Why is T Mobile 4G so slow

Advisory: What to do when Internet access is unbearably slow

Especially in times of the pandemic, in which many people are still often at home and also work from there, it becomes clear how important a stable broadband connection has become. Hardly anything is more frustrating than video meetings with dropouts, slowly trickling file transfers and constantly faltering playback of films and series.

However, not everyone has the luxury of a stable and fast connection, that's the bad news. The good news is that you are not necessarily at the mercy of the situation and in some cases can be improved with relative ease. A little guide.

Note: The terms "modem" and "router" are usually used synonymously, as the end devices offered by the providers usually provide the establishment of the Internet connection and also function as routers via cable interfaces and / or WLAN.

Location of the receiving device

Before solving a problem, understand it first. If the connection fails again, it is not automatically your own provider to blame, even if this offers a welcome target for psycho-hygienic reasons. Before you cover Magenta and Co. with imaginatively worded curses, you should check your own setup, as there are enough sources of interference here.

If you use a mobile internet offer, you should check the location of the router. Ideally, this "visual contact" should provide the closest 4G radio station of the provider, which is why it is recommended to place it at or near a window. Most devices use LEDs on their housing to show how good their reception strength is. Here you can try out new locations within your own home, even if the reception is optimal according to the display.

After each installation, the device should be switched off briefly (20 seconds), restarted and - as soon as it has reconnected - a speed test should be carried out. The tools available for this are the RTR network test or the speed test from Ookla. You should be close to the router or use a device that is connected directly to it via a network cable.

Beware of compact routers

The second potential influencing factor is the router itself. Discount providers in particular often have very compact routers on offer as inexpensive offers, such as the Alcatel MW40V or comparable devices from Huawei and ZTE.

These are actually designed for mobile use - for example, to be carried in a backpack to enable a travel group to receive Internet access - and not for stationary use. Their range is accordingly limited. They may be sufficient for supplying a student room or a very small apartment, but larger homes with several users should be equipped with better hardware. In addition, the compact devices tend to overheat after a long time, especially if they are in a place that is exposed to the sun, which also leads to connection problems.

The problem with mobile broadband

However, if there is no location in the apartment where you can get tolerable bandwidths despite good connection quality, the closest radio cell of your own network operator may simply be too overcrowded. Each transmitting station has a maximum bandwidth. If this is more than exhausted by all connected users, the capacity is automatically divided according to a formula. And here all providers prefer normal cell phone tariffs to stationary Internet connections, albeit to a different extent. This is one of the reasons why the transfer rates achievable for the tariff are always given as "up to".

This can only be dealt with by changing the provider or switching to a wired connection. The latter should be the preferred choice for internet coverage in your own home, as you usually get the promised bandwidth in a stable manner. However, a cable or DSL connection with good speed is by no means available everywhere. If there is no alternative to mobile Internet, you should try a provider in a different network.

Test other networks

There are three networks in Austria. They are operated by A1, Magenta (formerly T-Mobile and UPC) and "3". All other providers and brands rent into this. The Hofer mobile communications provider Hot, for example, operates in the Magenta network. Yesss is again a brand from A1 and Spusu bets on "3". The telecommunications authority RTR offers a (unfortunately not entirely up-to-date) list of the various offers and networks used on its website.

If one is currently using a mobile broadband offer in the A1 network and does not get any usable bandwidths, one should try out what it looks like with providers in the other two networks. Ideally, you agree to a test period with them, in which you can try out risk-free whether you can get a suitable connection here. If that is not possible, the cost factor for the test can at least be kept low by using a prepaid card.

Attention: It can happen that the modem used so far is blocked and does not work with other providers or only with providers from the same network. In such a case, it is advisable to insert the SIM card into your own smartphone instead and use it to carry out the connection tests before you get a new receiver or unlock the existing one (usually at a cost).

WiFi problems

If the Internet can be used well near the modem or when connected to the same via a network cable, but not in other rooms, you probably have a problem with the signal strength and quality. Relevant factors here are the type and transmission power of the router, its location, the WLAN standard used, the frequency used and the nature of the apartment. Thick old building walls in particular tend to cause problems.

It can also happen that a WLAN is configured to only run over a 5 GHz frequency. Although this enables higher bandwidths, it also offers poorer range. Here it is recommended to also use the 2.4 GHz frequencies. The "Channel", which exactly defines the frequency range used, can usually also be set. In order to avoid overlapping with other wireless networks in the vicinity, routers usually automatically select the least busy channel here.

However, this does not always work reliably, which is why a manual setting can be helpful. The local channel occupancy can be checked using a channel scanner app on the computer or smartphone. As a rule of thumb, ideally you should choose channels that are numerically listed as far away as possible from the most heavily used channels.

Repeater, mesh systems, powerline

If you surf via a wired connection, you should place the router as centrally as possible in the apartment. Other locations can also be useful, but this in turn depends on the nature of the walls and other obstacles. The only thing that helps here is to try it out. If you have to leave the router in a peripheral area of ​​the apartment in order to get good reception, you can work with repeaters to distribute the signal. However, some research and tests may be necessary here, because the willingness to talk between different modems and repeaters sometimes fluctuates. In any case, you should avoid using several different repeaters.

Mesh systems are a more stable, often more easily configurable, but also more expensive solution. These are several transmitting / receiving stations that are distributed around the apartment and independently forward connections to and from the modem as quickly as possible. This allows reception obstacles to be avoided and, at the same time, good bandwidth and fast latency times, which can be a problem with repeaters. There are also other solutions such as "Powerline" systems. With these, the connection in the apartment between different stations runs over the power line. Whether and how well this works depends on the nature of the cabling and the organization of the circuits.

Regardless of whether it is a repeater, mesh system or powerline: It is quite easy to try out solutions without risk. If you buy the devices in retail stores, you can arrange a test period with the dealer within which you can return them. If you order the devices online, according to the Distance Selling Act, there is a two-week period from delivery within which you can withdraw from the sale and get your money back if you return the order. (gpi, May 21, 2020)