Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bell NetGear MBR1210 Turbo Hub - There's no Turbo here.

Well, the external antenae is up on the roof and it's pointed directly at the cell tower which is about 4 kilometers away. The hub signal strength light is green but the performance sucks!!! I've run many speed tests over the past week and it's clear that the actuall speed you get at any given second is basically random. The fastest I've seen is about 2.5 Mbps, but that is extremely rare. Even when you do get a burst of fast speed it typically only lasts a few seconds and then it just stops. There will be delays and stops and starts as it sputters along. Most of the time the speeds are in the range of 0.1 to 1.0 Mbps. This combined with the sputtering starting and stopping mean that our connection is absolutely useless for any kind of streaming audio or video. We can forget about using Skype or watchin YouTube videos. It's just an exercise in frustration.

The fact that we can get reasonably good speed on occasion tells me that signal strength is likely not the problem. I would guess that this kind of performance would be caused by some type of traffic management or signal multiplexing problems. I know basically nothing about 3G technology so I can't really make much of a guess about this. Perhaps someone that knows more about this can comment on likely causes of this type of traffic problem.

So complaints to Bell have resulted in a "escalation" to their "network team" which may just be their way of putting us on indefinite hold. Speaking to one of the phone support agents I learned that there are quite a few people in our area (even closer to the tower than I am) complaining about performance problems. I will continue to nag them to provide the performance that they advertise and that we are all paying for. If anyone has suggestions on how to get Bell to respond to these problems please let me know.

I will continue to report on this issue as it develops. Cheers.


GeneSpence said...

At what location are you trying to use your 'turbo'? I am considering one for my cottage on Nine Mile Lake, just south of Lake Muskoka, near Bala.

Paul Breslin said...

Hi Gene, I'm near Penetanguishene. I'd suggest asking around the area to find people that are using either Bell or Rogers (can be stick or hub) and get some opinions on performance. If possible ask them to run some speed tests ( or are good). You can also check the cell tower map to find out where your closest tower is. My guess is that results depend a lot on how much cell phone activity there is in the area. The techies say that signal strength is the key and this is tied to distance / line of sight to the tower. But even with a good signal results can be very unreliable. Bell does have a free trial period but be careful, it's very restrictive.

Whip Cote said...

Hi Paul and Gene,
Well, I live in Tiny as well, and have had a turbo hub for the last couple of years. Good luck with Bell. They are crooks.
As for something else you can do, email these guys:
I just did and have an exec looking into my issues. Fat chance anything is going to come of it, but.... worth a try.
As for my issues with it.... when I first got it, it worked, but only would get bursts at the most 1 mbps the same as you. But then it got slower, and slower. So I called and called... got tickets, escalations... blah blah.... until they finally told me the problem was I was too far from the tower, and I would have to wait until a tower was put in at Waverly in August of 2011.
So, I waited, and waited.... and they said be patient etc. all the while having service slower and slower. Finally the service all but stopped just after Christmas in 2011, that's when I was told when I called that the tower went in.
Flash to the last month... service is crappy LARGE. I have had weeks of no service at all. I have yet another ticket; found out my previous ticket was closed for a number of reasons... which all contradict themselves. I have been told: 1. the tower went in, 2. the tower was never going to be built, it was already there, it was just the capacity was going to be increased, 3. the ticket was closed because the person doing the ticket didn't put the right information on it so nothing was done.
I even had a guy tell me I live too far from the tower but i'm within 2 kms?!@#$#@
I could go on and on about how bad these guys are. I even had a guy tell me that they (the Tac team whatever that is) were going to call me but my number wasn't on the ticket. (how hard is it to look up a telephone number at Bell?) The reason they were going to call me? They didn't know where I live.
I'm hoping the exec dealing with it now will be able to rectify it, but I'm not holding my breath.
One thing though... I have told them that if they don't fix it... everything Bell is coming out of my house and I will be their worst nightmare with a computer and a pen.

Paul Breslin said...

Hey Whip, sorry to hear your connection is that bad. Sounds like the way mine was a few months ago. I also got some of the same BS from them about no phone number. They once told me they didn't have my address. Ya, right. I wouldn't trust them about this exec thing either. I've had similar crap when trying to deal with their satellite tv people.

I'm surprised you're having such bad reception given the tower only 2kn away. I'm about 4km from the tower here. What colour is the bottom light on your hub? Have you tried an external antennae (an expensive upgrade)? If not I assume you've tried moving the hub to different locations.

Whip Cote said...

Hi Paul. The light is pretty well always yellow (or dark when there is no service). The odd time it is green, but very rarely... and when it is, my service is SLOW?
I haven't tried the antennae because I don't think it would help... the problem is on their end. Lately, when I get no service.... which is quite often now, if I reset the unit, I again get service. If it was a problem with the signal (which it is to some extent because it is yellow) I don't think I would return to getting some signal.
Yes I have moved the unit all over the house. Actually I have to move from side to side of the house because when the Waverly tower drops out, sometimes I can get the Midland tower.
I am now waiting for a call from the exec. Will be interesting to see what happens.

Whip Cote said...

Well, the Bell exec. just got back to me. Said he spoke to the network department and where I live is a 'tourist zone', and the tower 'has a lot of people on it.' He added it has a 'network issue that needs to be fixed' but he couldn't give me a time frame when if ever it would be fixed.
His resolution: to remove me from my contracts without penalty? And that was it. No comment about stringing me on in conditions that are totally intolerable for 2 years... nothing. Then just gave me his number again and said I could call anytime to cancel and ended the call.
Well, like I said before, everything Bell is coming out, so I'm fishing for other providers including cell phone service.
I contacted point to point because they are apparently the phase 3 of Tiny township internet, but the guy I spoke to didn't think it would work because it is based on line of sight, and I'm a distance from their towers.
Sheesh! Can't win.
I called Rogers and got details about their hub, but I'm wondering if that would be jumping from the pan into the fire.
Xplornet... dunno
Can you tell I'm a tad frustrated/pissed/ etc/ etc

William Wade said...

Guys... you are not alone in your Bell Turbo Hub experience.

I, too, am pulling what little hair I have left out.

Since we put the Hub in 18 months or so ago, we get the connection dropped a couple of times a day, but usually, when we reboot the modem, it reconnects.

Tuesday last the connection died for about 2 hours. Coincidentally, that was about how long I was on the line with Bell Support. Got hung up on, transferred to wrong departments, was promised a call back (that's happened a few times and I have never - NEVER - had them call back) etc.

Anyway, since then, the Hub is dropping the connection 3-15 times per hour. Rebooting the modem does nothing.

Bell's response... same as yours. I am in a peripheral area and they can't do anything.

When I ask what has happened to the tower or in the system since last Tuesday morning, nothing is what they say. Yet I cannot stay connected no matter what I do.

I have no alternative but to GO BACK to Xplornet satellite. I have no other options here but dial up.

I dropped Xplornet after about 4 years as the Turbo Hub was faster, and cheaper, though, with the Xplornet Satellite, the connect rarely dropped. It was slower, and more expensive.

Man, I'm hurting.

Oh, and my job... I work on line building websites.

Good luck to you all. Stick your head out the door and point an ear to eastern Ontario. I'll bet you can hear me screaming.


Patrick Sauve said...

I have the same problem but im 14 years old and ive actually found more than one networks to switch to.

The problem with is that ill be on the internet and then all of the sudden it will just stop working... i like to play ps3 and go online and lately its terrible i cant even login. The biggest thing that gets on my nerves is that Bell says that we have 21Mbps and i think to myself wow thats freakin fast... then i look at wat i actually get and its complete horse sh*t.

My friend has xplornet and we compared. I went to go do an update that was 60mbs and he was doing the same update as me with everything the same exept our internet and it took him 3 minutes and he finished. Would u like to know how long it would hav taken me? 180 minutes. Im pretty sure if u do the math it would have taken me 3 seconds but no it says 180 minutes!

So i did a little bit of research and i found 3 decent ones:
Xplornet - with their new 4G satalite
Dishnet - which has really good packages
Fibe - also very good if ur in their area


Thx pce out

Paul Breslin said...

Patrick, sorry to hear of your problems. From what I've heard satellite services can be pretty bad (and expensive). Usually they offer reasonable download speed but really bad upload. Other radio based systems in rural areas are very range limited (need to be close to their antennae). Fibe will only be available in major cities. If you're in a big city you should not be using a turbo hub. Go for cable (same price, much better performance).

You can measure your actual speeds using one of the speed test sites like: or

If you're stuck with the turbo hub make sure it's positioned somewhere high up in your home and try different positions to get the strongest signal (green or blue light on the bottom led).

The lousy ping times from Bell will not be good for game playing. Good luck.

Vladhed said...

I'm near Perth Ontario and have just started having frequent connection drops. There have always been drops - usually once or twice a month I've had to log in to the Netgear router and reboot it.

But for the last week it has been happening several times a day. It will say "Connected" but there is no data coming from the network. Often I'll reboot and it will just hang on "Connecting..." Sometimes it will connect and work for 5 minutes.

I've just raised a ticket - they are suggesting changing the SIM card (? - whatever it's free).

Always had the same signal strength (~ -90dBm blue light). To me this isn't an RF or an HSPDA+ issue but a RAS issue. Given Mobilities hand off to the internet is in Montreal for me I suspect the problem is between the tower and Montreal.

Ret T said...

Interesting read on these bell hubs. Do any of you folks use the netgear device MVBR1210C from bell for its telephone? How does the phone service work or does it?

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Keith said...

Dumb question but when you hooked up your external antenna did you go into the settings and turn off the internal antenna? I have a MBR 1210 and it didn't work too well until I got an external antenna and now it's great.

To turn off the internal antenna go into the Setup section and then the Mobile Broadband settings then uncheck "use internal antenna"

Al said...

I have the older Ericsson W35 turbo hub and found that I needed to kill all firewalls in both windows and network security programs to eliminate conflicts with the firewall built into the turbo hub software. After that I was able to frequently achieve download speeds approaching 6 Mb/s and upload speeds close to 2 Mb/s. I have had no disconnection problems for more than two years. I do have an external antenna and the tower is about 2 km away.

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