Cat 18 and super slow speeds - AT&T

I am new to the pepwave market. I recently purchased a cat18 as everything I have read made this seem like it would really help us work from home while we travel. However, I am not getting usable speeds most of the time and am just unsure that this investment was the right one. Using my nighthawk hotspot I was seeing roughly 5mbps down in this high congested area we are staying at. So far with the Peplink I am only seeing usually 1mbps to 5mbps. Often times the hotspot is outperforming the peplink! Is that normal? Is there a setting etc that I am missing? I have tried switching to LTE only vs auto, tried manually selecting specific bands, I got desperate and tried to adjust APN settings to see if that would somehow change anything… So far nothing I have tried has improved performance or speed. Further more, the last time I truly relied on this router for stability it disconnected and dropped me in my single video conference call 3 times. I finally just had to hotspot off my phone to finish my meeting. For this to have so much band capability and potential speed I must say my experience has been very underwhelming.

General information that might help:
Peplink Max Cat 18
Service: AT&T 100GB Data only plan for $55 or something like that
Using the 6 antennas that came with the unit, not the 7 in 1.
Location: Orlando (Great service, usually full or most bars but heavy congestion)
Best APN setting so far: NXTGENPHONE (tried broadband, .NT,

I am truly hoping there is user error going on here and that someone can tell me that they have had much better experiences or what they did to overcome a potential learning curve I might be experiencing. Thank you in advance to any help as I truly am desperate at this point. If I can’t solve my internet solution, my work is going to pull the plug on my travel life and I am trying everything I can to avoid that.

Is your computer wired into the router or is wireless involved in the equation?

Why are you even trying a t-mobile APN on AT&T plan?

That said, try to compare apples-to-apples. When your Nighthawk is connecting, to what tower, what bands, what are the signal levels, etc. Then compare to peplink and try to set peplink to manually mirror. There are many variables and you really need to pinpoint whether its a plan issue, device issue, location issue, etc.

I have been using my CAT-18 with an AT&T data plan as my primary since May of 2020. I also have a Verizon ‘data only’ plan as my secondary. I am a full timer & work from my RV.
When I provisioned my device, I left all the setting on default & it came to life in short order. Speed tests reflect speeds all over the place from 30+Mbps as a low to 120+Mbps as a high. All of this with the paddle antennas.
While what you are experiencing could be an issue with the Peplink or the current configuration, I would be more inclined to suspect traffic congestion. The intent is to isolate the issue.
From a trouble shooting perspective… have you contacted the seller for assistance? Typically, they are responsible for 1st level support. With that said, some do it better than others.
If it were me, because you’ve played around with the configuration, I would reset the device to the factory defaults & provision the device with the AT&T sim again. The device should be connected to your PC with an Ethernet cable. If this does not correct the problem, I would contact AT&T tech support to see if there is anything they can do on their end to rectify the situation. This can be painful. See if you can somehow get to the 2nd level tech support . Next step I would perform would be a signal analysis. If you don’t know how to accomplish this, PM me & I’ll send you some information I’ve put together. It’s sort of lengthy & a work in progress as I try to refine it. There may be something on this forum that will help also. For what it’s worth, I tried playing around the 17 or so bands AT&T broadcasts trying to improve download speeds & I could never do better than what the Peplink did automatically. In this case, you are looking to find bands you might be able to use that have less traffic on them. It can take some time.
In the end, you might find there is simply too much congestion on the AT&T network. If you haven’t already, consider another data plan to supplement the AT&T plan. Verizon & T-Mobile would be my suggestion.
In the unlikely event you have decent RV park WIFI (I assume you’ve tried that), that may provide an alternative.
Hope this gives you some ideas on how to go forward.
Good luck!

Thank you for the helpful information. My computer is hard wired via Ethernet. I have tried both ways to just rule either or out. Also I have restored it back to factory settings a couple of times after messing with settings just to try. when I initially power it up under default settings it would not load internet at all. Always fails to say that smart check couldn’t complete. This is why I started adjusting the APN setting to see if anything else would help and NXTGENPHONE was my best solution so far.

Also you mentioned park WiFi, I have connected it to the WiFi here to use along with my cellular data and similar results seem to apply to WiFi as well. With everything defaulted I can get 30+mbps down connected to the park WiFi to the computer itself. Once I connect to the peplink, I get about 4mbps. I’m just not understanding the loss? I would think if anything it would have boasted the signal? I am at a loss. I purchased this through Techno RV and have emailed them
for support. We will see what they say hopefully soon.

thank you again for your help.

Where is the device placed at? If your doing these tests inside, can you try it outside? How are your signals? Can you share a screenshots of the page with the connected bands and signal numbers?

That data plan is likely culprit. Pre-paid data plans are deprioritized.

I’ve tried ~20 or so different data plans over many different providers and ultimately concluded that POST PAID is best. When you are on pre-paid plans your going to be deprioritized. I use an ATT post-paid plan and routinely get over 100Mb down. In congested areas I fair far better than I used to on prepaid plans. I also have Verizon post-paid and this covers me because att is not always available.

The people in your area that have ATT post-paid plans are probably getting fast speeds.

Post-paid plans are definitely the way to go and the carriers have all gotten better lately in offering higher GB plans at lower costs. Even big red now has decent plans - 150GB for $80 if you already have a line with them, $110 if you don’t.