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4G internet connection speeds could suffer from signal strength issues or interference. Windows settings won't be an issue.

My Toshiba Satellite has Windows 7, SP 1. My ISP is Verizon Wireless that recently increased their speed from 3G to 4G, supposedly 10 times faster. When connected to the internet the modem light is green, 4G, but as soon as communication starts, it changes to purple, 3G. Is the problem the ISP and out of my control or the computer where I could so something to improve the speed? Verizon checked the modem and says it's working OK.

In this excerpt from Answercast #69, I look at the reasons why a Verizon modem may not be getting the expected 4G connection.

Slow connection speed

The short answer is actually, "Probably neither."

The answer is probably more along the lines of: you may be in an area with 4G coverage, but it may not be a strong enough signal to actually support 4G.

The way that cellular systems work is that they will give you 4G in an area that has 4G coverage - if your signal is strong enough. In other words, if you're close enough to the cell towers, if you've got three, four, or five bars, whatever, then you pretty much are guaranteed of getting 4G service.

If you're in a situation like that, where you're actually connecting, and you know you are connected with lots of bars, and you're near a cell tower - then it is the ISP's issue.

I would say that it is Verizon's issue, in this case, if you're not actually getting a full 4G connection.

But on the other hand, it's absolutely the expectation that if it cannot establish a 4G connection (because there's too much noise on the signal; there's too much interference from nearby radios or electrical devices or what not), then it definitely knows to fall back to 3G - which is apparently an easier connection to get because it's at that slower speed.

Signal strength or interference

It's very possible that it's a signal strength issue or that it's an interference issue.

There's little you can do about that, other than move to some place where you get a better signal. But if that's not the case, if you're in an area where you know that other devices are getting good and strong 4G connections, I would absolutely talk to Verizon again.

I do not know of any setting on your computer that should affect this. This is all about your account with your ISP and the signal and the connection between that modem and the ISP. To Windows, all it's seeing is data coming from that modem so there's not really much that Windows itself can do.

End of Answercast #69 Back to - Audio Segment

Article C6025 - November 12, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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Vanya M.
November 13, 2012 5:10 PM

It can be also bizzare problem like in my area - T-com, my ISP, first started providing 4g in my country, we pay for it, signal on cell-phone is full but speed is 3g....
After nerve-racking 'investigations' by users, it turned out that ISP did let 4g speed run for first 2weeks and then sipmly slowed it way down - so we are back to 3g speed with 4g letter and 4g price... Do you know if other people in your area have simmilar problem, maybe? I doubt it is gonna be the cAse, but i can't not share it:(

November 18, 2012 5:27 PM

My experience w/ cell modems goes back to an at&t gsm pcmcia card. I have also had Qwest reselling Sprint service, ran on the beginning version of 3g. Since we switched to Verizon, I used a 3g modem for about 5 years and since that one died, and I have been using a 4G modem. Since deployment of 4G service was not immediately available it worked just fine. Once 4G deployment began, I began to have similar trouble connecting. I now force my 4G modem to use 3g because even though 4G is available in some of the service area, it's not available every where. I am willing to have a 3g connection all of the time rather than fight with flaky 4G signal. Check with your provider about how to force use of only 1 type of signal for your device.

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