MAX Transit Cat 18 Basic Configuration for max speed

I recently bought a MAX Transit with a single Cat 18 modem in it to serve as the main internal WiFi router, as well as the main link to the outside world, for my RV. I’m in the process of setting it up, while I’m at home, where I have a 1Gb/s fiber connection. Right now, I have the MAX Transit connected via an ethernet cable to one of my Orbi satellites. I’m working on my laptop, which is 6 feet (I’m maintaining social distancing so I don’t give my new MAX Transit computer COVID). from both the MAX Transit and the Orbi satellite.

I’m still working on the very basic configuration – clearly the MAX Transit has a lot of configuration possibilities, but right now I’m just doing simple stuff. If I connect my computer to the MAX Transit via WiFi, I get varying speeds (per speedtest) of anywhere from 50 Mb/s up/down to 250 Mb/s up / 90 Mb/s down. Those would be great speeds if I were in my RV (well, the 250 is great, but the others are decent to pretty good). But they seem poor when you consider that if I connect to the Orbi satellite right next to it I will consistently get 500-600+ Mb/s up and down.

My conclusion is that obviously I’ve not optimally configured the MAX Transit. But that’s where all the configuration possibilities bites me – I’m not really sure where to start to diagnose/improve the throughput when going through the MAX transit.

My next step will be to disconnect the cable to the Orbi and use the WiFi as WAN capabilities to simulate being in the RV, where often the connection will be through one of our phones or a hotspot (we have AT&T, Visible, and Sprint options, and will use the one that performs the best in any given location). Any advice on configuring that would be helpful, too. For example:

  1. If possible, should I pick only 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz for the WiFi as WAN connection, then use the other frequency for the connection between the actual devices and the MAX Transit? My thinking there is that it would eliminate interference from the various devices stepping over the re-transmission when going out to the WAN.
  2. Any other basic configuration tips & tricks for max performance would be helpful. I used to be a network admin – but that was literally 3 decades ago (I actually used to add network taps with physical taps into the coax cable). I’m sure that, once I get started, I’ll be able to get this very capable hardware running well, but I’m very out of touch, so I’m not really sure where even to start.

My end state is actually fairly modest – if I could consistently get 10 - 20 Mb/s (assuming the cell connection supplies that) each way, I’d be happy. But more is always better.

Thanks in advance for any help and/or pointers you can give me.

You aren’t going to see 5-600 mbps on it. Its rated 400mbps max. The more settings you turn on, the lower it goes.

I’m fine with not seeing 400 Mbps. But my point was that I’m not getting anywhere near what I should. In fact, right now it’s hovering around 20 Mbps, when I can get 500-600+ by going around it.

So which are the settings I should be turning off so that I get closer to 400 Mbps? Which are the ones that slow things down most?

For the fastest wifi performance, you’ll want to use 5GHz with a 80MHz width channel.

I too have the Max Transit CAT 18. I am also a RV full timer. As I read your configuration & setup, it prompts me to ask several questions.

  1. Do you have a cellular data plan SIMs installed in the CAT 18 device, or, do you plan on acquiring one? If not, I would respectfully suggest you spent a lot of money for capability you are not using.

  2. Speed tests (my opinion) are not the end all as to how efficient your device(s) may or not be. I would encourage you to try the following:
    a. Connect your PC directly to the router that receives the 1GB fiber signal & see what speed you get. Run several tests to establish a base line.
    b… The CAT 18 is a very slick cellular modem/router. Disconnect the router that receives the 1GB fiber signal & use the WAN port on the CAT 18 to receive that signal. Run several speed tests to establish abase line. Compare the two. I would say, from a speed perspective, that is what you will lose with the CAT 18.

  3. The RV park we are currently in has one of the better RV park WIFI setups I’ve encountered. It is fully capable of streaming HD signals to two TV’s via ROKUs while I surf the net on my PC.

  4. The CAT 18 is also fully capable of accomplishing this same task with either of the cellular SIMs installed in it.

  5. Each hop you place between your recipient device & its source will delay the signal. Granted, not much…but, there is a delay.

  6. In all honesty, I could care less what speed I attain on a ‘speed test’ as long as I can accomplish over the internet what I am trying to accomplish. There are just too many other factors effecting what I perceive to be ‘fast’, or, ‘slow’ as the end user to go down the ‘speed test’ rabbit hole.

Aside from the device not yet being certified by Verizon, I am very pleased with it. Once you get on your RV, I suspect you will be too. Each location will have it have it’s own challenges. Local WIFI (none, bad, good), proximity of cell towers and providers on that tower and on & on.

Good luck with your travels.

Lemondrop:

Thanks for your response. To your questions:

  1. I don’t have a cellular data plan SIM installed in the CAT 18 device yet. I do have a cell data plan on each of three of the major players (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint). Some are capable of being put into the CAT 18 device; some are locked to the IMEI (thanks, Sprint), so can’t be put in and WAN over WiFi will need to be used. If one of those is the best connection at the spot I happen to be at, I’ll need to be prepared to use WAN over WiFi, which is the worst case – but I’m sure I’ll get there some time.
  2. That’s just what I did to get a baseline:
    a) If I connect directly to the router with the fiber, I’ll get 500-600 Mbps both ways.
    b) If I connect the CAT 18 to that router over the WAN port on the CAT 18 modem, I’ll get 260+ Mbps down and 100 Mbps or so up, which is just fine.

But as soon as I swap over to using WiFi for both the WAN and the connection to the individual computer, my speeds drop quite a bit. Sometimes I can get 120 Mbps down and 90 Mbps up, but more often it’s 60-70 Mbps up and down – and sometimes it’s a fairly abysmal 10-20 Mbps up and down.

I did my research, and know I’ll be thrilled with the CAT 18 version – that’s why I got it. But the big reason I’m confident I’ll be thrilled is that is has a good deal of configuration possibilities. Right now, my challenge is that the drop off in performance is so large that I’m sure that I’ve got something with a very sub-optimal configuration – but because of all the configuration possibilities, I’m not sure where to start to fix it.

Thanks again for your response.

I’ve never had the luxury of GB service for personal use. Best service was rated at 300GB.
If I understand what you are saying correctly, you are using one of your cellular devices to provide the cellular service to the CAT 18 to broadcast to your network. If this the case?
If I look at 2. a) above you are getting 500-600.Mbps connected directly to fiber. I assume you have a cable modem and that connects to a router. I then look at 2.b) and when you hook up the CAT 18 to the modem, your speed goes down. Assuming I have your configuration correct, I would suspect the settings in your router prior to suspecting the configuration on the CAT 18. If you have any powered access points or WIFI boosters in the loop, I would take them off the network until you can really isolate where the issue is.
Configuring networks is part science & part art form. Depending on what other network devices are on your network, & how they were installed (with a wizard or manually), your router settings may be inhibiting the most efficient connection to your CAT 18 in certain situations.
With all that said, it would appear your cellular devices are the weakest link as their antennas are no where near as efficient as those on the CAT 18. Again, this assumes I have stated your configuration correctly.
10-20 Mbps is more than adequate to stream media, unless you plan on streaming 4K. I know, we all have the need for speed.
Some personal observation based on my usage. Issues with WIFI signal distribution can be real. I have a little cubby hole where I have the CAT 18 set up for the time being. It has a metallic sort of panel on one side. That was enough to interfere with a wireless connection to a printer. I had to either move the printer or the CAT 18 to establish a good wireless connection.
Based on what I think I read, you have a lot going on with the network in your house. I’m sure you realize this, it will be different on the RV & I would encourage you to get some SIMs into the CAT 18.
FYI, activating the CAT 18 on Verizon is a PITA.
Good luck.

Not quite. Once I get things set up, I will be using cellular service to supply the CAT 18 to broadcast to my network. For now, though, I want to get the WiFi capabilities of the CAT 18 set up properly first. To eliminate the variables, I’m currently exclusively supplying the WAN connection from the same source – my home 1 Gbps fiber connection.

When I connect the CAT 18 to the fiber connection via the WAN ethernet port, I get quite good performance – 260 Mbps down and 100 Mbps up. When I have everything the same, except that the CAT 18 is connected to the fiber connection using WiFi as WAN – with the router about 2-3 feet from the CAT 18, with direct line of sight to it, I get far worse – some times as low as 10-20 Mbps.

I realize that 10-20 Mbps is more than adequate for most things. But getting 10-20 Mbps in this case seems to clearly point to something being misconfigured – I’d expect some degradation from using WiFi for both WAN and LAN functions, but a 90-95% degradation as compared to the cable connection, with all devices within 6 feet of each other and direct line of site seems far too much.

Everything’s off the loop in my current setup, except the fiber router, the CAT 18 modem, and the computer I’m using to run the speed tests.

Once I get this humming, then I’ll introduce the cellular connections, either via SIM card in the CAT 18 modem, or by using WiFi as WAN to the device with the cellular connection. I won’t expect that will be anywhere near as good – at that point, as you say, the cellular connection will be the limiting factor, especially at my home, which appears to be in a dead zone for cellular for some reason.

Thanks again for your time.

Just a data point… I use a Cat 18 Max Transit router and separate AP One AC Minis for my APs. With 5ghz set at 40mhz channels, I can consistently pull 160Mbps from the wired WAN port and Cat 18 modem, and I’m currently pulling 90 Mbps from a WiFi as a WAN uplinked internet (also a 5ghz 40mhz channel). So when the WiFi on the Max Transit isn’t pulling double duty(LAN and WAN), those are the speeds you can reasonably expect to see. I can’t tell you what 80mhz channels will look like, because I haven’t had much luck with them in my area. Hope this helps.

Most modern cellular phones have cat 18 radios (AND MIMO 4x4). I’m not sure that they aren’t as efficient. What makes you say this? I actually want your input.

Because unless I’m parked right under a 5G tower (which isn’t likely to be the nicest place to take my RV) they won’t come close to the connection speeds of a fiber optic connection, such as the one I’m using to test my MAX transit configuration.

And that’s a bit beside the point, anyways – if the connection I get with the cell phone is fantastic and does compete, wonderful! But I’ll still need the MAX transit configured properly to get optimal speeds to the actual devices using the WiFi as WAN via the MAX transit – and that’s the entire purpose of this thread. Something must be wrong with my configuration if switching to using WiFi as WAN on the MAX Transit drops my throughput to 5% or 10% of the throughput I can get in the exact same circumstances, except using a ethernet connection on the Max Transit to connect to the exact same WAN. I just don’t know which configuration items are most likely to be the problem.

Yes. You should open a ticket to find out why the bandwidth of your Wifi as WAN device is not passed through to the Max Transit. I do know that your latency will be higher since more hops. Could it have something to do with your Outbound Pollicies? Make sure that your Wifi as WAN WAN is prioritized correctly. I also know that you are burdening your antennas with incoming AND outgoing traffic as well as the router CPU. Just some thoughts.

Joel & Sam,
Without a doubt I could have worded my comment about the antennas & the cellular devices being the weak link better. The intent of what I was trying to convey is this. A cell phone as the source of the internet connection (cellular signal) will be inferior to the CAT 18 cellular modem/router for a variety of reasons including the antennas each uses to distribute the signal.
I’m still not clear on how the subject network is configured & where/how the cellular signal gets from the cell tower to the device performing the speed test. I based my comment on the assumption the cellular signal came from the tower, to a cell phone & was subsequently distributed to the network in some fashion via an existing router or the CAT 18.
We have several limiting factors in play here impacting the apparent speed/efficiency of his network.

  1. The rated speed of the GB cable service in conjunction with the applicable modem.
    a. If I understood correctly what was said, there is no degradation in apparent speed when the speed test is conducted using the existing router or the CAT 18 as a router when that signal is distributed by WIFI.
    b. That would seem to suggest the CAT 18 configuration is as efficient as the previous router.
  2. As I understand it, when he uses his cell phone(s) as the source of the signal to connect to the internet & distributes it via WIFI to the CAT 18 which in turn distributes it via WIFI, he experiences degradation.
    a. One of the reasons one goes with a cellular modem/router is to facilitate a local area network (LAN). Without adding needless complexity (subjective opinion) to the setup, connecting a cellular phone is a pain. Easiest options are tethering via USB to the device requiring connectivity (a PC) or via WIFI (a router for network distribution).
    b. The fastest internet speed you will be able to attain on either the end device (the PC) or the network will be the speed the cell phone can attain from the tower. Have you run speed tests on the cell phones?
  3. The CAT 18, as wonderful as it is, cannot take a single cellular signal transmitted via WIFI at 20Gbps & magically make it faster when it transmits it via WIFI. The cellular phone has already performed whatever magic it can with its processor & antennas to get it out the door at 20Gbps.
  4. We also have to contend with the internal processing speeds associated with the various routers, the number of hops (connections), their speed capabilities and any restrictions placed upon the traffic (configuration settings) within the network. If I understand Sam’s issue, the latter is what he is trying to trouble shoot.
    I have 4 sources (need redundancy in a RV on the road) for internet connectivity with my RV.
  5. RV Park provided WIFI. I can hook up directly to the end device (such as a Roku), or, I can route it through the CAT 18. This park’s WIFI is pretty good, however, I experience buffering from time to time. More so when the signal is routed through the CAT 18. I attribute this to signal interference within the RV. If possible, I use RV park WIFI for streaming media.
  6. Samsung Note 8 cell phone. I can use it tethered to my PC to connect directly to the internet, or, broadcast a WIFI signal. This is cellular service & is limited on what I can get from the cellular provider.
  7. I have a Sierra Wireless cellular modem in my PC. I can connect to the internet directly, or, broadcast a WIFI signal. This is cellular service & is limited on what I can get from the cellular provider. Based on several months’ usage, it does not appear to be as efficient as the cell phone. Specs indicate the modem in this is a CAT 4. Not sure what the Note 8 is using as a modem.
  8. The CAT 18 has both an AT&T & Verizon SIM installed. I use the AT&T plan as my primary internet connection for my business, with fall over to the RV park WIFI. The RV park broadcasts its WIFI signal in both 2.4 & 5 Ghz. There is no apparent difference in the quality in streaming media to the ROKU’s.
    With both cellular service & WIFI or cable service…………. this is where the configuration options associated with CAT 18 really shines.
    Obviously these are observations are predicated on my network situation. I have multiple devices wired with Ethernet (some require it) & the future will probably involve installation of AP’s to get around some of the interference with the WIFI distribution I’ve experienced.
    I’ll be the 1st to admit I might not understand the network configuration, but, if the source of the WIFI signal being provided to the CAT 18 for broadcast is from a cell phone, I believe that is why he is experiencing signal degradation compared to his cable service.
    I don’t believe the CAT 18 has the capability to make a 20Gbps WIFI signal perform any faster than that. If I’ve stated this incorrectly, I apologize & please let me know how to correct it.
    gk

My experience is that wifi-as-wan is not an efficient path for tcp communication. A tethered service provides much better passthrough for bandwidth. Too bad our Max Transits don’t allow this. So I agree that this is likely the cause of degradation. With modern cell phones, for optimal endpoint bandwidth, it is almost always better to use it’s hotspot feature than to use wifi-as-wan. In the end, it’s good to have options. I’m running Fusionhub-Speedfusion-bonded ATT and Verizon, both with 2x2 MIMO, plus two cat18 ATT cells wifi-as-wan, plus wifiRanger wifi on the WAN port. Lots of options. I have another router, GoAC, with tethering capability that I can weave in as necessary. The biggest plus is the ONE ssid that every client in my home and in my RV can connect to without reconfiguration.
Thanks for your comments George.

Max Transit Cat 18 Specifications
Routing Throughput = 400Mbps
Unencrypted VPN throughout = 100Mbps
Encrypted VPN throughput = 60Mbps

Wireless throughput by channel size at 802.11AC rates. real world throughput (50% of theoretical) assuming 2x2 because that is most common today. Assuming 64QAM.
20mhz = 72.2Mbps
40mhz = 150Mbps
80mhz = 325Mbps

I just wanted to level set expectations for ballpark speeds in a perfect world.

Thanks for the useful figures on wireless throughput – that does help set expectation. But I think I need to reset this thread a bit – most of the responses were off on tangents, probably because I didn’t set things up well in the first post.

What I should have asked is what do I need to do to maximize throughput from my devices to the outside world when using WAN as WiFi on the MAX Transit. The tangents on putting a SIM directly in the MAX Transit are valid information – they’re just not relevant, since I’m trying to figure out how to configure things for the cases where I can’t do that. I figure that using WAN as WiFi is the worst case scenario, so if I can get things humming along there, then they’ll be even better with the WAN coming from either a SIM card in the MAX Transit or a hardwired connection on the WAN port.

Additionally, some of the responses have confused Gbps with Mbps, so others have thought that I was expecting the MAX Transit to somehow magically provide better throughput than the underlying connection to the outside world. That’s not the case at all, but let me correct the confusion by exclusively using Mbps.

So here’s the situation:

  1. Assume I have a 1,000 Mbps connection to the outside world, from a device not on the MAX Transit. For the purposes of this topic, it shouldn’t matter whether that’s fiber optic, cellular, or oompah loompahs individually carrying each packet to and from the outside world (trying to inject a little humor here).
  2. Assume that (for whatever reason) I want to take advantage of the MAX Transit’s WiFi as WAN functionality to connect the devices on my local network through the MAX Transit to the outside world. After all, that function has value, or the developers wouldn’t have bothered putting it in.

Given the above, how should I set up my MAX Transit to maximize throughput, and what should my expectations be? I gave the real-world example of 20 Mbps because it seemed that getting only 2% of the underlying connection capabilities was indicating that there’s a problem. But maybe I’m wrong – maybe in the above scenario getting 20 Mbps is great.

What I’m looking for might be something as simple as:

  1. Set your WiFi as WAN to use the 2.4 GHz band, while using 5 GHz for the LAN (or the other way around), or
  2. Make sure that your WiFi as WAN is connecting via both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz on specific channels for each, and then make your MAX Transit serve up LAN connections on different channels.

It also might be something a bit more esoteric, like “make sure the QAM setting is set to 64” (picking up on C_Metz’s assumption of 64QAM). I don’t know if that’s a setting, but if that’s the key, I can certainly look for it to make sure that it is.

That’s really where I’m a bit stumped. There are so many possible settings on the MAX Transit – that’s part of what makes it a great solution – that I don’t really know where to start. I could spend hours and hours going down a rabbit hole that seems logical to me, but in fact would have very little effect. I’m hoping to get a few pointers on where I should spend the most effort ensuring that my MAX Transit is connecting to the WiFi as WAN, and serving that up to my LAN as best as possible.

I’m up for almost anything here, too. If the root of the issue is that the MAX Transit just can’t handle both things well at the same time, and connecting a WiFi router A to the MAX Transit via the LAN port and having my devices get their WiFi from WiFi router A would help, then I can do that easily. That doesn’t seem right to me initially – as others have pointed out, the more devices between the computers and the outside world, the worse the connection is likely to be. But if the root cause is that the MAX Transit can’t really handle the burden of WiFi as LAN and WiFi as WAN simultaneously, then doing something like that, where I’m mainly using the MAX Transit to switch between the multiple possible WANs (WiFi or otherwise), while giving my internal devices a single, consistent source for their connection, would still be very useful.

Once again, thanks for all the comments. Even the tangents have given me good information that I’ll need in other aspects of my situation. But I definitely will sometimes need to use the WiFi as WAN capabilities, with my devices also using WiFi to connect to something (MAX Transit, or another device) that leads to the outside world. That’s the scenario I’m trying to optimize now.

Along those lines. I have a WiFi as a WAN configured and in use currently. I’m seeing consistently 70-90Mbps out of it and I think the limitation is the internet connection, not the WiFi. Here’s a screenshot of my settings. Definitely nail the source that is providing the WiFi to 802.11AC only if you can, as seen in my screenshot. Don’t use any peplink firewall rules that are domain name based. There is currently a performance bug related to that. The box generally performs best with DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) staying off, which is not a setting, but something that is triggered when you use a complicated non-IP based rule in the firewall. So try and stick with simple rules and policies.

Source providing the WiFi (Not the Peplink)

Peplink MAX Transit Cat 18 WiFi WAN settings
ScreenHunter_02 Oct. 19 00.47

The best thing you can do when maximizing a WiFi as a WAN connection is to perform a WiFi scan using software like inSSIDer from MetaGeek. Here’s mine showing my channel mappings. As you can see, I choose a clear channel for my WiFi WAN use and made sure I had no interference.

Best of luck. Hope this helps.

samsouthardjr,
Have a much better understanding of what you are trying to accomplish now. Thank you for being so gracious with your explanation & observations.
As a point of reference, when I purchased my unit… one of the conversations I had with the seller was along the lines of; ‘Let the Peplink CAT 18 manage the connections; that’s what it was designed to do’. Not sure that will be the case 100% of the time & changes may be appropriate in certain situations & that is obviously what you are looking to determine.
Keep this thread going. It’s very informative.

C Metz:

This definitely did help – I’m playing around with the various channels, and I can certainly start to see some patterns. Right now the pattern seems to be if I’m using WiFi as WAN and WiFi as LAN, then performance plummets. If I connect either the WAN or the LAN via the ethernet port, then I get plenty of performance.

Oddly enough, even if I connect another WiFi router (call it router B) to the Peplink via the LAN ethernet port, and then connect my computer to Router B via WiFi, I still see a drastic degradation in performance, even if I make sure that the Peplink Wifi as WAN is using channel 155 and the router B serving up the WiFI to the LAN is using channel 42. However, that could be because my main home WiFi network is mutually interfering with the Peplink/Router B connections – my main home WiFi network is a mesh network that uses channel 42 w/ 80 MHz width for the connections to the devices, and channel 155 w/ 80 MHz width for communication between the mesh router nodes. It’s a nice setup, which gives me fairly consisted 600Mbps+ WiFi up and down throughout the house – but it could well be stomping on my testing here. I’ll have to give this another try this coming weekend, when I’m off on another trip.

When you’re seeing a consistent 70-90 Mbps, are you using your Peplink to get WiFi for both your WAN and your LAN? If so, can you share your Peplink LAN WiFi settings?

Thanks,

Sam

I’m using the Max Transit as an AP controller controlling 3 Peplink AP One Mini ACs for the downlink wireless. I use manual channel assignments on each AP and have carefully tuned the power to a precise setting as you see in the screenshots. I serve 3 wireless subsets for security - HomeNet, Jarvis, and Guest. Jarvis is for all those pesky Alexa devices and lightbulbs that can’t be trusted :wink:
HomeNet - WPA3, 5ghz only
Jarvis - WPA3/WPA2, 2.4 and 5ghz
Guest - WPA3, 5ghz only