Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

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xdavidx
Posts: 267
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:04 pm

Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by xdavidx » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:49 pm

easternnc4me wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:27 pm
Just tried it in 5 different locations. One of them was outside on the second story balcony of my sisters house (she lives behind me). Tried between her house and mine, my back yard, front yard and beside the house. Same result with all of them. Band 12. At least I know to use the Eastwood antenna instead of the Netgear.
Either of those may work equally well from a speed perspective, for band 12, but it did seem like the Eastwood had a stronger signal. Maybe the ones with the poor adapters would work better with other adapters too.

Here is something else you can try. See if you can run an AT!LTEINFO? (doesn't need to be all caps, just typing it that way to avoid confusion with the L and I) command. I don't know if that will work with that modem or not. Run it during a speed test.
easternnc4me wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:27 pm
Will using ONE yagi directional antenna improve speeds?I understand I would have to locate the best cell tower that might be further away. Again, this will not be my permanent internet. More of a back up and for use on vacations. But if it will improve speeds I can make a short stand to mount it on to use it inside. Something like this: https://ltefix.com/shop/antennas/4g-lte ... l-antenna/
First off, that would be a fine choice, as would this one: https://ltefix.com/shop/antennas/4g-lte ... l-antenna/. The yagi may be more cost effective for you, given that this is a backup internet system.

Having said that, that is a difficult question to answer without more data. If you can find out the physical location of the tower that you are connected to now and drive closer to it with your setup in the car with you (powered off an inverter), then you could see if there are more bands available on that tower. You could even try it with your phone. You won't be able to see the carrier aggregation bands, but you can see the speed and if the speed jumps up, then you might be getting other bands. There are apps you can run that will tell you which tower you are connected to, so you can be sure the speed difference isn't due to connecting to another tower.

If you are able to determine that the tower in question has more bands, then you might be able to get those bands with a directional antenna, since the antenna will focus its power in a smaller area instead of spreading it out 360 degrees like the omnis.

*If* that ends up being true and you pick up other bands from that particular tower on the directional antenna, but can't pick up those bands on the omni antennas at your house, then using a single directional antenna will partly help your speeds, but not as much as having 2 directional antennas. The reason is that when you use 2 antennas, the modem can do what is called MIMO (multiple in, multiple out). That means it can send and receive multiple streams of data on the same frequencies on the same antennas. In this case, since you have 2 antennas, then you can double your speed vs one antenna. On Band 12, you would be able to have MIMO with the directional antenna and one of the omni antennas. However, on the other bands, that only the directional antenna can see, you would get half the possible speed. So it would give you a boost, but not boost you as much as 2 directional antennas would.

The other thing a directional antenna may do is to let you connect to a tower with a slightly weaker signal, but that has more bands available. In that case, it is *possible* that the omni antennas can pick up those other bands on the other towers, and you'll get MIMO on the other bands too. If the omnis can't hear the other bands on the other towers, then it will be the same as above, where you'll get MIMO on Band 12 and non-MIMO on the other bands. However, the other tower might have more bandwidth on band 12 too (15 or 20 MHz), so that could be another benefit of switching to another tower with a directional antenna.

Since we got into the topic of MIMO, there is one other special thing about your Nighthawk M1. Technically, it supports 4x4 MIMO. When I say it supports it, I mean the hardware and software inside supports it. Netgear doesn't support it for external antennas. They haven't given you connections on the case to the other 2 internal antennas. I believe when you connect external antennas, it switches to 2x2 MIMO and doesn't use the 2 extra internal antennas anymore (I could be wrong on that). In theory, you could have been getting 4x4 MIMO with no external antennas attached, but the signals were so weak that you weren't seeing good speeds. However, another high possibility is that the tower in question doesn't support 4x4 MIMO on Band 12. I'm not even sure if AT&T does MIMO on Band 12 anywhere. Both the tower and the modem have to support it.

If you can get a Band 30, that is most likely 4x4 MIMO enabled on the tower. Same for Band 14. Band 2 and 4 might be as well, but my understanding is that roll-out of that is behind Band 30. You will only get Band 14 if you have an M1 with model number: MR1100-2A1NAS. If you have MR1100-1A1NAS or MR1100-100NAS, you will not be able to get Band 14, even if the tower has it. Here are all the possible bands you can get if you have the newer Nighthawk. Not all of these are AT&T bands, however.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 14, 20, 29, 30, 46 and 66

I believe AT&T supports the following bands (not on all towers and all geographic locations though):

2, 4, 5, 12, 14, 17, 29, 30, 40, 66 (12 and 17 are treated as the same band, and Band 46 is included if you are counting LAA too)

I'm guessing, if you were ever in a situation where you can get band 46 via LAA, the M1 would pick it up on the wifi antennas. That's just a guess, however. And I have no idea what that would do to MIMO capabilities. It is mostly a moot point, since you'd need to be very close to the transmitter to get LAA.

Now, in order to get 4x4 MIMO on the M1, with external antennas, you would have to open the case and void the warranty, if you have one. Technically, you could use omni antennas for the 3rd and 4th antennas *if* you can connect to another tower with a directional antenna and *if* the other antennas can hear the signal from any bands on which the tower supports 4x4 MIMO. No idea if the modem will do 4x4 MIMO on secondary bands if the primary band doesn't support it. There may be some limitation there. If that were the case, you could block band 12 and get faster speeds, *if* the extra bands total more than 10 MHz and/or are less congested than 12.

4x4 MIMO and 4 carrier aggregation are the reasons people like the M1 and are able to get extra fast speeds, assuming they are close enough to pick up the extra bands on the internal antennas or have installed 4 external antennas.

So, to recap, the ways to get more speed, for the M1 in particular, and with your location are:

1) Use 1 or 2 directional antenna to get more bands from the tower you are connecting to now.

2) Use 1 or 2 directional antennas to get more bands from another tower.

3) Use 4 external antennas (probably with at least one of them being directional) to get 4x4 MIMO. It will only help on those bands where 4x4 MIMO is enabled on the tower.


As you can see, there are a lot of variables! :lol:

easternnc4me
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Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:33 pm

Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by easternnc4me » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:02 pm

Thank you so much for all of your help. Which apps do you suggest to try out? Using open signal, when the hot spot is connected to the tower to my west (the arrow is pointing to it) I can click on cell tower info and it maps the tower from my house to the tower (US Cellular. By the way, they are my cell phone carrier as well). However when it is connected to the tower to my northeast, when I click cell tower info it never pulls the tower up (it displays the the blue dot that is my house, but does not draw the line to the tower it is connected to or show the tower it is connected to). Any other apps you suggest?

xdavidx
Posts: 267
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:04 pm

Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by xdavidx » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:41 pm

easternnc4me wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:02 pm
Thank you so much for all of your help. Which apps do you suggest to try out? Using open signal, when the hot spot is connected to the tower to my west (the arrow is pointing to it) I can click on cell tower info and it maps the tower from my house to the tower (US Cellular. By the way, they are my cell phone carrier as well). However when it is connected to the tower to my northeast, when I click cell tower info it never pulls the tower up (it displays the the blue dot that is my house, but does not draw the line to the tower it is connected to or show the tower it is connected to). Any other apps you suggest?
Apps to get the unique ID (CID) for the towers are fairly common. LTE Discovery Lite, CellMapper and Netmonitor are other apps to give you the CID of the tower you are connected to.

As for finding the physical location, that's a whole other ballgame. I have used multiple apps and websites and none of them are great. They all have missing information and often have wrong information, especially about the location of the towers. I did use them to try to get in the general area of the towers they did list, but then used signal strength (RSRP) and my eyes to find the real location of the towers. I then took a screenshot of the map or gps coordinates and once I got home, I found the exact location using google maps in satellite mode and plugged that into ubiquiti's mapping tool: https://link.ui.com. If you create an account (free), you can save your maps and load them later. Other people do a similar thing on google earth. I like how the ubiquiti tool shows the terrain in a side-view map, so you can see obstacles for the line of sight and the radio wave bubble (fresnel zone). The tool is made for wifi, so some of the info isn't applicable, but it worked for my purposes.

My guess is that the open signal app doesn't have data for the tower you are connected to, hence it can't map it. Also, what your phone is connected to over cellular and what your router is connected to won't necessarily be the same.

https://www.cellmapper.net/map is the website version of their tool. You can try it to see what it shows. You have to pick the carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, etc) and then it will show a map of possible towers. If you click on one and look at the details on the left side of the page, it will show the CIDs, the bands, etc., as you scroll down. There is a delay sometimes between clicking on a tower and getting the details. Sometimes you have to click multiple times or click on another tower and click back. At least that is how it seems when I am using it.

There are many more towers than what it shows, at least for my area. And, as I mentioned earlier, some of the locations are totally off (miles off).

xdavidx
Posts: 267
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:04 pm

Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by xdavidx » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:58 pm

xdavidx wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:49 pm
However, the other tower might have more bandwidth on band 12 too (15 or 20 MHz), so that could be another benefit of switching to another tower with a directional antenna.
Correction. I don't think you can get more than 10 MHz out of Band 12 anywhere. But other towers could have more bandwidth in other bands and/or less congestion.
xdavidx wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:49 pm
I'm not even sure if AT&T does MIMO on Band 12 anywhere.
Correction. I meant to write "4x4 MIMO". They do 2x2 MIMO, which is what you are getting now.

xdavidx
Posts: 267
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:04 pm

Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by xdavidx » Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:33 pm

In case you decide to use the Ubiquiti tool, here is an example of what it looks like with the towers I've mapped. Not all of these are AT&T towers.


towers_as_of_20190614.png


You have to put in the height of your home location antennas (I set mine at 40 feet, since that's about what they will be on my roof) and the height of each tower (I plugged in 100 feet for those, but they could be taller) for the line of sight picture to be more accurate. It will show red for the lines on the map where the main line of sight is blocked by the ground, orange for those where the Fresnel zone intersects with the ground, and green where everything has a clear path. As I mentioned before, the tool is made for wifi, so the frequencies used for the Fresnel simulation don't match with LTE frequencies. LTE frequencies are lower and the bubble extends closer to the ground, hence more contact with the ground.

I just now realized that my settings got changed and I was showing a Fresnel zone for 5 GHz. 2.4GHz is closer to LTE, so that's what I normally set the device to for my home location. Here is how the situation changes wither the lower frequency. The device name is circled in red.


towers_as_of_20190614_2-4GHz_fresnel.png


As you can see, the Fresnel zone balloon up and the signals intersect with the ground more in the second picture.

To add points to the map, you right click and this will pop up:


link_ui_com_adding_points.png
link_ui_com_adding_points.png (29.74 KiB) Viewed 2138 times


Picking "+ Add PtMP" will give you a home base and a couple remote locations (towers) that you can drag around (click on the line to the remote location and then you can move the endpoint). After you have your home base, you can pick "+ Add Station" to add more endpoints for towers. The ruler in the lower right changes between metric and english systems and the layers icon changes between topographic and satellite maps.

I've also added more towers just by scanning around on google maps, in satellite mode, and finding towers. I clearly need another hobby. :lol:

One reason a tool like this is helpful is that it tells you which directions you can get a clear line of sight to towers. In my case, from about W/NW to N/NE are possible, as are E to SE, as are any that might be SW to SE (haven't found any there yet). The limiting factor in most cases is hills near my house in certain directions. If a tower is farther away, there is also a chance that hills somewhere between my house and the tower might come into play. You can still get signals even if the line of sight is through a hill, but you are then relying on the signals bouncing around and getting to you in non-direct ways, which can produce odd results, especially if you are using a directional antenna.

easternnc4me
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:33 pm

Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by easternnc4me » Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:45 am

I've used cell mapper The two towers it seems to connect to the most is cell 16 and one that is more toward the west (near Macclesfield) that does not show up under AT&T. Both in the 700mhz range along with cell 15. Looks like 22 is the closest one in the higher frequency.
https://www.cellmapper.net/map?MCC=310& ... lours=true

xdavidx
Posts: 267
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:04 pm

Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by xdavidx » Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:35 am

easternnc4me wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:45 am
I've used cell mapper The two towers it seems to connect to the most is cell 16 and one that is more toward the west (near Macclesfield) that does not show up under AT&T. Both in the 700mhz range along with cell 15. Looks like 22 is the closest one in the higher frequency.
https://www.cellmapper.net/map?MCC=310& ... lours=true
Those "cell 15", etc. aren't unique IDs. I'm not really sure what they represent. Cell ID or PCI are each unique in a given area. I think I found the tower you were referring to though, to the east of the other two. Looks like that one has B4 and B12. However, as I mentioned before, these databases are often wrong. Easiest thing would be to check them out in person and do a speed test on your phone, assuming the phone supports the bands in question.

Taking the M1 to them is even better and I just remembered that the M1 is battery powered, so you wouldn't even need an inverter to bring it in the car. That way, you can run AT!GSTATUS? during a speed test and know exactly which bands are being used. With the phone, you'd be guessing that it might have more bands, based on speed, but not know which bands or how much bandwidth for each band.

Another website is http://www.antennasearch.com. They don't have many towers, but what they do have seem to be more accurate than the others. And by that, I mean the physical location seems to be more accurate. You still have to go to the tower to see what bands it has and whether it is even an AT&T tower. It is a pain to use. You have to run it multiple times, each time supplying a street address (not just city and state) for each town in the area. It will return with a screen stating how many towers and how many antennas it has found. Click on each, since towers can show under the antenna screen too. Note the locations on the map and then drive there to check them out in person.

Using that tool, I found what *might* be the tower shown in cellmapper, to the east of those other two. Plug this into google maps and look at it in satellite mode: 35.739549, -77.473891

There is a fire tower in Belvoir that *might* have something on it. I'm guessing it isn't tall enough to get very far coverage though: 35.708527, -77.466755

easternnc4me
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Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by easternnc4me » Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:50 pm

Thank you. It will be next weekend before I get the chance to drive to the tower. Will enabling 5ghz gain any increase in download speed? Should I enable both 2.4 and 5? Only 2.4 is enabled as I was told it was more stable although slower. I ask this based on my current setup. Would the speeds be about the same? Worse?

xdavidx
Posts: 267
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 4:04 pm

Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by xdavidx » Sun Jun 16, 2019 4:47 pm

Wifi on a lot of these routers isn't their strong point. I use a separate device, connected via ethernet, to my internet source, as my wireless access point for other devices.

2.4 GHz travels farther and through walls better than 5.8 GHz. 5.8GHz has more bandwidth available and can use more advanced wifi protocols, for higher speeds. It also depends on what the clients are capable of.

The wifi is mutually exclusive from your cellular issue. I don't think you are maxing out the 2.4GHz wifi yet, but that is easy to test by running speed tests when connected via ethernet (or usb) and then when connected via wifi.

If you get to the point where the 2.4GHz wifi is your weak link, you'll have some good LTE speeds (60 to 100 Mbps, depending on how good/poor the 2.4 GHz wifi system is in the router). That assumes you are close to the router with the clients. The farther away you are, the weaker the signal gets and speed decreases. Regarding 2.4 vs 5.8, at some distance from the router, 2.4GHz becomes faster, only because the signal strength of 5.8GHz decreases to the point where it is slower than 2.4GHz.

It is good to continue to use non-wifi methods for testing, because wifi can add variables and variability.

One other thing. Aside from downloading data over LTE and receiving it via wifi from the router to your client devices, you might want to transfer data between clients on your home network, over wifi. That might be streaming video (from something like a Plex server), transferring files, backing up data from one system to another, etc. All these situations involve data going through the router, not directly betwen one device and another. Connecting one client to the 2.4GHz radio on the router and another client to 5.8GHz will speed up home network transfers between the clients. If they are both on 2.4GHz or both on 5.8GHz, then the router can't send and receive data at the same exact time on the same frequency. It has to flip back and forth, so that slows down the transfer.

In theory, if you had a very advanced router with a lot of antennas, that can do a higher level of MIMO to a client with a lot of antennas, then they could both be on, for example, the same 5.8GHz channel. That could theoretically beat the speeds of using 2.4GHz for one and 5.8GHz for the other, since 2.4GHz has narrower bandwidth channels.

Some routers have multiple 5.8GHz radios, and each operate on different channels in the 5.8GHz range of frequencies. You could have one client connected to one radio on one SSID and another client connected to another radio on another SSID, and a lot of MIMO antenna action on router and client, and get peak speeds.

Some routers support MU-MIMO wifi, where different antennas on the router are used for different clients, to reduce some of the contention I mentioned above. Clients don't need to support MU-MIMO to benefit from it, but the server needs to support it.

I only mention the LAN wifi stuff, because there are other situations where the wifi comes into play. How you have things set up, what kinds of devices you have, and what you are doing with them all play a role. And if you are doing a lot of client to client LAN level communication, that could slow down the speeds another client sees from the LTE router from the internet, *if* the clients are all sharing the same wifi radio on the router. Obviously, multiple clients accessing the internet at the same time slows down the max speed you can get on each client too. And wifi can hamper that further as you get into a situation where LTE is fast and a shared 2.4GHz wifi radio is slow.

Another variable is the cpu speed of the router (and how efficient the firmware is). At some point, with enough clients, that could become the weak link.

Another issue with wifi is interference. If you have neighbors near you, your networks can interfere and all of them can be slowed down.

As you can see, there are a lot of variables, once you start adding clients and are dealing with shared radio frequencies in the wifi bands as well as all the fun in the LTE bands. If you have, for example, 3 clients, and they don't talk to each other much, and you just want each of them to be able to stream 1080P video from the internet, concurrently, then get the LTE speed up to 9 to 15 Mbps, and you should be fine. Want to do 4K streaming to multiple devices, concurrently? Then, not only will you need to get the LTE speeds up to 25 Mbps per stream, but also need to pay more attention to the wifi setup, and rely more on 5.8GHz possibly, and 802.11AC instead of 802.11N clients, possibly.

In your situation, you might be just fine on 2.4GHz, as long as the LTE speeds aren't too high and you don't have too many clients.

easternnc4me
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Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:33 pm

Re: Indoor antenna readings on a Netgear Nighthawk M1

Post by easternnc4me » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:09 pm

I *think* I understand most of that...lol. In my prior reading of other forums it seems a lot of people ran theirs through a router to push the signal out further. Several people recommended the TP Link Arch C7 version 2. I ordered one a couple of weeks ago. One reason I have pursued that route (aside from not knowing how to set it. Would have to read up on it) is that, as I would carry it on vacation at times, I didn't know how much of a hassle it would be to reset it back up as a hotspot, then set it back up when I get home. Decisions decisions.

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