Connection Deception?

Good evening,

I’m having issues finding the missing link in connection issues with my Pepwave BR1 mini. The admin page shows good connectivity using a Verizon truly unlimited SIM card.

Figure 1

However, my cell phone, which is also Verizon, shows only one bar. Below is a picture of the closest Verizon tower to my current location.

Figure 2

The issue is when trying to use the Pepwave for internet and streaming, there is very little connectivity. The connection is choppy and cuts out often using Apple TV or my iPad surfing the internet. Also have a Verizon MiFi and it only shows one bar too. Using a speed app, the speed tests confirm the lack of performance even though the admin page reflects otherwise.

Why such a difference between the full bars on the Pepwave admin versus all other Verizon devices showing one bar?

Will a 4-1 antenna help the Pepwave BR1 mini performance? Or, is this a different problem?

I’ve contacted a PEP certified partner for antenna advice but wanted to toss this out to the forum as well. Thank you for your help.


The difference is possibly caused by different devices reporting on different readings for signal. If you click details on the BR1 dashboard you will see the signal stats, broke down into rssi rsrq rsrp etc and these should help explain the speeds you are seeing.
I would guess that the rsrq isgoing to be high >12 which will suggest that the tower is busy but if you can put a screenshot up of these stats then we may be better able to guide you on how to improve things.

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Hi Michele. I think I know what’s happening here. Maybe. :smirk:
But first:

  1. Is your BR1 an LTE or LTEA model?
  2. If your phone capable of LTEA and carrier aggregation?
    I’m guessing the BR1 is LTE rather than LTEA and your phone is the latter. Right?

Hello James,

Here’s the screen shot.

So, if the tower is busy, an antenna won’t improve my connection issue - correct?

Thank you so much for your help!


Hi Rick,

I’m not sure about the LTE and LTEA - but on the admin, the BR1 says LTE.

My phone in the cellular settings states “LTE voLTE on”.

How do assess this?

Thank you so much!

Yes - if the tower is busy.

In your case you have loads of raw signal (-59dBm) but comparatively low reference signal receive power (@ -93dBm). So either the tower is really congested or you are actually connected to a more distant tower and the other local towers RF is causing interference.

A directional antenna here can often make a difference, both to target a more distant (and less busy) tower and to reduce the RF signal received from other sources in other directions (that an omni directional antenna might pick up).


how do you know the peplink and the cell phone are connecting to the same tower?

if they are connecting to the same tower, are they connecting on the same band?

make sure you are comparing apples-to-apples…

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Your BR1 Mini will tell you which model it is on the data plate on the bottom of the unit as well as on a page in the web UI. Not sure what you mean by “on the admin” but I take it to mean you think the BR1 is a LTE rather than LTEA model. If so, it is highly likely that your phone is capable of using more bands than is the BR1. And, the bands in use by the BR1 may not be optimum for your carrier as they have implemented their network in that area. (If you were to determine that your BR1 is a LTEA model I have a different explanation.)

As @MartinLangmaid pointed out, be careful of making determinations of “bars” or RSSI. That’s an ultra-crude metric that was more appropriate for earlier technologies. In the case you showed the SINR is a total mess. One [of a great many] explanations of the various LTE metrics can be found here –

A brief example of an issue I encountered yesterday with another carrier, AT&T: I was using a BR1-LTE while working in the shelter beneath a rather tall tower (350’). The RSSI was a hot -45dBm. However, the SINR was only about 9.0 and the greatest throughput I saw was about 15/10. I’m quite confident the issue was that the LTE model was not capable of operating on the “best” bands operational at that site. My phone did much better.


Good point, I don’t…

Thank you Rick! I appreciate the link to understanding the various levels. I think it would be worth trying a 4-1 omnidirectional to see if it helps smooth the operations of the Pepwave BR1 mini. Also, I’m sure these days, tower overload will become more and more problematic.