11-25-2012 09:31:13 AM
Below is a pasted Word doc on some recent testing that I did with my new iPhone 5 and the MicroCell in our home. It is by no means the definitive answer to all questions nor even a fix for some, but it may be useful none-the-less.
iPhone 5 MicroCell Speed Test
Disclaimer: This pertains to my setup only. Because of equipment differences, ISP differences, location differences, home environment, etc., your results will vary. Informational and proof of concept purposes only.
Internet: dedicated DSL line. Sustained, 20Mbps/1.0Mbps (actual speeds 18Mbps/0.9Mbps). static IP, Comtrend DSL Gateway (CT-5072T), Apple Extreme Base Station (4G, 7.6.1). ISP is Sonic.net.
MicroCell connection: DSL gateway -> router (AEBS) -> MicroCell (yellow Ethernet input).
Router (AEBS) configuration: ports forwarded (123 UDP, 443 TCP, 4500 UDP, 500 UDP) to a static IP based on the MicroCell MAC address, IPSec Pass-thru enabled, and DHCP is enabled. The MicroCell and printer are the only wired devices.
MicroCell: Model DPH151-AT (hardware version 2.0). 18” from a window with an unobstructed view of the sky, 2’ from the router, plenty of ventilation, no external antenna. This particular unit has been in use for over a year with no updates or power outage issues. The previous two were replaced under warranty. Total MicroCell service time has been over 2.5 years.
Apple iPhone 5 (iOS 6.0.1).
Internet and MicroCell equipment are connected to an APC UPS (Model 550).
Test Environment: single story ranch-style home, 2100 sq.ft., metal roof, landline 2.4GHz cordless phones. MicroCell is located next to the window along the front walkway, almost dead center of the house.
Without the MicroCell, cell phone connectivity was almost always spotty at best and quite often non-existent regardless of the cell phone type (Samsung, Motorola, etc.) in our home. Outside of the home (front of the driveway/street) connectivity was perfect. We seem to still live in a fringe or “shadow” area of cell tower coverage even though AT&T is continually upgrading in our area. The metal roof is only a few years old but we never saw any in-home differences before or after installation.
Testing app was SpeedTest.net by Ookla. Testing speeds were consistent with my ISPs speed test app.
Testing with iPhone 5 (WiFi off, cellular data and LTE on):
The iPhone 5 did not require me to do anything special to it for it to connect to the MicroCell (did not have to toggle Airplane Mode, restart, turn LTE off) and I did not have to power cycle the MicroCell nor adjust any previous settings on the MicroCell setup page. In fact, I haven’t even checked the page to see if handing off is enabled or not. I just walked into the house, the iPhone indicated 4 bars, M-Cell, 4G and I was good to go.
Using SpeedTest, in various areas of our city, the iPhone 5 would connect to LTE with 3-5 bars and an average of 27.12Mbps down,14.36Mbps up with a ping time of 57ms. In our neighborhood, outside of MicroCell range, the connection was 3-4 bars with 4G, and an average speed of 5.22Mbps down, 0.82Mbps up, with a ping time of 76ms. Outside, the MicroCell covered our entire property with the same speeds and quality as in-doors.
In our home it was entirely different. I tested from 4 different locations. Next to the MicroCell and the three furthest indoor sites where we mostly live (back bedrooms and family room). Data set included 8 data points taken from two separate SpeedTest sites. One 5 miles away and the other 28 miles away. Speeds were consistent regardless of test site or house location. The orientation of the iPhone was always vertical (at a normal usage height) with the back of the phone aimed in the compass direction of the MicroCell.
The average download speed was 2.10Mbps, upload speed was 0.10Mbps, and the average ping time was 226ms. The iPhone indicated 4-5 bars, M-Cell 4G. Abysmal speeds, however…….
I could always make and receive phone calls, text, and/or picture messages. Calls were always clear and free of echoing or breaking up from either my end or the callers end. I drove various family members crazy requesting that they call and message me during the testing period! But, connecting to the internet did not always work and was slow at times.
Turning WiFi back on made all the difference in the world! It would appear that the iPhone 5 will connect to the strongest signal in-home for internet use, and use just the cellular portion for calls, which in my case is fine because cell phone calls are always clear and clean. WiFi in our house uses the G radio with no interference from the cordless phones (2.4GHz) and always connects at the maximum speeds possible (18MBps down and 0.9MBps up) from anywhere in the house. I haven’t tested the N radio yet on the iPhone 5 (the AEBS is dual-radio).
This is an interesting area with some theoretical explanations for why battery life may be shortened due to the way the MicroCell adjusts its power requirements depending on internal protocols based on network communication(s). My experience so far seems to indicate that the standy time is about what Apple indicates. Usage and type of usage obviously affects battery life. It also may be a function of iOS 6.0 (I’m on iOS 6.0.1). What I’ve done to extend battery life is turn off all apps (very easy to do) that I don’t need to leave on all of the time (Stocks, Weather, etc). The cumulative effect of having a dozen or more apps on all of the time will impact battery life. It’s really about the only thing you can do on your iPhone. I leave cellular data, LTE, and WiFi on all of the time. We spent the holiday with family at their house where they receive good AT&T cellular coverage ( no MicroCell needed). For the 6 hours or so that we were there, the battery life didn’t seem to drain any slower or faster than it does here. Re-charge time from about 10% to fully charged at 100% takes about 2 hours. My iPhone is on 24x7 (mostly in standby) so I usually charge it at night before I go to bed and it’s good for the following day and into the evening. The same with my son’s iPhone 3GS. My wife’s old Samsung needs charging about every 3 days or so but it’s just a 3G cell phone, no WiFi, no internet use, nothing but calls and text messages.
Battery life Update:
My daughter with the iPhone 4 was home for the holiday. She recently upgraded her iPhone 4 to iOS 6.0.1. Previously, when she would visit, there were no battery or WiFI issues with her phone at all. For some reason, her iPhone can’t connect reliably to our WiFi network now. All other WiFi devices in the house are connecting just fine so it’s probably her phone. Because of that, her battery life has dropped off significantly. So it would appear that battery life, on some iPhones, is tied to iOS 6.0 (and 6.0.1) and the robustness of your WiFi connection. No WiFi and the phone depends on the MicroCell entirely which, for some unexplained reason, rapidly depletes the battery. What the root cause is at this point in time is not clear.
The MicroCell does work with the iPhone 5 (iOS 6.0.1) as designed. But (and that’s a big BUT), your hardware and environmental conditions need to be just right for reliable, trouble-free use. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people for who this isn’t true. With so many variables (ISP, hardware, home conditions, etc.), it’s almost impossible to make a true plug and play that works for all setups. As a side note, even with our old Samsung (my wife still uses hers), other iPhones (3GS, 4) and various other phones on our account, no one has had any issues calling or receiving calls from within our home using the MicroCell.
Admittedly there are much better and more accurate ways to measure iPhone 5 speeds with the MicroCell than what I’ve done. But I wanted a simple way to get an idea of what speeds are with my phone under the conditions that I would be normally using it. And my findings correlated very well with the “real world” experience in my home.
It would be nice if someone else could produce a test similar to mine to see what they get and what their conclusions are. Maybe we can figure out a basic configuration that will help those who are struggling with the MicroCell, or at least plausible explanations for the differences.
01-05-2013 09:43:32 AM
Thanks for the detailed report Otto. I haven't done quite such a detailed analysis as you have , but after upgrading both my wife's and my iPhones from a 3gs, and a 4, respectively, to 5s last week, I can say that both iPhone 5s are working fine with my MCell using iOS 6.0.2. My general network setup is cable Internet 30/5, Linksys E4200 router, Motorola SBG6580 DOCSIS3 cable modem/gateway in bridge mode. MCell is connected to the router, not the cable modem (so not in priority mode) and the MCell is a H/W version 2.0. As Otto says, YMMV.
01-05-2013 11:11:37 AM
Thanks AnClar. I've since upgraded to 6.0.2 with no change in service quality so I'm happy. I've been compiling information (anectdotal, factual, etc) from this group and elsewhere and putting it together for a possible future posting and/or link. What I'm coming away with so far is that there is obviously a wide range of serviceability between various regions and areas for a multitude of reasons, so it's really hard to put together a universal troubleshooting guide that will work for all problems and situations. That, and the less than complete information that is sometimes posted here as far as setup goes makes if difficult to nail down an issue.