Having been down a couple of blind alleys, I think I’ve now worked out what might best suit our needs and budget. Our needs are modest:
First to get a reliable connection to the only mast that serves this area, so that I can use that connection to run our landline phone over VOIP (we can’t get a mobile signal at ground level or inside the house). The only mast we can connect to (with an antenna mounted high up) has battery back up and a generator, so it stays up when we get a power cut (we get lots, had another one yesterday). We have backup power so can keep our end going when the grid goes down.
Second, if the speed we can get is close to the 18Mb/s we get from FTTC, then I would consider getting rid of the FTTC connection to save a bit of cash each month. The FTTC connection isn’t that reliable, as it goes down not long after we get a power cut, hence the reason I don’t want to run a VOIP phone over it. Not a lot of point in having an emergency phone connection that dies half an hour into a power cut.
We can’t get 5G, most probably won’t get it for years. Higher frequency signals just don’t penetrate down into our valley, so we’re pretty much stuck with 4G on B20 from one mast as the only viable option for now. In turn that means that the advantages of using a super duper bit of kit are probably marginal. My gut feeling is that anything better than a 4G cat 6 router with 2×2 MIMO is probably not going to give any real benefit.
My searches have turned up the Mikrotik LHG LTE6 kit as being an affordable option. The 17dBi gain antenna, and near-zero cable loss, together with the reduction in interference from the fairly narrow beam width, should help us get a usable signal. I’ve used the Solwise line of sight tool to see if an antenna at 6M high our end would see the mast (I found the mast antenna height from an old planning application):
Only downside with the LHG LTE6 I can see is having the SIM inside the unit. I think I can mitigate this by mounting it within reach of a top floor window, so that I can open the window to get at the SIM if I need to.
Only other aspect that gives me slight concern is the apparent complexity of RouterOS. Ideally I’d like something a bit simpler to set up, but at the same time I’d also like to lock the unit to the one mast we can get a usable signal from, so having lots of flexibility in setting the thing up could be useful.
I’ve searched the forum for mentions of the Mikrotik LHG and haven’t found anything that would rule it out as a solution. If anyone has any observations as to whether this sounds like a sensible solution for our specific requirements I’d love to hear them.