Guide to Measuring Your Cellular Signal

We need to first learn some terms and their definitions.

Signal Strength Indicators
RSSI - Received Signal Strength Indicator (3G, CDMA/UMTS/EV-DO)
RSRP - Reference Signal Received Power (4G LTE)
The average power received from a single Reference signal and its typical range is around -90dbm (excellent) to -120dbm(poor).

Signal Quality Indicators
ECIO (Ec/Io) - Energy to Interference Ratio (3G, CDMA/UMTS/EV-DO)
RSRQ - Reference Signal Received Quality (LTE)
Indicates the quality of the received signal. Its range is typically -13dB(poor) to -5dB (excellent).
SINR - Signal to Interference-plus-Noise Ratio (LTE)

In a wireless network, we also need to take other factors into account such as, background noise and the interference strength from other simultaneous transmissions. The typical range is 0dB(poor) to 10dB (excellent).

Below is a table the indicator ranges. (Source: Sierra Wireless KB)

Now that we know what the indicators are, how do we measure/learn what our cellular signal is in the real world and how can we improve it?

With Device UI and InControl2, we can easily find the cellular signal details in Cellular Status.

Device UI:


To explain the next part, we will use example cases to help with the explanation.

In the first case, Case A, the RSRP is poor (< -120 dBm).
This means that you are far away from the cellular tower.

In the second case, Case B, the RSRQ is poor (< -12 dBm).
This means that the signal from the cellular tower isn’t stable.

And finally, in Case C, the SINR is poor (<0).
This indicates that the number of users in the area exceeds the service limitations of the cellular tower.

So how can we improve the signal?

Well, in Case A and Case B, our Puma Series of cellular antennas can help because of their high gain abilities and MIMO technology.

As for Case C, a multicellular model such as our MAX or X Series routers, can help by being able to use different carriers simultaneously.