3G/4G antennas – Types, directional, MIMO, cables & connectors

MIMO SMA connectionsChoosing the right antenna is not as simple as picking a random high gain 4G antenna and expecting it to work!  There are several types of antennas and connectors.  Even the cable type and length can make a difference.

Before considering an antenna, check out the article on choosing the right 3G/4G router.  A proper mains-operated 4G router can do away with most indoor antennas. 

Like TV antennas, there are a wide range of 3G and 4G antennas.  These range from small portable antennas to large outdoor antennas.  Portable antennas generally provide a significant signal boost for small data modems and portable hotspots.  However, they may not provide any benefit over the internal higher gain antennas in larger mains-operated desktop routers.

Larger outdoor antennas can provide a vast signal improvement, particularly if mounted high up.  They are available in a choice of single and MIMO, omni-directional and directional, wideband and band specific.  Antenna suppliers may also offer a choice of cable connectors.

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Update 16th April 2018: I added the Antenna gain and radiation pattern section.  If a directional antenna does not have a radiation pattern graph, consider avoiding it!

Cell towers enforce a maximum range!

Before purchasing any antenna, first check that 3G/4G reception is possible with a router.  For example, try operating the router outdoors or outside an upstairs window facing the cell tower.  If a router fails to connect in 3G or 4G mode, an antenna will very unlikely help.

Cell towers determine the distance based on the signal round trip time between it and the user’s equipment.  Devices with round trip times over the configured threshold will be considered out of range, preventing a connection.  This cannot be overcome even with clear line of sight and a powerful antenna.  See this troubleshooting article for further information.

To make matters worse, there may be different range limits for phones and data devices.  This is the case with the Three network in Ireland.  A phone that picks up 4G does not necessarily mean that a router will also be able to operate on 4G.  In 4G+ areas where cell towers operate simultaneously on bands 3 and 20, the cell tower may enforce different range limits for each band.  See the band coverage section below.

Active signal boosters / mobile repeaters

Do not confuse antennas with signal boosters or repeaters!  A signal booster, also known as a mobile repeater, amplifies the signal in each direction.  These are typically placed inline in-between an indoor and outdoor antenna.

Most low cost non EU mobile boosters blindly amplify everything, including background noise and other sources of interference.  Improper isolation of the indoor and outdoor antennas can result in signal oscillations, like a PA speaker whistling near its microphone.  These unwanted transmissions can severely affect the mobile networks in the area, not just one network.

According to ComReg, mobile repeaters are the main source of interference in Ireland.  Such devices are currently prohibited for consumer use, unless provided by mobile operator.  It is also illegal to posses them without a licence and they can be seized by customs.

Antennas, cables and connectors on the other hand are purely passive components.  These carry the signal received over the airwaves or transmitted by the data device’s radio hardware.   A purely passive antenna setup connects directly to the antenna ports of the data device.

ComReg is currently working on legalising mobile repeaters.  Once compliant devices are legally available for consumer purchase, these will be useful in improving indoor mobile coverage.  However, even with a high quality mobile repeater, it will only improve the reception on one polarity.  While this is great for calls, texts and data on mobile phones that lack antenna ports, 4G MIMO reception requires two repeaters running in opposite antenna polarities.  4G will work with a single repeater, but with its bandwidth cut in half.

Portable antennas

Portable 4G antennaA quick search of “4G antenna” on eBay or Amazon will return countless sellers offering antennas like the image on the right.  This type of antenna can be useful when travelling with a data dongle or hotspot.  For example, the antenna can attach to a campervan window with its suction cup.  Check that the antenna has the correct connector to fit the data dongle or hotspot.  TS9 and CRC9 require different connectors despite looking similar.

This type of antenna will unlikely offer any improvement for desktop routers.  These routers have much more sensitive antennas than the tiny antennas in dongles and hotspots.  The exception would be to locate antenna in an area that the router cannot easily go.

The “rabbit ear” antennas that attach directly to the ports can also be hit & miss.  With routers that have internal antennas, external antennas can avoid interference from circuitry within the router.  The benefit is usually minimal, sometimes no better than repositioning the router, turning it or raising its height.

Single vs MIMO antennas

4G MIMO antenna (Xpol)All antennas with two cable connections are MIMO antennas.  With 4G MIMO, one antenna is polarised at a 90-degree angle to the other.  This effectively doubles the bandwidth by transmitting on opposite polarities simultaneously within the same band.  With 3G, the second antenna handles receive diversity.  The second antenna picks up signals that bounce from directions the main antenna misses and vice versa.

While 3G can operate with a single antenna, a second antenna can provide up to double the performance.  If the data device lacks a second antenna connection, consider replacing it.  Most 4G devices support diversity on 3G, with advantage of 4G support when it becomes available.  See my router advice article for further information.

MIMO Log pairWideband LOG antennas are typically available in a pair (right image), one coaxial cable per antenna.  As the Irish networks operate on vertical and horizontal polarity, mount one antenna vertically and the second horizontally.  The antennas can be up to several metres apart, however, both antennas must face the same cell tower.

Dual polarity LOG antennaFrom my own rural area testing, I find LOG antennas perform at their best a few metres apart.  LOG antennas are also available that handle both polarities in one unit, as shown on the right.  I suggest going for two separate LOG antennas over this type of antenna for fringe reception areas.  Based on my testing, a dual polarity LOG antenna tends to perform no better than using just one LOG antenna.

Omni-Directional vs Directional

Portable antennas and larger indoor antennas are generally omni-directional.  When the cellular signal penetrates the building, it will often bounce off various surfaces before reaching the antenna.  While directional antennas have higher gain, it may not be possible to achieve a stronger signal than omni-directional antennas.  An omni-directional antenna picks up the main signal as well as signals that bounce off objects from other directions.

Directional antennas generally perform better with clear line of sight of the cell tower.  Unlike indoor reception, the signals coming from other directions are likely unwanted signals from other cell towers.  A directional antenna will attenuate these unwanted signals that otherwise introduce interference.   The higher gain facing the cell tower will also provide a stronger uplink signal at the cell tower receiving end.

The best place to install an omni-directional antenna outdoors is against a wall or gable.  This will help attenuate unwanted signals coming from behind the antenna.  See the ComReg SiteViewer to see the locations of the mobile operator masts, which will give an idea which side to install the antenna and the direction to aim it.

Antenna gain and radiation pattern

With antenna manufacturers trying to outdo each other on marketing, a lot of antennas have false gain ratings.  If a wideband antenna gain rating is over 15dB, it very likely is a false rating.   For example, the Wittenberg LAT-56 is one of the most sensitive wideband LTE antennas I’m aware of.  Despite its 98cm length, its maximum gain rating is just 11.5dBi.

All omni-directional MIMO antennas have a maximum gain of 2.4dBi.  These antennas basically contain a pair of dipoles, cross polarised.  Even the popular “35dBi” portable antennas are typically 2dBi max.

When comparing directional antennas, look for the radiation pattern graph.  If the antenna does not have a radiation pattern graph, I recommend avoiding that antenna. Note that omni-directional antennas generally do not provide a radiation pattern graph.  The horizontal plane would be a circle and the vertical plane would be a figure 8 shape.

The following is an example from the Wittenberg LAT-56:

Wittenberg Lat-56 Gain Graph

This graph shows the radiation patterns for three LTE bands – 2.6GHz (band 7), 1800MHz (band 3) and 800MHz (band 20).  The ‘E’ plane (from the German data sheet) is for the vertical plane.

The top section of the graph shows the acceptance angle.  Going by these graphs, the aim can be 30 degrees off to the left/right or up/down before losing about 3dB of signal.

The pattern around the rest of the graph shows the signal rejection.  For example, if there is another mast anywhere between 60 degrees and 300 degrees to where the antenna points, this antenna will weaken the unwanted signal by over 18dB.

Panel and smaller LOG antennas typically have a larger acceptance angle and less rejection.  Their smaller size make them easier to install, particularly in areas where the user has clear line of sight of the mast.

Band-specific antennas are much more sensitive for the equivalent wideband antenna size.  For example, the Wittenberg LAT 22 offers 3dB higher gain than the above antenna for the 800MHz (band 20), has a narrower acceptance angle (more directional) and is 20cm shorter.

3G and 4G band coverage

Portable and omni-directional 4G antennas are generally wideband and cover the main 3G and 4G bands in Ireland.  Directional antennas like group band TV antennas are available in both wideband and band specific.  Band specific antennas provide higher gain and directivity than wideband for the same antenna size.

Single band coverage

All mobile operators in Ireland currently operate on 900MHz and 2100MHz for 3G and 800MHz and 1800MHz for 4G.   The 800MHz 4G and 900MHz 3G bands have extensive coverage in rural areas due to the long signal propagation. The 2100MHz 3G and 1800MHz 4G bands mainly serve urban areas and larger towns due to the higher bandwidth.

LTE panel antennaFor users over a kilometre from the nearest town, an 800-900MHz antenna will generally be adequate.  An 800MHz panel antenna (right image) provides high gain, good directivity and is no larger than a typical grid TV antenna.  It can easily mount on a typical TV antenna wall bracket.

Within the town limits and urban areas, I strongly recommend checking what bands are available.  Many Samsung, iPhone, Android 7+ phones and rooted Android phones can display the bands in use.   On Samsung phones, dial *#0011#.  For iPhone, dial *3001#12345#*.  With other phones, install the CellMapper app.  It can read frequency information on many Android 7+ and rooted phones and look up the LTE band on others.  For phones that cannot read band information, go into the CellMapper’s Settings menu and turn on “Estimate Frequency Bands”.  It will look-up the LTE band # from its server, which requires an Internet/data connection.  If the phone shows ‘4G+’ on the network, then both 4G bands are in use.

LTE Advanced / 4G+ carrier aggregation

4G+ cell towers in Ireland operate on 800MHz and 1800MHz simultaneously to provide higher bandwidth.  LTE cat 6 and higher devices connect to two bands simultaneously in 4G+ mode, also known as carrier aggregation.

For regular 4G devices (LTE cat 4 and lower), the cell tower may determine the band the device can use depending on the physical distance from the router.  Some cell towers restrict devices within a certain range to the higher band only, while devices far away can operate on 800MHz only.  As a result, I recommend choosing a wideband antenna if 4G+ is available in the area.

Antenna types

The most common band specific patch, panel and Yagi antennas are as follows:

  • 800MHz – 4G bands 8 & 20 and 3G band 900MHz.
  • 1800MHz – 4G band 3, some also extend to cover 3G band 2100MHz
  • 2600MHz – 4G bands 7 & 38, not yet in use in Ireland
  • 1710-2700MHz – Upper 4G bands, including 4G band 3, 7 & 38.  These may cover 3G band 2100MHz.

LOG antennas are wideband only and generally cover all the 3G and 4G bands between 700MHz and 2700MHz.

4G Ready TV antennaBeware – So called “4G Ready” and “LTE Ready” antennas do not work with 4G!  These are UHF TV antennas with circuitry added to filter out the 800MHz 4G band, formerly used by UHF channels 61-69.

Cable connectors

MIMO SMA connectionsMost desktop routers include either SMA or FME connectors.  Huawei routers generally have two SMA connectors behind a removable panel on the back of the router.  Portable 4G hotspots and data dongles typically have two small CRC9 or TS9 antenna connectors.  The cable connectors must match to connect.

Adapters are available to connect from SMA to CRC9 or TS9 or from FME to CRC9 or TS9.  Most of these adapters typically include two screw-on ends to fit either CRC9 or TS9.

Cable and connector impedance matching

People often ask me if they can reuse their satellite coaxial leads, such as from an old Sky dish.  Unfortunately, satellite and TV cables are unsuitable for cellular antennas due to an impedance mismatch.  TV antennas and satellite dishes use 75 Ohm cable.  3G and 4G antennas and data devices require 50 Ohm cable.

The two types of cable and connectors may look very similar.  However, both have different characteristics such as inner/outer radii and the dielectric insulation in-between.  While 75 Ohm cable can carry the signals, a small portion of the signal reflects when it meets the 50 Ohm impedance mismatch at each end of the cable.

Besides signal loss, the reflected signals are particularly troublesome with 2-way transmissions such as a video call.  Each time the radio hardware transmits a signal, the reflections may obliterate the incoming transmissions.  This can severely affect the performance or cause frequent drop-outs.

See this article for in-depth detail covering the differences between 50 Ohm and 75 Ohm cable and connectors.

Coaxial cables

Coaxial cablesMost antennas are typically available as complete kits, which include one or two antennas, 5 to 10 metres of RG-58 coaxial cable and the connectors.  Some kits also include a wall mount bracket.

Try to keep the cable run as short as possible, preferably within 10 metres.  With short cable runs, the signal to noise ratio remains mostly consistent all the way to the radio hardware.  With long cable runs, some otherwise discernible signals will fall below the noise floor of the radio hardware.  Similarly, unwanted signals that penetrate the cable shielding will interfere with the weakened signal towards the device end.

50 Ohm cable also requires a suitable 50 Ohm SMA, FME or ‘N’ connector at each end.  Complete antenna kits typically include the proper matching connectors prefitted.  While twist-on ‘F’ connectors and adapters may be tempting for a DIY cable build, they are 75 Ohm rated.  As with using unsuitable cable, 75 Ohm connectors will introduce signal loss and reflections.

DIY with UHF TV antennas and satellite dishes

Older UHF antennas that handle UHF channels 61-69 can be modified to pick up LTE band 20 (800MHz).  This typically involves replacing the 75 Ohm balun/cable connector and dipole assembly with a small cellular dipole antenna.

See the following video on YouTube where someone modified a TV antenna to function as a high gain LTE antenna.

4G dish antennaSatellite dishes are a popular way of receiving the higher LTE bands 7, 38 (both 2600MHz) and 3 (1800MHz).  This typically involves replacing the LNB with a small LTE antenna or a USB data dongle with water proofing.

The image on the right shows a purpose built MIMO antenna installed in the “LNB” holder.  This type of setup generally does not work with the lower 800/900MHz bands.  Unfortunately, with Irish operators enforcing strict distance limits from newer and upgraded cell towers, the satellite dish method will unlikely work more than a few kilometres of the cell tower either.

65 thoughts on “3G/4G antennas – Types, directional, MIMO, cables & connectors”

  1. Hi,
    if you buy a mimo antenna (I’m looking at one with TS9 connectors) could you extend the wires to increase the distance between the antenna and the device (modem) or would that affect the signal?
    The cable is currently only 1m long

    1. It depends on the antenna. If it’s a portable antenna and the TS9 connectors are crimped directly to the cables, then these cannot be easily extended and I don’t recommend extending these either. The thin cables these typically come with have a high signal loss and probably would not provide much useful signal beyond a metre.

      If it’s a larger antenna intended for permanent mounting, these MIMO antennas generally come with two leads with a similar thickness to satellite coaxial cable. If the cables detach from the antenna with a large N connector, you can replace the two cables with two longer cables with an N connection on one end, an SMA connection on the other and use two SMA to TS9 connectors to attach to your modem.

      If the cables do not detach from the antenna, check if the TS9 connectors unscrew from the cables. If they do, try unscrewing one to see what connectors these TS9 adapters attach to. If the connectors look like the cables at the top of this article, they are SMA connectors, otherwise they are likely FME connectors (with the thread on the outside). In this case, you can purchase two SMA or FME extension cables to extend the two cables, then reattach the TS9 connectors to the end. For SMA extension cables, just make sure they have SMA connectors and not RP-SMA connectors.

    2. Hi Sean,

      Your advice would be greatly appreciated..

      I’m living in the West of Ireland very rural location and I’m currently with Westnet for my broadband which is 4 mbps..

      So I looked up and the is a three cell tower 4km away from me which has 4g on band 8.

      Today I got a 3 test sim card and outside facing the direction of the tower I got 10mbps plus..with 2 bars sometimes 3 bars of 4g reception showing in my phone

      So on the three network I can get the Huawei 525 4g router for €30 per month..

      My question is what would be the best outside antenna to get..

      Thank you..
      Great information on this site..

      1. With that reception strength on your phone, you will probably get away without any outdoor antenna as the Huawei router is much more sensitive than most phones. Three provides two rabbit ear antennas with their Huawei B525, so it’s worth giving this a try first – Aim one vertically and the second one horizontally, then try the router in various spots/angles for the best signal reading. In the router’s web interface (192.168.8.1), go into Settings -> System -> Device Information to view the dB readings. If the RSRP value is -95dBm or less negative and the RSRQ is -8dB or less negative, you’ll probably not get much benefit with an outdoor antenna.

        Before signing up to that plan, make sure you run some speed tests during peak time with your test SIM, particularly between 8pm and 10pm. In some areas, the peak time speed can dip below 1Mbps, in which case you would probably be better off staying with Westnet.

        I’m not sure if Three is using LTE band 8, which is the 900MHz band. The Irish mobile providers mainly use the 900MHz band for 2G and 3G and the 800MHz band for 4G in rural areas. For the 800MHz band (LTE band 20), I would suggest this band-specific antenna on Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B004SLS2QG/ If you are sure Three is using LTE band 8 in your area (which I’m not aware of them using) or would like the antenna to cover both 800MHz and 900MHz, I would suggest going for this one on eBay, which is what I currently use. However, as your 4G signal is much stronger than what I pick up (1 bar at best on a phone outside), I strongly recommend checking how well the router performs first.

  2. Hi
    I’m looking for your expert opinion on the best 4g antenna to purchase for my current setup.I live on the outskirts of Dundalk, Co Louth. I’m currently using a TP-link Archer MR200 4g Router. I have a sim inserted from the Three network. The router is connected to a 4g antenna, the same as you show under the heading of “portable antennas” on your website. The antenna is on the outside of my house. This setup is operating for the last 2 years. The router is quite stable on the 4g network.
    I believe I am between 2k & 3k from the mast I’m connecting to. My current latency and speeds are not too bad for my current household requirement. However, I would like to upgrade my antenna to a yagi type, I’m hoping I would increase my speed. I currently get from 10mb to 20mb.

    I would be very grateful for your feedback

    Thanks
    Aidan

    1. Based on your distance, I suggest going for a pair of LOG antennas, like the second image under the above section “Single vs MIMO antennas”. These cover both LTE bands in use in Ireland, i.e. 3 (1800MHz) and 20 (800MHz). This is an example on eBay. These provide a substantial improvement over the smaller portable type.

      Unfortunately with the high contention the Three network faces in some areas, it may not improve your peak time speeds much. However, it should improve what you get early in the day up until around 5pm, particularly if let’s say you use the connection for teleworking.

      While there are higher gain Yagi antennas available, I generally only recommend them for very fringe reception. High gain Yagi antennas can reach over a metre long, which can be problematic during stormy conditions or where seagulls or other larger birds may use it as a perch. Most of the shorter Yagis are band specific, in which case you would need to know whether you’re using an 800MHz or 1800MHz Three mast.

  3. Hi
    I appreciate your valuable feedback. I looked at the antenna on eBay, I’ll purchase it. One question, I noticed this antenna can be setup in 3 different ways. (judging by the pictures)

    Which way do I setup this antenna, pic 1, pic 2 or pic 3 for the three network? I’ll let you know how the antenna works out for me? I need a bit more bandwidth for IPTV!!

    Thanks
    Aidan

    1. These need to be set up with one vertical and one horizontal for 4G (LTE), i.e. image #1 on that eBay listing. You can also mount the pole vertically like image #2, but with one antenna in the vertical position. The distance between the antennas does not matter much, i.e. you can purchase two separate LTE LOG antennas and mount one on one pole and the other on another pole, as long as both aim the same direction. For 3G (HSPA+), they can aim with the same polarity, e.g. both in a vertical position as 3G uses the second antenna for receive diversity instead of MIMO.

      For IPTV, check what speed you get on TestMy.net, i.e. Go to http://uk.testmy.net/ and try a download test with a large block size such as 25MB or 50MB. This measures the sustained speed over a single TCP connection as how IPTV streams. 2-3Mbps is generally sufficient for standard definition. 5-6Mbps may be sufficient for HD depending on the compression. On the Three network, it is generally lower than what Speedtest.net reports, but gives an idea of what speed your connection can sustain with UK peering taken into account.

      1. Hi Sean
        I eventually got around to ordering the antenna you suggested (eBay item: 272861855866)

        Only to receive an email from the company to say they are out of stock. Could you recommend a similar antenna? Amazon or eBay.

        Thanks for your time
        Aidan

        1. I suggest asking the Polish seller when they’ll get it back as it’s the lowest price kit I’m aware of for the complete kit, i.e. two LTE log antennas with the cabling and wall mounting.

          The following is an Irish website with two LOG antennas and 10 metres cable with SMA connectors. The antenna size (and in turn the gain) is a little lower than the Polish antennas. You will need a wall bracket, such as a TV antenna bracket to mount the antennas on to.
          http://www.dipol.ie/cellular-systems/gsm-3g-lte-antennas/lte/atk-log-alp-lte-mimo-2×2-antenna-800-3000mhz-10m-cables-sma-plug.html

          The following on Amazon Germany is a complete 2xLOG antenna kit with 10 metres of cable and wall bracket. These antennas appear to be higher gain based on their longer shape. The shipping price is €9 to Ireland. You can checkout with your usual Amazon UK login.
          https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00EE8RRFK/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_sfr3zb7GCD1KH?language=en_GB

          1. Hi
            Quick update.
            Fantastic result. I installed the antenna yesterday, and my broadband speed has doubled. Early morning time I use to get 20mb now I get 45mb. In the evening I use to get ten now, I get 20mb. That will do me, for now! All for 20 euro per month on the three network.
            Thanks for your help and assistance.

            Thanks
            Aidan

          2. The one on Amazon Germany look to be double the length, so likely provide around 3dB extra strength. The 20dBi figure is not true as a Yagi antenna would need to be 8 metres in length and LOG antennas generally have lower gain for the same antenna length.

            The higher the gain, the more directional the antenna. This means that wherever you plan mounting the antenna, make sure you can get to it easily as it will require more careful fine-tuning to get the most out of its gain. It will also require sturdy mounting such as a wall mount bracket capable of holding an 80cm satellite dish, as the larger size will catch more wind.

        2. Hi guys, in reading all this I found I ordered this same item from ebay to get an email to say they’ve sold out. They’re due back in stock 27/10 & they will ship then.

          I’ve since found out that the pole/bracket shown in their pic isn’t included but they’re going to include it as compensation for the delay (so they say).

          I’ve also ordered a used B593s-22 & hoping I’ll be set to go after that. My current speed is 3.5mbps dsl so I’ll be happy with any improvement.

          Thanks for all the useful advice.

  4. Hi,
    I live in a hilly rural area in Co Mayo.At the moment I get my internet through an expensive satellite system. I can’t get 4G in my house but my neighbours, who have a clearer line of sight and who live 400 meters away can. It’s also available on a hillside 150 meters from my house.
    Can you advise, please.
    Patrick

    1. If you are into DIY or know someone who can help, one option would be to build a small solar-powered mast for the hillside. This would basically consist of a desktop 4G router (e.g. Huawei B395s-22), a 12v battery (e.g. 12V 17Ah SLA), solar panel (30W watt panel should be sufficient) and a 12V solar charging controller. The Huawei B395s-22 uses around 250mA, however, for other routers, it may require a larger solar panel. Most desktop routers have a 12V input with a 5.5mm (2.1mm inner) DC jack. The router will need to be in a weather-proof enclosure. At your house, you would need a Wi-Fi access point capable of running in client mode and an outdoor wireless antenna to aim at the hillside mast. I don’t recommend trying to run Ethernet cable outdoors beyond the house, even if you get 4G within the 100 metre limit, there is a high risk of power surges from nearby lightning strikes.

      If your neighbour is happy enough to install antennas on their house, for this method I would suggest getting a pair of Ubiquiti LiteBeam’s and set them up aimed at each other between your house and the neighbour’s. When these are configured, they will effectively act like a long Ethernet cable between the buildings. I have not done this before, but there are various guides online showing the setting up. For the 4G, I would suggest getting a desktop 4G router (e.g. a used Huawei B593s-22) and a MIMO outdoor antenna (if the signal is weak) for the neighbour’s house end. The Uibiquiti LiteBeams can operate up to 30km apart with clear line of sight, so 400m should provide whatever bandwidth the router picks up.

  5. Hi , I am located 5miles from Summer Hill in Meath. In town centre my metro/eir mobile sim receives about 40mb download midday, at home , 5miles out my eir huawei b315 revives 15-10mb midday and 10-5mb peak times in the evening. I would like to use an aerial to increase the signal strength witch drops in the evening. Witch of the two options below would you recommend?

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B01N11WV54/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_1?smid=A1S33RZDR2D7GN&psc=1

    Or

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B00EE8RRFK/ref=ox_sc_act_image_1?smid=A1HUZ3KZRITS49&psc=1

    I would greatly appreciate your opinion

    1. I suggest going for the second option. The antennas are enclosed and it appears to include the ‘U’ mounting bracket for both antennas. The seller ships from Germany. This is their product page on Amazon Germany, which also ships to Ireland.

      The first link has two long 107cm LOG antennas, which are similar in length to a typical fringe TV Yagi. These are best suited for areas with barely usable 4G signal outdoors. The mount is sold separately going by the description. As the antenna elements are exposed, there is a risk of bird damage such as if seagulls perch on the elements.

  6. Hi, very useful info here. Thanks for sharing. Just wondering what type of antenna you would reccomend for rural area in the midlands. 2-3 kms from nearest mast with no line of site due to trees. 3G is just possible but not 4G however would like to have a capability of 4G. Im looking at an omnidirectional antenna from poynting like below:
    https://www.irishwireless.net/xpol-a0001
    This is the same as your image 1 under the heading Single vs MIMO antennas above. Or would a wideband log antenna like in image 2 be more suitable?
    Just wondering what are your thoughts or reccomendations for a rural area with somewhat difficult reception. Thanks.
    Niall.

    1. The omni-direction antenna is unlikely to offer much improvement compared to holding the router outside a skylight, which is something you can try if you have an upstairs/skylight window and an extension lead handy. Basically this antenna is intended for urban or built-up areas where the signal is sufficiently strong outside, but being blocked indoors by foil-backed insulation, Low-E coated windows, interference, etc.

      I suggest going for a pair of wideband LOG antennas. This should make a significant improvement on your 3G reception. I recommend mounting the antenna as high up as you can, preferably towards the top of the gable and aim the general direction of the mast. If the 3G cell is lightly loaded, you can potentially get 10Mbps. As an example in my location, I do not get an Eir (Meteor) 3G signal indoors at all with my mobile. In the loft, I get a 1-2 bar 3G signal with the Huawei B593s router. With the outdoor antenna (either panel or LOG), I get a full 5 bar 3G signal (-94dBm RSCP, -4dB ECIO at time of checking).

      From my experience with 4G, an outdoor LOG antenna typically improves the signal by around 10dB over what the router picks up in the loft (assuming no foil insulation). If you currently don’t pick up 4G at all in the loft with the router forced in 4G mode, it’s unlikely you will get usable 4G with the outdoor antenna, unless you have foil-backed insulation in the walls/loft that’s blocking most of the signal.

        1. Either of those pairs should improve your 3G signal and possibly bring in 4G (if on the edge of reception). There is a Polish seller (proscan-antenna) on eBay that often sells 12dBi LOG antenna pairs. They don’t have any listed at present, but may be worth checking in a week or two. From what I recall, they charged around €80 also for the pair including delivery. Just make sure the connectors match the router, e.g. SMA for most Huawei mains-operated routers.

  7. I’m using a certified 3g repeater, can I use any antenna type for the ‘indoor’ transmitter? i.e. could I use a yagi to transmit to another building, or could I use a omni directional outdoor type antenna to get a broader coverage?

    1. It’s hard to tell for certain whether a higher gain antenna will improve indoor coverage. Certified repeaters are designed to limit the transmission power to prevent interference or oscillations. If you install a higher gain indoor antenna, the repeater may detect additional unwanted interference being picked up by the more sensitive antenna (signals bouncing off walls, etc.) and reduce its transmission power accordingly.

      If the indoor transmission side is connected to another outdoor antenna, this will most likely cause oscillations and in turn cause the repeater to shutdown. Even with a directional antenna aimed another direction to the source antenna, a significant portion of the amplified signal will radiate from one antenna to the other, signals that would otherwise be attenuated with the indoor antenna placed indoors.

      If the repeater is just for Internet access (e.g. broadband/data only SIM), I suggest installing the 3G router in the main building that picks up the cellular signal, such as with an outdoor antenna aimed at the mast. Then set up a point-to-point Wi-Fi link to the second building to bring the Internet across.

  8. Thanks for so much info. As far as I can see the info is also the same in the UK where I live. can you confirm?
    eg Three use 800 and 1800 MHz for 4G.

    Have you any data on the range above which 4G is no use for Three – where do the usually cap the range?

    1. Three UK currently uses the same LTE bands 3 (1800MHz) and 20 (800MHz). As far as I’m aware of, all the above info should be the same for most of Europe including the UK. I think Australia is the only place that uses different LTE polarisation, i.e. 45 degrees to the left and right for the antennas.

      As for the range limit, so far the only areas I’ve come across where router lists networks that it cannot connect to are near a bay. With one case I’ve seen where a Three phone could connect to the 4G mast but not any Three data-only device, the Three mast was approximately 30km (18 miles) away.

  9. Many Thanks.
    OK, I should call it LTE not 4G.
    I note your report that video streaming can use up all of my monthly 40GBytes on Three with LTE in a matter of a few hours.
    I thought 40GBytes was plenty till I read your comment!
    I am still trying to get LTS running for downloads and fast browsing but wonder if there is a way to throttle the speed at my end when on video.
    I use a Huawei B310 on Three but see no option to cut the speed.
    Still hoping for unlimited fibre but BT ignore small villages on long lines.
    I guess there will never be unlimited plans on LTE for a fair price.

    1. No worries, we use 4G and LTE interchangeably. The difference only really matters in the US where 4G refers to what we call HSPA+. Unfortunately, 40GB is quite small for home broadband. If you can afford it, I would suggest using it in combination with DSL, i.e. use the DSL for all your streaming and the 4G for browsing, social media and downloads where you need the speed.

      For video bandwidth, some services can set the playback resolution limit. I don’t think YouTube can set a limit (other than manually for each playback) as it no longer offers a video resolution limit in its playback settings. For Netflix, this article mentions how to limit the resolution.

      Unfortunately the Huawei routers don’t have the ability to throttle speed or data usage. If you are trying to limit the bandwidth on a specific device (e.g. child’s tablet), one option would be to get a wireless router that supports OpenWRT firmware, which you can connect to the Huawei router. GargoyleOS which is based on OpenWRT can set both download and bandwidth limits on individual devices. In this case you could set a limit of let’s say 1Mbps for tablets, which is sufficient for standard definition video (480p).

      From checking across the major UK mobile operator websites, the largest data packages I came across is on EE, but are very expensive, i.e. £75/month for 100GB and £100/month for 200GB, both with an 18 month contract. I’m not sure why UK mobile data packages are so small/expensive compared to Ireland, unless it’s down to infrastructure cost/congestion. For example, the Three network here in Ireland offers up to 250GB, whereas 40GB is the largest package I could find on the UK Three website.

  10. Hello, thank you for this good review, i am italian guy (sorry for my bad english), i live in rural area near Rome city, my position is much higher instead Rome, about 800 meters, i live in the wood in one floor house, the forest gain a good percentage of view.
    I now use sattellite adsl, with a good bandwith but higher ping thank normal adsl or 3g 4g connection, at much more higher cost.
    I want to switch into 3g 4g network, i tried days ago a simple urant mimo antenna on 3 meters pole in my garden with a huawei e3372 connected to a mini router and ethernet cable to my house. I get about 2 connection point on 5 in 4g and 5 on 5 in 3g with two different carrier (4G TIM, 3G TRE H3G).
    The maximum bandwith measured is 4.5 mbps download and 5.5 mbps upload in 4G and 3.5 mbps in downoad and 1,5 mbps. That result for mw looking good, but I tried only with good weather condition, and the connection was VERY instable, some time i get under 1 mbps download and 0,55 mbps download.
    after reading the article, I decided to buy two antennas on aliexpress of this type:

    https://it.aliexpress.com/item/Universal-Outdoor-Indoor-Yagi-Antenna-11dBi-800-2500Mhz-GSM-CDMA-DCS-3G/1878084736.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.uBVIna

    i also buy 2 x 8 meters rg58 cable with good connector and an huawei e8372 that have dbi monitor instead of point of signal.

    I hope to have made the best purchase, for my area, as I could not understand in the article if they were better WIDEBAND LOG or LOG antenna for the rural area.
    image 2 or 3 of the antenna section.

    unfortunately, I have to say, for days I’m trying to figure out where I can point the antennas, this to build the pole that supports the antennas.
    You have tips for pointing, or to find the cells, I only found unreliable information.

    thanks for the answers

    1. That AliExpress antenna covers all the 3G and 4G bands, except for 4G Band 7 (2600MHz). As 2600MHz has a short range and mainly serves urban areas, it should not be an issue in in your rural location.

      For pointing the antennas, try aiming for the least negative RSRP and RSRQ values on 4G, e.g. -100dB RSRP is better than -110dB. If your modem only shows bar readings, then run speed tests with http://fast.com/ with each antenna adjustment, e.g. run three speed tests (to get an average), rotate the antenna by 30 degrees and run three more speed tests. If the speed tests are better, rotate the antenna another 30 degrees and try again. If the speed is worse, rotate the antenna the opposite direction by 10 degrees and repeat to fine-tune. Finally tilt the antenna up and down by 10 degrees and run speed tests.

      If you are still not getting good 4G speed, try running speed tests early in the morning such as before 8am. If the speed is much better early in the morning, then the network has high contention, i.e. too many customers on the mast.

  11. Hello, can u help me please to choose a 4G mimo directional antenna for one Huawei B525 router. I live in Romania on a rural zone and the cell tower is at 3,5 km distance and i see it from my house. The band of 4G operator is 20 (800mhz).
    Inside i have 3, sometimes 4 bars of signal but speed is not great. Outside i have 5 bars when i put the router to see the tower and speed is very good, i download with 2,6MB/s. Which of these antennas to buy:

    http://www.dipol.ie/cellular-systems/gsm-3g-lte-antennas/lte/atk-log-alp-lte-mimo-2×2-antenna-800-3000mhz-10m-cables-sma-plug.html

    http://www.elpismedia.ro/antene-amplificare-semnal/antene-externe/antena-panou-a3019-gsm-3g-4g-lte-wimax-wi-fi-castig-19db.html

    http://www.elpismedia.ro/antene-amplificare-semnal/antene-externe/antena-mimo-a4012-2xyagi-2x12dbi.html

    Thanks.

    1. I suggest going for two of the antennas in your second link, i.e. the Antena A3019 and the SMA for the connection (Huawei B525 has SMA connectors). Check the distance between where you intend mounting it outside and your router location as you will probably need the 5m or 10m cable option for each antenna.

      The antenna pair in the third link is polarised at 45 degree angles. From what I recall, Australia and New Zealand are the only two regions that use 45 / 135 degree polarisation. With the above A3019, you can mount one antenna vertically and the second one horizontally.

  12. Hi Sean,

    I’ve just completed my own install.

    * TPLINK Archer MR200
    * MIMO Antennae as recommended above (bought on amazon.de)
    * TPLINK RE200 WiFi Extender

    I did the site survey as you outlined, inside the attic with a handheld HTC device locked on 4G, a Samsung S7 EDGE 2/3/4G Auto select. I was barley getting 1 bar of 4G and fliiping between sites. Lots of “network communication errors”.

    I walked the boundaries of our rural property using the “cell mapper” android app and could see all the various towers within X KM’s. I used the comreg siteviewer URL and checked the sectors with the operator radio planners for Eir/Meteor. I have contacts in there. They plotted my home on their ATOLL tool and advised to point to mast id 4679 in Moyvalley @60 degrees.

    I mounted the antennae yesterday at the rear of my property and inserted the 2 x 10m co-ax antennae cables through the attic vent.
    I pulled these all the way to the attic hatch. I then drilled two holes in the attic door and pulled the co-ax cables through. I screwed the router to the underside of the attic door allowing me a visual at anytime of signal strength.

    This also allows me to have a 5GHZ WiFi network upstairs. I used the TPLINK extender in the hall downstairs with line of sight to the router at the attic door. This gives me a 5GHZ Wifi extended network downstairs. Speeds…. well I had 1.6mb fixed line with Eir. We are in the amber area of the maps for rural broadband government scheme. Earliest I can see this happening is 2021 or later even. I am getting anything up to 17mbs DL and up to 20mbs UL. Superb. I checked the MME and I can see my IMSI attached to that EnodeB and it hasnt flipped as yet. 24 hours operational now.

    I want to thank you for your advice Sean, there are loads of like minded people around Ireland who just need simple advice to allow them to make this happen for themselves. Well done you.

    Question: I have both antennaes mounted vertically. Do you think there will be any gain by going horizontal/vertical. Bear in mind I suffered normal contention yesterday eve from that tower. It didnt drop below 4mb at busy hour,
    Thanks

    1. That’s great to hear – At least you are within the range limit of the cell. If the antennas are not awkward to get at or reposition, I strongly recommend turning one horizontally. The signal strength will still show the same, however, you can potentially double the downlink speed as it can receive data on horizontal and vertical polarity simultaneously. Even during peak time contention, you may get additional bandwidth on the horizontal polarity that it’s missing out on at the moment.

      The upload speed will remain the same as the router only transmits on on its antenna #1 socket. If your upload speed drops, swap the two cables behind the router and it should return back to about 20Mbps.

  13. Sean, wish I had stopped by here first before spending a week researching my options. You have analysed everything I have been considering and saved me a lot of wasted effort!

    I was about to start building a Yagi (x2 for MIMO on Huawei B593) tuned to 1800MHz, but seems like I’d be better with a wideband or 800MHz as my local Three mast (7km) may only let me use the lower freq?

    Also I was aware of the problem with mismatch (I have oodles of RG6 75Ohm cable and F-type), and would have settled for a few dB loss due to reflection, however didn’t appreciate the impact on video calls.

    So, I’ll probably get one of the Wideband Yagis with correct cable and pre terminated SMAs (I’m used to N-type and BNC, these little things look too fiddly for my old eyes).

    Have you any idea how much signal I would lose by mounting the Yagi in my loft (modern artificial slate roof), versus outside? My TV antenna works fine this way.

    Regards
    Neil

    1. I’m not sure what Three typically uses for its range limit, but I suspect 7km is too far for 1800MHz. They used to allow a much longer range in the past, but when they carried out upgrades over the past two years, they reduced the range limit of the upgraded masts. This meant that some people over a certain distance from the mast ended up losing 4G altogether as the mast deemed the user as out of range.

      In your situation, I would be tempted to go for a wideband LOG or Yagi. If you are are within the maximum distance limit for the 1800MHz band, the mast will give preference to this band or provide 4G+ access (both bands) if your router is Category 6 capable.

      Based on my own testing with the 800MHz band in my area, I lose roughly 4dB to 6dB through the tiles, assuming the gable wall is not in the signal path. The attenuation is also proportional to the frequency, so the 1800MHz band will likely be about double loss.

      If your router is a recent Huawei model (e.g. B315, E5186 or B525), you can check what LTE band it is currently connected to as follows: First log into its web interface as admin. Then enter the URL: http://192.168.8.1/api/device/signal View the page source (or press F12) and look for the HTML tag ‘band’, which will be 20 (for 800MHz) or 3 (for 1800MHz).

  14. Hi Sean.

    Flipped one ant* to horizontal and monitored. To be fair i did not notice the speeds increase up or down. The only noticeable diff was the DL was more steady (as in the dl arrow on speedtest app). Less movement at a specific dl speed if that makes sense.

    The LTE router Archer mr200 gives me between 1 & 2 bars. Occasional 3.

    I might try tilting it up and see if i can get anything extra from it. Im happy enough gor the moment and thanks for all the advice.

  15. Thanks for the detailed posts these are very helpful keep it up.
    I have my modem in the attic off peak I am getting about 50/20 I have a line of sight about 1.5KM away.
    Using my mobile outside on the roof I get about 100/35, with that in mind what antenna would be best?

    1. To start with, I suggest trying the router in a few different spots re-running the speed test to achieve the highest reading. For the angle, the back or front of the router should roughly face the mast. If it has rabbit ear antennas, aim one up and the other sideways. Even a small repositioning can make quite a difference, particularly if there happens to be something like a metal bracket, water pipe, chimney, etc. in its line of sight.

      If you still need an antenna, an omni-directional MIMO antenna will be sufficient such as the popular one on the following page. You can install this in the loft, although you’ll likely need to install it outdoors to achieve what you got on the phone.
      https://www.irishwireless.net/xpol-a0001

      Although the antenna is omni-directional, its horizontal element needs to be rotated to achieve the full signal on both polarities, i.e. the front or back flat side should face the mast.

      If you need a longer cable run than 5 metres, I recommend going for a pair of LOG antennas. Their extra gain will help carry the signal over the longer cable run.
      http://www.dipol.ie/cellular-systems/gsm-3g-lte-antennas/lte/atk-log-alp-lte-mimo-2×2-antenna-800-3000mhz-10m-cables-sma-plug.html

  16. Hi Sean. I’ve been reading your info here and on boards etc but I think I missed what actual external antenna you use yourself. I crawled into my attic space and managed to pick up 2 bars of 4g on meteor/eir which is amazing considering I live in a rural valley and my house is surrounded by trees. I have the b593 also so want to make sure I get a suitable antenna. My rssi is -84, rsrp -110, rsrq -9 to -11. The cell tower isn’t on siteviewer but open signal app picks it up which really helped. It might be a relay tower as defo no mast there. Do you think an external antenna will help?

    Also to throw an extra spanner in the works my wife can now get 2 bars of 4 g from 3 in the garden so I’m considering trying 3 for their new 750gb package as 50gb on eir is limiting. Thinking of getting that and the eir 50gb 180 day pass as a back up if 3 contention issues arise. Would that be ott?

    Thanks in advance

    1. It’s quite possible the Three signal will be a fair bit stronger even in the loft with the B593 as its internal antennas are much more sensitive than what’s in most phones. If she uses a prepay 3 SIM, you can try that SIM in your B593 router (do not try this with a bill pay SIM). Just pop out the nano SIM segment from your Meteor/Eir SIM and snap the 3 SIM in its place, which will then fit in the router. Another option would be to pick up a Three prepay phone SIM with €20 credit and that will give you 28 days to give it a test run.

      My own antenna is a band 20 panel antenna, the one shown in the section “Single band coverage” above. As Three is in the process of upgrading many of its masts to 4G+, which work on a combination of band 3 + 20, I would suggest going for a pair of LOG antennas. However, my first recommendation would be to see what the 3 signal is like first. If the RSRP value is within -100dB, you will probably not gain much speed with external antennas compared to carefully positioning the router. On the other hand, an outdoor antenna will let you position the router in a more suitable area such as on the ground floor instead of the loft.

      Three’s 750GB plan comes with a Huawei B525 router. As it’s network locked, I recommend holding on to your B593 to use the Eir prepay SIM in. Eir’s SIM is free to order, so I suggest waiting until congestion becomes an issue before buying another pass. Otherwise you would need to keep topping it up every 6 months to keep the SIM alive (not just the pass).

      1. Thanks Sean. Might try the 3 prepay SIM but since moving the router to the attic we have consistent dl speeds averaging 15mbps even at peak times. I know to many that isn’t amazing but to us it is!

        Considering the negative reviews of Three’s peak dl speeds we might just bite the bullet and pay the 60e for Eir’s 250gb package.

        Without reading all your advice we wouldn’t be in the nice situation we are in now so many thanks. Dwane

  17. Current Settings :
    Modem D-Link DWR-921/B DW 4G/3G
    Antenna: Poynting XPOL-A002 – network antennas (40 – 70 °C, SMA, Dual Linear
    Carrier: Three ie

    Hi, I’m about to by a new modem in a few day, I was looking for an LTE A device but there is not available in my area anyway.

    Currently, my antenna is inside the house, in the spare room and I still get around 15Mb (sometimes 30mb but not always)

    I want to power my new modem in the attic using PoE, and have the antenna near the modem.

    Modem-wise I think I’m gonna go for something simple like ”
    NETGEAR LB1111″ but I’m still envisaging something more advanced and “all in one” :
    Zyxel LTE7460-M608-EU01V1F (but Zyxel had massive security issues with some modem in the past so I’m not too sure…)
    Also, I’m considering the Huawei B618 Unlocked 4G/LTE 600 Mbps but obviously I will never reach a such speed

    I checked I have one cell tower (Site 2765) 1.6Km away (but there is a huge hill in between) and (Site CK0385) 1.99Km ago (still not direct I believe. (FIY my ground floor altitude is 52meter)

    I very like to have some advises (and thank you for the post BTW)

    – Would a directional antenna work ok inside the attic? even though I’m 1.6 / 2km away? and will I get a much better result than my current setting ? or should I perhaps go for an Omnidirectional?

    Also did anybody already tried to dual balance two modems to have a better speed (I know dual balance is not the same thing but I can’t think of the correct term)

    1. From my own experience, a directional antenna does not seem to offer any benefit in the attic. I would suggest moving your existing Poynting antenna into the attic along with the router. One test you can try to start with would be temporarily set up the Poynting antenna outside, such as on a camera tripod. If the speed is not much better, it will probably not improve much up in the loft.

      I’ve heard mixed reports about the performance of the D-Link routers, so you may get an improvement with another router even in the same spot. If you go with the Huawei B618 or the Netgear LB11111, you will need two SMA to TS9 adapters to attach the antenna cables to the router.

      If you decide to go with an outdoor antenna, you can try mounting the Poynting antenna high up outside to start with. As an upgrade path, I would suggest going for a pair of LOG antennas, which are directional. The Zyxel outdoor router is quite expensive and something I would suggest as a last resort, such as with a very weak signal or to avoid placing anything in the attic.

  18. Thank you for your advice.
    I used to have the Dlink in a shed, with much better speed and link to the home network using Power-line but I had some boot issue in very low temperatures.

    I will check the signal outside with a tripod that’s a good idea.

  19. Hi sean thank you for this article

    I’m trying to get better download/uploads speeds and I currently own service with sprint/att/tmobile/verizon(usa) and your double antenna for mimo has me intrigued. Planning to use a wilson pro 70 signal booster but they offer the device with one antenna so how can i connect two yagi to get mimo speeds? TIA

    1. You would need two boosters, one connected to the outdoor vertical antenna and the second booster to the horizontal antenna. The indoor antennas will need to be aimed with the corresponding polarity to the outdoor antenna. There is a video on YouTube showing an example of this type of set up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcffejQkY34

      If you are doing this for an LTE modem/router, I recommend getting a suitable MIMO antenna (or pair of individual LTE antennas) that attach directly to the router. This will cheaper than buying a separate booster, plus eliminates the additional interference or signal loss between the booster and the modem/router, as the outdoor antenna would attach directly to it.

  20. Hi,

    Thanks, excellent article with much of it applicable for world wide use…Especially your Iphone checking what bands are available input.. Exactly what I have been looking for as I move between countries..

  21. Excellent article. Very informative. My situation is as a follow. I’m in a rural area 7 miles east of athlone. No fixed line broadband available at present. I’ve been using a Huawei B593u-12 router with ISP 3Ireland. I also have a B525s-23a that has different antenna ports also (this router came with the ISP broadband 18 month contract that I signed up to recently). The ISP package is for 750gbt per month. The 4g coverage runs at 25-35 mbps speed with relative stability even et peak times (once I’m not streaming). I presume the ISP is trottling at to a degree at times also. My VPN is via liberty shield router and it cuts speed to 5-15 mbps, this impacts on streaming when at the lowered end. I have the router in the attic. I am hoping that an antenna/ arial will help as even a marginal gain might assist greatly with streaming. When speedtesting at 6 am the bandwidth: 20,000, cell id: 362, signal strength: 3, RSRP (dBm): -98, RSRQ (dB): -6 ROAM: No. When speedtesting at 8pm bandwidth: 20,000, cell id: 362, signal strength: 2, RSRP (dBm): -108, RSRQ (dB): -12 ROAM: No… have you any thoughts re maximising this set up, is an antenna is of possible benefit, what antenna would you recommend… I am presuming that cell ID 362 is the mast I am connecting to, is that the case? I’m equidistant to 3 separate 3ireland masts that are about 10 miles away. I can’t find this cell id on the net, perhaps it’s an internal I’d number with 3ireland

    1. Unfortunately the cell IDs the router reports do not correspond with those on ComReg’s site viewer map.

      Going by your bandwidth, you appear to be on band 3, which is very likely a 4G+ enabled cell. In this case I would recommend going for a pair of LTE LOG antennas, which should improve your evening time readings. Band 3 is more sensitive to attenuation from building materials and moisture than band 20, so I recommend installing these outdoors or as high as you can in the attic (if the roof insulation is not foil backed). The wide fluctuation in your RSRP readings could from dew on the roof attenuating the signal.

  22. Truly outstanding set of resources!

    I have a HUAWEI B525 + the three.ie unlimited plan. Located about 7k line of sight from mast. Modem is in the loft, with the rabbit ears. 3G signal has 5 bars fairly reliably – with good overall performance. If 4g switched on in modem the number of bars can be lower, but speed higher usually. However, if weather closes in 4g declines to 1 bar, and speed can collapse to 1mb. So I have been setting modem to 3G (instead of auto). This keeps lowest speed above 4 or 5 mb – which is fine.

    Would an external antenna address this issue – facilitating 4G left permanently on?

    Thanks in advance
    Eamonn

    1. The weather could cause a few issues – If the roof material retains enough water when it rains, this will attenuate the signal. If the signal drops before it rains, it’s possible the clouds are reflecting signals from an unwanted mast in the distance, causing interference.

      An outdoor directional antenna such as a wideband panel antenna or a pair of LTE LOGs should give you both a stronger and more stable 4G signal. Water droplets on these antennas barely affect the signal and the directivity will reduce interference from signals arriving from other directions. You may even get away with using these antennas in the loft.

      Before getting an antenna, try placing your router has high as you can in the loft, ideally near the tip. Even with testing a LOG antenna on a tripod, this gave the strongest signal when I had it near the tip of our loft. The signal strength is still several dB lower than with the LOG antenna outside, but it still gives an improvement over the router on its own. If your roof has foil-backed insulation, this will not work as the foil blocks the signal, in which case an outdoor antenna may be your only option to improve the 4G signal.

  23. Thanks for the advice. Will give putting the router higher a go – and will also investigate the antennae. Don’t have foil – but things get very wet around here! Clouds do get very low occasionally (coastal area).
    Currently these are the readings I am getting:
    RSSI: -82dBm
    RSCP: -88dBm
    ECIO: -6dB
    Do these values look reasonable? This is with 3G forced.

    Regards & thanks again.

    1. The RSCP figure (signal strength) is pretty good. The ECIO figure (signal quality) is quite negative, which I would prefer seeing closer to zero, e.g. -4dB. I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to improve 3G unless you have no luck improving the 4G signal. For 3G, both antennas should use the same polarity, e.g. two vertical or two horizontal. 4G requires them in opposite polarities, e.g. one horizontal and one vertical or in a V shape, i.e. both offset by 90 degrees.

      In 4G mode, you will see a RSRP, RSRQ and SINR values. In this mode, try to get the RSRQ value as close to zero as possible (preferably below -8dB) and the SINR as positive as possible. The RSRP figure is not as important, especially once it gets less negative than around -100dB.

  24. Hi sean. Only after I saw Eamonn’s post above did I attempt te 3g mode on the huawei router. Whist the readings on ookla are less than that of the 4g tests, the iptv works way better on 3g. Particularly the videoclub/library which runs perfectly on 3g. So now I now I have a decision to make I reckon…. whether to follow tour advise the the LOG antenna for 4g as per your advise relative to the 4g router readings I posted on the last occasion. Alternatively ( based on my mag box working better when on 3g only) should I consider a 3g antenna based on the following readings: RSSI: -88 RSCP- 92 ECIO: -4. is there a recommended antenna that would assist with 3 and 4g? The bloody mag box still glitches at peak times on 3g (though less frequently than on the 4g).

    1. You will probably not get much additional speed on 3G with an antenna based on those figures. Your ECIO (signal quality) is excellent. An antenna pair would still help with stability, particularly during poor weather. LOG antennas cover both the 3G and 4G bands. In 3G mode, be sure to face them both both vertical or both horizontal. In 4G mode, they need to face in opposite polarities, i.e. one vertical and one horizontal. This means if Three upgrade the 4G mast (they upgraded ours last year), you could get a significant speed improvement on 4G.

      Your experience with Ookla is the main reason I don’t particularly like its test methodology. The 4G cell you’re picking up likely has much higher congestion. However, due to the way Ookla works by making up to 8 simultaneous connections to its test server and filtering out dips during the test, it can deliver much higher test results than what’s possible in real life. For comparison, IPTV and file downloads (in a web browser) make a single connection to the server. It would be great if Ookla also reported single thread speed tests.

      Have a check at the speed you get with TestMy using its UK server (http://uk.testmy.net/) on both 3G and 4G. You’ll probably find it gives a higher test result on 3G than 4G and that the 4G test speed is much lower than what Ookla reports. Its test is linear (unless run in multithread mode to mimic Ookla), which gives a realworld speed of what you get such as what your IPTV can achieve with a fast server. Ookla on the other hand is great for fine-tuning the antenna to achieve the peak speed reading, although this is still best carried out off-peak to minimise fluctuating test results from congestion.

  25. Sean, I’m living in south Leitrim on side of valley, near the top with direct line of sight (8 Km) to a 3 mast on the other side. I get 1 to 2 bars of 4G on my phone. There are other masts in the area but I can’t see them. Do you recommend a directional or omni antennae, or am I wasting my time with that distance?

    1. At that distance, I suggest checking if you can get 4G on your router. Three has a shorter maximum distance limit for modems than for phones, although I think 8km is within the range limit for modems. If your router operates fine in 4G mode (even with a 1 bar signal), then it’s worth going for a directional antenna, such as a pair of LOG antennas. The directional antenna will reduce interference from the other masts and in turn give better throughput.

  26. Hi sean. There are a few different directional log antenna out there. I have been looking for a while. What do you recommend…

    1. If you on a budget, I would suggest this pair of LOG antennas. These are relatively straight forward to set up – Once mounted on a pole, just aim them at the cell tower and tighten the bolts.

      If you have willing to spend more and take time to carefully aim the antennas, I would suggest getting this pair and this mount to mount them side-by-side. These have a much tighter tolerance, so need to be carefully aimed. However, as they have a much greater signal rejection from other angles, they will potentially give better throughput, particularly in the evening when the other masts are transmitting more.

      Both sets of antennas will require a wall mount, such as for a satellite dish. You can mount separate poles also, e.g. one on an existing TV/satellite pole if the antenna can face the mast and the other on a separate pole.

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