Antenna recommendation

I just purchased Peplink Max BR1 Mini
I hooked it up to
Proxicast 4G / LTE Cross-Polarized (MIMO) 7-10 dBi High-Gain Fixed-Mount Panel Antenna
After sitting on the roof for a while and tuning antenna angle, the best I can get is
-90 to -100 dBm, which still translates in 5Mbps down, and a trickly 0.2Mbps up on an LTE-A connection.

Details below.
There is pretty much only 1 tower with 1 carrier I can use with my antenna (edit, as you will see in followups below, apparently I was picking up a tower much further away, so 1 possible tower was not correct assessment)… I am looking for a recommendation to improve the antenna… Signal does have to go through a bit of trees, AND over a hill… Tower is few miles (4-5) away.

Tower (eNB ID 542332 - LTE) is supposed to have bands 5,12 and 71, not sure I understand where “Band 2” is coming from. Should I get a good 700Mhz antenna and a good 1900Mhz antenna and attach them to separate terminals?

Band LTE Band 12 (700 MHz)
RSSI: -90dBm SINR: 6.0dB RSRP: -116dBm RSRQ: -14.0dB

Secondary Band (SSC1)
LTE Band 2 (1900 MHz)
RSSI: -103dBm SINR: -2.0dB RSRP: -127dBm RSRQ: -14.0dB

Hello Komrade, I am in a very similar scenario as you are. Over the trees, hill and through the woods type setting. For what it’s worth, and just as a suggestion, I was able to get the best performance by using a MAX-TST-MINI which allowed me to connect to Band 71 on T-Mobiles Network here in the US. Not only did it bring me greater speeds, but that band was much less congested so the reliability improved as well. This is assuming Band 71 is similar where you live. I wish I could be more help on the actual antenna question, but thought I would chime in on a possible second option for you. Good day!

OK. I’ll bite. What you are fighting here is the worst combination of log-normal fading (the tower is a long way away) and path attenuation (RF does not go through dirt very well and trees with foliage present are not much of a help either.) And, when you say "Tower (eNB ID 542332 - LTE) is supposed to have[/quote] I’m going to take that as non-authoritative (maybe from of the crowd-sourced on-line web sites?)

It’s not clear which carrier you are using but I will say that @TheMissingLink’s, point is well taken. Ceteris paribus, you’ll want to choose a carrier that has lower frequencies available. 600-700MHz performs better in such a situation than does 1.9GHz, for example. And, those differences can be huge.

In general, what you might look for is a high gain antenna (e.g., log periodic type) rather than a panel antenna, although some of the latter can be very good. My second recommendation is to try to increase the height of the antenna, although I understand in many situations that’s difficult or impossible. But the bottom line here, which I think you understand, is that the limitation is the link power budget, not the BR1. And, that limitation is severe. These frequencies essentially propagate line-of-sight, although certain anomalies often occur which complicate this situation – for better or worse.

So: (1) Optimize frequencies by choice of carrier, (2) increase gain and (3) increase antenna height – at the huge risk of over-simplification. As you’ve figured out, some experimentation may be required. :nerd_face:


Thank you. I agree that 700-800 range seems to work better and be a sweet spot, at least from LTE choices… A while back I did lots of experimentation with walkie talkies and that proved to be true… And yes, my tower data is from, which relies on the public, but I know it’s a US Cellular tower, b/c that area used to have 0 coverage (booster or not), and it was “big news” when it was installed. Carriers usually own same bands across geographies. Wikipedia says: US Cellular’s LTE network is primarily built upon two low-frequency LTE bands; 12 and 5). It continues “Through the agreement with King Street Wireless, US Cellular has access to the lower 700 MHz A, B, and C blocks across most of their operating markets.”, so band 71 is feasible, but the modem is either not picking it up, or locking in on band12, or public data is no good… not sure if would matter much (band 12 or 71, as they’re both in 700-800 range),… Still don’t know why “band 2” is seen by modem … based on limited research band2 is used by Verizon and AT&T for LTE, not by US Cellular. The SIM card I have is for a LTE modem only, and doesn’t usually work if I ever travel out of US Cellular area (and is actually sold on agreement that it “must be kept in single location”)

The antenna is already about 35 feet off the ground… The reason I had the panel antenna, is b/c the previous LTE router had two inputs, and there wasn’t a lot of choice at the time (3 yrs? ago), or I didn’t do enough research… plus it worked “good enough” when I got it (with carrier’s router)…

My house is on a slope, and not only does signal have to go over my hill, but also over a mountain (albeit, not a very tall one) before it gets to the tower… I know I can get very good signal on on top of my hill (4 bars 15megs/3megs with Proxicast 6.5~8 dBi 12.6" magnetic car antennas), but I am hoping to avoid investing in solar, batteries, box, wireless link, to put the router on the hill… plus I’d much rather keep the router in house, as I’d like to have it accessible so it’s a bit more portable when I travel.

The pole I do have is about 10ft at the ridge of the top of the house… not sure longer would be practical or safe, as it can get pretty windy few times per year. I found a " Log Periodic Directional Yagi Antenna 15dbi" on Amazon (looks to be sold by maxmost dot com), and that’s what I will probably give a shot, it’s “only” about $130 incl. shipping and had great reviews, including from those that used to have a panel antenna.

Edit: Question, would I still want to use the panel antenna with the Aux connection and should I use some signal combiner/splitter?
Edit2: replaced different with same above

Well, you’ve spent a lot of good time on this. One thing you night do when you get bored is see if you can get to the site. See if there is more than one level in use on the tower. Typically, you’ll see one level per carrier. And, if there’s more than one you will usually find the carrier’s information on a sign on the gate. (Regulations in the USA require the compound to be fenced.)

Antenna: If you have an LTEA device you’ll need two such antennas. Orient them at roughly 90 degrees from each other pointing at the tower. If you only want to try one plug it into the “main” jack. In that case, yes, you could use your panel antenna into the 2nd connector.

Signal combiner/splitter: I’d avoid that approach.

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I found a tower way south of me (about 10 miles) that supposedly has bands 12 and 2 (also US Cellular)
After some googling, I found a way to identify cell tower I am connected to in PepWave , then I used cellmapper tools to translate that into eNB, which confirmed I am hitting THAT tower.

Thanks for recommendations on antenna… I want to avoid tinkering with this stuff on my roof, so I’ll go for “best” setup (2 antennas 3ft apart and 90 degree orientation (horizontal and vertical))…

Prior to that I’ll climb the hill one more time to confirm I pick up the same tower there as well. Even though the South tower is further away, router might be having better time locking as terrain might be more favorable (mountains not as high)…

Currently antenna is pointing east. Not sure why I wasn’t getting strong signal when I rotated the antenna and pointed it south. I do realize the panel antennas have a fairly broad “view”

OK. Good work. Sometimes a lot of entrepreneurship is needed just to get into a cellular system at all.

FWIW, 10 miles is a l-o-n-g way away. But if it works …

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I went to top of the hill and kept getting the same antenna/bands from both corners of my property (rebooting router to reconnect).
Peaked 19Mbps down/2Mbps up in one with a pair of 12" car antennas I mentioned earlier.
Given I have to aim south, I have other possibilities other than antenna upgrades… Since hill is South sloping couple of trees in the way could become firewood (and are probably blocking my solar arrays late in the day anyway).
Went ahead and climbed the roof, re-oriented the antenna and getting a respectable 5-7Mbps down, and “incredible” 2+ megs up… Not bad given it’s raining (not heavily)… better than my DSL!.
It did switch bands (now on 5), but same location id (TAC), and cellmapper shows band 5 is avail there.
dbm did improve to under 90, and router is showing “3 bars”… I am optimistic about further improvements, although I am not sure I need to bother until I monitor this for a while.

LTE Band 5 (850 MHz)

RSSI: -89dBm SINR: 12.2dB RSRP: -114dBm RSRQ: -9.0dB

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Good deal. Now you can work on shortening the transmission lines between BR1 and antennas or improving their quality to further reduce losses! :<)

Was on the fence about making further upgrades, until it rained… went ahead with 2x15dbi antennas, bent the bracket to make them 90 degrees to each other, and about 3ft apart.

Basic math should’ve told me this, but nonetheless I was surprised how “little” gain I got.

Old antenna advertised 7-10dbi gain (leftmost on graph)
New antenna advertised 15dbi gain (rightmost on graph)

I realize 6dbi is a larger difference than “6” tells us
We’ll see how it performs in the rain.

Upload/download didn’t visibly improve much (6-7/down 1-2/up), hopefully signal/packet loss would improve
After about 30 mins SINR stabilized at 13… old antenna (today) had value of about 10, and immediately after upgrade it was at 14. May play with direction a bit later.

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Printed out a map on cellmapper, and estimated angle for my antenna (was eyeballing it earlier, and was probably off by 20-30 degrees), climbed the roof, and fiddled with antenna direction while staring at graphs and running speedtests. Either cellmapper location is inaccurate, or my calculations are wrong, or signal is stronger when I point 20-30 degrees to the west of the tower. A better distance calculation was done too, it’s about 7.5mi through mountainous terrain (most mountains are too high)

“4 bars”
before (snapshot): RSSI: -89dBm SINR: 12.2dB RSRP: -114dBm RSRQ: -9.0dB
after (snapshot): RSSI: -84dBm SINR: 15.8dB RSRP: -107dBm RSRQ: -8.0dB

BTW, for kicks, I did go to town to find the carriers housed on it… There were two rows of equipment on it, but no identifying labels on the fence or buildings… I may go for a nice mountain drive to find the one I am really using and verify the location, once I resolve that mystery, maybe I can move on to reducing signal loss in the cables :slight_smile: