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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
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    • CommentAuthordickster
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2020
     
    Last year I had my meter changed to E7 to allow charging of Tesla Powerwall overnight and consequently electric car (MG). Fortunately they couldn't fit a smart meter (no mobile signal), so got plain old simple version.

    A few weeks later, Powerwall comms started playing up, I would lose connectivity via satellite broadband and have to turn router and satellite dish off and then back on to re-connect. My Tesla man explained that if satellite comms got dodgy, the Powerwall would search for a mobile signal instead.

    Fast forward to two weeks ago when my neighbour had a new EE broadband antenna fitted by his satellite broadband company and got very good results. This was a 600mm pole fitted under the eaves behind a tree. Turns out that EE had put a new mast up some 3 miles away last year. The running costs are £85.00 per month for 100 gigabytes. A tad expensive.

    So I got in touch directly with EE and ordered a router. I got one bar signal strength but with upstairs dormer window open, got two bars. I decided to order an external antenna job (to arrive some time in future, £100.00),
    but have to say that on one bar, get 50+ megabytes per second download speed, far better than satellite. All at a cost of £35.00 per month for 100 gigabytes of data against satellite broadband at £50.00 for 25 gig. Very pleased.

    Comms with Powerwall now explained, when the mast was put up, it found the EE signal and preferentailly switched to it away from dodgy satellite signal. Now have continuous communication with Powerwall.

    An added bonus: Her outdoors uses her mobile a lot, but on Giff Gaff and dodgy O2 reception, mainly used for Whatsapp via wi-fi, but can't really be used as phone until at the top of a hill. We've just switched phone to EE and she now has good external reception with the major plus of being able to use mobile in the house to make calls via wi-fi.

    All in all, worth the still terrible hassle of swapping over to EE.

    Just thought this might be of interest.



    :bigsmile::cool:
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2020
     
    You thought right, it is of interest.

    At my house site my neighbours only get 5 MB/s down on ADSL and, last I looked, VDSL wasn't available in the village, so I'll be looking for something like this. At the moment EE's website shows my site's postcode as not covered by their wireless broadband service but there's 5-bar 3G service there and a huge antenna farm across the valley (was US intelligence listening station, now (mostly?) commercial networks) so I'm hopeful of better service in the not-too-distant future.

    A few questions:

    1) Could you clarify why your neighbour is paying £85/(month or 100 GB) whereas you're on £35 for what looks like the same? Just for the professional antenna installation?

    2) What upload speed do you get to go with your 50 MB/s down?

    3) Is that £35/month for a full broadband service (allowing voice over IP (VoIP), etc) rather than mobile data which normally prohibits VoIP and often blocks other service?

    4) Really techy question you'll likely not be able to answer: do you get IPv6 on that?
    • CommentAuthordickster
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2020
     
    I'm winging it, a la Boris,

    EE coverage for our area shows 1 bar 4G outside, no inside reception. It may be they haven't updated coverage maps.

    1. The pub up the hill on the far side of valley had EE with external antenna fitted this early spring, but with no great improvement over his existing sat broadband. Thus my neighbour, at the bottom of hill) who has more than enough dosh, got his existing sat broadband supplier (who has a contract with EE) to install. I was amazed that this pole antenna worked so well, given the crap positioning. This led me to believe that the signal might be pretty good and that an EE antenna might work for us.

    We are both in the bottom of the valley, but with only one line of "in full leaf" trees between us and the tower (out of line of sight over the heath over the horizon). I reckon the signal to the pub (which should have better reception) is blocked by the many trees on the up slope of the hill.

    2. Upload with 2 bars gave around 5 MB/s up, if I remember correctly, but with one bar (window closed) around 1.5.

    3. I think we've got 4G mobile broadband, but I wouldn't know about VoIP, being able to make mobile calls inside our Faraday cage via wi-fi is some sort of miracle.

    4. You're welcome to ask EE on this one if you can A. find their telephone number, B. get any real answers from their sales team. I've googled IPv6 to make sure that I don't know what it is!

    Enjoy trying to work out if your mobile phone supports wi-fi calling. Spend hours searching the internet for clues. The fact of the matter is that our mobile shows no signs of this ability. It comes care of the new EE simcard.
    but YOU WON'T FIND THIS INFORMATION, it must be a secret.

    :bigsmile:
  1.  
    We are on unlimited-data 4G home internet with Three for £27 per month, though they sometimes do offers around £20/m.

    We don't need a fixed phone line so save about £20 on 'line rental’. The ASDL speed was about 1meg so we binned it when we got the Three broadband, no fibre here.

    We have simultaneous Xbox, WhatsApp video calling, YouTube, WFH, Home School, etc and no shortage of data.

    The Huawei B535 4G router that was included, has an internal antenna pair and sits on an internal windowsill, giving about 10Meg download and 5 upload where we are. But noticeably less during strong rain or wind, and with interruptions which upset some services.

    When I hold it outside the window the signal strength is much better and download is 25meg.

    I am planning to get a Poynting external antenna for £68 to see if the signal is more stable in bad weather.

    When I checked the diagnostic page to identify which mast it uses, I was surprised to see it connected to one about 5 miles away. There are several closer which my Giffgaff mobile uses, but apparently not shared with Three. And none are using the huge transmitter station on nearest hilltop which is apparently only Vodaphone!

    Useful:
    https://www.cellmapper.net
    https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2020/04/how-to-choose-an-external-4g-or-5g-mobile-broadband-antenna.html

    NetworkCellInfoLite app tells you what mast your mobile is on.

    I bought a few SIMs for different networks to try the signal before signing up with Three.

    When the contract started ISTR there was a 14day cooling off period when I would have cancelled if the signal was poor.

    In principle you can take the router with you in the car when you travel and so always have your own WiFi but that's not so useful just now!

    The router configuration page mentions IPv6 but beyond that's my techie limit.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2020
     
    Thanks both, a few clues there but it's all a bit of a puzzle. E.g., cellmapper really doesn't seem to correspond with what my phone is seeing. Why do they make it so obscure - do they not want customers?

    (Spot who's just had a frustrating time this afternoon researching cladding for my gables on badly designed websites from the local timber merchants I normally use.)
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2020
     
    Posted By: Ed Daviesbadly designed websites from the local timber merchants

    If my experience is anything to go by, that's par for the course. I researched products on supplier's sites, general building sites and others then phoned my timber merchant to see if he could supply them. Same for people such as Jewsons and other builders merchants - their web sites might or might not correspond to what they actually can make available.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenWe don't need a fixed phone line so save about £20 on 'line rental’.

    I also ditched the fixed phone line, but transferred the number to voipfone.co.uk for £2/month +VAT, so can still pick up calls / messages on my UK 'fixed line' number worldwide, using WiFi + a softphone app.

    I sometimes use it for overseas calls too - for some countries it's cheaper than mobile phone rates. Very much cheaper, in some cases (Buenos Aires for 1.5p/ minute, instead of £2/ minute, for example).

    And, if I'm overseas and outside my mobile's free call countries, I use it to call UK numbers at UK rates.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2020
     
    Sort of similarly, here I have a fixed line with a “wires only” service with just broadband (VDSL, fibre to the cabinet) with no ability to make or receive landline calls as such. The line has a phone number but that's just for Openreach reference to the copper pair.

    For my “landline” number I use sipgate.co.uk (as does Wookey [¹]) which I assume is broadly similar to Mike1's voipfone service. This gives me a number with the local area code (my choice, just to avoid having to explain things to local people) which I can make and receive calls from anywhere I have Internet access. You can also transfer existing numbers to them if you have one you're attached to. No standing charge but you need to keep a bit of credit for outgoing calls. Incoming calls are free for me, national rate for the caller.

    I make outgoing calls and occasionally answer incoming calls using a softphone (Linphone [²]) on my laptop. For surprise incoming calls and the strange situation where I'm in but my laptop is switched off (basically, I'm asleep) I have an analog telephone adapter, a small box which plugs into my router and has a telephone socket on the back, into which I have plugged a normal cordless-phone base station.

    A neat thing about a VoIP setup like this is that, as well as the phone number, it has a sip: address (Wookey advertises his on his web page, courageous chap) which can be used to make direct computer-to-computer calls across the Internet with the sipgate or whatever servers only being involved in the initial call setup - without the likes of Zoom or Skype having a chance to poke their noses in. It should do video as well as just voice. I've never had the opportunity to try this so if anybody wants to play…

    [¹] http://wookware.org/

    [²] http://www.linphone.org/
  2.  
    Sounds fun, but why not just use a mobile? We no longer use a 'geographic' landline number and nobody seems to mind.

    Without really noticing, we have moved to WhatsApp video calling from our mobile handsets to anyone who we would normally offer a cup of tea to, and we have plenty of mobile minutes to voice-call everyone else.

    Using Zoom on laptop for quarantinis though, need both hands free for drink and snacks!
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2020
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenUsing Zoom on laptop for quarantinis though, need both hands free for drink and snacks!

    My wife has some little stands for mobiles so she doesn't have to hold the phone whilst making Whatsapp calls. Some are just a small block of wood with a slot cut in to stand the phone in, others are small wire stands from our local hardware shop.

    I tried to install zoom but failed, it wants me to install IBus but I have that tabooed. There's a longstanding open bug report about the dependency; zoom seem to just ignore it.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2020
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenSounds fun, but why not just use a mobile?
    Because coverage here is rubbish, particularly inside a thick stone walled cottage. When I first moved into the house I'm renting during the build I did try just using mobile but missed too many calls due to that and not carrying the phone round the house with me all the time.

    Posted By: djhI tried to install zoom but failed, it wants me to install IBus but I have that tabooed. There's a longstanding open bug report about the dependency; zoom seem to just ignore it.
    Me too. I tried using it in the browser but it wanted to install some external program which should be totally unnecessary so I assumed it was for some nefarious purpose and refused it. Jitisi doesn't need that.
  3.  
    Hope you have a phone signal at the new place, otherwise obvs 4g internet is harder, though a big antenna might work.

    Are you aware of these?

    https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/

    https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/broadband-uso-need-to-know

    https://www.gov.scot/publications/reaching-100-superfast-broadband/
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: Ed DaviesFor my “landline” number I use sipgate.co.uk which I assume is broadly similar to Mike1's voipfone service.

    Yes, they sound identical, including the SIP URI, except that it doesn't support video - but I've just taken a look at Sipgate and can't see anything about them supporting it either.

    I've not tried a desktop softphone, but for mobile I tried Linphone & several others before eventually finding GS Wave. Among other features it allows 6-way conference calling, subject to bandwidth, and is available for Android & iPhone (but not in a desktop version).
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 5th 2020
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenSounds fun, but why not just use a mobile?
    Also, I totally loathe both the widely available mobile operating systems for slightly different reasons. I had an Android tablet (Tesco Hudl) which I hated as you spent all your time fighting its spyware and finished up throwing it at a stone floor in frustration. As a consequence I was about the last person under the age of 70 to have a feature phone and currently have a cheap Chinese Android phone from Argos which doesn't work very well but at least it's quite small so more likely than a larger phone to survive if I have an accident on my site. I'm reluctant to spend any more money on this crap and will probably replace it with a Pinephone or the like at some point.

    Hope you have a phone signal at the new place, otherwise obvs 4g internet is harder, though a big antenna might work.
    Yes, I get 4 bars for EE 3G. Cheap phone doesn't do 4G AIUI so using the Android search for networks thingy isn't so helpful - must ask my neighbours next time dropping by for a cup of tea won't spread plague.

    Are you aware of these?
    In general principle, yes, but useful links. Thanks.

    Posted By: Mike1Yes, they sound identical, including the SIP URI, except that it doesn't support video - but I've just taken a look at Sipgate and can't see anything about them supporting it either.
    Yes, Sipgate, last time I looked Sipgate didn't say anything about video one way or the other. In principle it's just another (S)RTP connection so it ought to work but in practice who knows?
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2020
     
    Just a couple of general points

    Whilst the bandwidth of 4G is better, the trade off is that the penetration is weaker i.e. range and coverage from existing mast sites is worse - inside coverage will be worse than 3G.

    Unlike a fixed line, you have no SLA with the provider if you lose connection. If it develops a fault, they might or might not fix it. I have, on 2 occasions had issues with local masts connecting but then not allowing calls or data. very frustrating as you cannot force connection to a specific mast or blacklist a mast. Had to go to a part of the house where you don't pick up that mast! Provider fixed it after about 2 months.

    Interesting question; if they are providing a 'fixed' location service do they have a duty to fix / compensate if the service goes down?
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: borpinlocal masts connecting but then not allowing calls or data. very frustrating as you cannot force connection to a specific mast or blacklist a mast. Had to go to a part of the house where you don't pick up that mast!
    A gd warning, to one who's thinking of going full-4G for broadband, because of multiple landline failures each winter - which only gives 1.6Mbps at best.

    Would a directional receiving aerial allow selectivity as to which mast(s) to use or exclude? The plan would be a chimney-mounted aerial feeding a 'receiver'/router in the attic, maximally faraday-caged to minimise any phone-signal radiation in the house because we have strong EMF-sensitivity here. This would not have any mobile phone function. Distribution to computers wd be by network cable - no wifi here either, for same reason.

    The alternative is radio-broadband (Airband), the new 'solution' for Dartmoor, Openreach having been sacked for failing dismally to roll out 'Superfast' cable. Luckily the radio-broadband depends on lots of repeaters to reach remote locations and it hasn't got to us yet. Nor 5G for many years, hopefully.
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2020
     
    Posted By: fostertomWould a directional receiving aerial allow selectivity as to which mast(s) to use or exclude
    No idea. However, in rural areas often you only really have one mast available.

    You can use the OpenSignal App to locate local masts. probably other apps around too.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: fostertomWould a directional receiving aerial allow selectivity as to which mast(s) to use or exclude?

    Based on my limited knowledge, only in specific circumstances. That is, if you:

    1) use an antenna that is directional in the frequency bands that your telecoms provider is using
    2) aim it precisely at the tower
    3) don't have any obstructions between the antenna and the tower (which would scatter the signal and make it less directional & less polarised - potentially much less so)
    4) don't have any other towers within the directional cone of the aerial

    Otherwise, you probably just need a good external omni-directional antenna.

    To complicate it further, LTE-A signals are transmitted in multiple data streams (see https://www.4g.co.uk/4g-lte-advanced/). I guess that may have implications for your choice of kit.
  4.  
    Posted By: fostertomA gd warning, to one who's thinking of going full-4G for broadband, because of multiple landline failures each winter - which only gives 1.6Mbps at best.


    I dream of such speeds! We have less than 0.5Mps

    It’s becoming more of a problem with us both working from home at the moment. This thread is very useful as I’m feeling motivated to do something about it now. The cost of the landline rental and the “broadband” (such as it is) added together would go a long way towards the cost of a 4G service through an antenna. We don’t plug a phone in to the BT socket because we never use it (both have mobiles). Just the router is plugged in.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2020
     
    We have two landline phone nos in the house, but only one of them with broadband. And no mobiles, no Airband, no wifi. Alternative to the Faraday'd 4G described above, also considering getting broadband on the second line, to slightly improve winter reliability - though often (but not always) when one phone line goes down the other is prone to go too in the same timeframe.

    Another reason to get broadband on both lines, is the possibility of wiring them together, for better speed/bandwidth, as bandwidth-hungry things like Zoom incl music-grade audio become 'the answer'. I seem to remember that such wiring-together was regularly done pre-ADSL - anyone know?
  5.  
    Everyone is entitled to at least 10Mb/s for max £46/month because BT have agreed a 'universal service obligation’.

    https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/broadband-uso-need-to-know

    They seem keener to deliver it by 4g rather than by laying fibre, and there are cheaper deals available. There's a limit how much they are obliged to spend.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2020
     
    That's new - but lots of let-outs. Airband do now cover it here, unfortunately, as a good fixed line wd be much preferrable.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: fostertomI seem to remember that such wiring-together was regularly done pre-ADSL

    It was done with ISDN lines; they're being phased out in the next couple of years as too slow & antiquated.

    It's possible to do it with broadband using a dual-WAN / multi-WAN router. I know some Asus routers have that capability - see https://www.asus.com/uk/support/FAQ/1011719/
  6.  
    I have ordered a "HomeFi" from 3
    £22 a month for 24 months, unlimited data.
    This was a better deal than EE (£35 for 100Gig) and I believe they use the same masts, although our mobiles are on EE so perhaps should have stuck with them as a company.
    Should be here tomorrow. if it turns up, I will try it and report back. 14 day returns period if it doesn't.
    I suspect that if it works it will be instantly better than our current landline broadband, in which case we will keep it. Then I can look into an external aerial as well to boost the speeds.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2020
     
    Posted By: Mike1It's possible to do it with broadband using a dual-WAN / multi-WAN router. I know some Asus routers have that capability - seehttps://www.asus.com/uk/support/FAQ/1011719/" rel="nofollow" >https://www.asus.com/uk/support/FAQ/1011719/
    Thanks Mike. Looks like this can't add the two bandwidths together, just optimise the choice of which line to use based on the bandwidth currenly being called upon?
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2020
     
    Posted By: fostertomAnother reason to get broadband on both lines, is the possibility of wiring them together, for better speed/bandwidth, as bandwidth-hungry things like Zoom incl music-grade audio become 'the answer'. I seem to remember that such wiring-together was regularly done pre-ADSL - anyone know?
    It's also sometimes done with ADSL. A good word to help with web searches is “bonding”. E.g, the first DuckDuckGo result for “adsl bonding” is:

    https://www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/adsl-bonding
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2020
     
    Posted By: Dominic CooneyI have ordered a "HomeFi" from 3
    £22 a month for 24 months, unlimited data.
    Thanks, useful hint. A bit of digging shows that the modem provided can take an external antenna which is nice.
  7.  
    It said an external aerial was an option but wasn’t there to tick when I placed the order online.
    I thought I might as well try it first and then get one after.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: fostertomLooks like this can't add the two bandwidths together, just optimise the choice of which line to use based on the bandwidth currenly being called upon?

    AFAIK it won't send data packets from one file / stream down separate lines, but will send entire files / streams down separate lines in the proportions you specify (e.g. alternating between the two connections if you set 1:1) - so multi-tasking, rather than doubling the speed of a single file. I gather that you can also write rules to prioritise one line or the other for specific tasks, if you wish (& understand how to) - so all voice could be sent through the fastest connection & all downloads through another.

    I mention Asus partly because I use one (though I don't use multi-WAN), but also because AFAIK they are one of the few consumer level brands with routers that can handle it. No doubt more expensive corporate devices have greater capabilities, along with greater complexity.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 11th 2020
     
    Thanks Ed - v gd article.
   
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