Case Study 2: Poor 4G / IPTV Performance, Algarve Portugal

The advances in 4G technology have been excellent in Portugal - even when comparing with Northern European countries we you might expect internet speed and availability to be more advanced. Unfortunately there are so many variables in achieving "good internet speeds" some customers are often mis-informed/mis-sold by a service provider offering mobile internet.

Since the loss UK TV channels being received in Southern Europe from the Astra 1N satellite, many many Algarve residents have been looking for a solution to get back the UK channels they have become used to watching in Portugal. The most common solution has been the installation of an IPTV system - receiving TV channels over the internet. Many people are already familiar with the term VOIP (VOICE OVER INTERNET PROTOCOL) - this sends telephone calls (voice data) over the internet. So a similar concept with one massive difference - the bandwidth (internet speed) required for VOIP is tiny (100Kbps); the bandwidth required for IPTV is not so tiny (10Mbps - 100 times more bandwidth than VOIP services).

Algarve Connect have heard from a number of customers trying to access IPTV services over a 4G internet connection who are experiencing intermittent or slow connections. One such example is a recent installation just outside Lagoa.


The customer was successfully connected to the 4G network so we ran some speedtests:

slow 4g algarve

Interestingly, the download speeds attained at this property (averaging 8Mbps) over Optimus/WOW mobile internet looked OK to receive IPTV services - although the customer did report this download speed could vary between 5Mbps and 12Mbps. The problem here looked to be the (comparatively) very slow upload speeds around 400-600Kbps. This bottleneck in upload bandwidth is likely the cause of the slow/intermittent IPTV service - also the variation in speed results indicates the 4G signal being received may be varying in strength/quality.

Here we installed a directional XPOL-A0002 from Poynting on the north side of the house having ascertained the correct signal direction to the nearest cell base station using OpenSignal. We chose this antenna as the line of sight was relatively free from obstruction and we needed a high gain antenna to amplify the signal and make the 4G connection more stable.

After the installation of the directional 4G antenna we experienced stable download speeds just over 20Mbps and download speeds between 5 -6 Mbps - that's a 10 fold increase in upload speeds.

improvement in 4g speed algarve

Out of curiosity we also ran some tests in situ using a MEO SIM in a router connected to the directional 4G antenna - here we achieved 20Mbps download AND 20Mbps upload speed. Either there is a difference in Optimus/MEO equipment in the cell base station or Optimus have some traffic shaping policies in place on the network - either way the increase for the customers' mobile internet bandwidth has resulted in a much more stable IPTV service - just in time for the World Cup!