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.  Mobile repeaters and boosters that don’t meet ComReg’s strict criteria are prohibited for consumer use.  It is also illegal to posses non-compliant signal boosters 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 has recently permitted the use of mobile repeaters that meet their strict technical conditions.  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 for the correct 4G band, but with its bandwidth cut in half.  One workaround for 4G MIMO would be to use an indoor rabbit ear antenna on the router’s port #1.  Then install an outdoor antenna with the opposite polarity and connect it to port #2.

Warning: Do not connect a repeater or signal booster directly to the antenna port of a modem or router!  This will potentially damage the repeater or the modem/router, like connecting an speaker amplifier to a microphone input.

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 for trying to isolate a mast.  The exception would be for very long antennas (80cm+), which have a narrow acceptance angle.  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.

NOTE: Make sure you are using the 800MHz (band 20) band before considering the Wittenberg LAT 22 or any other 800MHz antenna.  This antenna does not work on 1800MHz (band 3), which some masts operate on.  800MHz antennas may also not work with 4G+ masts, which may try handing the router over to the higher band, in turn dropping the connection.  See the Single band coverage section below for further details.

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.

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

  1. Thanks for your nice article to share your experience in antenna. I am having difficulty to select antennas. I have living in urban area, 1.2 kms away from the nearest mast and not far away from another two masts at the other directions. The signal is a little bit bad because trees and buildings between my home and mast. I found lots of antennas with same type, same gain but different beam width. How should I choose the right type and right beam width antennas? Thanks very much

    1. Generally, the narrower the beam width, the better the antenna is at isolating a particular mast. As you have masts in different directions, this may let you try each mast to see which performs the best. The narrower beam width, the larger the antenna is for the same bands, so check the dimensions of each antenna. For LOG antennas, narrow beam models can go over 1m in length. They also require a more sturdy mount to withstand stormy weather.

      1. Hello Sean, thanks for your reply.
        I would like to share a handy tool for you and your readers. There is a software for Huawei routers to lock customized bands, LTEInspector: Huawei 4G Router Überwachungssoftware.
        Download link:
        Der Download-Link für die installierbare Version

        Der Download-Link für die portable Version

        1. Thanks for the utility, which works as a brilliant signal meter showing live RSRP, RSRQ and SINR figures. I have been been looking for something that could give me a live signal read out that works with the Huawei B525 as the router’s web interface does not automatically refresh the readings, unlike the older Huawei B593s-22.

          With this LTEInspecteur utility, it can show a full screen signal meter. This is very useful while up the ladder adjusting the antenna – One can place the laptop somewhere nearby within view and monitor the figures in realtime while carefully adjusting the antenna.

  2. Hi sean. I got the two wittenberg antenna and I have been using them with a B525s router with ISP THREE. I recently relocated the antenna to the chimney as there is direct line of sight to the mast. In doing so I had to remove the connectors to slip them under slates. When I re fitted new connectors in the attic I am getting better consistency with the internal router antenna than the external.. is there an individual that I can contact who i can pay to optimise what I have. Antenna and bracket on roof and router in attic… trial and error is getting me nowhere as at times I have 50 mgs and other times i get connection error. Mytest.net shows huge fluctuation when I do speedtest. Do you do this work or can you recommend??? I’m living outside athlone.

    1. Have a check in the router’s web interface that the antenna is set to External – Go into the top Settings menu, then System -> Antenna settings on the left menu. If it is Auto, it can intermittently switch to its internal antennas, causing drop-outs. Connect the lead from the vertically aimed antenna to port #1 and the horizontal aimed antenna to port #2 on the router.

      When adjusting the antenna, look at the router’s signal read-outs, which can be viewed by going into the top Settings menu, then System -> Device Information on the left. Try to get the RSRP the lest negative as possible, e.g. -90dB RSRP is better than -100dB RSRP and the SINR as positive as possible, e.g. over 10dB. Reload the page to refresh the readings. If the connection is still randomly dropping out, it may be an issue with the connectors.

      Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who does antenna installation work, although someone who specialises in satellite dish and TV antenna installations may be able to help aim the antennas and check that the SMA connectors are crimped properly.

  3. Thanks sean. Following your last post I have set up the duo antenna accordingly. Unfortunately there is no marked improvement in reception based on the routers interface readings or mytest.net. so I’m guessing that I have done some damage when re applying the connectors. I checked my Amazon account and it was the lat 22 duos that were recommended… not the lat 56 duos right?

    1. I would have suggested the 56 unless you are sure the mast is operating on 800MHz (band 20) only. Generally I recommend going for a pair of LOG antennas (such as these) and the Lat 56 for an extremely weak 4G signal (e.g. router only picks up 1 to 2 bars of 4G outside.)

      The Lat 22 is an 800MHz (band 20) specific band antenna, so that would be an issue if the mast you are pointing at operates on 1800MHz (band 3). This is the set I currently use as the Three mast in our area operates on 800MHz only and I needed as narrow beamwidth antenna as I could get as I was trying to pick up one mast over another that was about 30 degrees apart.

      To check what band your router currently connects to, disconnect the antennas, set it to its internal antennas and check that it’s connected in 4G mode. Go into the router’s web interface (, click Settings and log in. Then enter the URL Then right-click the page and click ‘view source’ (or ‘view page source’). Look for the ‘band’ tag. If this is 20, the mast is 800MHz. If it is 3, the mast is 1800MHz, in which case you will need wideband antennas.

      If it is on band 20, then the crimping could be the issue. So far I have not tried crimping any coaxial cable for a cellular antenna as these connections are a lot more sensitive than for TV/satellite. While a loose fitting generally does not affect incoming signals (e.g. satellite/TV receive only), it can seriously affect transmissions as a portion will reflect back if not crimped properly. This could also explain why it’s dropping out.

  4. Thanks sean. I followed your direction and Im on band 3. So my lat 22 antenna need to go. Before I ask which antenna to go with, can you tell me how I can confirm which mast I am connecting to. There is no point in getting directional antenna at all if I cannot be sure as to which mast I am connecting to. The cell id reads 1:0 on the router interface. I am presuming that I am connecting to the mast that I have direct line of sight to but perhaps I am mistaken (like with the choice of antenna previously).

    1. Unfortunately Three don’t provide a way of viewing their cell IDs and they do not correspond with Comreg’s site viewer. If you have a phone with Android 7 or later and on the Three network, you may be able to find the direction with the help of the app Network Cell Info Lite. With the Cell Info Lite app and the phone in 4G mode, see if that cell ID appears for the UCID or CID fields. Walk around the outside of your house to see which side gives the strongest signal and hopefully you’ll see a corresponding Three cell on Comreg’s site viewer.

      You don’t need direct line of sight to pick up Three, particularly for band 20 which can penetrate buildings, forestry, etc. As you are connecting on band 3 which does not penetrate objects as easily, there is a good chance that you have clear line of sight with the mast.

      If you decide on the smaller LOG antennas, they are a lot easier to aim than the Wittenbergs as they have a 60 degree viewing angle with a gradual fall off beyond that, whereas the Wittenbergs had a 30 degree viewing angle with a sharp cut-off. For example, you could roughly find the mast in 4 attempts, i.e. aim forward, then left, then back and right and one or two of those directions will pick up that cell. Then it’s just a matter of turning it 30 degrees left/right a few attempts to find the sweet spot.

      For your current antenna, you can try listing it on the classifieds, e.g. high gain MIMO band 20 antenna for Three and Vodafone, like new condition. Include a picture next to a familiar object such as the Huawei router to give an idea of the antenna size in the ad. Just a pity you about cutting the cable ends as otherwise you would have been able to return it back to the online shop under it’s cooling off period.

  5. Hi Sean

    Is there any difference between the antenna you recommend above


    Or this one David recommended?


    The one you linked too was cheaper 🙂 still haven’t decided what to do. I tested my signal with three uk and found at one corner of my house in mid afternoon I can get 30mb download. I can’t see the mast from there but it is in the general direction. I should say I got that using my phone. If that is the case do I need a directional antenna or would an omni one do? As David mentioned above if I can get 4g I might not need an antenna. How the signal is patchy.

    Just reluctant to spend this money on an antenna from Germany and for it not to work. Plus he hassle of putting it up.

    1. The Amazon one appears to be slightly higher gain with a narrower beam-width going by the picture. Unfortunately they don’t mention any useful spec, let alone a beam diagram (which the eBay listing does). It’s certainly not 20dBi gain! Otherwise the antenna would probably be over 3 metres long. For example, I have a 900MHz GSM 16.5dBi gain antenna that is 1.8m long for my mobile repeater.

      Considering the high price of omni-directional antennas, I suggest going for the eBay one. I know it will mean going up/down the ladder a few times to aim it. As you already know which side of the house you get the best 4G signal, indeed that would be the direction I suggest facing it to start off with.

      If you would like to see how an omni-directional antenna would perform, try temporarily holding the router outside where you plan installing the omni-directional antenna, e.g. have someone up the ladder hold the router and the extension lead, then run a speed test from a laptop connected to it.

      An omni-directional antenna will not perform any better than the router on its own in the same location, so if the speed is poor with this test, it will unlikely be any better an omni-directional antenna installed in that spot, possibly worse with the weak signal having to travel the length of the leads. Most directional antennas on the other hand will have at least 8dBi of gain, which will overcome the cable losses as well as provide a better signal to noise ratio to the router.

  6. So I will check with android 7 as to the likely mast. The one that is plain line of sight is the closest Three mast at just under 5k away, in rural settings. Ulband 20MHZ, Dlband 20MHz, erfcn DL 1700 UL 19700, tac3003 . It’s on band 3 and like you the is a guy with Vodafone operating antenna about 30 degrees off my line of sight that has people locally connecting to him. He is only 500 metres from my house but too expensive. My 4g gives me good internet on bars but it drops regularly in the evenings, when on 3g I have full bars but slow in the evenings also with a tendency to drop. I see the other comments include some other antenna suggestions. In light of these circumstances what antenna should I consider?

    1. My two suggestions would be to go either that pair of LOG antennas or the following pair of Yagi antennas that target band 3.

      If you really want to get the maximum signal knowing that you are picking up band 3, the following is LTE MIMO antenna set that covers 1710-2700MHz. The catch is that if the 4G mast goes down, your router will only be able to drop to 3G if the mast is using the 2100MHz 3G band. Three operates 3G on 900MHz in a lot of areas. Similarly if you later switch to Vodafone, their 4G mast could be operating on band 20. As 1800MHz is a much shorter wavelength, the antenna size is much smaller than a wideband antenna for the equivalent gain. On the other hand, the narrow 32 degree viewing angle means I strongly recommend doing a temporary setup within easy reach such as with a camera/speaker tripod, so you know which way to aim it on your gable or chimney.


      My first antenna purchase was indeed this antenna from the same Polish seller as at the time Three only had 1800MHz spectrum for 4G. However, by the time 4G came to my area, Three bought out O2 Ireland which owned 800MHz spectrum and suddenly Three started putting up 800MHz (band 20) masts. Indeed the one they installed by us operates on band 20 only.

      1. Hi sean. I was in contact last Oct. I went ahead and got the Dual Yagi Tube LTE MiMo 1710-2700MHz HIGH GAIN 18dBI as recommended and it has improved my 4g signal with 3ireland, unfortunately as was the case it would work really well for a while and crash when on 4g. I have found that I am better off setting the antenna to mix on 3g and it provides a more stable though admittedly lower signal. I am wondering if it is possible to improve the 3g by rotating one of the yagi antennas… I am presuming that they are operating on oposite polarities based on the mounting recommendations. FYI I am using a 3B525 in the attic.

        1. I can’t remember if I mentioned earlier, make sure the APN on the router is set to: 3internet

          I’m not sure if a tube antenna can be easily rotated or will cause a water-ingress issue later as I think those antennas have a drainage hole at the bottom of each, i.e. if rotated, any condensation that builds up in the antenna will not be able to drip out.

          What you can do is try running a few speed tests in 3G mode with each of the following configurations:

          1. After swapping the two antenna leads around
          2. With only one antenna lead attached to port #1 (antenna socket nearest the signal LEDs)
          3. With only the other antenna lead attached to port #1
          4. With the vertical antenna on port #1 and a rabbit ear antenna vertically on port #2 (if you have one. Repeat with the other antenna if you’re not sure which lead is vertical)

          Use whichever configuration gives the fastest test results. The reason I suggest all these tests is to determine whether diversity improves the speed. There are some Three transmitters don’t seem to be set up for diversity. For example, Three recently set up a new 3G transmitter near me and from testing it, I can get up to around 14Mbps with a single horizontal antenna pointed at it. However, if I attach a second antenna, the speed either remains the same or drops. This is very different to previous 3G transmitters I tested (including Vodafone 3G and Eir 3G) where two antennas of same polarity gave the maximum speed.

  7. Slower speed in the evenings is probably the operator throttling the speeds due to the mast not being able to cope with the number of people using it. Do a speed test at 4am to see the difference. I can get 18mb at 4am but it goes down to 1.6 in the evenings. 3 network. ..

  8. Hi Sean,

    Just wanted a bit further advice. Got my directional antenna that you suggested from eBay in Germany. Finally tried it today but no luck. I mounted it on a pole temporarily at different spots around the house. Tried pointing it in the direction that an app said the mast was. But the antenna made no difference. Not sure if it is my setup or if the antenna is so sensitive that I haven’t directed it properly. I had to use a sma to CRC9 adapter to connect to my usb 4g modem.

    Any suggestions

    1. I wonder if the cables are making proper contact with both CRC connectors. If the signal strength varies when you move the antennas about, but the speed does not improve, then the issue is down to network load on the mast.

      If the antennas were not making any noticeable effect on the signal strength, try pointing them directly down at the ground inside to see whether the signal strength drops. If the router still shows the same signal strength or there’s no noticeable change in its connection speed, then the modem is still using its internal antenna.

      I’m not sure if there is any setting in its web interface to specify an external antenna for the E3372. I had the slightly later E3372h which automatically switched to external antennas when attached.

      1. Hi Sean,

        Yes it is the e3372h as well. I wondered if it needed switched.

        Will maybe plug it into the laptop and read what the USB modem says. I was using the router read out of signal strength.

        It is strange as I can get about 20mbps with the router with no antenna at the opposite end of the house to the direction of the mast.

        Will the external antenna work in the loft?

        1. The external antenna will work in the loft as long as the roof does not have foil-backed insulation. However, if the mast is directly behind a block wall such as the gable, it may need to be installed outside. If you see the signal readout in RSRP dB or as a percentage, you should see that fluctuate up or down as you turn the antenna. Ideally, you should aim for the best RSRQ (least negative) and SINR (higher is better) readings, however, I don’t recall whether the e3372h can report these readings like the Huawei desktop 4G routers do.

          1. Thanks Sean,

            Will give it a go. Think there is maybe some software I can run on the pc to get some stats.

            Also to start with should I have the antenna both horizontal or one vertical and horizontal. Will this make a difference in aiming?


          2. For aiming, I suggest setting them up one horizontally and the other vertically if you can. If it’s too awkward to set up both antennas temporarily, set up one antenna vertical on the pole and connect it to antenna port #1 on the modem. Connect the second antenna to port #2 and point it directly down at the ground to prevent it picking up a signal. Once you find the direction that gives the best signal strength reading (i.e. least negative RSRP and RSRQ figures), you can try setting up the second antenna horizontal aimed the same direction to run a speed test. If the modem reports an SINR figure, both antennas need to be attached to get this reading, such as when fine tuning each antenna position.

  9. Hi Sean,

    Just wondering if it is possible to have too much gain.
    I am torn between the 11db lat 56 and the 9db “Duo antenna set LTE directional radio LOG” linked on ebay.

    Will be using a b525 in an ares which was getting 1-2 bars indoors and I think 1-2 (maybe three) outdoors.
    As the lat 56’s seem to be twice the price I am just making sure its not something that could actually make the signal worse etc.

    Thanks for creating such an awesome resource too by the way. Has really helped answer loads of questions I had (and a even more I had not even thought of).

    Thanks again

    1. The Lat56’s have a much narrower acceptance angle than the more common white LOG antennas. Unless you are having issues with interference or have a very weak signal, I suggest going for the LOG set on eBay. Run the router outside temporarily and see what the SINR value is (Settings menu -> System -> Device Information). If it’s below 0 or the RSRQ value is -13 or more negative, this indicates a lot of interference, in which the case the Lat56 may perform better.

      While the Lat56 can still give a better signal, there is a lot more work involved with aiming them, including the elevation angle, especially if you don’t know which direction the mast is. With the smaller LOG antennas, you can aim them the general direction of the mast and it doesn’t matter if they are a few degrees out. As they are plastic covered (usually white), rain does not affect them as much as the Lat56’s either.

  10. Hi Sean,

    Great article with useful information.
    I was wondering if you might have heard about this brand/antenna:


    Any thoughts on it?

    We are trying to get a decent rural connection across the water from Shannon airport in Clare. It’s no more than 15km, practically line of sight (there may be another antenna we can try too). Will this distance be a problem with Three?
    We can normally pick up 4G on one side of the house by a window looking out at the airport (the masts are behind the airport according to comreg). With an LG V30 we can pick up to nearly 30mb/s but it is normally around 15mb/s. Our Three router is arriving tomorrow so it will be interesting to see if it can match it.

    There is also a large body of tidal water between. Is this a problem for the signal? Imagine refused to give us a connection because of it…

    1. Personally I wouldn’t try that antenna as the dBi figures are made up, which make me wonder about its other specifications. A 9dBi wideband panel antenna is around the size of a shoebox lid and the antenna size doubles for every 3dBi of additional gain as dB is a logarithmic scale.

      Before ordering any antenna, check how well the Three router performs and make sure it connects in 4G mode. While the water itself should not be an issue, the distance could well be as I’ve seen before as Three has a shorter maximum 4G range for routers than for mobiles.

      1. Interestingly I just threw it down in front of the window and now I have a steady 20-25mb/s in the evening, night and morning 🙂 I’ll play around with the positioning to try and see what I can get but since the speed is stable it probably means we aren’t experiencing much contention.

        Given the distance, what type of antenna would you recommend to try and maximise the speed? Any idea what the realistic maximum speed I should expect to achieve and therefore how big an antenna is worth buying? Is there any brand or site that actually shows the real antenna gain?

        1. Go into the router’s web interface: Then go into the Settings menu, login, then on the left menu go into System, then Device Information. Check the RSRP and SINR values. Refresh the page to update the readings, such as if you are trying the router in different spots.

          The RSRP value is the signal strength and the SINR value is the signal quality. If the SINR is over 10dB, you have a good signal quality, in which case an external antenna may not offer much improvement. If the SINR is between 0dB and 10dB, I suggest going for a pair of 4G LOG antennas (appear like white triangles), which are around 8dBi to 10dBi. If the SINR is negative and the RSRP value is more negative than -105dB, you’ll need a more specialised antenna, in which case I suggest replying with your readings.

          It’s difficult to say what the maximum speed will be as a lot of Three’s masts are microwave-fed with congested or limited bandwidth. For example, Three’s mast in Killybegs maxes out about 25Mbps even with a very good signal (30dB SINR), likely due to its uplink being the bottleneck. If you don’t notice much difference in speed trying your router in different spots or setting it up temporarily outside, then an external antenna may not improve the speed any further.

          1. RSRQ: -9dB
            RSRP: -98dBm
            SINR: 1db

            That doesn’t seem super great from what you’ve said but the router shows 4/5 signal bars…

          2. The signal bars are just a rough guide and even vary depending on the firmware revision. For example, you could have a full 5 bar signal reading, but barely any throughput due to interference or heavy contention.

            Based on your readings, it looks like the router has reasonably good signal quality from the mast (RSRQ < -10dB), but with poor MIMO separation as the SINR takes into account the antenna separation. In this case, I suggest going for a pair of LOG antennas, such as these or these if you don’t mind spending more for the additional gain.

            As you are quite far from the mast, I suggest spacing them 1m or more apart if possible, such as on two different wall brackets. For example, you could mount one below a TV antenna (if there’s space) on one bracket and the other on a separate bracket. As your signal strength is good, the loft may be another option for one or both antennas, assuming the roof does not have foil-backed insulation. For example, with my set up, I have the horizontally polarised LOG antenna outside and the vertically polarised LOG antenna mounted in our loft.

  11. Hi Sean,

    I have been using Three’s mobile broadband for the last few years, progressing from the old white dongle up to my present B525 which now resides in the attic of our dormer bungalow.
    It’s just using the supplied bunny ears antenna and though I get 3 bars of a 4G signal (some times 4G+), speed varies greatly (0.79Mbps – 22.76Mbps ) . I had considered getting an external antenna last year but never followed up on it until in the lull between Christmas and the New Year when I ordered a Wittenberg LTE Duo carry 2x LTE-LAT 22 and mounts from Amazon.de, they should be here by the weekend.

    However I may have jumped the gun a little….. reading through the replies you have sent to others I have discovered from my router that the signal I am getting is on Band 3 , my antennas are for Band 20 🙁

    My numbers at present

    I have also found out that the tower I am getting my signal from is 3.1Km away and is 23deg NE of the house.

    I am presuming now that the Whittenbergs will be of no use to me , hopefully I will be able to return them to Amazon, would I be better off going with the TRANS-DATA LTE KYZ 10/10 MIMO you suggested to Oliver above ?

    1. Unfortunately, they might not work unless you can pick up a mast operating on band 20 in another direction. I’ve now added a note to the article to mention that they do not work on band 3. Most band 3 masts are 4G+ capable, which means they operate on both 800MHz and 1800MHz. However, the problem is that these masts may try handing your router to band 3 for load balancing, which would cause the connection to drop if this happens.

      Based on those weak signal readings, I would have suggested going for the LAT56 instead. These work on both band 3 and 20 (4G+ capable) and are the most sensitive wideband LOG antennas that I’m aware of. Check what the router picks up outside, such as if you are able to hold it up outside a skylight or up a ladder temporarily. If the RSRQ improves to -103dB or better, the TRANS-DATA LTE KYZ 10/10 should be adequate.

      1. I tried the router on the window sill of an upstairs window of the house, window open. After a bit of manipulation and tweaking of the bunny ears we got results of
        RSRQ -9dB
        RSRP -102dBm
        RSSI -71dBm
        SINR 8dB
        Band 3

        (I did try the LTEInspector program mentioned above but could not get it to work, kept getting error messages )

        I replaced the router back in the attic, to its original position but orientated as it was on the window sill and the bunny ears at the new angles. It now shows 5 bars (was only getting 3). I ran the and view the page source and now find that I’m receiving on Band 20 with
        RSRQ -14dB
        RSRP -97dBm
        RSSI -65dBm
        SINR -8dB

        The antennae arrived from Germany today and now I don’t know what to do !!!

        1. As the signal quality is much better in band 3, I suggest returning the antennas and getting the wideband TRANS-DATA LTE KYZ 10/10 pair. As the router is switching between bands 3 and 20, it’s likely the mast is 4G+ enabled, which means the wideband antenna will potentially give better speed assuming the mast’s uplink is not congested. Amazon has a very good return policy especially within the 14 day cooling off period and I think even Amazon Germany provides a free An Post returns label.

          1. I sent back the antenna and mount, the mount return was straightforward enough, the seller emailed a prepaid return postage label. The antenna however was a different story, the seller allowed a credit of €11 against the postage, unfortunately it cost €68 to return. 🙁

            It seems the only place to get the TRANS-DATA LTE KYZ 10/10 is in Poland, but as yet I have to find a seller who will post to Ireland.

          2. That’s a bummer about the return postage. I thought Amazon itself would have covered the return cost, but have only had experience returning stuff with Amazon UK orders. If you ever need to pay postage to return something again, use parcel2go.com/ie For shipping within Ireland, they charge a flat €8 for a tracked An Post label, also useful if you need to mail a large/heavy parcel to someone.

            Dipol sells that TRANS-DATA pair from Ireland and is priced about €105 + delivery. I ordered a GSM antenna from Dipol about a year ago and it came a few days alter by DPD.

  12. Hi Seán.
    Thanks for all the excellent info.
    In the spirit of extending common knowlage and to air a few questions…

    I fit mobile internet for farm cameras and some domestic users. I have been using a Three phone sim at home for over 18 months now with excellent results and economy.

    The Huawei B525 routers that I have recently been supplied, in addition to selecting 4G only etc., also allow you to specify a fixed frequency band.
    This is very useful for working out which frequency yeilds the best speeds and allows the selection of narrow band (or tunned) external antennas. Such antennas are usually more directional and have higher gain.
    A pair of 1800MHz yagi aerials have just arrived, I will test them when I get a chance…

    As I understand it, Mimo technology overcomes the bandwith limitation of mobile phone data streams by running two or more streams in paralel. These work without interfering with eachother by being on different frequency bands and by being on physically seperated antennas polarised 90 degrees apart.

    Question 1:
    In ireland are cross polarised pairs of antennas always horizontal and verical? Or do some towers employ 45deg X-pol alligent?

    Question 2: If more than one frequency band is to be used, are wide band (multiband) antennas required?

    Question 3.
    Could we start an online data base of towers and the frequencies, polarisation that they use?
    The Comreg Siteviewer site has none of this info unfortunatly.

    1. 1: In Ireland, they are polarised horizontal and vertical. I’m not aware of any masts using 45 degree x-polarisation, which I think is mainly utilised in Australia.

      2: Only for 4G+ reception, where the router connects two both bands simultaneously for carrier aggregation. Another thing to watch out for is the physical distance from the 4G+ tower. When connecting in regular 4G mode, the cell will only allow connection on band 3 (1800MHz) within a certain distance, regardless of the signal strength and this distance can vary from tower to tower. Such a cell will also only allow connection on band 20 (800MHz) beyond a certain distance. For example, if you are very close to the tower and try using a single band 20 (800MHz) antenna, the tower’s radio will try handing the router over to band 3, causing the connection to drop. The router will try connecting on band 20 again and the loop repeats.

      3: The CellMapper website has a pretty good map showing the cell tower frequencies and roughly their locations. As far as I’m aware of, Comreg’s Siteview is the only map with the exact locations, so worth checking with it to pinpoint a tower after you come across one of interest on CellMapper. In the provider drop-down, type in Ireland and choose 3-2725. The CellMapper App is worth getting, which can look up the current band you’re connected to with most Android phones.

      If you have a Huawei B525 on site and plan getting an antenna for it, you can also view the current band it is connected to. Open the router’s web interface and go into the Settings menu and login. After you login, go to the URL Right-click the page and view the page source. Look for the ‘band’ tag, 20 = 800MHz and 3 = 1800MHz.

  13. Dear Sean
    This is such a great site… I am desperately trying to get my broadband speed back up again otherwise I’m about to lose my job which involves broadband at home. Sadly I think the problem is saturated microwave link to the local Three mast but I just want to check if there is any point in your view in trying another antenna.

    We have a German MIMO antenna for 800 MHz like this one: https://www.ebay.ie/itm/LTE-Panel-Antenne-5m-Kabel-800-MHz-Telekom-Speedport-LTE-SpeedBox-II-III-2-3/281767016043?hash=item419a9f766b:g:we0AAOSwT6pVw0qS:rk:17:pf:0

    The stats from the router are:
    RSRQ -6dB
    RSRP -87dBm
    SINR 9dB
    Our three mast is a rural one and we are on band 20. Unfortunately we are in a valley and can only “see” one mast.

    Do you think there is any point in trying another antenna, or two separated antennas, or will we chalk it up to mast over capacity? It’s worse in the evenings and it’s actually got worse over the past couple of years as more people have taken to using 4G.

    Is there any other information that would help? If I could get 6Mb reliably then I could keep the job. It will often show high speeds on tests like speedof.me but in reality it’s not a fast connection.

    Thank you!

    1. Those signal readings from your router are pretty good, especially the RSRQ. A fully loaded cell will have an RSRQ of -12dB at best, which indeed points the issue at the mast’s microwave/backhaul. A separate second antenna will likely improve the SINR value. Unforetunately, I really doubt it will improve the speed as I would expect a speed of around 40-50Mbps with those figures from a band 20 cell.

      For comparison, my current RSRQ is -13dB, RSRP is -102dBm and SINR is -2dB (all a lot worse readings than yours) and speedof.me currently gives my current speed is 8.2Mbps down / 15.01Mbps up and testmy.net (UK server) gives 13.6Mbps down and 14.6Mbps up.

      If your work-related traffic is under 50GB/month (or can afford €30 per 50GB block if over), try an Eir prepay mobile broadband SIM to see if you get any better on their network, even on 3G mode. You can order the SIM free on their website, send €30 to its 085 # (e.g. via online banking) and purchase the 50GB pass. For example, the last time I tried Eir (Meteor) here, I got 8-12Mbps pretty much any time of day/night despite only having a 3G connection. If it performs well, you can get a separate router and antenna to use that for work and use your current Three connection for home usage.

  14. Great information and good suggestion! You have a fine lateral-thinking mind – many thanks. I wish they could keep the Comreg mast map up to date, because until recently, our mast CK0199 only had Eir GSM – no 3G or 4G. But I will nab an Eir SIM, and test what’s there in reality again…!

    1. When the Eir SIM arrives, pop it in the router before adding credit. This way you’ll be able to check whether it shows a 3G or 4G signal and its strength before deciding whether to add credit for a test-run.

  15. Hi Sean

    I currently have a B525s-23a and a Poynting Cross Polarised High gain 4G Panel LTE MIMO Antenna on the three network.

    I am currently loosing my connection in the evenings as it switches between 4g and 4g+, with dropouts of 2-4 minutes at a time.
    I am mainly on Band 3 with the following values:
    RSRQ = -9dB
    RSRP = -96dB
    RSSI = -63dB
    SINR = 3dB

    Should I get a better antenna and what would you recommend?

    Thank you

    1. I don’t think the switching between 4G and 4G+ itself is the issue as 4G+ just means it is using carrier aggregation, i.e. connecting to 800MHz and 1800MHz simultaneously. One possibility is that it’s switching back and forth between two masts.

      First try swapping the two antenna leads on your router. This will swap the polarity it uses for transmission as the router only transmits on antenna port #1. If this does not help, the next step would be to try rotating your antenna roughly 30 degrees one way, check the stability and try again 30 degrees in the other direction, even if the signal is weaker. If the connection dropping is due to it swapping back and forth between an out-of-range mast, this angle-adjustment could prevent that. If the antenna has height angle adjustment, you can also try aiming it roughly 10 to 20 degrees down, which would prevent it trying to hop to a more distant mast, in case that is the issue.

      A while back, someone posted a link to a utility called LTEInspecteur (download link), which shows a real-time read-out of the router’s signal information. You can monitor that during the outages to see whether there is a nose-dive in the readings (which could indicate a dodgy mobile repeater/booster oscillating in the area). You can also use the utility to lock the router to band 3, which will prevent it going into 4G+ mode in case it’s trying to use a weak 800MHz (band 20) mast for the carrier aggregation. To undo the change, toggle the router into 3G-only mode and then back to auto.

      1. Hi Sean

        Here are the results from before and after swapping the cables:
        Before swap
        Band 3: 37 ms ping and 9.3 Mbps Down , 12 Mbps Up
        RSRP = -99dB (good)
        RSSI = -69 dB (good)
        RSRQ = -8.7 dB (good)
        SINR = 9dB (fair)

        Band 20: 28ms ping and 2 Mbps Down,13 Mbps Up
        RSRP = -91dB (good)
        RSSI = -57 dB (good)
        RSRQ = -16.5 dB (poor)
        SINR = -5dB (poor)

        After swap
        Band 3: 35 ms ping and 8.45 Mbps Down, 8.73 Mbps Up
        RSRP = -99dB (good)
        RSSI = -67 dB (good)
        RSRQ = -10 dB (fair)
        SINR = 8dB (fair)

        Band 20: 25ms ping and 0.5 Mbps Down, 0.8 Mbps Up
        RSRP = -91dB (good)
        RSSI = -57 dB (good)
        RSRQ = -17 dB (poor)
        SINR = -5dB (poor)

        For what I see, I get 4 bars for Band 3 and 5 bar for Band 20
        I have now restricted the router to Band 3.
        I am 4.6km from the mast with a line of sight 2 meters off the ground through a 1-2 trees.
        I can’t adjust the mast as its fixed in its current position.
        Do you think a better mast would pick up the Band 30 and Band 3?

        I am happy with the speed its the drop outs in the evening for 1-2 minutes that kills Netflix etc.


        1. It looks like band 20 is causing your drop-outs. Based on the RSRQ being that negative, it appears to be picking up two band 20 masts. If you cannot turn the antenna, I recommend getting a mounting pole and clamps for your antenna that will let you freely turn the antenna to the left/right, such as a satellite dish mount. Try 20-30 degrees to the left/right to see which gives the least negative RSRQ reading on band 20, which should improve its stability in 4G+ mode where it connects to both bands simultaneously.

          1. Thanks Sean

            I will try that, might take a while.
            So I can understand how can you see from the readings that it is reading two Band 20 signals, so I can watch out for it when I rotate the antenna?
            Could it be reading reflections or a side mast?
            I use https://www.scadacore.com/tools/rf-path/rf-line-of-sight/ to plot myline of sight to a mast from https://siteviewer.comreg.ie/ and I can only see 1 LTE three mast in my view, then mountains are in my way 🙂

            Thank you

          2. Reflections is another possibility, although it’s more likely a new mast that ComReg does not have in its Site Viewer database yet. ComReg took about a year to list the Three 4G mast in my area when it originally went live.

            If you have a laptop handy, you can run the LTEInspecteur full screen and place it somewhere where you can see the screen from up the ladder. After you loosen the antenna bolts, slowly rotate it until you get the least negative RSRQ reading. For fine-tuning, you can try getting the SINR value as positive as possible, particularly if you don’t see much change in the RSRQ value over 10-20 degrees of adjustment. The SINR value is slow to update, taking something like 10-20 seconds to refresh, compared to every 1-2 seconds for the RSRQ.

  16. I will do that. I will be a cold day on the ladder 🙂

    I can see from the data what you mean about another cell as the RSRQ = -17 dB indicates I am looking at the edge of another cell.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Sean

      Tried your advice with no change, seems that the current antenna supplied is a cross polarised antenna so rotating it did not make any change, which is a pity. I tried pointing away from the mast which did not make a difference either.
      I think either the Band 20 mast is behind the Band 3 mast or they are the same but the Band 20 is not working very well.

      Do you think a more focused antenna would be better?
      I have locked the router to Band 3 but I am still getting the drop outs only during peak times, it’s like Three are doing something on there side that causes issues?


      1. I’m surprised you’re still getting drop-outs with the router locked to band 3 as your band 3 readings are reasonably good and better than my own readings, yet my connection is very stable. Before replacing the antenna, try checking the data connectivity with a mobile on the Three network in 4G mode during an outage. Alternatively, you can try leaving LTEInspecteur running in the background and bring it up the moment you notice the connection drop to check the signal readings. If the mobile’s data connection is also down when your router drops out or the Band 3 signal readings are no different during the outage, then this would indicate an outage feeding the masts in the area.

        A pair of LOG antennas (like these) should improve the signal quality for both band 3 and 20, especially if your current antenna is the omni-direcitonal model. However, as your drop-outs are occurring with your router also locked on band 3, it’s now looking more like an issue with Three’s backhaul to the area.

        1. Hi Sean

          So the my SINR jumps between a minimum of 0 dB and a max of 13 dB on Band 3. But this does not line up with the drop outs. So my guess it is the Three mast. The RSRQ ranged from -6 to -12 dB.
          Might look for another mast and the LOG antennas.


  17. Hi Sean, Thank you so much for this thread the information within it answers questions that are so hard to find answers to.

    I am due to move into my new home next week. I have carried out a bit of research on the area and can see that there is a Mast located 1km away from my property. When carrying out my final viewing before moving in i did a quick speed test on my mobile (BT) whilst at the property and got 6md download and 2.95 upload. The owner confirmed Current ADSL gets 10mb. the house is very tall and although the distance between the house and the mask has trees in the way which are viewable on google maps but when viewed whilst at the house, i feel the height of mounting will probably mitigate. I am in the surrey area and was thinking of purchasing B525 router and pairing with these https://www.amazon.co.uk/Antennas-11dBi-LowcostMobile-2x10m-Huawei-Black/dp/B01N11WV54/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1550852297&sr=8-13&keywords=mimo+antenna
    I will then purchase a 200gb a month data sim with ee.

    What do you think of that antenna, if not any good what would you recommend for such a setup.


    1. Before going with EE, I recommend giving Three a test run if you can get lend of a Three handset. If your phone is unlocked, you can try running speed tests with a Three prepay SIM. Be sure to run the tests in the evening around 7-9pm as this is usually when the network is at its most congested. If the speed is poor in 4G mode, retest with the phone set to 3G mode. With most people using 4G, the 3G network can be quiet and faster in some areas such as this example.

      If Three’s speed is fine, they have a £22/month mobile broadband contract with unlimited usage (1000GB in its fine print). They provide a Huawei B311 router with the 24 month contract. The router has 2 SMA antenna connections, so you can get the antenna at a later stage.

      If you prefer EE (e.g. poor Three speed/signal), I suggest getting the Huawei B525 first to see what the speed and signal readings are like, particularly the RSRQ and SINR values. While those antennas look sturdy and well-built, my main concern would be the 45-degree angles of the mount. Usually the antennas are polarised horizontal and vertical for MIMO within Europe, whereas Australia and New Zealand uses 45-degree X polarisation for MIMO. One option would be to purchase two of the “RAD58HV 10M” option on the page and mount the second antenna horizontally.

      1. Thanks Sean,
        I have purchased the two RAD58HV and booked an Aerial engineer to attend and mount. I will ask him to mount 1m a part with the second antenna horizontal.

        I will have my laptop connected to router and run tests whilst the fitter is fitting to assist with getting the best result.
        I will update on how i get on.

        1. High Sean
          I have finally moved in and have had an engineer round to mount the two RAD58HV 10M. these are mounted on a log pole about the chimney at the highest point.
          Results have been interesting: With the engineer on site I was able to receive speeds of around 50mb (up around 22) with both Three and Vodafone. RSRQ was approx. -8 with an RSRP of 89 and SINR of 11. With EE I was getting download speeds of close to 70mb (up around 30mb). RSRQ was -6 RSRP was 80 and SINR 8.
          Shortly after the engineer left Three and Vodafone speeds have suddenly just fallen off, I am now experiencing between 8-10 down and 20 upload. Values have changed as well RSRQ -6, RSRP -97 SINR around 3b (on one refresh was 0). I cant understand why as nothing has changed since we completed previous tests and the engineer leaving. Funnily enough EE is still pushing ahead strong with a download of above 60mb.
          I have changed the antenna over on the router but this has not changed anything.
          I was temporarily using a XPOL -0001 omni directional poynting I was getting speeds of around 20mb for both three and Vodafone when it was mounted to a window with suction pads so it does not seem right that the two RAD58HV are achieving slow speeds.
          I am not sure if this is the cause but I have mounted the antenna one below the other on a single mount (one being vertically higher than the other on the same mount) with a space of 1m. rather than beside each other (them running horizontally parallel) on two different mounts side by side. I have seen some pictures of the Whittenbergs online and they always seem to be mounted side by side. Just wondering if this would account for the difference.

          thanks again for all your help

          1. Sorry, I saw your comment e-mailed to me a few times, but was at work at the time, so I inserted the last one. That’s a bummer how much the speed dropped off after the engineer left. One possibility is that the antenna is aimed at a further away Three/Vodafone mast group that gets higher contention in the evening. Generally when the upload performs faster than the download, this is a sign of a cell with high network load. As the XPOL is omni-directional, it will lock on to the strongest/nearest mast, so may be picking up a different mast to what the directional antennas are aimed at.

            As far as I’m aware of, the antennas should work fine on the same pole as long as they are spaced well enough apart. 1 metre is more than sufficient for the MIMO separation.

          2. Thanks Sean,

            It looks like I am going to just run with EE and try and make savings elsewhere.
            Cell mapper had previously listed two masts quite close to each other. One was close to the rail station and looked like a tall metal tower with various broadcasting equipment on it and the other near the road side and is a tall green pole thicker than a street light and taller. We directed the antennas to the one by the rail station but this mast is no longer listed on cell mapper and all apps are showing connection to the one near the road side. We are adjusting the antenna slightly to point directly at the mast that the antennas seem to be picking up. My engineer will be mounting laterally whilst he is up there for no additonal charge as he is carrying out some other work.
            Slow speed issue Issue with Three is not just at night time but consistently through the day, so it may have just been picking up a mast further away. If this readjustment does not solve the issue with Three, EE will just have to be the solution. Out of interest what would you say are the best directional MIMO antennas to use would there be any benefit in changing the RAD58HV at all?

  18. Hi Sean,

    Reading through this page and some very good information!

    Now I am not sure what my actual problem is with my 4g Internet set up is but I can set up my 4g router with duel external antenna and according to the web browser for the router I am getting 5 bars of signal with a download speed of 6mb and up load of 6mb. Now at some point during the night this all changes and I get 2 bars of signal BUT! The speed is now 22mb down and 8 up and once it changes to this it will stay there for ever.

    What would cause this change in signal strength and also download speed? I thought it might be picking up a different mast in the opposite direction, so tried to change orientation of the antenna but as soon as I move it even 30 degrees is jumps back to the 5 bar signal and wont let go of that mast no matter if I switch the router on and off again.

    Currently away at work but I will check the readings other people have posted once I get back. as this page has given me some stuff to check out.

    I am currently using these Items;
    Router – huawei b315
    Antenna – Poynting LPDA

    I noticed you mentioned one needs to be in the horizontal plane while the second needs to be vertical I bought the bracket sold on the website but it runs them at 45 degrees to vertical with 9 degrees between the antenna would this be causing a problem?

    1. As the Huawei B315 operates on one band, it’s quite possible that your router is switching between two bands rather than two different masts. For example, the Irish and UK Three network operates on 800MHz and 1800MHz, with some masts offering both bands for 4G+. With a router that does not support 4G+, the router will choose one depending on the signal strength (RSRP) and quality (RSRQ). The lower the network load, the better the signal quality, so what I suspect is that in the middle of the night, signal quality of the weaker band improves to the point where the router switches over.

      I’m not sure if the Huawei B315 can give the band # read out, but worth a try:

      1. Open the router’s web interface:
      2. Go into the Settings tab and login
      3. Open the following URL:
      4. Right-click the page, then click ‘View Page Source’ or ‘View Source’
      5. Look at the value for the ‘band’ tag

      Take note of that band # with the full signal reading and again when it drops to 2-bars. If it’s different, then the router is switching between bands, likely broadcast on the same mast. Higher frequencies don’t penetrate as far, especially through vegetation, buildings, etc. so this would explain why one is much weaker than the other.

      I don’t think that getting a vertical/horizontal bracket will help improve the weaker signal as the antenna angle mainly affects MIMO, where the router operates on two antennas simultaneously. What it may do is improve the speed. If the strong signal band is 20 and the weaker band is 3 or 7 (e.g. EE UK), you can try getting an antenna that only picks up the higher frequency bands. For example, this antenna (if you can find one similar) will only pick up the higher frequency bands. So if the weak signal is on band 3 and the stronger signal is on band 20, this antenna may weaken the unwanted band 20 to the point where the router will consistently latch on to the band 3 signal.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me! I’ll take a look at these once I get back from work and will update once checked. The weird thing is once it goes onto the 2 bar signal it will stay their and give me the faster speeds, I just assumed it was picking up another antenna somewhere near it.

        Will try this out and find out whats happening.

      2. this is the only Information when I try that address you’ve linked.

        -10dB -117dBm -89dBm -1dB 7

        Not sure which readings which any ideas?

          1. I assume the “-10dB -117dBm -89dBm -1dB 7” were with the 2 bar reading, which would correspond to RSRQ -10dB, RSRP -117dBm and SINR -1dB. Check if there is a ‘band’ tag mentioned further down the figures. On my Huawei B525, it’s the fifth line from the bottom. I think the mode # just refers to being in 4G mode.

            If there is no band tag, I still suspect the weaker signal is with it connected on a higher frequency band, especially if you were able to get over 20Mbps with those weak readings. If those readings were with band 20, I would expect the speed to be a low single digit reading.

            Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any way of improving the figures other than to get a higher gain narrow band antenna that covers bands 3 & 7, assuming the router is switching to a higher band when you get the poor signal, but faster speed.

  19. Hi Sean,

    Those previous readings were all on the full 5 bars worth of signal at around 6meg up and down.

    Here is the ones when switched to the 2 bars worth.

    rsrq -11dB
    rsrp -113dBm
    rssi -85dBm
    sinr -5dB

  20. Hi

    Thanks for this article, this made things much more clear for me! Some points are still open for me:

    I have a Router which takes 3 SIM Cards and therefore also have 3 antennas (SMA Connectors). I was planning to put that in a Pelicase and use short extension cables to reposition the connectors somewhere on the case. I have worries that I loose signal strength on that extension cables (30cm), what do you think?

    Also I could get better signal if I could bring the antennas higher up with a tripod or so, but that would need additional extension cables for the antennas outside the case as well. How long can I go without loosing to much signal?

    1. Short extension cables will probably attenuate the signal by around 1-3dB, like using pigtail adapters to attach the cables to a modem with TS9 or CRC ports. If the router reports the RSRP figure and it’s less negative than -100dBm, the attenuation will not cause any issue as the signal will remain above the noise floor of the router.

      I am not sure if the antenna height will have much effect indoors, unless raising the height avoids the antenna pointing through furniture or other objects. If possible, I suggest installing the antenna outdoors, even if it means adding longer extension cables to reach. Generally most antennas work with up a 10 metre run. However, if a longer run means that the antenna can be installed such that it points over a building or thick wall (instead of through it), the additional signal will more than compensate for another 5 to 10 metres of extension.

  21. Hi Sean – I hope you are doing well.

    I accidentally caused some damage to my b525 Huawei modem which was running well with two rad56 11db directional antennas connected via sma and above my chimney. A friend was kind enough to get me a good discount on the Huawei B618 modem. I have purchased the sma female to ts9 male connectors to get my old setup running with the new modem.
    On the box of the modem it states that it is cat11 4×4 MIMO. I have done a bit of research on this and it apparently allows you to use 4 antenna. However the router only has two antenna ports on it so I cant understand how this would work. Are you in the know how of what this “4×4 MIMO” means and how I could possibly put it to use as there is very limited Info on the net.

    Thank you very much

    1. 4×4 does indeed involve 4 antennas – Two pairs of antennas polarised 90 degrees apart and spaced apart. When the mast operates on 4×4 MIMO, the two pairs of antennas picks up different phases of the transmissions and the hardware decodes the received data to retrieve the data on the 4 streams. With a 2×2 MIMO mast, the router just operates with two antennas like the older B525 router.

      Unfortunately it looks like most of the 4×4 MIMO capable routers have gone with the same approach they did when HSPA+ modems routers hit the market. HSPA+ uses two antennas for receive diveristy, however, modems that supported receive diversity only provided one antenna port. When an antenna was attached, it used an internal antenna as the second antenna. I suspect it’s the same for the 4×4 MIMO capable routers, where two internal antennas will be used in combination with the external antennas.

      Here in Ireland, none of the networks currently support 4×4 MIMO, which means that the B618 will operate much the same as the B525 in Ireland. In the UK, EE and Vodafone both use 4×4 MIMO in some areas.

  22. Thanks Sean – I am using both 3 and Ee. Without using the external antennas ee literally gets very low speeds just over 1mb but with the external has the fastest speeds of all networks I have tried at around 65mb so I can’t see the 4×4 internal aspect making much of a difference with ee. I will be interested to see if it makes a difference using the three sim as without external antenna it achieves speeds of around 7mb with external around 30mb.

    1. Unfortunately, going by Wikipedia, the Three UK network only uses 2×2 MIMO. However, if the B618 has a more sensitive receiver, it could perform a little better even with the two antennas. For example, I have heard people getting better performance with the Huawei B525 over the older Huawei B593s, so it’s possible the B618 could do the same again.

  23. Thanks Sean

    Is there a way i.e. through cell mapper to identify if a local ee mast is operating off 4×4 MIMO or is this not really possible?

    Thanks for all your input

    1. With a suitable rooted 4×4 MIMO capable phone, it’s possible with the app Network Signal Guru.

      I am not sure if that router offers any API technical info to state whether it’s 4×4 MIMO capable. One thing you could try is go into the router’s web interface and into its settings menu and log in. Then go to the URL Right-click the page and view source. Check the tag ‘dl_mcs’ to see what the code goes up to.

      With a regular 4G cell, it typically shows “mcsDownCarrier1Code0” and “mcsDownCarrier1Code1”, which corresponds to the current modulation it is using on each antenna port. I suspect it will show a Code2 and Code3 if the router is currently connected with 4×4 MIMO, assuming your router also shows this in that page.

  24. Great post Sean, thanks for all the very useful information.

    So last night I was tempted to order LOG antenna as my 4G speeds on Eir were woeful on our Huawei B528 1.2Mbps/0.5Mbps. Checked the stats: RSRP was -109dBm and the SINR was -7dB, way worse than normal.

    This morning, speeds super 21.8Mbps/15.5Mbps and connection stats: RSRP -96dBm and SINR 9dB.

    So question, does the connection drop due to network congestion or issue at the mast that was resolved overnight?

  25. Not sure about Eir, but on the 3 network, they reduce the speeds at peak times – most evenings my speed goes down to 3mbps download, 14mbps upload.
    Then at say 3am, the speed could be 20Mbps download, 16mbps upload.

  26. Hi Seán, very informative article, enjoyed the Three Ireland specific knowledge.
    I’d like to use the LM960 which is a LTE Advanced-Pro CAT 18 modem on Three’s network. The modem has the capacity to do 4X4 MIMO and 7 channel carrier aggregation (5 down, 2 up). I was thinking of using 4 Log-period/Yagi antenna and I’m wondering in what configuration they should be setup, all at 90 degrees to each other or something else? And do you know if Three’s network even supports this? I’m based on Dublin City’s Northside with line of sight to a transmission mast so I’m hopeful! Thanks

    1. Unfortunately, all three networks in Ireland only operate with Category 6 using 2×2 MIMO and QAM64. With the Three network, this consists of a 15MHz or 20MHz carrier on band 3 and a 10MHz carrier on band 20. The maximum aggregated throughput is 225Mbps from what I recall.

      The antenna configuration for 4×4 MIMO consists of two vertical antennas and two horizontal antennas, spaced apart. With mobiles, this usually involves two horizontal and two vertical antennas in a square shape. Depending how the phone is held affects the antenna spacing from the angle of the cell tower, so I doubt the spacing is crticial for physically mounted antennas either.

      I don’t know the exact theory of how 4×4 MIMO works, but from what I recall reading it works like this: The transmitter transmits a pair of carrier signals from two vertical antennas, slightly out of phase from each other and another pair from two horizontal antennas, again slightly out of phase. When one set of vertical signals arrive at the antennas, they arrive in phase on one vertical antenna (constructive interference) and out of phase on the second vertical antenna (destructive interference) and vice versa for the second set of vertical signals. The same applies on horizontal polarity, potentially doubling the throughput on each polarity over 2×2 MIMO.

      If I was going to set up four antennas, I would try to position them in a similar layout to what mobiles use, i.e. two vertical LOG periodic antennas side by side (along a horizontal pole) and two horizontal antennas one above the other (along a vertical pole). I don’t think the spacing between the vertical or horizontal antennas is important as I reckon the transmitter will synchronise the signal phasing to allow the constructive and destructive interference to take place at each antenna. For example, if someone with a 4×4 MIMO handset had to optimally hold their phone a certain angle for 4×4 MIMO to work, then 4×4 MIMO would be a dud in handsets.

      At the moment, I’m not sure how the modem will use 4 antennas with a 2×2 MIMO transmitter. With a 2×2 MIMO modem with a weak 4G signal using two antennas polarised the same way, it uses the second antenna for receive diversity. So it’s quite possible a 4×4 modem will use the second set of antennas for receive diversity with a 2×2 MIMO transmitter. This is something I have not tested.

      1. Thanks for that detailed response, I was thinking the same about mounting the antennas in a square configuration. Am I right in thinking that in Ireland the antennas must be either parallel or perpendicular to the ground as opposed to +45/-45 degrees to the normal as in other countries (ie. USA)?

        Shame Three hasn’t upgraded their network yet, I was intrigued by their €30 “Unlimited” (750GB) plan.

        I’ve seen some news articles that would suggest that Vodafone have the capability to do at lest CAT 16 LTE Advanced presumably with 4X4 MIMO too, although it could have only been temporarily for a trial.
        Do you know of any Irish networks that theoretically support up to Gigabit speeds? I’m excited hearing about Vodafone’s Docklands 5G trials, but who knows how long it will take for that to be commercially available here. No consumer 5G modems outside of certain phones on the market yet either.

        1. After seeing many antennas sold with 45 degree brackets online within Europe and some antennas with circular polarisation, it has got me wondering whether the antenna angles matter as long as the two are polarised 90 degrees apart. If the transmitters use circular polarisation, then the left-hand and right-hand signals will be picked up by the pair of antennas as long as both are polarised 90 degrees apart, e.g. one vertical and second horizon or one +45 degrees and the second -45 degrees, etc. I have yet to find any article that confirms that 4G broadcasts with circular polarisation.

          Indeed I heard about Vodafone’s trial, but so far no further word on them going live with 4×4 MIMO or 256 QAM. In theory, with the 30MHz of licenced bandwidth, this would potentially offer up to 600Mbps aggregated throughput. Vodafone used band 7 in their demo, which ComReg has not auctioned off yet. Then again, one main issue the mobile operators face is backhaul capacity to the masts. For example, most rural masts don’t have enough backhaul capacity to cover their current 2×2 QAM64 capacity. A good example is the Three 4G+ mast in Killybegs, which maxes out at just over 40Mbps even in the hours of the morning. Basically upgrading these masts would be like getting a top of the range Nighthawk router with a slow DSL connection coming into the house.

  27. Hi Sean,

    I’m using a Huawei b525 router in the attic in an urban area on Three network.

    I’m getting the following readings:
    Rsrq: -13dB
    Rsrp: -87dBm
    Sinr: 13db

    I was hoping to run netflix, do you think getting a mast will help or is this a contention issue? If you think a mast would help is there any particular mast you would recommend? I hope I have given you enough information.

    1. Your signal strength (RSRP) and signal to noise readings (SINR) are pretty good. Unfortunately, it looks like your main issue is high contention on the mast. The easiest way to test is run a speed test early in the morning such as around 7am. If you get very good speed early in the morning, then an antenna may not help.

      As you mention you are in an urban area, you are very likely in a 4G+ area where Three operates on both band 3 and 20. One thing you can try is lock your router to band 3 with the utility LTEInspecteur. Windows will give a security warning to run it, so you’ll need to choose ‘Run anyway’. In the utility, click ‘1800 MHz (B3)’ on the left, wait a minute for the router to reconnect and try some speed tests. If this does not work or you get no signal, you can undo the change by choosing the ‘Automatic’ option. Another way to undo the change is by toggling the network mode to 3G mode and then back to Automatic in the router’s web interface.

      1. Thanks for the info, I locked the router to band 3, but the LTEInspecteur won’t let me change it back to automatic. It gives me an error. I have changed it to 3g and changed it back to automatic and when I reopen the LTEInspecteur it is still on band 3. It’s the same when I reset the router and open the LTEInspecteur again. Do you have any recommendations on how to get it back to automatic?

        1. It looks like there is a bug in the latest LTEInspecteur release, however, I did manage to switch it back to automatic by trying to select a band is not in use.

          Try selecting 2100MHz (B1). On my end it will display an error like “No answer from router”, then after about 10 seconds it will automatically switch back to the Automatic mode where 800, 1800, 2100 and 2600 are all highlighted again.

  28. Hello,

    thank you for this awesome page, you have answered so many questions i have been trying to figure out for ages.

    My property is in a huge black spot at the top of valley with mountains at three sides and nearest mast being just under 3km away from me. I have one spot on my property that gets a small 1 bar LTE signal, but its very intermittent, my problem is that it is 160 meters from the house as crow flies, you said about having cables less that 10 meters, at 160 meters is possible to send data from ariel to the repeater or am i dreaming that it would be that simple

  29. Hi Sean,
    Such a great resource you have here! Has helped me choose between Vodafone & 3 internet, opted for 3, I have some choices still to make namely the type of antenna to go for, I have some system readings:

    RSSI -78dBm
    RSCP -83dBm
    ECIO -5dB
    Wireless transmit power
    PLMN 23420
    Could you be so kind as to advise on the best type of antenna I should opt for?
    Many thanks in advance.

    1. This morning’s readings: (0740, 03/07)

      CELL_ID 2438918
      RSRQ -4dB
      SINR 15dB
      Wireless transmit power
      PPusch:0dBm PPucch:-12dBm PSrs:0dBm PPrach:4dBm
      Uplink mod/demod of MCS
      Downlink mod/demod of MCS
      mcsDownCarrier1Code0:0 mcsDownCarrier1Code1:0
      PLMN – 23420
      I have a direct line of sight to tower, about 2.4km away, quite a rural location, any thoughts?
      Thanks in advance,

      1. Your signal strength is very good, but the interference is very high in the evening going by the negative ECIO. It’s quite likely you are in-between two masts and the unwanted mast is causing interference when its traffic load increases in the evening. If you currently have rabbit-ear antennas on your router, position them in a V shape, one 45 degrees left and the other 45 degrees right to see if it gives any improvement in the meantime.

        With your strong signal strength, you’ll probably get away with a cheap MIMO LOG antenna like this to install outdoors. This should help reduce the interference from masts in other directions.

        1. Hi Sean,
          thank you for that, I don’t have rabbit ears on the router, just the one rabbit ear, I’ll stick on another, and do as you said & if that works (fingers crossed) i’ll get the MiMo Log antenna you very kindly suggested.
          Thank you so much for your help, you are a Star!
          i’ll let you know in due course how it all turns out.
          best regards,
          ed 😉

  30. Hi Sean

    First off, excellent site and has provided many hours of readings. if you wouldn’t mind advising on an aerial for the setup below I would be very grateful!

    Currently using a B315 router with no internal or external aerials as of yet. My current readings indoors are as follows.

    RSRQ: -9dB
    RSRP: -103dBm
    RSSI: -87dBm
    SINR: 2dB

    I have downloaded the LTE Inspector program and using the data from this shows I am on band 20 and switching to 3 drops the speed right down to below 1mb/s.

    Currently I am getting around 10mb/s rising to 14mb/s on occasion with very poor 0.5mb/s upload speeds, the last couple of nights has seen the connection dropping randomly with a lot of packet loss.

    I am on Vodafone and the mast is located approx 3.5km away with no direct line of sight as we are surrounded by forestry.

    Signal readings below are from having the outside pointing roughly towards transmitter.

    RSRQ: -9dB
    RSRP: -99dBm
    RSSI: -83dBm
    SINR: 3dB

    Download speeds outsite seem to sit around 14mb/s with upload a lot better at 6mb/s ping is also improved.

    For me stability and latency are the most important aspects of this connection with speeds less so.

    I would like to improve the setup with an aerial and from reading the comments here believe an aerial should help but which one to get is the question!

    Would you be able to advise on which aerial setup might be best suited to my situation?

    1. With your signal readings, you will likely get away with a pair of wideband LOG antennas as basically the SINR reading is poor (polarisation separation). A pair of ~800MHz logs would help further, although are quite expensive and large (like fringe TV antennas). I have a pair of Wittenberg LAT 22 antennas which work very well for me on band 20. The following pair on Amazon UK are similar to what I have:

      As you were able to pick up a band 3 signal (despite the poor speed), it might be worth trying to get a high gain band 3 antenna to lock on it. Personally my preferred antenna for this would be a pair of colinear tube antennas. I haven’t seen these sold for a while (these were sold by Proscan on eBay), but heard good feedback about them picking up distant band 3 masts with good bandwidth. Both Vodafone and Three have double the bandwidth on band 3 than 20 and their band 3 masts typically operate on 3 sectors compared to just one or two for band 20.

      The following is a MIMO panel for band 3, although may not be sufficient for the very weak signal you picked up (based on the <1Mbps speed):

      A “satellite dish” hack is another effective way of getting very fringe reception on band 3 and was quite a popular method before antennas were widely available, i.e. some people used crude methods such as placing their data dongle where the LNB goes. In this case, the antenna goes there and you’ll need a pair of N to SMA leads to run to the router:

      1. Hi Sean

        Thank you very much for the detailed reply, I think for the moment getting a good signal on Band 20 would be a good idea and then I can research getting a suitable setup to try for band 3 on the side.

        I have found these linked below, would this be a similar setup to that you recommended?


        I don’t mind spending good money on an aerial, we are unlikely to ever get fibre here so am happy to invest in equipment that lasts!

        Thanks again for your time and advice.

        1. That set is the same pair of band 20 antennas that I am using and are the most sensitive that I have used to date. You will need the pole mount set further down the page or something similar to mount them side by side as well as to tilt them up a little. One issue I ran into with the horizontal antenna is that when it rains, water droplets build-up in-between the two rods and attenuate the signal. To reduce this, tilt the pair up a few degrees and connect the horizontal antenna to antenna port #2 on your router.

          If possible, try fine tuning the antenna with LTE Inspecteur on a laptop or where you can see it on a PC screen, aiming for the least negative RSRQ and most positive SINR figures.

  31. Hi, I’m wondering what your opinion would be for the best external antenna I could put outdoors to maximize the speeds. I took my repeaters outdoor antenna and just connected it directly to my router with a N female to SMA male part/adapter I bought online. The upload doubled and ping was slightly better but the download dropped all the way down to like 2-5 max mostly around 1 or 2. My goal is to stream to twitch without the 100-160ms delay I usually get when I start the stream (30-60ms without stream upload) using around 3700 bitrate currently and its playable but it definitely can be improved. the repeaters outdoor antenna (i assume is some kind of LTE antenna anyway) only has one N male connector and for some reason when I plug it into the 2nd antenna port on router (using the N-sma adapter) it wont work at all but it does in port one. the router is a huawei b525 , not sure if the 2nd port is broken/disabled. i’ve bypassed the repeater completely and not using it now to see if a direct connection to the antenna outside would help and it did in terms of upload but it was a trade off for download for some reason. does the repeater actually amplify/increase download speed? maybe thats why its less. I screenshot the LTEinspecteur log here :
    also sometimes it will randomly get the 4G + sign but almost instantly lose it again, haven’t been able to get a lock onto that one . the LTE inspecteur also seems to only find 800mhz , i’m quite far away from masts I think, living in the hills and according to three I get my 4G from arranmore (and it would make sense since im pointing the antenna in that direction), and on google maps I measured the distance diagonally and it was 16 KM from me to the arranmore antenna.

    1. A 4G+ indicator is a sign that the mast you are picking up carries both band 3 and 20 as 4G+ uses a combination of the two. What I suspect is that the repeater’s antenna is a 900MHz antenna, which generally has no problem picking up the 800MHz band, but not the 1800MHz band. When you attached just the one antenna, your router operates without MIMO, which loses around half the download capacity. Transmissions however only take place on antenna port #1, so you would need two antennas (in opposite polarities) for the router to work with the second antenna port.

      Going by the LTEinspecteur graph, the mast appears to have very high contention. For the antenna, I suggest getting a pair of LTE LOG antennas. These cover both bands and provide a better chance of maintaining the 4G+ connection or being able to force your router on the 1800MHz-only band. This pair would be my suggestion, which you can mount on a reasonable length wall-mount pole.

      Another option would be to try temporarily running your B525 outside, such as with an extension lead when there’s little chance of rain. Run LTEinspecteur again to see if it will force on the 1800MHz band. If it maintains the connection, a better antenna option would be a high gain band 3 antenna such as a modified satellite dish (an example). This will take some patience setting up (like trying to point a satellite TV dish without a signal beeper), but would provide much better throughput as the 1800MHz band tends to be much less congested due to its short range and having up to double the bandwidth of the 800MHz band on Three.

      1. Thanks I ordered the LTE LOG antennas you suggested hopefully it finally solves the issue I have. I’m going to try going outside with the router with an extension lead now to see if I can pick up the 4G + signal. Any time I see it (looking at the signal strength page it shows 4G+ for a second or two then drops back to regular 4G quite often. I’ll let you know how it goes within hour or two.

  32. I took the router outside with extension lead and It’s the same thing it shows it for a split second and then it goes again, (the 4G+ icon) then reverts back to regular 4G. The signal is always 5 Bars with the repeaters antenna but as you suspected it may be a 900mhz antenna thats why it’s not getting the 4G+ signal. I tried picking 1800 mhz in the LTEinspecteur program and it just says “no answer from router – abort” . I’m assuming that the 4G+ is 1800 mhz ? the only one I seem to get is the 800 mhz one , but the + icon does appear randomly every so often but never stays. The pair of LTE LOG antennas should come tomorrow aswell so I will see how they go. One more thing , by reading the LTEinspecteur log, which stat would suggest mast contention? just a rough idea of which each stat means so I have a fair idea what to aim for while adjusting the antenna. thanks 🙂

    1. 4G+ is actually a combination of 800MHz and 1800MHz, so when it shows 4G+ it’s connected on both bands simultaneously. However, as it’s showing it only briefly, it’s probably trying to make the connection on 1800MHz (in turn showing 4G+), fails to connect and continues to operate on 800MHz only until it tries again. It’s also possible you may be outside the range limit of the 1800MHz mast as the operator can configure different maximum ranges for each band. This is measured based on the round-trip latency between the device and the mast.

      The RSRQ reading is a combination of the signal quality, interference and network load. With a good signal strength and low interference from neighbouring masts, it gives a very good indication of contention. -3dB to -6dB means the mast is idle and have a good signal quality. -8dB to -10dB is light to moderate traffic load and/or mild signal interference. -10dB to -12dB is moderate to heavy traffic and/or moderate signal interference. -12dB or more negative sustained generally indicates high traffic with more negative indicating higher interference.

      The SINR reading is the Signal to Interference Noise Ratio. When you set up the pair of antennas, try to get this figure as positive as possible, preferably over 10dB. It usually goes low or negative when there is high interference or there is just one antenna connected. Unlike the RSRQ, it is not affected by contention on the mast you’re connected to, but is affected by unwanted interference from neighbouring masts.

  33. Thanks for explaining it makes MUCH more sense now. Slowly getting hang of this stuff, been trying so many different things in the hope of getting a good service. So I just remembered there was these rabbit ear antennas that came with the B525 itself. So I plugged one of those into port 2 and left the repeaters outdoor antenna on port one. and interestingly enough it stayed on 4G+ for the longest I’ve seen it do yet, also I was able to force it onto the 1800 mhz , the router is just sitting on the window but here LTEinspecteur log with 1800 mhz > https://i.imgur.com/yeT2zcE.png
    the window is low down and i’d imagine signal is much better up at the height of the tree where the repeaters antenna is. it does show as no signal at all but plugging in that rabbit ear antenna seemed to enable me to connect to band 3. I also guess the repeaters outdoor antenna cant pick up 1800 mhz? Do you think that means the pair of LTE LOG antennas should get it? 16 km is quite far so I was afraid of it not being able to connect like you said. but even with no signal bars on the 1800 mhz i was getting better download speed than the 5 bars of regular 4G. really interesting

    1. I’m actually surprised it managed to hold on to the connection with the -122dBm RSRP figure. Those LOG antennas cover the 1800MHz band and certainly will pick up a better signal than the rabbit ear antenna. Despite the weak signal, the RSRQ is certainly better than what you were getting with the strong 800MHz signal, so that 1800MHz cell has much lower contention.

      It’s also possible that it’s coming in a different direction to the 800MHz mast. When you set up the LOG antennas, start by pointing them same direction as the repeater’s antenna and then try roughly 30 degrees in each direction to try improving the RSRP figure as much as possible. At least the good news is that the mast lets you connect on band 3 as I thought 10km was around the limit with Three for routers.

  34. Hey so amazing news with the LTE LOG antennas you suggested, I mounted them to a really long metal pole , the vertical one at the very top and the horizontal one just a little below pointing in the same direction , and tied it to the tree with rope, the pole is jammed inbetween a rock and the tree so its holding well. I initially started off with the band 3 and pick up 3 bars but since i turned i replugged them in its gone down to 1-2 , but i havent even began trying to adjust the pole yet. The speeds even on 1-2 bars of 1800 mhz I was getting 25-40 download and 5-10 up. which is amazing especially at this time of night i’ve never seen it that fast. I’m wondering now how to perfect the signal, i’m still doing it as of right now im going to try going outside with laptop and moving it around to see. the antennas are both fixed in the same direction, one vertical one horizontally, im assuming thats the right way? I’ll just take this inital reading right now to show you the log. https://i.imgur.com/G87Ztzk.png
    abolsutely amazing even as it is. going from 2-3mbps to 30 or 40 at peak time is great. I am aware theres also a mast in dungloe on that big tower, probably LTE, and the according to the three rep I get my 4G from arranmore. maybe its a combo of the two? but earlier also I noticed it held 4G+ with 2 bars of 1800 mhz, and it also held 4G+ with 5 bars on the 800 mhz. it held for the longest I’ve ever seen, about a minute but loses it and regains. anything you suggest from here? thanks again for the help 🙂 im going to back outside and mess around with it in the meantime lol.

  35. I’d also like to add one more thing : here is this results (LTEinspecteur log and speed tests from both 1800 mhz and 800 mhz)
    still haven’t adjusted the antenna outside yet but I would like your input on what the next step might be to perfect it once and for all 🙂

    1. That’s a great improvement. Both the horizontal and vertical antennas need to face the same direction, so as you turn one antenna a few degrees, turn the other to face the same direction. Both antennas need to be spaced at least 40cm apart, although further apart is fine. Once you find the angle with the least negative RSRP reading, followed by the highest SINR reading, the next step is to try tiling them up slightly to see if this further improves the RSRP / SINR. For example, if the mast is higher up than you are (e.g. on a hilltop), tilting both antennas up improve the signal a little further.

      You can try seeing how the speed performs in 4G+ mode afterwards. It should use a combination of both bands for the download and the main band it’s connected on for the uplink (most likely 800MHz with such a strong signal). 40Mbps is also very impressive on Three for peak time, regardless of the signal. At that speed, the bottleneck is probably further upstream along the backhaul, so don’t be surprised if the peak time download speed doesn’t improve much further.

  36. I tweaked it a little more, here is the log and a speed test, I’m not sure what I did earlier to get it to go onto 4G+ I’ve forgotten but the speed is crazy fast compared to what I’d usually see around this time, It’s a shame I cant get those 3 bars I had earlier when i initially turned it on, I’d love to know what kind of speed I’d get if I were to get 4-5 bars of that signal. here is the picture of how the antennas are + speedtest hopefully they’re spaced enough 😀 https://imgur.com/a/bLQ6R0U

  37. Unbelievable speed I never thought I’d ever get anything like it
    middle of the night results https://gyazo.com/e229ca4da68e03d2501d25ca3f8f8524

    101 mbps.

    I picked the aggregation mode in LTEinspecteur and selected the UL as 1800mhz and DL on 800mhz and this was the results I got. I also get very good results the other way around 800 mhz as UL and 1800 mhz on the DL. around 40-50 down and 10-20up.
    I also noticed 4G + only kicks in when you use/download data you can see it happen in the gif. It holds the connection to 4G+ when i’m watching a live twitch stream or downloading something for example. but as soon as I idle it shows as normal 4G. but i think its working fine in terms of holding the connection. Very pleased with the results so far.

    1. That’s a brilliant result considering how weak the band 3 signal is. At peak time you are getting what a typical VDSL connection gets as most people I know on VDSL (Fibre to the hub) get around 30Mbps to 50Mbps. The basic FTTH 150Mbps connection peaks around 145Mbps on speed tests.

      For fine adjustments, you can try tilting them up slightly as they appear to be tilted slightly below level (to my eyes from the photo). If there is no tilt adjustment, one workaround is to lossen the clamps and hold the antenna up as you tighten its clamp. Basically the antennas should be level or tilted up slightly. Try also swapping the two cables around on your router to see if it improves the upload speed with either band.

  38. Hi Sean, I have been away so only getting back on to this now, I have found these on ebay and they appear to be similar to the ones described in your initial reply.


    Would these possibly work? From your replies it appears band 3 is better so would be great to utilise that instead I guess.

    If not I will get the Wittenberg ones in my last post but came across these on ebay and thought would be worth checking!


    1. That indeed is the pair of antennas I recommend for band 3. Great to see them for sale again as it’s been quite a while since I last I last saw them available anywhere. They should provide a substantial improvement on band 3 and better performance than the panel antenna.

      I suggest waiting until they arrive before ordering a wall bracket. The last time I ordered these from the Proscan seller, they included the wall bracket and I think the screws also. The eBay description does not mention this, so I’m not sure whether they still do this.

      1. Perfect will get them ordered up, not fully confident they’ll work given like you say the limited download speed from just the router but willing to try given the benefits of band 3 and the fact that I could get it from a sub optimal position.

        Thanks for advice on fixings, will hold fire until it arrives.

        Will update results once installed. Thanks again.

        1. Hi Sean

          I finally got round to fitting the antennas, I have them around 5m above ground and pointing in the direction of the Vodafone mast.

          Unfortunately the results aren’t as good as I had hoped, the download speed on band 3 albeit improved over not running an antenna is worse than running no antenna on band 20.

          I have played around with the positioning of the antenna as I understand they have a narrow band to work within and plotted the cell towers location etc to ensure they are directed correctly, I then fine tuned the antenna using the LTE inspector the best I can get the figures using these antennas on Band 3 were

          RSRP -114
          RSSI -99
          RSRQ -9
          SNNR 2

          These figures fluctuated a good bit and interestingly the RSRP figure jumped to -104 when I was holding the lower of the two tubes to reposition.

          I have tried switching the antennas over from port 1 and 2 on the router and also tried both singularly to see what the 3g signal was like but again both worse than just the router on its own.

          I understand at this point I am probably going to have to go with the Wittenbergs you also suggested and stick with band 20 but wanted to see what your thoughts on the above were before doing so and also to see if there was any trick or installation method I am missing.

          Thanks again for any suggestions!


          1. That’s a real bummer, I would have expected a much greater improvement especially at that height. If you haven’t already tried, try tilting the pair of antennas up a few degrees. If the antennas don’t have a tilt adjustment, you can try using something like a thin piece of wood wedged behind the bracket of the bottom antenna to tilt them up a few degrees temporarily to test.

          2. I have tried tilting the antennas up a few degrees and no real change unfortunately. Is there a way of finding out which frequencies a particular mast broadcasts?

            The reason I ask is that according to the comreg site the mast I assumed I had been connecting to is only licensed for 800-900mhz lte, leading me to believe I am connecting to another mast a lot further away. Not that it makes a huge difference as there is nothing I can do about it as such but would be interesting to know either way I guess!

            Based on that I am going to try and return these to Proscan and order up the LAT22 Wittenberg or the ones you linked on Amazon originally and work with those.

            Will let you know how I get on once these arrive!


  39. Thanks very much for the super-informative article. I have a much better understanding of the various mobile antenna configurations and designs after reading it. However, unfortunately I’m still in need of some education, as the question I was searching for answers for on the web which I had, is not quite addressed here.

    Specifically: I am using a Netgear LB1121 mobile hotspot/router, with the Netgear 6000450 MIMO antenna. The antenna has two TS-9 connectors, to match the two on the hotspot.

    In an effort to improve reliability of my signal, I tried using a directional (Yagi) antenna, which has just one cable (since it’s just one antenna). To adapt this to the router, I’ve used a Y/splitter cable to adapt the Yagi antenna to the dual input of the router (this one: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CVD543Z).

    After reading the explanation of how the MIMO works, I’m uncertain as to whether there is in fact any advantage to connecting the antenna this way, vs. just using one of the router’s antenna connections. Or even if possibly doing it this way is _inferior_ to using a single connection.

    And assuming this is not as good as using a true MIMO antenna, my follow-up question is, does the MIMO signal need to be carried on independent cables all the way to the hotspot? Or can I use a splitter at the antenna to merge the signals, and then another splitter at the hotspot to split them again for the hotspot’s input connectors?

    I hope this makes sense. I admit, since I’m uneducated on the topic, my question might itself not make any sense. But I’m hoping you understanding what I’m getting at, and might have some advice. Thank you!

    1. 4G LTE is transmitted over two carriers on the same frequency, 90 degrees out of phase from each other. As one antenna picks up one carrier, the second antenna on the opposite polarity picks up the second carrier. These signals need to run over two separate coaxial leads back to the router.

      If you attempt to join the two coaxial leads with a splitter/combiner, the signals will interfere with each other and the router will not be able to decode the two signals. This will result in the mast dropping the transmission to a signal carrier, giving no benefit over a single lead. The splitter/combiner will also heavily attenuate the signal as it is now split across two inputs, much like running two TV points to a TV aerial with a passive splitter.

      The best workaround I can think of would be to purchase a matching second antenna and mount it with the opposite polarity, i.e. if the first has the elements vertically aligned, install the second antenna with the elements horizontally aligned. Both antennas need to face the same direction. Run its coaxial lead back to our hotspot and attach it to the second antenna port.

      Another good example of MIMO transmission is a Sky Q system (Pay TV service in UK/Ireland). It has two separate coaxial leads between the Sky Q box and the satellite dish. One coaxial lead carries the vertical signals and the second lead carries the horizontal signals. This lets the box tune in multiple channels simultaneously as some transponders operate in pairs on the same frequency, one with a horizontal polarity signal and the other with a vertical polarity signal.

  40. Hey Sean, back again mate.

    Current setup is B615 hauwei router, Wittenberg lat56 mounted high above my chimney/gable. One antenna vertical one horizontal mounted above each other 1m apart. (On ee) Cell tower is less than a mile away with fair bit of greenery in the way. In the direction I am pointing there are two cell towers relatively close to eachother (500m apart) 1 is a smaller roadside tower at lower ground level and the other is a really tall and Eiffel tower looking near rail station.
    When engineer came round logged into the router interface and got full bars on 4g+ after a few trials with pointing the antenna. Best readings were
    RSRQ -5
    RSRP -88
    SINR 7

    Speeds were – down 78 up 26 at 12 midday.

    However things have been up and down since then and there is no correlation with peak times or none peak times.
    I can try at 5am or 12pm again and get 35 down and 15 up. Log into router and it is still on 4g+ with full bars? And not much variance in readings from router.
    At night (peak times) I can get the same fluctuation in speeds but there is more sense to this as when I log in the router reading are alot worse.
    RSRQ -9
    RSRP -109
    SINR -3
    And router on 3 bars but still 4g+
    Give it half and hour still during peak times and you can get downloads of 60+ with readings improving.
    In a nutshell I can’t understand how readings from router can fluctuate when antennas are fixed and why I keep jumping from half my top speeds to stop spears randomly through the day.
    I ave not connected laptop and used lteinspector as of yet.

    Please help me make sense of this.

    Thank you so.much in advance

    1. It quite possible it’s switching back and forth between two masts. For example, if the stronger one gets a brief period of high traffic such as someone’s PC downloading Windows updates, the RSRQ figure will drop to -12dB and your router will see the weaker mast as having a more favorable RSRQ reading and switch to it.

      I suggest having a look with LTEInspecteur as this will show the cell ID and band. If it is switching back and forth between two band #’s (e.g. 3 & 7), you can force it to stay on the band giving the best speed by clicking the band #. This may disable 4G+, however this shouldn’t affect the speed much as it is likely trying to use the weaker second mast for carrier aggregation.

  41. Hey Sean,

    This is a truly fantastic article. I would be happy to donate some euro to this blog 🙂

    I’m on the start of my journey to attaining a stronger 4G signal (Three) in rural Donegal (near Portnoo).

    My first step is to assess which router to get? (and after figure out what band the local tower emits) what antenna to get.

    I’ve seen mentioned the:

    Huawei B525
    Huawei B593s-22
    Huawei B315
    Huawei B618

    You mentioned in your other article that the “Huawei B593s-22
    ” most sensitive internal antennas, I’m wondering is that still the case? You also mention that it automatically refreshes readings, which seems like a great option when assessing live RSRP, RSRQ and SINR figures

    I was considering going to choose Huawei B525 as a lot of the other users seem to be using it…?

    The B618 seems to be the newest though….I guess I’m looking for the most powerful/the easiest to use with an external antenna (probably on 800mhz)

    I hope this question isn’t too pedantic, any help appreciated,

    Thanks again,


    1. I must get around to updating the article again. Indeed my main recommendation now would be the B525 as it has gigabit ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and 4G+ support. It also has more in-depth technical read-out, such as SINR and band #, which the B593s and B315 lack. For example, the third party utility (LTEInspecteur) can show real-time signal and traffic graphs from the B525, great for finding the best spot for the router or when adjusting an outdoor directional antenna.

      The B528 is a slimline alternative, but has just 1 Ethernet port compared to 4 on the B525. I would ignore the B618 and higher end models for now as none of the Irish networks any LTE category higher than 6. Even if they eventually do, it will mainly be limited to urban areas like the UK networks. Chances are the next big upgrade will be 5G in which case the B618 will not work with anyway.

      See how you get on first with the router on its own before looking into any antenna and try it in various areas around the house, as high up as possible near an outer wall. These routers are generally much more sensitive than a mobile phone for reception, so you may get good speed without any antenna.

  42. Hi Sean

    I’m just over the Brexit border in NI. As BT Broadband speeds are awful where I live in the countryside I decided to give 4g broadband with Three. I received the Huawei 535 router last week which seems excellent with a good internal antenna. I can get download speeds of 20-25mb and upload of 8-12mb. However, when I tested the router outside the house speeds increased by 3-4 times.

    I can see a mast around 2 miles from my house which Three say I’m coming off. However, I tried the Network Cell Info Lite tool and it is saying I’m coming off another mast (O2) which is a further 0.5 miles away but hidden behind a hill outside my house. Either way I’m getting a very strong signal, on band 3. I’ve been looking at Dipol and other sites listed above but am unsure which antenna I should go for. As others have mentioned I’m wondering if some antenna could bring in too strong a signal?

    Let me know if readings are required from the Huawei router to help with advice. To be honest most of my knowledge has come from reading through the queries raised here so still learning.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Just about every Three mast on band 3 also operates on band 20 for 4G+, which means I recommend going for a wideband antenna. The Network Cell Info’s cell map is very rough and even shows masts here a kilometer or two out. Another App CellMapper seems to more accurate at pin-pointing masts and the local ones here closely match up with ComReg’s official map.

      Even with a strong signal, I still recommend going for a directional antenna if there are no obstructions (e.g. other buildings, walls, etc.) nearby blocking the line-of-sight with the cell. The purpose is to isolate the cell from other cell towers that effectively become unwanted interference. When you took the router outside, your house effectively blocked any unwanted signal coming from the opposite direction.

      This pair of log antennas should be sufficient. They also have a pair with 10m leads.

      A wideband directional panel antenna should also work well if you need something more compact, however, these tend to be quite expensive at over €100 for a reputable one with the leads. This one on Dipol is about the size of an A4 page and you’ll need a pair of leads such as 2 of these to connect it.

      There are a lot of duds on eBay and Amazon, which are basically a 2.4dBi omni-directional. The easiest way to tell is check the gain ratings. Any that claim to have over 15dBi gain (which for 4G wideband would be over 2 metres in size!), it’s very likely a dud. The triangle shape LOG antennas are generally proper 4G antennae; just make sure they come with a pair of cables with SMA connectors.

  43. Hey Sean, I can see here that you have mentioned that the purpose is to isolate the cell from other cell towers. My closest cell tower gives me great speeds with a pair of Wittenberg lat 56 log antennas, an issue I am having is that there are 2 other cell towers either side that are further away. My speeds drop at times through the day and when this happens the cell id in the router interface links the drop in performance to the antenna connecting to one of the other 2 cell towers. Is it a case of trying to repoint my antenna to alighn more directly with the closer antenna so I can be connected to this tower more consistently. Normally a simple reset will get me connected back to the faster cell tower but at times this can take a day or 2 before it picks the closer tower back up. It is becoming more and more frustrating

  44. Hi Sean,

    Thank you very much for the great resource here. Super helpful.

    I just have a quick question, I am averaging roughly -78dBm to -81dBm on RSRP, -7dB to -11dB on RSRQ and 25dB to >=30dB on SINR.

    From what I have read this is an excellent connection.

    I have my router (Huawei B525s-23a) set up in the attic, where I believe I have direct line of sight to the tower approx 1.8km away. This is with using the internal antenna.

    I see it using carrier aggregation correctly and as a whole, I’m pretty happy with the connection.

    However, when under full-load (doing a speed test for example), I see that these values drop a bit out of excellent connection territory.

    So I am just wondering, would I be seeing any real benefit from investing in a directional or omni-directional antenna?

    Also, second query is that I am planning on getting a second connection and load-balancing it over a pfSense installation.

    I wouldn’t imagine I would cause any congestion by having two connections going to the mast? I guess, furthermore the question would more-so be, do you know the throughput that these masts are generally capable of, or does that depend on the wired connection to the location?

    The router is connecting to both band 3 and 20, 800mhz and 1800mhz and utilising carrier aggregation.

    Thank you!

    1. Going by your signal readings, I really don’t think you’ll get any extra speed with an antenna, especially with the SINR that high. Unlike the SINR, the RSRQ factors in cell traffic, which helps the 4G modem decide which cell to use. When you run a speed test, your own network load will cause the RSRQ to drop and this will happen even with a perfect signal.

      If your speed is poor, it is very likely either upstream contention or Three traffic shaping, which varies from area to area. To test if Traffic shaping is the culprit, download the 100MB test file on this page (a host Three does not throttle) and multiply the MB/s figure by 8 to convert to Mbps, e.g. 2.5MB/s x 8 = 20Mbps. If this figure is significantly higher than your speed tests, then traffic shaping is the culprit.

      As for whether a second connection will improve your speed, indeed it will depend on the mast’s uplink. If you find that Three is throttling your speed (e.g. that test site file downloaded quickly), a second connection may help. However, if the mast is connected by a congested microwave uplink, a second connection will be no more effective than adding a second cold tap to your kitchen sink to speed up a low pressure mains supply.

      The theoretical maximum speed is 225Mbps for band 3+20 carrier aggregation with the Huawei B525s. The maximum speed I got to date on the Three network is 178Mbps on my mobile in Donegal town last month, which is very likely a fibre-connected mast and doesn’t seem to be throttled unlike other areas:
      TestMy speed test in Donegal town 3:27pm, 6th Nov '19

  45. Hi Sean,

    I’m making a 4G/LTE modification to a Parrot Disco UAV aircraft and have two very thin “whip” style CRC9 antennas to plug into the Huawei E3372 h Usb stick modem. I need to mount the antennas through the top of the aircraft and I was wondering what would be the best way to orientate the antennas? Should I just mount them both straight up and down vertically or would it be better to orientate each one at an angle….. say 45 degrees opposed to each other for when the aircraft is turning etc?

    Details of the mod here: https://github.com/uavpal/disco4

    Antenna type: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com.au%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F352835870158

    Many thanks,


  46. Are there any signal booster available for 2600mhz lte signal?
    I have dual x-pol antenna setup and I get ok downloads, but upload is very weak. I think its due to low power signal my B592s-22 router is giving for upload antenna. I think I could use signal booster only for uplink antenna.

  47. Hi Sean,
    Happy New Year.
    Thanks for all the great information you have put together.Would you please be able to advise me on a external antenna.
    I am currently using the B525s-23a with a cheap internal antenna outside in a casing. Here are my readings from 3pm.
    1800mhz 800mhz
    RSRQ -6 -11
    RSRP -92 -92
    RSSI -77 -77
    SINR 18 4
    Ping 39 29
    Jitter 12 5
    Download 38 13.1
    upload 3.6 2.2

    Readings from 9pm.
    RSRQ -7 -16
    RSRP -93 -88
    RSSI -87 -65
    SINR 10 4
    Ping 25 24
    Jitter 84 58
    Download 1.5 0.9
    Upload 5.4 4.6

    On some occasions I have seen 4g+ appear briefly.
    I have two masts near me one at about 3.5km with good line of sight with me being higher than it. The other is about 1.5km away just over the brow of a hill with a forest between us. Also most nights between 11 and 1am my internet speeds drop right down to unusable speeds.

    Thank you for your time.

    1. Going by your 1800MHz signal readings (assuming your router was set to 1800MHz only), I certainly would expect a lot faster speed than 1.5Mbps! This means that the poor speed is very likely due to an issue further upstream such as a congested microwave feed to that mast. The 800MHz readings on the other hand indicate very heavy load/interference. Check the 1800MHz readings a few more times after 11pm in case that -7dB reading was a fluke as normally if the cell is heavily congested, the RSRQ is -12dB or more negative during peak time.

      One test you can try is set your router to 1800MHz only (e.g. with LTEInspecteur) and download the 100MB file on the following link to see what speed it comes in at:

      Three prioritises traffic from certain hosts, which includes the above test link from my own testing. If that file downloads faster than speed tests (multiply the MB/s download speed by 8 for Mbps, e.g. 1.2MB/s x 8 = 9.6Mbps), then the issue is with upstream contention to the mast. In this case, a better antenna will not improve your speed with that particular mast and there’s a high chance that other masts in your area could be fed from the same congested upstream. I had this issue up until the start of 2018 where the Three network through most of Co. Donegal was unusable after 6pm.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply .
        Yes it was set to 1800mhz only,
        midnight test.
        RSRQ -5
        RSRP -94
        RSSI -89
        SINR 13
        PING 24
        JITTER 21
        DOWNLOAD 34
        UP 7
        15 minutes later
        ping 22
        jitter 6
        download 41.8
        upload 13.5
        ok at 12.25am i got a 45.7 download speed with a RSRQ -10 during speed test.
        Thanks for the link I will try that.

  48. Hi Sean.

    I’m living in rural area as well with no hopes for any good broadband and just wondering would you be able to give me some advice?

    I have the Huawei b525 router connected to three network. I have omnidirectional antenna connected to it-pity that I didn’t come across your article couple years ago when I was buying it as I didn’t really knew at the time that it is more design for cities than rural areas. But the reason why I went for omnidirectional was because I live in a valley and can’t really see any of the masts and one of the question is would that be the condition for the antenna to work? In other words-do I have to see the mast to improve the signal, or would I be able to improve it with directional antenna, even if there is hills/trees in the way?

    Another question is what could be a lifetime of such an antenna? The reason why I ask is is because when I connected it few years ago I was able to get download speeds between 20-30, where over the last year or two it’s down to less than 10, and I’m just wondering is it possible that my antenna just got damaged over time or would it indicate that more people are using it? I had run a speed test around 6:30am and speed was between 8-10, where now it has dropped to less than 6.

    Results I’m getting with antenna are similar to the results without it and after having a walk around the attic and the house I’m getting pretty much same readings with just speeds being worse without antenna connected:


    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much for a great article.


    1. You will definitely get a much stronger signal with a directional antenna even if you cannot see the mast. In urban areas, the signal gets scattered about bouncing off buildings, which is the situation where an omni-directional antenna benefits from collecting these reflections. However, in a rural area, the signal will primarily come from the direction of the mast. Even down in a valley where you cannot see the mast, you’ll be picking up the signal diffracted over the hill. In this case you’ll get a much stronger signal with a directional antenna.

      Going by your signal readings, the signal is very weak and the negative SINR indicates it has strong interference. This could be from a new mast Three set up in another direction which is now a source of interference. Based on the very low RSRP figure, I suggest going for this antenna, which is one of the most sensitive that I’m aware of for band 20 which Three uses in most rural areas. See this post to double-check your router is using band 20 as this antenna will not work on band 3.

      1. Hi Sean.
        Just wanted to thank you for a very quick response.
        I have ordered the antenna that you suggested and awaiting delivery now.
        Confirmed that it is band 20 that my router is using.
        Had a spin around the area today with open signal app and cell mapper running, checking the local masts and speeds and gathering the data, just to have a rough idea where to point the antenna.
        Hopefully I will be able to improve my speeds once installed.
        I will post an update when I have it up and running.
        Thank you again for help.

        1. Hi Sean.

          I’m after putting the antenna up and just a quick update on what I’m getting now:

          RSRQ: -9
          RSRP: -88
          SINR: 7

          I’m able to get speeds up to 30 now, which is 100% improvement to what I was getting with omnidirectional antenna.

          Once we get better weather I will play a bit more with it as at some stage during the installation I was getting even 45 download, but it’s not the easiest thing to do with the cold and between rain showers and even a bit of snow today.

          Happy with what I have at the moment.

          Thank you for all your help.



  49. Hi Sean – Just wanted to get some advice on one of these https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-antenna-omni-600
    Is the 6.4db gain directly related to the 2×2 mimo – hence if the cell tower is not activated to use 2×2 mimo would i likely only get half of the 6.4 gain. The gain seems high for an omni given your previous posts and advice I am having difficulties with the directional antenna setup as it is continually jumping between masts that are in the same line of sight but further away. I wanted to try an omni directional to avoid this. I can currently get downloads of around 20mb on my phone outside the window my current directional set up gets me 50mb

    1. The gain of an omni-directional antenna can be increased by with an array of dipoles, which this antenna appears to consist of internally based on its description. The gain figure refers to each connection, i.e. 6.4dB on port #1 and 6.4dB on port #2. Some sellers add up the gains, which is how some less known brand antennas end up with nonsense high gain figures. A 6.4dB MIMO antenna still operates with 6.4dB gain without MIMO, but just on one data signal instead of two cross-polarised data signals.

      One thing the omni may help with is collect the reflections from the nearer mast for a slightly stronger signal than the further away mast where its reflections would be much weaker. You could also try placing it at the opposite side of the house to primarily pick up the reflected signal. However, I don’t have high hopes of it solving the issue and seems very expensive for an omni-directional antenna also, likely due to very limited production of such antennas.

  50. Hi Sean,

    I’ve read your post and all the comments and it is a fountain of information and an education!

    I’m an Engineer and I love technology. My little hobbies are flashing Rom’s on phones and flying drones lol. I recently moved to Kildare countryside so no fiber here only 3 network.

    Before I ask some questions later on my next post about my setup I would like to share with you and readers a few things.

    1. There is a brilliant app that is like LTEinspectur called “Hmanager” developed by a guy in the far East, all credits go to him, it’s especially for Huawei routers and has more information refreshed and displayed in real time compared to LTEinspectur. Some of the language is in Arabic but most relevant names are English. It is handy because being a phone app you can bring the phone up the ladder instead of a laptop when adjusting the antennas. Just install the app on your phone and type in the router password when prompted.
    Here is the link to the app from my drive box.


    2. As it was mentioned in a few posts about using network signal guru, well you do need to have a rooted android phone but more important is that phone must have a kernel installed that supports network signal guru. Most stock kernels will not work only a certain custom kernel for your phone. More information about the app and your phone setup can be found on Xda developers.


    3. From reading through your post and comments it seems like the B525 is the most common router used in Ireland, I too bought one second hand recently. There is a wealth of information about this router on a Russian website called “4PDA” (about 400 pages) if you use Google chrome it will translate Russian into English. Here is the link.


    I hope the above information will be useful to you or someone, I thank you for your time in writing a detailed post and helping others too.


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