T-Mobile performance on MAX Transit LTE-A

I have used Pepwave products for a long time, and am pretty good at testing things. I have had a ton of different Pepwave models, antennas, and providers.

I am having a problem with T-Mobile throughput with the MAX Transit LTE-A and LTE model. No matter what I do, I am limited at about 2Mbps up/down and most of the time much worse. I use very careful methodology, only changing one thing at a time, waiting for things to settle, not having anything else on the MAX or the network, and run at least 3 tests all at the same times.

I have also tested this on a MAX Transit LTE (non-A) model with the same results.

I have an AT&T SIM in the same unit, and depending on location and such, get 10Mbps down/up or higher regularly, so this is clearly a problem with T-Mobile only.

I am beginning to wonder if there is a problem with settings (MTU, etc.) or Pepwave firmware that is affecting performance.

I am running version 7.0.0 build 2742

My test machines are both connected via WiFi (2&5Ghz) and wired. The same result can be observed from all test machines whether they are wired or wifi. I use a Windows 10, OS X, and command line linux shell. I record the signal strength and other properties from the Pepwave, all very good levels, and then run tests from beta.speedtest.net on the Win10/OSX machines, and speediest-cli on the linux machine. Speed tests are run one at a time of course.

My signal strength (average) looks like this in the Pepwave:

Band: LTE Band 12 (700 MHz)
RSSI: -57dBmSNR: 0dBRSRP: -87dBmRSRQ: -15dB
Secondary Band: LTE Band 4 (AWS 1700/2100 MHz)

(Note that the above is using LTE-A)

The profile I am using for T-Mobile under Cellular settings is:

Network Selection: Auto
LTE/3G: Auto
Authentication: Auto
Data Roaming: Yes
Operator settings: Auto
APN: (auto populated) fast.t-mobile.com

Everything else is blank. Does something here need to be changed?

Here is the (extensive) list of things I have tested and tried - I am sure I have missed some of them:

TMO SIM in MAX Transit LTE-A with factory antennas - bad result
TMO SIM in MAX Transit LTE (non-A) with factory antennas - bad result
TMO SIM (same SIM) in an iPhone - whopping 20-40Mbps upload/download at same location
TMO SIM in MiFi device - 20-40Mbps upload/download at same location
TMO SIM in MiFi device, MAX Transit using WiFi as WAN to connect to it - 20Mbps up/down
AT&T SIM in MAX Transit LTE-A with factory antennas - 10Mbps up/down
TMO SIM in MAX Transit LTE-A with Wilson external antenna (single) - bad result
TMO SIM in MAX Transit LTE-A with dual Wilson external antennas - bad result
TMO SIM in MAX Transit LTE-A with 6 other varying antenna configurations from Tagolas, Panorama, SureCall, and more - bad result

TMO SIM at another location with all of the above, same test results


WiFi vs wired clients do not differ, not an issue with that.
OSes of clients are different, not MTU craziness or something else on the clients.
TMO SIM works fine in other devices.
TMO SIM in another device, Peplink using WiFi as WAN, acceptable result.
AT&T SIM works fast in the Pepwave.
Location does not matter.
Antennas do not matter.

All this data says to me that there is a problem with the radio or settings on the Pepwave. The SIM, plan, tower, antenna, or Pepwave hardware (two different MAX units) isn’t faulty.

The SIM works perfectly in an iPhone & MiFi, and the Pepwave can even get the fast speeds if I use WiFi as WAN. Clearly something is set wrong on the Pepwave, or it is not handling T-Mobile correctly via the radio.

I have not varied the MTU much and am wondering if that could be it. I have tried the default, and 1492 which was suggested on a forum elsewhere.

I have been testing this for well over a month, any help would be appreciated.

Based on the provided RSRQ and SNR reading, the signal quality and throughput are poor. Can you share the RSSI, SNR, RSRP, RSRQ and Bands (primary and secondary if connected as LTE-A) that you got from iPhone and Mifi while using the same SIM card?

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I don’t have that handy, but AT&T, which performs very well, has the following reading, which is very close to the same. Only off -2dBm on RSSI, 4 on SNR, 3 on RSRP and 1 on RSRQ.


LTE Band 12 (700 MHz)
RSSI: -55dBm
SNR: -4dB
RSRP: -84dBm
RSRQ: -14dB

I think we need to focus on T-Mobile since AT&T is fine. By having the reading from iPhone and Mifi, we can do the comparison.


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This has nothing to do with the settings or the Pepwave itself, it is all about the IMEI.

I have seen this come up more and more often lately, especially since the carriers starting offering unlimited plans again. What they are doing is prioritizing devices that connect to their network, namely the iPhones, Androids, and MiFi’s that they sell and support. Other devices such as commercial routers like ours get de-prioritized which means throttled speeds.

This is the same reason why the carriers don’t offer unlimited LTE data when you tether or use the Hotspot feature of your device. It is usually limited to 10GB and then you are down to 3G speeds for the duration of the billing cycle. It is also why none of the carriers will activate an unlimited plan on a commercial router like ours.

The very second you insert a SIM card into a device it registers the IMEI on the network. All of these IMEI’s are in their database and they can instantly tell what device is connecting to their network and can invoke whatever policy they want.

If you think about it from TMO’s perspective, when a commercial router connects to their network it is safe to assume that the router will be sharing this connection with multiple devices. They would much rather have all of those devices connecting individually to their network and thus on their own data plans, increasing their revenue. This is why all of the individual devices always have good speedtest results, this is something they can market to attract more and new users.

This may not be the answer people want to hear but it is the truth and a fact that we have to deal with.



I would agree, that was one of my theories. T-Mobile is aware of what the device is, and I have three friends that all have the same device and are not being rate limited.

I have unlimited LTE at LTE speeds because I pay for T-Mobile One Plus International, which is the way they allow you to have this for a routing device. You can also add this plan option to a MiFi and get the same result.

If this is what we believe it is, then I can work around it by using a MiFi and WiFi as WAN but I lose a lot of functionality that is built into the MAX, and probably should have bought a different solution.

It appears that while they said they would support this, they have changed their minds and reduced the overall performance of my device because of the IMEI. Disappointing, as it was the main reason I moved to T-Mobile and will likely be a reason to leave in the future if it gets worse.

Even though they said they would support this, the way the network acts tells a different story. I wouldn’t even waste my time calling customer service either as they would most likely blame it on the router.

The only workaround is Wi-Fi as WAN as you suggested. You do lose out on convenience but at least you can connect as many devices as you want to. When you use the Hotspot feature or tether they limit the amount of connections when using their devices.


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The issue with using an additional device is the lack of supported USB devices.

I have a Alcatel LINKZONE™ 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot that I have been testing with, but is unsupported by Peplink as a USB device. I was going to submit it for support once I figured out if this was a potential workaround.

I bought the MAX Transit to have both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi antennas as I have devices that need both. 2.4Ghz is so crowded in my marina, and many other places, that 5GHz is a requirement. Using the mobile hotspot via WiFi as WAN with the MAX makes me lose half my WiFi capabilities which is not an option.

The Alcatel requires 2.4Ghz, so if I spin WiFi as WAN up, a bunch of my other devices are disconnected. Yes, of course I could connect them directly to the Alcatel, but I have a whole internal network, PepVPN and other things on the MAX - that’s why I have it and love it!

The only other supported device I found is the MF683 which I also have. It works with Peplink but in many cases only truly gets 3G speeds. I am continuing to investigate whether I can improve this, but I am not even sure if this would work with the MAX (haven’t tethered a USB device to it, I don’t know if that is possible, I have been doing tethering testing with a Balance One)

Both of these devices will essentially negate the whole reason I purchased the MAX which was for the dedicated, fail over SIM slots and external antennas. If I am forced to use a tethered USB device, or a WiFI as WAN device, I would have been better using a Balance One or something else which does not have external LTE antennas and paying for radios I can’t use.

I think given how fast devices are being updated, and how long it takes to get updates into your products (not a dig, it takes time and work!), and the cost for something like the Peplink MAX Transit LTE-A, it might be time to abstract the actual SIM device side to the carrier and use a USB dongle or MiFi and a different Peplink product.

If you had to recommend a Peplink product for a boat/mobile platform, ideally that runs off of 12v, offers both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi networks, and can tether to one or two (one absolutely required, two would be nice) USB devices, what product would that be?

If you are going down the USB tethering route then the MAX 700 can tether up to 4 devices and has dual band 11ac Wi-Fi.


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Anything a bit cheaper? Looks like that is about $1800 which is DOUBLE what the MAX is, and doesn’t work for this situation already…

I really love the Peplink stuff - I have a PepFusion node in AWS, and four locations all PepVPN’ed together, but it’s not worth almost $2000 for a single site…

If I were in your shoes I would try different carriers before throwing more hardware at this project. You may have better luck with AT&T for example but if unlimited unthrottled LTE data is what you are after it is going to be tough…

One option I can think of is to go with a separate stand-alone AP. I use the AP One Rugged at my house and I get excellent 5GHz 11ac coverage all around my house as well as 2.4GHz. Plus you can still manage it via the Transit or InControl.

We appreciate your support of our brand and solutions!!!

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Thanks - this is for a boat, so I like PoE or non AC powered stuff when possible. I hadn’t thought of a separate AP but that is an option - just trying to keep things simple though!

I have to use T-Mobile because of the data requirements. I have a 30GB/month plan with AT&T through work that I regularly blow through in about 20 days, and really should only be using for work, not streaming and the like :slight_smile:

I think maybe using WiFi as WAN with the MiFi and then adding an AP One Rugged for the WiFi itself might be the best choice. Thanks!


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Do you happen to have a list of carriers that do (or are suspected to) discriminate against routers such as Peplink?

Being suspected of such a practice is sufficient for my purposes - no proof required :slight_smile:

Just to add more fuel to the idea that the carrier is rate limiting me:

Took same SIM from Peplink MAX Transit and put it in an Alcatel Hotspot.
Hotspot is inside, and getting a 20dBm WORSE signal than the Peplink (it has a nice expensive outdoor antenna)
20Mbps up/down versus 2Mbps with the Peplink

After a lot of work with the 3Gstore folks, I am going to have to cobble things together where once the MAX series was the single device I needed. That’s unfortunate in some ways because I have to have three or four devices instead of one, I lose some of the bonding and fail back/forth logic, and it means that Peplink isn’t the only vendor involved.

However it does abstract portions of the services - wifi, carrier LTE, router - and allow for those pieces to be upgraded/downgraded as needed.

Ok in a weird twist, today I decided to swap the SIM card order in the MAX Transit - T-Mobile has always been SIM A, and AT&T SIM B. After swapping them to the opposite slots, I am now getting 20Mbps up/down from T-Mobile for the first time in over a month, maybe longer.

Does the IMEI change per slot? I would assume not, and that I may have found some other weird interaction issue.

Keep in mind that I have had this SIM in and out of SIM A slot 10-20 times while testing, and in other devices, so it wasn’t hanging out in that one slot forever and never not working elsewhere…

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IMEI is the same for both Slot A and Slot B in the same cellular module

Can you please confirm again the test and verify again the performance:

1-Existing Setup:
Slot A: T-Mobile —
What is the performance that you get for T-Mobile ?

Slot B: AT&T
What is the performance that you get for AT&T ?

2-Swapping the SIM card between slot A & slot B
Slot A: AT&T
What is the performance that you get for AT&T ?

Slot B: T-Mobile
What is the performance that you get for T-Mobile ?

If the test results above show that Slot B will having a big different (Repeated) for the performance, please open a support ticket here for support team to check

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I tested this three times with the above. T-Mobile routinely gets poor performance when in slot A.

Submitted support request.

I have something similar going on with a new (last week) Max Transit LTE-A where TMO is only 6Mb/s down yet ATT is 20Mb/s. TMO shows LTE-A which surprised me with the “slow” speed while ATT is just LTE. I’ll contact the customer (also a yacht) and ask him to try the TMO in B and report back.

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