USB 4G Internet dongle in balcony connected to Laptop inside room using long (5m) USB cable improves speed significantly

Last updated on 7th Sept. 2017

My previous post, “How improved 4G signal strength helps usually to improve 4G Internet connection speed”, https://goo.gl/xoMURw, showed that my Dell Mini-Laptop (ML) with Huawei USB 4G Dongle connected directly at one of its USB ports, got better quality 4G RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) when it was kept in my balcony/sit-out as compared to when it was kept in my bedroom on my desktop PC monitor table. Further, this improved 4G signal strength led to improved 4G Internet connection speeds (on the Dell Mini-Laptop).

Convenience wise, an interesting arrangement was to have my ML in my bedroom on my desktop PC monitor table but with the Huawei 4G USB Dongle in my sit-out/balcony, and connected to my ML with a 5 meter long, thick and good quality USB cable. Today (6th Sept. 2017) early morning I conducted some tests with this or similar arrangement whose data is given below. Note that my 4G Internet service provider is Jio.

Important Note for USB 2.0 users: My desktop PC uses an old (perhaps decade old) motherboard – ASUS M2NPV-VM – which has only USB 2.0 ports. Perhaps that is the reason why the Huawei 4G USB dongle does NOT get recognised properly as a USB device when it is connected via 5m long cable to USB ports on my desktop PC (I tried out multiple USB ports on both front and back side of my PC cabinet). So, as of now, I cannot use this 4G dongle in balcony connected via long USB cable to computer approach for my desktop PC with old motherboard. I plan to explore options like an extension card giving me USB 3.0 ports on my old mobo, thingies which boost power on the USB 2.0 cable connection etc. I should also mention that I have been using the 4G USB dongle with my desktop PC by directly plugging it on to its USB 2.0 ports, and have not faced significant problems with such usage.

My Dell Mini-Laptop has USB 3.0 ports which may be the reason why I face no problem in 4G USB dongle being recognised properly and working properly when connected to the Mini-Laptop via a (thick and good quality) 5 m long USB cable.

A) ML in room next to PC monitor, 4G USB dongle on chair in balcony; angular linear access (for dongle) to outside window area; window insect-pane put up. Note that the last figure below e.g. -72 dBm, is the RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) value.

*)14 Mbps, 12:45 AM, fast.com, -72 dBm
*) 20 Mbps, 12:46 AM, fast.com, -69 dBm
*) 11.63 Mbps, 12:48 AM, beta.speedtest.net, -72 dBm [http://beta.speedtest.net/result/6599544604]
*) 22.74 Mbps, 12:49 AM, beta.speedtest.net, -68 dBm [http://beta.speedtest.net/result/6599549258] See pic given below.

[General Note: Right-click on pics to open in new tab/window which can then be easily magnified (zoomed in) using browser commands.]

20170906-22p74Mbps-68dB-1249AM

[Data usage on disconnect reported as 24.10 MB UL + 105.17 MB DL]

[Connected two 5m USB cables together and put up USB 4G Dongle at the end. Dell Mini Laptop (Win8.1) did not recognize the device!! Back to single 5m USB cable with USB 4G dongle at the end.]

B) ML in room but closer to balcony; 4G USB Dongle next to insect screen (wire mesh) window ‘pane’ [Moved ML (Mini Laptop) to bed (so closer to balcony) and stuck up the USB dongle next to the insect screen (is a wire mesh allowing for air to pass through) window ‘pane’. Note that ML on PC monitor table and 4G USB dongle next to insect screen window ‘pane’ will need 6 to 7 m long USB cable. Therefore I had to move the ML closer to the balcony.]

*) 24 Mbps, 1:13 AM, fast.com, -71 dBm
*) 24 Mbps, 1:14 AM, fast.com, -64 dBm
*) 26.95 Mbps, 1:16 AM, beta.speedtest.net, -65 dBm [http://beta.speedtest.net/result/6599614674]; see pic below.

20170906-26p95Mbps-65dB-0116AM
*) 24.13 Mbps, 1:21 AM, beta.speedtest.net, -70 dBm

I then took the ML and sat down on the chair in the balcony. Now I held the USB 4G dongle (connected to 5m USB cable) flush next to the insect net or close to it. I got RSSI readings of -70 to -64, if I recall correctly, and I got speed readings of around 23 Mbps. I did not do a proper record entry of them as I saw that the RSSI readings had not changed significantly from earlier. This is as expected as only the ML location had changed from bed in the room to chair in the balcony, but the 5m USB cable connection and the location of the 4G USB dongle was the same.

C) 4G USB dongle held few inches outside window, and connected to ML [Opened/slid out insect net window ‘pane’. Held USB dongle outside open window (a few inches outside) at angle giving best RSSI. Note that as I was holding the 4G USB dongle outside the window I had the ML with me and I was seated on a chair in the balcony. If there was an additional person the ML could have been inside the room instead like in the above B) case (on the bed).]

*) 30 Mbps, 1:38 AM, fast.com, -58 dBm; See pic below.

20170906-30Mbps-58dB-0138AM*) 22 Mbps, 1:42 AM, fast.com, -57 dBm
*) 34.31 Mbps, 1:46 AM, beta.speedtest.net, -58 dBm [http://beta.speedtest.net/result/6599684914] See pic below.

20170906-34p31Mbps-58dB-0146AM
*) 18.06 Mbps, 1:53 AM, beta.speedtest.net, -56 dBm

[Disconnected: Data usage message: UL: 69.19 MB, DL: 526.28 MB
I did quite a few tests to get some feel of the speed some of which I did not record above. So I think that may have contributed to the high data usage reported above for the tests conducted.]

D) Directly connected 4G USB Dongle to ML;

Removed the USB cable and directly connected USB 4G dongle to USB slot in ML. Then I kept the ML on the window sill while still holding it, exposing the USB dongle a few inches outside the window. This would have been like when I had held the USB dongle a few inches outside the window. Then I checked the RSSI values for various orientations of the ML and so the USB dongle. The values were typically in the -63 to -60 range though at times it did touch -58 (dBm). So the RSSI values did not seem to differ significantly whether the USB 4G dongle that was kept a few inches outside the window, was directly connected to ML or was connected via a 5m USB cable!!! That is a very interesting conclusion suggested by this single test – no significant loss even though there is a 5 m USB cable in between!

[On disconnect, Data usage reported: UL: 6.81 MB, DL: 198.64 MB. Note that I had sent out this note as email to myself attaching 4 screenshot pics. Also after coming back to the bedroom I had made a few tests to check out speed inside the bedroom with 4G dongle plugged directly into ML. ]
— end test data —

Conclusions

1) Huawei 4G USB dongle when connected via thick and good quality, long USB cable of 5 metres to my Dell Mini-Laptop worked well. Keeping the USB dongle on a chair in my balcony/sit-out which is connected to my Mini Laptop on a work table in the room seems to be a good solution for convenient workplace and very good (from my needs perspective) Internet speed of around 10 Mbps or more in the daytime and around 20 Mbps or more at nighttime. Of course, as I get 3 to 4 Mbps speed in daytime inside my bedroom when the 4G USB dongle is directly connected to my Mini Laptop (WITHOUT the long USB cable), and that suffices for most of my needs, I would need to use the long USB cable arrangement only when I need around 10 Mbps or more speed.

2) Huawei 4G USB dongle when connected via thick and good quality, long USB cable of 5 metres to my Dell Mini-Laptop gave as good signal strength (RSSI) (and Internet speed though I have not done a specific test today morning to confirm this) as when the 4G dongle was directly connected to the Dell Mini-Laptop.

3) Best Internet speed (around 20 Mbps or more at daytime and 30 Mbps or more at nighttime) is available when the 4G USB dongle is kept a few inches outside my balcony window. While it is not appropriate to keep the dongle in that position for regular usage, it suggests that an antenna attached to the 4G USB dongle with the antenna mounted on, say the external wall outside my window, may be a good regular arrangement (configuration) for best Internet speed. However, as of now I do not have a need for such Internet speeds and therefore need not look at such a regular arrangement solution.

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P.S. About antennas for 4G USB dongles, here’s some info:

LTE speed tests using E3276 USB Modem and Poynting outdoor antennas (A-LPDA-0092) [in South Africa in 2013], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6jcKx68-Lw, 3 min. 30 secs.

The above video shows speeds as follows:

*) No antenna: 2.2 Mbps
*) 1 antenna: 7.6 Mbps
*) 2 antennas: 12 Mbps

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