM backhaul etc) few have actually been lit up. They are largely being turned on in waves and as demand requires. No point having a full 4G network in a city if you only have a handful using it. This is allowing EE to expand the roll out aggressively as seen. However I'm told 20 large cities (excluding London) will have much 'depth' added to them in November and any recent slight speed decreases (and strange quirks) shall be sorted.
Also expect half a dozen or so new locations announced shortly (likely at tariff launch), although roll out now is entering another phase.. I've not been told what that means but I assume in England for example that is adding depth and joining the dots. Scotland/Wales/NI as work is mostly done in the urban areas this means rural expansion in my view. I will seek clarification. I have been off the ball with other commitments and illness so apologies for lack of input

It is worth noting Phases are always way ahead of actual live roll out, so just because say Aberdeen or Dundee doesn't have 4G doesn't mean the work hasn't already been done.

Certainly here in my city ( a launch location) I know that as of last month only 1/5th of capable transmitters were broadcasting 4G. This is set to be tripled by the end of Nov so that around 60% will be.

London is an exception to this rule as there are so many 3G mast sites needed to allow for cell breathing (in that I am covering several issues by just calling it that) in busy areas (ie the whole London lol) that the actual percentage is quite low for 4G but that's not an issue as 4G doesn't need the same requirements as 3G. However the mast roll out in London is at an advanced stage where many areas are saturated ie do not need an additional sites for 4G if that makes sense. 'Depth' between the networks in London is very comparable I'm told. O2/Voda choosing to blanket the city from launch but that causes a slow roll out, high capacity network with barely anyone on it.

EE thin crispy but nearly everywhere it needs to be, running just under capacity but meaning they have to revisit areas to add depth causing ongoing local disruption as we've seen.
O2/Voda barely anywhere with slow roll out, large city wide disruption whilst upgrades take place but area is largely done once live and with little ongoing disruption once it is.

So two very differing roll outs, same end objective, similar coverage by 2015.
EE (three too) the eager hare, O2/Voda the lumbering turtle.
I think my pain killers are causing me to waffle now haha.

EDIT:
As for power output I'm told that is on a site by site basis, antenna level differing values, throughout the day it varies. That covers 3G & 4G.. Not sure how that ties in with 2G (I assume the same 1800 antennas..) as no one talks about that anymore lol. Maybe Plymouth or japitts would like to add as they know far more in that area and are better placed to explain than my simplistic version.
Now you are making me think my issues will be resolved and I should stay with EE. For the love of god just let me make successful calls all days long. All will be forgiven if that happens
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Old 22-10-2013, 21:21
jchamier
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Generally speaking very few masts are actually operating with 4G live. Even key launch cities that have seen most masts (nearly all, only planning/location/parts issues holding a few sites up in each city) upgraded (tri band antennas/2g refreshed/Huawei cabbed/FVM backhaul etc) few have actually been lit up. They are largely being turned on in waves and as demand requires.
That is interesting as I've seen new antenna panels on masts that only currently give strong 3G - so I'd guess these will get 4G when the next wave go live. That will help around here.

No point having a full 4G network in a city if you only have a handful using it. This is allowing EE to expand the roll out aggressively as seen. However I'm told 20 large cities (excluding London) will have much 'depth' added to them in November and any recent slight speed decreases (and strange quirks) shall be sorted.
Excellent news. More fill in means better 2G masts for those who aren't on 4G plans too.

Thanks!
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Old 22-10-2013, 22:30
gardensleeper
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Generally speaking very few masts are actually operating with 4G live. Even key launch cities that have seen most masts (nearly all, only planning/location/parts issues holding a few sites up in each city) upgraded (tri band antennas/2g refreshed/Huawei cabbed/FVM backhaul etc) few have actually been lit up. They are largely being turned on in waves and as demand requires.
Interesting analysis, I enjoy your posts, thanks.

Just a question: It seems crazy to have invested all the cash in sites and backhaul, and then not "flick the switch" as it were. Surely all the operators want to roll out as quickly as possible?

What's the rationale behind having sites that are ready, but inactive?

While I'm at it (if you don't mind!) a second question: What's MBNL's involvement in 4g? Will they be constructing sites for both EE and 3 to use, or are their current 4g rollouts completely separate?
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Old 11-06-2014, 20:39
doc2008
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Hi there, have been looking for ages for some explanation as to how the EE roll out worked. For weeks now the coverage checker has shown that i would have a weak 4G signal outdoors. I have a new M8 and have not seen a 4G icon at my home. On 06/06/14 the roll out web page stated that 4G had now been turned on in my town (Coatbridge).
The coverage checker shows no difference whatsoever and if anything my internet signal at home has gotten worse, usually flickers between, G, 3G and H+. Wheni can get Speed test to run, the highest download i have had is 7mbps, although usually i get way less than this or a message stating network difficulties.
I have scoured the internet looking for some answers and found this site which has given me some hope that things may improve. I have driven around town and have not found one place giving anything other than a flicker of a 4G icon.
I read here that EE will only mark a town as live when 80% of it is covered by 4G so the fact i am unable to find a 4G signal in any of the spots i have tried makes me think there is some other issue.
My postcode is ML51RF, is there any up to date maps or information showing where masts are and what signal they can handle.
Have other people found that despite being told their area is live that it takes some time to get full signal and if so any ideas of how long.
I get 4G at work and it is fantastic so would like it at home as well.

Thanks for any help,
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Old 12-06-2014, 00:56
The Lord Lucan
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That postcode has masts very near for both 3G and a little further away 4G. You should be getting strong 3G and a few bars 4G.. I'd call EE to find out if there is a localised fault.
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Old 12-06-2014, 07:41
doc2008
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Thank you for replying. I did phone the other day and a young girl told me there was a mast at a nearby cricket club but with it being new it would not be at full power.
The next mast she mentioned to me was about 6 miles away. To be honest before reading these pages, being told that a mast power would increase over time sounded like being fobbed off.
So when you state there are mast close by for 3G, will they eventually be updated to 4G or be decommisioned.
I am assuming that when she was looking at where masts were she would have been flagged up about local faults.
Is there any way of knowing where masts are and whether they are 3 or 4G, i am sceptical as to the 80% coverage before declaring a town as live claim.
Only site i can find is http://sitefinder.ofcom.org.uk/search but it states it is out of date.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

Last edited by doc2008 : 12-06-2014 at 07:43. Reason: addition
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Old 12-06-2014, 09:26
jonmorris
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EE doesn't have quite the same problem as Three, but all networks with 4G have to make sure that their coverage doesn't extend beyond that on offer via 2G or 3G.

To do so would mean users having a 4G signal but no fallback for voice/SMS. And that's deemed unacceptable.

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) will solve this by allowing voice over 4G, in which case you won't need (or even necessarily want) 2G or 3G.

VoLTE has launched on T-Mobile in the USA, but I am not sure of the roll out plans for any of the UK operators. The second half of this year is possible, and it could then enable some sites to be operated on a higher power level. I assume this is something that can be adjusted centrally, so won't require site visits (but someone else with more knowledge can answer that).

For 800MHz, which will have very good building penetration, VoLTE is even more vital for Three which only has 3G as fallback, at 2100MHz - a massive difference. As such, Three hasn't used any of its 800MHz spectrum. But it intends to in both rural and congested city areas, and I expect VoLTE is perhaps a higher priority for Three than any other network, but EE and others will benefit greatly too.
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Old 12-06-2014, 12:19
squawkBOX
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I can't understand this view that having 4G would be unacceptable over not having 3G (or 2G) to fall back on. For the networks, surely it would be better for the customer to be able to at least have data on their handset, rather than having no coverage at all?
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Old 12-06-2014, 12:58
jonmorris
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I think that way too, but I guess there would be major outrage. Most people don't understand that 4G is current data only, and would probably become rather upset.

Imagine the Daily Mail like stories pointing out that a mobile phone can't make phone calls! 'The world has gone mad!' etc. It matters not that you're no better off as it stands.

One way that the industry could have got around the problem, if it had known VoLTE was so far off, would have been to have two separate signal meters. One for voice and one for data. Then people might have been able to understand it a bit clearer, in much the same way that people accept they might have Wi-Fi but no mobile signal (and thus not be able to make or receive calls).
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Old 12-06-2014, 13:40
Mark C
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VoLTE has launched on T-Mobile in the USA, but I am not sure of the roll out plans for any of the UK operators.
I phoned my son last week, I was on 4G, and he probably was too (only a couple of miles away) The audio quality suddenly shot up to 'music' quality.

I also phoned someone else back in April, the same thing happened. Checking my phone bill, that person was indeed on EE, as myself and my lad are.

EE testing VoLTE possibly ?
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Old 12-06-2014, 14:04
jonmorris
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That's HD Voice, not VoLTE.
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Old 12-06-2014, 14:19
DevonBloke
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I phoned my son last week, I was on 4G, and he probably was too (only a couple of miles away) The audio quality suddenly shot up to 'music' quality.

I also phoned someone else back in April, the same thing happened. Checking my phone bill, that person was indeed on EE, as myself and my lad are.

EE testing VoLTE possibly ?
Yes indeed. As Jon says, HD Voice over 3G. You probably didn't notice your handset drop down to 3G as you tapped send... but I bet it did!

Also, congratulations on actually getting HD voice to work. No one else can! Hahahaha
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Old 12-06-2014, 14:45
Mark C
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Yes indeed. As Jon says, HD Voice over 3G. You probably didn't notice your handset drop down to 3G as you tapped send... but I bet it did!

Also, congratulations on actually getting HD voice to work. No one else can! Hahahaha
Well, there's a result !!! I've noticed the drop to 3G on hitting 'Send, didn't think to look on these two occasions.

Will VoLTE offer the same quality as HD Voice, or will it be low quality like ordinary 3G and 2G ?
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Old 12-06-2014, 15:17
paulker
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Yes indeed. As Jon says, HD Voice over 3G. You probably didn't notice your handset drop down to 3G as you tapped send... but I bet it did!

Also, congratulations on actually getting HD voice to work. No one else can! Hahahaha
Just about every call to a fellow HD enabled Vodafone phone gets me HD Voice here in Glasgow.
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Old 12-06-2014, 15:22
DevonBloke
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Yes VoLTE should be the same or better than HD voice since there will (normally) be a huge amount of spare bandwidth. VoLTE will employ some kind of QOS whereby there will always be enough bandwidth available for voice.
Voice would still have priority over data but it's not like the voice channels would use a huge amount anyway. I think HD Voice only requires 32Kbps which is 4 Kilobytes per second so 1 megabit could handle 32 calls.
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Old 12-06-2014, 15:24
DevonBloke
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Just about every call to a fellow HD enabled Vodafone phone gets me HD Voice here in Glasgow.
Arrrggghhhhh... you did that thing where you posted just before me!!!
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