An external antenna can help to improve the speed and reliability of your 4G or 5G home broadband connection.

If you’re using a 4G or 5G home broadband service such as Three’s HomeFi (Huawei B311), Three’s Huawei B535, Vodafone’s GigaCube or EE’s 4GEE Home, attaching an external antenna to your router can help to improve both the speed and reliability of your internet connection.

When choosing an external antenna, there’s a wide range of different antenna options to choose from. To start with, you’ll need to decide whether you want to buy an omni-directional antenna or a directional antenna. You should also check the frequency ranges supported by the antenna, the number of connectors it has and the polarisation of the antenna. The type of connector used by the antenna is also important (most 4G and 5G routers have either a SMA or TS9 connector).

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can use an external antenna to improve your 4G or 5G home broadband service and signal. We’ll look at router compatibility and the key things you should think about when choosing an external antenna for your router. We’ll also present our recommended options if you’re looking to buy an external antenna for use in the UK.

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External Antennas for 4G & 5G Home Broadband

Over the past year, 4G and 5G home broadband has increasingly become a viable alternative to receiving fixed home broadband through a phone line or cable.

Nowadays, you can get unlimited home broadband through a 4G connection from as little as £21/month on Three’s HomeFi service (this comes with the Huawei B311 router included).

4G home broadband is also available through Vodafone’s GigaCube service (with the Huawei B528 router) and through EE’s 4GEE Home Router. Alternatively, some people decide to build their own home broadband solution with an unlocked 4G broadband router like the Huawei B525.

More recently, 5G home broadband has launched in some major urban areas. You can get 5G home broadband through Three’s 5G Home and Vodafone’s GigaCube 5G.

To get the maximum performance from a 4G or 5G home broadband connection, it’s sometimes worth investing in an external antenna. This can increase the signal strength of your connection, giving faster download speeds and a more reliable connection.

In this article, we’ll discuss external antennas for 4G and 5G home broadband, how you can choose one and how it can help with the speed of your connection.

Key Considerations

Before jumping ahead and buying an external antenna, it’s worth considering the following four things first:

1. Are download speeds being limited by your 4G/5G connection, or is it the Wi-Fi signal strength between your device and the router?

There are two things that will affect the download speed on your device: the quality of your 4G/5G signal and the strength of the Wi-Fi connection between your router and the device.

Before deciding what to do, it’s worth isolating these two factors. For instance, place your device right next to the router or attach a wired Ethernet cable to remove any impact from Wi-Fi signal loss.

If it’s the Wi-Fi signal that’s causing a reduction in download speed, you should look into mesh networking technology for Wi-Fi instead (e.g. with a solution like BT Whole Home Wi-Fi).

2. Test out different placements for your broadband router.

The best place to put your router is normally close to a window (ideally, a window that faces in the direction of your nearest phone mast). An upstairs window will usually work better than a downstairs window as there will be fewer obstructions in the way between the mast and your router.

3. Upgrading your 4G router may improve performance.

For instance, Three’s HomeFi service is bundled with a Huawei B311 router. This is limited to Category 4 LTE speeds (up to 150Mbit/s download) and only supports single-band wi-fi connectivity (802.11n).

Upgrading to a more powerful router like the Huawei B535 will allow you to access Category 7 LTE speeds (up to 300Mbit/s). In addition, you’ll get dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity (including 802.11ac at 5GHz) plus four Gigabit Ethernet sockets for attaching wired devices to your network.

If you’re looking for an unlocked router, there are various options to choose from including the Huawei B525. This is available for around £120 unlocked and has very similar specifications to the Huawei B535.

Upgrading your 4G router may improve the performance of your service by as much as adding an external antenna to it.

4. Double check to make sure your router allows you to use an external antenna.

Most 4G and 5G home broadband routers will allow you to connect an external antenna. However, this functionality isn’t available on some devices like the Huawei AI Cube B900. It also isn’t possible to use an antenna with most Mi-Fi devices like the Huawei E5573bs-322.

If you’re using a 5G home broadband service, it’s worth noting that the external antennas currently available on the market will normally only work with 4G frequencies. For this reason, using an external antenna might cause you to lose 5G coverage. However, the overall impact could still be positive if it gives you a more reliable and faster 4G connection.

How To Choose an Antenna

In our opinion, there are six important things you should consider when choosing an external antenna for your 4G or 5G home broadband service.

Omni-Directional VS Directional Antenna

The first and most important thing to decide is whether you want an omni-directional or a directional antenna. The difference here refers to the direction that 4G and 5G mobile signals are travelling from and whether the antenna is able to pick up signals from that direction.

An omni-directional antenna is able to pick up a mobile signal whichever direction it is coming from. This has benefits if you’re living in an urban or sub-urban area as there will normally be multiple phone masts in different directions around you. Furthermore, because it’s omni-directional, there’s no need to specially align your antenna. The disadvantage is you’ll get lower gain compared to a directional antenna, but we still think it’s a better option for the majority of users.

A directional antenna is different in that it can only pick up a mobile signal coming from one direction. This makes it more complex to set up as you’ll need to find out where your nearest mobile mast is. Your antenna will need to be aligned to pick up that signal, something which may require a bit of trial and error. The advantage of a directional antenna is you can maximise the amount of gain from one direction. This makes it a good option for use in rural areas where you have only a poor or marginal signal from one nearby mast.

The following table summarises the key differences between an omni-directional and a directional antenna:

Omni-Directional Antenna Directional Antenna
The recommended option for most people. Most effective in urban and sub-urban areas where there are multiple phone masts around you. Most effective in rural areas where there is a marginal signal from one nearby phone mast. Not recommended in other locations.
Fairly easy to set up as there’s no need to align your antenna, or to know where the nearest mast is. More complex to set-up. You’ll need to align your directional antenna with the nearest phone mast.
Gives a decent amount of gain (signal improvement), but not as much as a directional antenna. Gives the maximum amount of gain from one direction, so useful when you have marginal signal.
Will generally give a more stable connection as the antenna can communicate with multiple masts. Can result in a less stable connection. The mast you’re using could be overloaded or down for maintenance.
Can be fairly low cost (starting from around £15). Generally more expensive than omni-directional.

In the vast majority of cases, we’d recommend starting off with an omni-directional antenna. A directional antenna is only worth considering if you’re already tried an omni-directional antenna and are not able to get a good connection with it.

Frequency Range

When choosing an external antenna, it’s also important to make sure it can pick up the frequencies used by your mobile network to provide the broadband service.

In the UK, we use the following frequencies for our mobile broadband service:

  • 800MHz is used for 4G coverage by EE, O2, Three and Vodafone
  • 900MHz is used for 2G, 3G and 4G coverage by O2 and Vodafone
  • 1400MHz is used for supplementary 4G coverage by Three and Vodafone
  • 1800MHz is used for 3G & 4G coverage by Three and EE
  • 2100MHz is used for 3G & 4G coverage by EE, O2, Three and Vodafone
  • 2300MHz is used for 4G coverage by O2
  • 2600MHz is used for 4G coverage by EE and Vodafone
  • 3500MHz is used for 5G coverage by EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.
  • 3600MHz is used for 5G coverage by Three.

In the next few years, additional spectrum at 700MHz and 3400MHz is due to be introduced for 5G mobile services in the UK. For more information, see our guide to mobile network coverage in the UK.

MIMO & Number of Connectors

You’ll need two external antenna to get the best performance from a modern 4G router.

Both 4G and 5G technology use a technique called Multiple In Multiple Out (or MIMO for short) to increase the maximum speed available on the network. The MIMO technique requires your router to use multiple antenna to communicate with the mobile network at the same time.

Nowadays, most 4G routers support 2×2 MIMO which means it will use 2 antenna to communicate with the network. For this reason, your router is likely to have two sockets for an external antenna to be connected. You can therefore choose to buy either two separate antenna or you can use a combined dual antenna system which will connect to both ports.

Polarisation

Mobile signals are linearly polarised. In other words, they “vibrate” in a certain direction as they travel (sometimes vertically, sometimes horizontally, and sometimes somewhere in between). The effectiveness of your external antenna in being able to pick up that signal depends on how well it is matched to the polarisation of that signal.

If you’re buying a combined dual-antenna system, it’s best to look for a cross-polarised antenna. This will have two antenna orientated 90° away from each other. This design means the antenna system can effectively pick up a signal regardless of which polarisation the incoming signal has.

If you have two separate antenna, look for the ability to rotate your antenna as required.

Cable Length

If you’re using an external outdoor antenna, it will normally come bundled with a cable which plugs in to your router. It’s best to choose the shortest possible length of cable for your installation. A cable that’s longer than necessary will cause a reduction in signal strength.

Normally, a 5 metre cable is recommended for most installations (the router should be moved and placed as closely as possible to the antenna to accommodate this). Due to signal losses from the cable, having a much longer cable will cancel out any benefit of having an outdoor antenna.

Connector Type

Finally, you should check the type of connector required by your router. Most routers use a SMA connector so you should normally look to buy a SMA antenna. Some routers use different connectors (e.g. the Huawei B618 has a TS9 connector and less commonly, other routers may use a CRC9 or FME connector). In this case, you can easily buy an adapter if needed (e.g. to convert your SMA antenna into a TS9 antenna).

The following table shows the required connector type on a selection of home broadband routers:

RouterExternal Antenna Connector
EE 4GEE Home Router (4GEE Home)2x SMA connectors
HTC 5G Hub (5GEE WiFi)Not supported
Huawei 5G CPE Pro (Three 5G Home)2x TS-9 connectors
Huawei 5G CPE Pro (Vodafone GigaCube 5G)2x TS-9 connectors
Huawei B3102x SMA connectors
Huawei B311 (Three HomeFi)1x SMA connector
Huawei B3152x SMA connectors
Huawei B5252x SMA connectors
Huawei B528 (Vodafone GigaCube 4G)2x TS-9 connectors
Huawei B535 (Three HomeFi Plus)2x SMA connectors
Huawei B6182x TS-9 connectors
Huawei B900 (Three AI Cube)Not supported
TP-Link TL-MR6400 (Archer)Not supported
Verve VH510B (Three Home Hub)Not supported

Some routers like the HTC 5G Hub and Huawei AI Cube B900 do not allow you to attach an external antenna.

Recommended Antenna

If you’re looking for a fairly simple SMA antenna, Huawei offers an easy-to-install set of 2 external antenna for approximately £15. The two antenna are designed for use indoors and easily screw on to the back of your router to boost the received signal strength. The antenna are omni-directional and should be compatible with any router that uses a SMA connector (including the HomeFi B311, the Huawei B315, the Huawei B525 and the 4GEE Home router).

If you’re looking for a more sophisticated antenna that you can mount outdoors, the Poynting XPOL-1 is our current recommendation. It’s an omni-directional antenna that’s compatible with all key 4G frequencies in the UK (it only lacks support for the very rarely used 1400MHz band 32 supplementary downlink). The Poynting XPOL-1 has two antenna in a cross-polarised configuration hosted within a single housing. The antenna costs around £85 and has two 5 metre cables terminating in a SMA connector. There are a number of different mounting brackets included within the box for attaching the antenna to a pole, wall or window.

If you’re looking for a directional antenna, the Poynting XPOL-2 is worth a look at. It’s priced at around £125 (about £40 more than the omni-directional Poynting XPOL-1) but otherwise has fairly similar specs to the XPOL-1. This includes full support for key 4G frequencies in the UK, two SMA antenna in a cross-polarised configuration, two 5 metre cables, etc. As mentioned above, directional antenna require much more work in terms of alignment and configuration so you should also budget in the time required for this.

If you’re using the Vodafone GigaCube, Huawei B618 or Huawei 5G CPE Pro router, you’ll need a SMA to TS9 adapter for use in conjunction with these antenna.

If you’re using EE’s 4GEE Home service, there is a professional 4GEE Antenna installation service available to you. The installation charge for EE’s external antenna is £100. For this, they’ll install and position the antenna on an exterior wall of your property supplying a 5 metre cable from the antenna to your router.

If you’re using a 5G home broadband service, it’s worth remembering that the external antennas currently available on the market will only boost 4G signal strength. Today’s 5G home broadband services use 3.4-3.8GHz spectrum which is not compatible with a 4G antenna. However, you could still see an overall performance boost if your external antenna gives a more stable 4G connection.

More Information

For more information, we recommend having a read of the FAQs on the Poynting website. They answer lots of frequently asked questions about topics such as how to install your antenna and where best to place it. The Solwise website also has a good overview of some of the key things to think about when choosing an external 4G antenna.

Your Comments 72 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 72 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Stephen Willoughby said:

    Hi Ken
    I recently got a Huawei 4g rotes through your deal with 3. So far its has been fantastic improving my previous Sky broadband of less than 5mbps to over 90mbps. I have now bought an external Ariel (the Poynting Xpol omni directional one that you have recommended. Ive tried it in different places and found that it is actually reducing my speed from about 90 to 70. I have changed the settings on the router to external.
    Would you recommend I return it. My reason for getting it was because I have blackspots in the house . Would I be better off with a mesh?
    Thanks
    Steve

    • Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for your comment and great to hear about the 90Mbps speeds you’re able to get on Three Broadband! As you mention in your comment, an external antenna will only help to boost the signal strength of your 4G network connection. As you’re already getting 90Mbps download speeds, you probably have very little need for an antenna (and it may actually be making things worse due to the signal loss that occurs in the SMA cable). I do think, therefore, it may be worth returning the antenna.
      If you’re having issues with the wi-fi coverage in your home (e.g. unable to get wi-fi in certain rooms that are far from the router), a wi-fi repeater (or even better, a mesh wi-fi system) will suit you much better. This will help the wi-fi signal to travel further through your home.
      Confusing, I know, with two different types of wireless networks (4G and Wi-Fi) interacting with one router!
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Stephen Willoughby replied:

        Thanks Ken for the advice and excellent website. Just a word on the Three contract. I took up the £20 per month option through your website but my 1st bill has shown at £29 pm. Took a lengthy phone call to sort out but has now been credited.

        • Hi Stephen,
          Sorry to hear about the issue you encountered with billing on your account. I’m not quite sure why it came through as £29, but I’m glad they resolved the issue for you. I’ll keep a close eye on this, in case other readers report similar problems.
          Thanks for the heads up,
          Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    Really helpful article, thank you. I think I may have blundered when trying to set up mobile broadband and have a simple question. Can I use an SMA adapter to get my Huaweii B311s-220 (1xSMA port) to work with my Poynting A-Xpol-0001 (2 SMA cables)?

    Cheers,
    Tom =)

    • Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your comment. It is rather unfortunate that the Huawei B311 only has a single SMA socket – in fact, this is one of the primary downsides of it. Almost every other router has 2 antenna sockets.
      Nevertheless, the Poynting XPOL-1 will still work with the Huawei B311. You simply need to plug in either of the two cables – no adapter needed. Test it out with each cable as you may find that one of them works better than the other (due to polarisation as discussed in the article above). If you were to later upgrade to a different router (e.g. the Huawei B535), you could then attach both cables to use MIMO technology.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken Great article I was an early adopter about 10 years ago -but got burnt i wanted better signal around the house but it never worked- think it was all set up for EE(Orange back then)

    Looking back from the emails it appears i bought a 1800 GSM Repeater Directional Panel with an antenna 11dB for GSM 1800 50dB and a Gain Amplifier (1800DCS)/1800mHz and a Directional Wall Panel

    Basically the question is if I try and make 4G work around my house again is there anything to save and use now

    If you just say the antenna pole i will grin and bear it

    • Hi Gary,
      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, you’re probably going to be best off buying a new antenna! It’s possible you might get some benefit from your old antenna, but this is probably going to be fairly limited as: (i) it’s a direction antenna, and I’d normally recommend omni-directional for most people and (ii) it sounds like it only supports 1800MHz. Whilst there is some 4G signal at 1800MHz on Three & EE, I’m not sure how well it’ll be boosted by your current antenna.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    A very helpful article as we had the B311 router & Three updated us to B535-232 when we complained about the speed as they have a technical issue with it & replaced it. We had a speed of 48Mbps & B535 gave us 72Mbps. We’re in a poor signal area & bought some Huawei antenna which shows we are now at 150Mbps, but our internet doesn’t seem to have improved speed.

    I’ve read even though, when I’ve logged into our router, it shows they have automatically picked up the antenna & now says external, they do still need to be configured by changing it to Open DNS Primary & Secondary settings to allow the better signal through otherwise you just still get the internal antenna speed which currently keeps disconnecting our internet.

    Unfortunately for some unhelpful reason, the DNS settings on recent Huawei routers (B525 & B535) are hidden in the developer software so it doesn’t give you a simple option like every previous router on the WiFi router settings page when it’s on the main page & you simply input the DNS setting numbers to connect the antennas.

    I’ve found you can hit F12 to access the developer coding & on B525 router you input the below, but B535 screen is a different layout so I don’t know where to input this code to show the DNS settings on the main screen or if this same code for B525 would work on B535 router :
    $(‘#dhcp_dns_statistic’).show();
    $(‘#dhcp_primary_dns’).show();
    $(‘#dhcp_secondary_dns’).show();
    When saved enter DNS settings to Open as below:
    Primary DNS server 208.67.222.222
    Secondary DNS server 208.67.220.220

    I can’t find anything on how to do the B535 router itself.
    Do you know of others who have had this issue with Huawei antenna for the B535 router & how to get the DNS settings to show when you log into it as I’m going round in circles trying to figure this out?

    Thanks, Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      Thank you for sharing all of this detail about your experience. It’s good to see that you saw a big upgrade moving from the Huawei B311 to the Huawei B535. Unfortunately, I haven’t encountered the specific issue you mention in your comment, though I’m hoping someone else reading this article might have something to share?
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    Noted your typical suggestion for DIY LTE Broadband: an indoor LTE router + RF cables + external antenna combo.

    I wonder what is your view and possibly advise the performance comparison if using those professionally designed outdoor LTE routers with integrated built-in antenna solutions out there in the market?

    quick search online

    https://www.zcomax.co.uk/4g-rural-broadband/

    https://www.broadbandbuyer.com/products/35837-zyxel-lte7460-m608-eu01v2f/

    Noted above type solution are with LTE radio built inside the same box right next to the manufacture’s own optimized antenna pairing, so they should have minimum cable lost issue that mentioned by some of the earlier posters here.

    Look forward to your comment.

    • Hi Edward,
      Thanks for your comment. I must admit that I’ve never actually looked into the outdoor LTE router options, as most of the mainstream solutions tend to be indoor LTE routers. I can definitely see the attraction of using an outdoor router, though the obvious problem of how to get the signal indoors will still need to be solved (e.g. with an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi) in addition to getting a power supply connected outdoors. Given this, I imagine it probably isn’t something that the average person will consider? I’d love to hear your views on this, however, or your experiences if you’ve tried it!
      Ken

      • Edward Kung replied:

        Hi Ken,

        Since the title of this blog page is “External Antennas For 4G & 5G Broadband: Improve Signal Strength & Speed”, so indoor network connectivity is not really my consideration. Anyhow there are plenty of ways to have a good network around the house, 11ax, Mesh WiFi, Powerline or good old wired Ethernet.

        So the key question remains on how to maximize “Improve 4G Signal Strength & Speed”? Are there other ways to do it better?

        Research readings seem to suggest outdoor CPE with better cables, N-type connectors with minimum signal loss and carefully chosen matching antenna will make a significant performance difference. This system uses a POE injector to power up the outdoor unit.

        My take is if we put up a 2dBi Omni external 4G antenna by the window side linked back to an indoor LTE router and happy with the given performance then it is all great!

        But if that does not work ( as experienced by some of the posters here or many reviews on Amazon). Maybe worth consider the option for a properly designed all in one outdoor LTE router with POE.

        Edward

  • Hey Ken,always love reading your articles. However, I feel applying a 4g external antenna can lead you down a rocky path and without the correct knowledge you may end up with a more intermittent service. I can confidently say that as I’ve assisted a rural customer recently who purchased the poynting external antenna and the limitations are that you only get 5m of coaxial cable (prone to interferrence) and you need 2 cables per router to external device. Theres no configuration options too so you can’t hard set band 3 on Three for example and when band 20 is stronger it can take over limiting your optimum speed significantly. I use Mikrotik which requires a degree of networking knowledge but you get what you pay for. With my customers poynting device client was getting 13mbps down and 2 up. With our solution that boosted to 55mbps down and 28mbps up.
    Off the shelf sometimes works, but it’s worth looking at the more sophisticated solutions as it will blow everything out of the water.
    Fee free to contact me for further details at fixmyline
    Cheers
    Michael.

  • I’m just buying a Huawei B525 router and have an external antenna I want to connect to it. Does the router require any adjustments for the antenna to work, or is it just plug and play? The instructions don’t say anything on the matter, but I read somewhere I might have to log into the router settings and change something.

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your comment. I haven’t tried this myself on the B525, but I believe there’s an option within the router settings to toggle between the internal and external antenna. Do let me know if I’m mistaken however!
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    Great article – I used to get a great EE 4G signal via an external antenna to my Huawei router but recently that’s become rubbish. I’m sure that there is a problem with EE’s equipment on their mast which is in line of sight but, of course, they deny there’s any problem.

    Anyway, it may be of help to people trying to locate their nearest mast. I found an app for my mobile phone called `Network Cell Info Lite -. It’s a free download from Play Store. Install it on your smartphone and it gives you a map which shows the direction and position of the mast you’re connected to as well as the strength of the signal and loads of other information.

  • Hi, i have just got my self a brand new Huawei 4G Router (model B535-232) which is placed in front of the window working on Three with unlimited data. I am using it on my PS4 with ethernet cable as on the only source of signal for the PS4, but i only get between 2.2 and 5.3 mbps, when with the same ethernet cable connected to the BT router i get up to 11.8 mbps ( i live in shared house).
    An external antanna would improve the signal reception anyway or it still depending on Three coverage?
    Three coverage map show that i have very good signal both on the website and in store were i got the router.

    • Hi Luca,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say for sure whether an antenna will help you out. Many people find antennas to be helpful with download speeds and reliability, though your mileage could vary as it depends on lots of different factors. I’d possibly consider buying an antenna but having a close look at the returns policy in case you find it isn’t that helpful.
      Ken

  • Sensitivity for log periodic can be found on the charts page here: http://www.ets-lindgren.com/products/antennas/log-periodic-dipole-array/4017/401704. Somewhere 30 degrees either way is probably close enough.

    Signal loss through a length of coaxial cable is primarily a function of three things: Cable quality, Length and Frequency. The longer the length of a piece of coaxial cable, the more signal is lost. The higher the frequency of the signal passing through the coaxial cable, the higher the loss over a given length. Long way of saying, it’s pretty hard to tell, but the shorter the better!

  • One thing to consider with a high gain directional antenna, that not only are you applying gain to the signal, but also the noise (although it’s true high gain antennae can improve SNR (signal to noise ratio), so whilst ‘more gain’ sounds like a no-brainer, it may in fact offer little benefit depending on circumstances.

    Similarly, if you’re fitting a high gain antenna on a chimney with a long cable, cable signal loss can defeat the benefits of the gain.

    In my position I have 3 masts, some slightly closer than others, but only two close to line of sight, and thus an omnidirectional antenna fitted within 3m of the router was chosen to make the most of the options. Figure out where the masts are, then use google maps or similar to make an informed choice.

  • Hi Ken
    Another great informative article from your good self.
    I would love to be able to put up a 4G antenna but I live in a listed building ( which stops me pushing anything on the outside without planning Permission and my broadband speed is only 1.1 Mbps on a good day) The only way i could do this , would need a 35 metre cable and a pole in the garden. Pole no problem. Signal loses through cable length major problem Do you know of a way I can overcome the signal loss problem?
    Many thanks Paul

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. Sadly, I don’t think there’s an easy way to overcome the signal loss problem, simply due to the laws of physics 🙁 However, would it be possible to do this the other way around and to place your router outdoors (e.g. in a shed, an outbuilding or something similar)? If so, you could hook up a wired Ethernet connection between the router and your home, terminating in another Wi-Fi router which broadcasts the network through your home. Alternatively, you could also use a wi-fi repeater or a mesh wi-fi network if you’d like to do this without running a cable through your garden.
      Ken

    • Paul Caldeira-Dunkerley replied:

      Same here, listed building, however if you have a TV aerial and a cable running from the roof, just attach the antenna to that and run the cables along with the TV ones. Im fitting one of those this week and it’s a darn size smaller than the TV antenna thats there currently! I can understand a satellite dish being unacceptable, but the antenna im using is the size of the open palm of my hand, hardly an eye sore!

    • Hi Jacqui,
      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, I’d probably still recommend the same antenna – it’s just you’ll only be able to plug one of them in! It might be possible to buy a single antenna from Amazon, but having the dual-antenna system could be useful if you later decide to upgrade your router (e.g. to a Huawei B535).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • I have bought a B311 router to put my Three data SIM into. The router is in a static caravan positioned next to window but I only get 3 g. Any recommendations on how I can improve the signal. I have been given up to 15 September to cancel contract as I can’t accept just 3 g

  • Hi Ken, could you recommend any antenna for huashi B535 router please? I wanted to signup for the contract but didn’t manage to find any antenna that is compatible with the biased b535

  • Hi great article. I recently upgraded my HUAWEI router to a b525 and bought an (internal) external antenna with two SMA connections. I found when setting the router to use the external aerial the signal dropped out to virtually nothing. When I tried mixed it went to 5 bars on the router but when trying to use Speedtest / browse, no signal. So I went back to internal aerials and I get reasonably good signal inside the house. Not sure though why the external antenna isn’t delivering any benefit? It’s by a window. This is the aerial: NETVIP 4G LTE Antenna Dual Mimo 49Dbi High Gain Mobile SMA Antenna Signal Receiver Booster Amplifier for Wifi Router Long Range Antenna With 2 * 2M SMA Connector Cable

    • Hi Alex,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult for me to comment on the specific situation, but it is indeed possible that an external antenna set-up can worsen the coverage you get. This if often caused by a poor quality antenna or a long wire between the antenna & the router (causing loss of signal along the way). I’d possibly try testing out different placements of your router/antenna, or using a different antenna like the Poynting XPOL-1. This should hopefully allow you to figure out the issue, based on a little bit of a trial and error!
      Ken

  • Steve Whitehorn said:

    Hi I have a Huawei B311s which has only one antenna connection on the rear of the unit, I believe you recommend the xpol1 which I noticed has two cables, can I still use this antenna.
    Thanks in advance.
    Steve

    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, you can still use the Poynting XPOL-1 antenna. However, you’ll only be able to attach one antenna (the other antenna in the dual-antenna system will remain inactive/unused). For this reason, you could go for a cheaper single-antenna system if you like to save a little bit of money if you only plan to use it with the B311 router.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken, great article, thank you. I currently receive 6Mbps through fixed line so going to use the unlimited data offer from 3 and have the 315 router which is delivering 23Mbps so a massive gain. I also ordered the aerial you suggest. Is there a site that can tell me what the best location is for the aerial or where the 3 mast is located so that I can position for best effect?

    • Hi Jeremy,
      Thanks for your comment, and really glad to hear that you’ve been having good experiences with HomeFi. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s an official website where you can find out the location of all nearby masts. I believe some other readers have had success with MastData.com, but I believe this is an unofficial site so may not be fully comprehensive.
      Ken

  • Hi there. I too was supplied with the Huawei B311 and stupidly didn’t check the back to see that it only had one SMA port and went ahead about bought a Poynting XPOL1.

    You recommend plugging just one of the antenna cables into the SMA; Does it matter which one? And, is there an accessory that allows two of the cables to go into the one SMA port, a bit like headphones splitter that two people can listen to the same music device?

    • Hi Julian,
      Thanks for your comment. The Poynting XPOL1 is a dual-antenna system, with two antenna orientated at 90 degrees from each other. To get the maximum performance from an antenna, you should normally try to ensure that the antenna you use is aligned with the polarisation of your incoming mobile signal.
      With a dual-antenna system, it doesn’t really matter how you orientate your antenna as all different polarisations are picked up. If you’re only using one of the antenna, you’ll need to make sure you’re using the antenna that picks up the strongest signal (as the other antenna will be redundant). Hope this makes things a little clearer?
      With regards to the splitters, I don’t believe it’s possible to get a splitter for your antenna.
      Ken

      • Thanks so much for your help. Have decided that it’s best to buy a router that can work with the antenna. Hopefully can get a reconditioned or second hand to keep costs down

        Julian

  • David Simpson said:

    Hi Ken
    I have just tried connecting a Log Periodic dipole antenna to a Huawei’s B310 LTE CPE supplied by 3 but this has not improved the signal. The mast is almost in line of sight, few trees in way, just below Crest of a hill, less than 1 mile away. I think I have lined it up fairly accurately using a compass. How accurate should the direction setting be? Can you recommend a multi directional antenna that might work better? How much signal is lost through 10m of cable?
    Thanks
    David

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the questions you’ve asked go a bit beyond my area of expertise, so I’ll have to open this up to other readers in case they know more! With regards to directional accuracy, I believe some antenna manufacturers will provide information in their spec sheet on directional sensitivity.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken! I’m keen on getting a mobile broadband service with EE to hopefully achieve speeds of >20mbs as I only have basic broadband ADSL installed which is giving me speeds of 1mbs.

    My current flat has very weak service with download speeds of only ~1mbs when at the window. I was wondering if purchasing the EE mobile broadband + antenna would be able to boost speeds despite having such limited service? Let me know what you think. Thanks!

    • Hi Charles,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s really difficult to answer this, without really trying it out for yourself! You should think of the 1Mbit/s as an absolute “worst case speed”. Often, when people use a 4G router that has a larger antenna and that doesn’t need to optimise for battery life, download speeds should be a lot better. This is improved even further if you have a properly set up antenna. I believe there’s a line checker on EE’s website where you can get an estimate of 4G broadband speeds, or you can also contact EE directly on the phone to find out more.
      Ken

  • Hi, will a 4G antenna also work with 5G? I’ve ordered the vodafone gigacube 5G and may want to boost the signal with an external antenna. Thanks

    • Hi Terra,
      Thanks for your comment and that’s a very good question! Vodafone’s 5G service currently uses spectrum between 3.4GHz and 3.6GHz. The key thing to look out for is an antenna that will boost these frequencies. I don’t currently have a recommendation for a 5G antenna (I’m not sure whether they’ve even come to market yet)!
      Ken

  • Hi! What exactly does antennas on my 4g WiFi router do? Do they make the connection between my router and device (phone, pc, etc) stronger or do they make the connection between the router and the satellite (or wherever it get its signal from) stronger?

    • Hi Ulrik,
      Thanks for your comment. The antenna on your 4G router will improve the connection between your router and the mobile networks (hence giving you better coverage and hopefully higher speeds). It won’t do anything to improve the strength of your wi-fi signal: you’ll need a wi-fi repeater or a mesh networking solution for that.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • I am waiting for my EE 4G home broadband for be installed and they will be installing an external antenna as well.

    I was wondering whether this would improve the phone signal (if I were to switch to EE for my mobile) as the mobile signal where I live is poor, or whether I would need to invest in one of the dedicated boosters for that?

    Great informative article regardless!

    Thanks!

    • Hi Keir,
      Thanks for your comment. Sadly, the external antenna won’t improve the 4G coverage on your phone (it simply pipes the signals in to the SMA socket on your 4GEE Home Router). You could use Wi-Fi for your internet & Wi-Fi Calling for your phone calls – this would allow you to benefit from the coverage improvements by going via the router. If you’re unable to do this, then you would need a separate solution for improving the coverage on your phone.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

    • Hi Fern,
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t have any specific recommendations myself, though perhaps other readers of this article might have something to share? Aside from this, I believe the usual antennas should work fine on a caravan, though it may be a little bit harder to find a way to mount it.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken
    We have just purchased a Vodafone Gigacube and are looking for a good external omni-directional Antenna. Your recommendations all have SMA connectors, do you have a recommendation with a TS9 connector please? Thanks

    • Hi Alison,
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Sadly, I don’t think there are many external antenna that come with a TS9 connector by default, as the SMA connector tends to be much more common. However, you can easily use a SMA to TS9 adapter to “convert” your SMA antenna into a TS9 antenna. When choosing an adapter, I’d recommend choosing one that minimises the cable length to ensure you get the best possible coverage on your router.
      Ken

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your comment. You’ll definitely want an omnidirectional antenna for a motorhome, as the direction of the nearest phone mast will always be different! Apart from that, I don’t have any specifications recommendations, except from making sure the antenna can neatly mount to the outside (e.g. I imagine you’d want something that’s a little less bulky). Perhaps someone else reading this article might have some more specific recommendations to share?
      Ken

  • Have you changed your router settings to expect a signal from an external antenna? I have a Huawei router and in the antenna settings there are three options: Internal, External, Auto. It may be that you still have your router set up for internal antenna, which would mean you would get no benefit at all from the external antenna. Try changing the antenna settings to external and this may do the trick

  • Peter Burke said:

    Hiya Ken
    Please can you recommend a good external antennae?
    I have Huawei B618 which has T9 connectors and I was looking at the poynting XPOL1 combined with connectors ->
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-TS9-To-RP-SMA-Female-Adapter-Converter-RP-SMA-Jack-Gold-HOT-x2/391996099436
    Is there a similar antenna you reccommend which has TS9 connectors already ?
    Please note I live on a boat and move around the Thames sometimes (hence going for omni instead of directional), the area I am currently in has a very poor signal, so I am thinking of installing external antenna on a telescopic pole out of the wheelhouse
    BTW – Thanks for info on your website, twas a great help with deciding on router
    Keep rocking the free world, Pete

    • Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m very pleased that you found the website to be useful! Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any similar antenna that comes with a TS9 connector by default. I believe most external antennas come with a SMA connector by default, so you’ll need to use an adapter for TS9.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi,
    I have a TP-Link AC 750 Wireless Dual Band 4G LTE Router (Model Archer MR200) which works well. Sitting on an upstairs window sill I get 1 bar (25% signal strength). When the window is open the signal strength increases to 2 bars (50% signal strength) and a noticeable improvement in download speed. This situation led me to think that an external antenna would be able to supply at least 2 bars and 50% signal strength and an even better download speed.

    I purchased a Poynting 4G-XPOL-A0001 Cross Polarised 4G Omni LTE Antenna and to my surprise when I fitted it there was no improvement in the signal strength and the download speed was worse, it was as if the antenna was not connecting to the router.

    I tried TP-Links helpdesk and I was disappointed with their response. They concluded that the antenna was not compatible with my router because of the result I was getting. They then could not recommend a compatible antenna.

    So I believe that I have a good quality LTE router and antenna that aren’t compatible, can you offer any explanation to this and a suggestion as to how I rectify the problem.

    Many thanks, Clive

    • Hi Clive,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s strange that this is happening. Have you had any luck with Poynting’s customer support team instead? Normally, I would advise checking a couple of things but it’s possible that you’ve already done this:
      1. Test multiple placements of your antenna (e.g. at different locations in the home, facing in different directions, etc). This might take a bit of trial and error.
      2. If you’re still unable to get any signal, this would imply that there’s an issue with either the router or the antenna. Ideally, you would try to find a way to figure out which one the problem is with (e.g. testing it out with a different router or antenna). Sometimes it’s also the connection cable between the two, but I’d imagine this should probably be fine if you’re using the included cable from Poynting. Once you’ve determined the component at fault, you can replace either the router or the antenna.
      In reality, it might be a bit of hassle trying to test out the above, given it’s unlikely you’ll have a spare antenna or a spare router to play with. However, you might be able to order a spare router or antenna to test with (double-check the returns policy wherever you buy it from). Alternatively, it might be possible to borrow a router or antenna from a friend.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Thanks Ken I appreciate your comments. No I haven’t tried Poyntings Customer Support team I think Ill do that.

  • I have a Three’s Homefi, however it’s an older model B310s. It has 2 SMA connectors and I live rurally getting 1-2 bar 4g signal and looking to get an external antenna to boost signal.

    Your article references 800 & 1800 MHz for Three’s 4g signal – how do I know which one I’m using and would this antenna be suitable

    • Hi Peter,
      Many thanks for your comment. You’ll normally need to check the antenna specifications to see what frequencies it supports. According to the link you shared, the antenna claims to support 700-2700MHz. Assuming this is the case, it will be suitable for boosting an 800MHz and 1800MHz signal.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • hi i have this mifi box in my caravan but i have bought another caravan about 200yds away. in my new caravan i cannot pickup the mifi box would a sma antenna let me pick it up thanks

    • Hi Diane,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you trying to extend your Wi-Fi network so a single HomeFi router can be used for both caravans? If so, you’ll need to look into a Wi-Fi Extender or a mesh networking solution – a 4G antenna won’t help you here.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Colin Mullis said:

    The Huawei B311 has only one connector, not two. I would like to know what the best omni antenna available is for this model.

    • Hi Colin,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you sure this only has one SMA connector? Page 5 of the HomeFi manual shows two external antenna connectors on the back of the router.
      With regards to an antenna for a router that only has one antenna connector, I believe you can continue to use a dual-antenna system if you like (just plug in one of the cables rather than both of them). Alternatively, a cheaper antenna with one connector might be available instead.
      Ken

      • I have this router and have attached an external antenna by simply using one of the SMA connectors. It works just fine. (It does have only one antenna connector despite the manual showing two).

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