H2O Wireless recently upgraded their network access to 4G LTE (finally, right)?  That only sweetens the deal on my $27 a month cell phone plan.  And, the speed difference is huge (see my test results below)!  This article outlines the upgrade process and my speed tests.  If you’re looking for the latest APN settings, you can find them here.

The Upgrade Process

The process is simple if you’re an existing subscriber.  However, you should know two things: First, you need a new SIM Card and, second, your remaining balance will be forfeited in the process.  H2O Wireless will give you a new SIM card for “free,” but charges $5 for shipping and handling.  That’s a ripoff, so I suggest buying one on Amazon for $0.01 with free shipping.  Mine came as a 2-in-1 “smart SIM” just like the ones H2O is pushing (even though the Amazon pic doesn’t show it).

SIM Card

What does a “smart SIM” do anyway?  It simply configures the APN settings for you (which is typically a one-time process).

After you get your new, unused SIM card, existing customers can start the process by going to this link.

  1. Login to your account
  2. Enter your mobile number and the last 4 digits of your existing SIM card (it’s on your SIM card if you don’t have the bigger card the SIM came with).  Click “Validate”.
  3. Enter your new SIM card number (20 digits) or ACTFast Code (9 or 10 digits).  Select your desired LTE plan (e.g., $30, $40, $50) and click Submit.
  4. A popup will appear showing that your remaining balance will be forfeited.  Click OK.  (I suggest waiting until your monthly plan is about to renew.)

forfeit balance

  1. It should now say “Congratulations. Your LTE was successfully updated.”  Then, it gives you 3 ways (PIN, credit card, and auto recharge) to recharge your account.
  2. Choose whichever one you prefer and follow any instructions from there.
  3. Your account should show your new LTE plan.

Configuring Your Android Phone for 4G LTE

After you upgrade your service via H20’s website, turn off your phone, remove the old SIM, and insert the new SIM.  It should recognize H2O as your carrier and still show 4G for data (not 4G LTE yet because it needs to be configured).

1_4g only

You can enter the new APN settings manually.  However, I very quickly received a text saying the operator will send automatic configuration (guessing this is the new Smart SIM at work).

2_text about config

Then, boom, configuration received.  Click to open, then click install.

3_config 1 4_config message 5_install config 6_install complete

I had two other configurations that were downloaded and I installed.  One for MMS and another for 4G LTE browsing.

7_config 2 MMS 8_install config MMS 9_install 2 complete

10_install config LTE WAP 11_install 3 complete

I then received another text saying all was complete.  And a quick look in the APN settings  shows the new active configuration called WAP LTE (in Android 4.3, go to Settings.  On the Connection tab, click on More Networks > Mobile networks > Access Point Names).

12_new text saying configured 13_APNs

Restart so the new settings take effect.  While I now had the 4G LTE icon, I couldn’t download (I think because my plan hadn’t reset yet.  The next morning I was fine.)

14_4G LTE icon 15_low balance 16_maps no data

4G LTE APN Settings (for manual input)

Access APN in Android (4.3), by going to Settings.  Then, on the Connection tab, click on More Networks > Mobile networks > Access Point Names.

Setting Entry
Name: Your choice
APN: Prodata
Proxy: proxy.mobile.att.net
Port: 80
Username: Not set
Password: Not set
Server: Not set
MMSC: http://mmsc.mobile.att.net
Multimedia message proxy: proxy.mobile.att.net
Multimedia message port: 80
MMC: 310
MNC: 410
Authentication Type: None (Note: this is different than “Not set”)
APN Type: default,supl,mms
Bearer: Unspecified
Mobile virtual network operator type: None (Note: this is different than “Not set”)

Remember to restart after you save.

Screenshots if that helps (note: the auto config made two APNs — one for MMS called “LTE APN” and the other, called “WAP LTE,” for everything else).



 4G vs 4G LTE Speed Tests

Alright, so was all this hassle worth it?  You bet.  I used Speedtest.net Ookla Speed Test App to conduct the tests.  I did 3 tests on 3 different servers (AT&T, Comcast, and Monkey Brains, in that order) for both 4G and 4G LTE (9 tests each, 18 total).  All servers said they were 1 mile away.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t do them close together in terms of time due to my data issue noted above (about 12 hours apart).

Side Note: On 4G, I had to remove the APN proxy for the speed test to work.  For 4G LTE, I didn’t have to change anything.

The results — major improvement across all 3 measurements (ping, download, and upload).

4G Results (Lowest Ping: 169ms; Fastest Download Speed: 7.06 Mbps; Fastest Upload Speed: 1.15 Mbps)

4G Results_1_2015-02-11-20-56-58 4G Results_2_2015-02-11-20-57-14

4G LTE Results (Lowest Ping: 44ms; Fastest Download Speed: 34.51 Mbps; Fastest Upload Speed: 16.40 Mbps)

4G LTE Results_1_Screenshot_2015-02-12-09-07-17 4G LTE Results_2_Screenshot_2015-02-12-09-07-30

Loving those upload speeds!  What a difference from 4G.

Two Notes:

  1. While my screenshots for 4G LTE show my phone’s wireless active, the results show the tests were run over data (as noted by the antennae icon).
  2. Do not do this test if you have the 500MB plan.  I used up all of my data in the 9 tests and had to recharge.  It does not “throttle” down to 4G once your 500MB is used.

Final Thoughts

For a little bit of time and effort, I’d recommend upgrading your H2O Wireless account to 4G LTE.  Do a little prep ahead to avoid a $5 SIM card and forfeiting your remaining monthly balance.  I’ve been happy with the new speeds.  And, I’ve noticed less network access issues than with 4G and consistent MMS (see the “cons” in my $27 cell phone plan post).

Readers, how has your LTE upgrade experience gone?  Share any speed results in the comments!