EDGE 4 bars vs. 3G 1 bar

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EDGE 4 bars vs. 3G 1 bar

Quite by accident, we discovered that AT&T had recently enabled 3G on a tower near us.  The 4 bars of EDGE network on the tower closest to our cabin went down Sunday and our AC875u switched over to the next closest tower w/ 1 bar of 3G .... resulting in a huge difference in DL speeds.

EDGE (4 bars)  -> roughly 20 KB/sec vs 3G (1 bar) -> 80-100 KB/sec

Boy were we disappointed when the EDGE network came back up Monday. Our AC875u switched back to EDGE and dropped performance by 75% Smiley Sad  So I forced the AC875u to pull in 3G only and we're back humming Smiley Happy

Any recommendations for the best antenna to increase the signal strength for our AC875u? FWIW the AC875u is attached to an old PowerBook that acts as our wireless router. So the antennae can be located/mounted almost anywhere in/on the cabin with an appropriate lead-in cable.

Thanks in advance - Talon Dancer

Message 1 of 7 (4,359 Views)
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Re: EDGE 4 bars vs. 3G 1 bar

Talon,
 
3GStore has a good selection of antennas for the AC875U here;
 
 
Sierra also sells one on their own E-Store that is a little more modest, but may not be enough given your apparent distance from the 3G tower.
 
coreyinoz
Message 2 of 7 (4,321 Views)
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Re: EDGE 4 bars vs. 3G 1 bar



coreyinoz wrote:
Talon,
 
3GStore has a good selection of antennas for the AC875U here;
 
 
Sierra also sells one on their own E-Store that is a little more modest, but may not be enough given your apparent distance from the 3G tower.
 
coreyinoz


Thanks. I was looking at that very page last nightSmiley Happy

I'm still undecided whether to get the Sierra Aircard 875U Magnetic Mount External Antenna w/cables (which requires a ground plane) or the Sierra Aircard 875U Omni External Antenna w/cables and Mount.

I have the PowerBook set on top of a tall cabinet, so that it has a clear "view" of the closest tower(s) out of a bank of high windows. I could mount the magnetic antenna to a small (pizza pan size) sheet of steel and never see it.

Has anyone ever done this? Does the ground plane need to be thick? Does it work well?

Talon Dancer
Message 3 of 7 (4,303 Views)
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Re: EDGE 4 bars vs. 3G 1 bar

I am a recent AT&T Sierra Aircard 881card bus owner. So far, after some initial bumps in the road, I am happy with the card. It installed without a problem and has worked quite well.

At home, in spite of being in a “prime” 3G area, I was suffering low signal and switching between 2G and 3G signals.  Called Tech Support (800-331-0500), got a very polite (as has been noted elsewhere) rep.

I am using the AT&T Communications Manager, the rep provided me with AT Command strings that forced the 881 card, in spite of low signal strength, to select 3G.  I used it that way for a couple of days at home before going on the annual migration to Florida.

When I arrived in ColumbusOH, at my daughter’s house, in spite of 4 bars of signal, I was having issues with getting on web.  I could read and send email but I could not get on the web, not even my AT&T home page.

Called AT&T Wireless Tech support again, I think I got the same guy again.  He went to a number of places in Tools/Internet Options to setup my web access.  Proxy settings and other stuff I cannot remember.

He also provided additional AT Commands. In spite of 4 bars signal I was having trouble with 2G vs 3G access again.  I am currently set to “3G Preferred” mode. This setting will locate a 3G signal and use 2G if nothing else is available.  Not sure if this is a good traveling mode or not.  “Auto select” would seem to be the proper mode for that.  The only glitch is no red 3G meatball in the ACM status window. But it seems to be 3G access.

So I will pass the AT Commands on to you, maybe using one of these you can get your card to hang onto 3G when it finds a signal.

Mode switching commands
Using the AT&T Communications Manager

Open Tools menu then:

  • Ctrl/shift/F9
    • Enables the menu
    • A Window Opens with
      “Advanced tabs in Diagnostics have been enabled”  Message
  • Tools
            Diagnostics 
                              GSM Info
                                    AT Commands
  • Enter one of the following in the AT Command Window
    • at!selrat=00   -           Auto mode
    • at!selrat=01   -           3G mode
    • at!selrat=02   -           2G mode
    • at!selrat=03   -           3G preferred

Poke the To Try the Command, you should get a positve reply.

Message 4 of 7 (4,297 Views)
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Re: EDGE 4 bars vs. 3G 1 bar

Regarding your technical questions - you should check out EVDOforums.
 
That's the support forum for 3G store, and they have some major resident nerds. Most of the info is CDMA - but the experiences with the antennas will still be helpful. The admins there will help you pick the right product.
 
 
Message 5 of 7 (4,280 Views)
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Re: EDGE 4 bars vs. 3G 1 bar



Ed S wrote:
....

So I will pass the AT Commands on to you, maybe using one of these you can get your card to hang onto 3G when it finds a signal.

...

AT&T Connection Manager only runs on Windows. But from what I've read, that may be a good thing for us Mac users Smiley Happy

Launch2Net (commercial software) allows me to switch between Auto Select , 2G only or 3G only by just selecting a radio button. So as soon as I realized that the 3G signal was here to stay, I switched to 3G only. BTW this switch survives moving the 875u to another Mac which only has the free Sierra Wireless Watcher Smiley Happy

I would be nce if AT&T woke up and provided at least SOME support for Mac users besides sending them to the Sierra Wireless site Smiley Happy

Talon Dancer

Message 6 of 7 (4,219 Views)
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Re: EDGE 4 bars vs. 3G 1 bar



coreyinoz wrote:
Regarding your technical questions - you should check out EVDOforums.
 
That's the support forum for 3G store, and they have some major resident nerds. Most of the info is CDMA - but the experiences with the antennas will still be helpful. The admins there will help you pick the right product.
 
 


The folks at the 3G store say that the magnetic mount antenna can be put on a simple metal pizza pan (or equavalent).  I'll be ordering mine  ASAP. I'll report back on my results.

Talon Dancer
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