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.

To find a relevant antenna, please select your router from the following drop down:

Antenna Finder
Find an antenna for your 4G or 5G router

Choose from the most popular routers:

Or select your router from the following list:

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 £20/month on Three’s HomeFi service (this comes with the Huawei B535 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 original HomeFi service came 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 HomeFi Plus 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
BT 4G Home Router (BT 4G Home Router)2x SMA connectors
EE 4GEE Home Router (4GEE Home)2x SMA connectors
HTC 5G Hub (5GEE WiFi)Not supported
Huawei 5G CPE Pro (Vodafone GigaCube 5G)2x TS-9 connectors
Huawei 5G CPE Pro (Three 5G Home)2x TS-9 connectors
Huawei 5G CPE Pro (5GEE Home)2x TS-9 connectors
Huawei 5G CPE Pro 2x TS-9 connectors
Huawei 5G CPE Pro 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 206 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 206 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Hi
    When fitting the XPOL-1 to The EE 4GEE LTE Home Router are there any settings in the Router that have to be changed so it knows to look for the external Aerials

    • Hi Daniel,
      Thanks for your comment. Do you have the exact model number for your BT 4G Mobile Home Hub? I’m not sure if you’re referring to the BT 4G Home Router or a different device? If it’s the BT 4G Home Router, this will work with any SMA antenna (including the Poynting XPOL-1 which is my normal recommendation).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Daniel Cameron replied:

        Hi Ken thanks for the reply. They have branded it as “BT 4G home hub. I’ll take your advice and sort out the XPOL-1

  • Jordan Gaw said:

    Hi, i have the Three Home-fi open for my internet and currently getting 10mb without an external antenna. We have a sky aerial which isn’t used anymore, is it possible to change the connectors at the end of the sky aerial line to convert it to the SMA connecters for the router or what way would be best to change it from the coaxial cable type of the aerial to the router

    • Hi Jordan,
      Thanks for your comment. Sadly, I don’t believe a Sky aerial can be used for this purpose – you’ll need a special 4G antenna that is designed to work with the relevant frequencies and technologies.
      Ken

  • William Wilkinson said:

    Hi Ken.
    I have the standard 4g home router installation with external antenna. I’m always looking for ways to get a bit of extra performance. Why is the signal loss so great on this 5m cable connecting the router to the antenna? Surely in this day and age we could make a cable with little to no signal loss. Is there not a fibre optic alternative or something? If you could give me any tips to improve the set up that would be great.
    Thanks

    • Hi William,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, external antennas use a coaxial cable between the 4G antenna and the 4G router. As the coaxial cable carries an analogue signal, it will experience loss and deterioration of the signal. There are really two ways around this:
      1. Normally, it’s best to place the 4G router as close to the antenna as possible (certainly within 5m so you can use a short 5m cable). From there, you can distribute the signal to where you want to use it (e.g. using wi-fi or an Ethernet cable).
      2. There are a couple of integrated router-antenna systems that are designed so you can install it where you’d like outdoors. Because the router and antenna are co-situated in the same place, this minimises any signal loss due to analogue factors. The system has an Ethernet LAN output (RJ45 cable) which doesn’t experience any signal loss as it’s a digital cable. You can plug the Ethernet cable into a switch or wi-fi hub in order to distribute it to where you’d like to use it.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    Do you have a recommendation for an external antenna that works with the netgear M1 pocket hotspot pro?
    Thanks,
    John

  • Hi I have Huawei 528 and an A- xpol-0001 but I can’t get the home hub system to open to let me turn on the external antenna preference

  • Hi Ken, am currently using x-pol1 on HUAWEI b535 with Three. Am looking to build the cabling for it into my house extension and so want to future proof as far as poss. I read somewhere xpol1 isn’t compatible with a new three 4g rollout frequency? Also the dbi doesn’t seem the highest. Would you recommend I stick with this, or is there an alternative omni you’d recommend?
    Thanks

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I believe Three have started to roll out some supplementary 4G coverage at 1400MHz (band 32 SDL). I don’t believe this is supported by the Poynting XPOL-1. Saying that, the 1400MHz frequency is still used very rarely and may not even be deployed in your area, so it may not make a difference for some time (or at all).
      When building your extension, do bear in mind that you may wish to upgrade or change your antenna at some point in the future (e.g. to support 5G broadband when it launches in your area). I’d therefore recommend leaving this open as an option if at all possible, unless you’re happy to continue using this antenna for the foreseeable future.
      With regards to dBi, a higher dBi isn’t always better! It will allow you to pick up masts that are located further away, but the area covered by the signal will be smaller. For this reason, a higher dBi antenna is often recommended if you’re in a rural area and using a directional antenna. For usage of your antenna in areas with multiple nearby masts, a lower dBi omnidirectional will normally work better.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    Great article – really helped with a situation I am hoping to set up with the Huawei 5G CPE Pro.

    I was wondering what is the best Omni-directional Antenna to get for 5G capability? Also – we were looking to extend the Antenna up to 100m to a roof…. is this advisable/will this work?

    Kind regards,

    Oliver

    • Hi Oliver,
      Thanks for your comment and that’s a very good question! Unfortunately, I haven’t looked into 5G antennas in very much detail, so I don’t have anything I’m able to recommend. I’ve seen a couple of directional 5G antennas (e.g. from Poynting and Huawei), though that obviously has a very different profile to an omni-directional antenna.
      Ken

      • Beth Komu replied:

        Hi Ken,

        Poynting Antennas is actually in the process of developing and testing a 5G Omni-directional antenna which will be a version 2 of the existing XPOL-1.

        • Hi Beth,
          Thanks for letting me know, and that’s some really exciting news! Looking forward to seeing the 5G version of the XPOL-1.
          Ken

  • Lynn Hartley said:

    Hi…….my external antennas (2) ‘lolly’ paddles are connected to the back of my Huawei B535. Had them a few months attached in the upright position but now keep falling over (very loose) ??? At moment I have them slightly tilting towards the window and is working ok. Is this right ? and why did they go from being upright and then just fall over a bit like \ / instead I I . (Hope you understand my description) Present status of paddles are / / from back of router. Please advise if possible. Sorry but not tech minded (silver surfer).

    • Hi Lynn,
      Great question! Is it possible that the antenna have just come a little bit loose? With regards to different angles, it is OK if these are not exactly upright. In fact, you’ll sometimes get better results if it isn’t upright (it depends on what matches best with the polarisation of the incoming signal).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

    • Darren Desmond replied:

      Hi Lynn, I have the same router and you’ll find if you tighten the antennae connector by holding the metal instead of the antennae itself, they should tighten up nicelt.

  • Hi Ken,

    Great article, very informative. I could use your advice on which antenna to choose for my situation.

    I live in a rural area in Ireland with very few phone masts around. I used https://opencellid.org to locate my nearest phone mast.
    I have a Huawei B525 router in my home. My mobile plan is with Three.
    I am getting 3 bars of 4g signal with my router.
    Below is a readout of my routers system settings:
    RSRQ-17.0dB
    RSRP-107dBm
    SINR-7dB
    PLMN27205

    What antenna would you recommend to receive the best performance gain in my situation.
    Thanks,
    James

    • Hi James,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to make a recommendation specific to your situation – I’d recommend following some of the criteria here to make your own decision. The big thing for you is whether to use an omni-directional or a directional antenna. I’d normally recommend an omni-directional for most people, but a directional may work better for you if there’s only a single nearby mast & you know where it is. Poynting sell some of the best antennas in my view – the XPOL-1 if you’re looking for an omni-directional or the XPOL-2 if you’re looking for a directional antenna.
      Ken
      Ken

  • Tony Letheren said:

    Hi Kevin, have you seen these things: Huawei 5G CPE Win H312-371. Can’t really make out why it’s so damn expensive

    • Hi Tony,
      Thanks for your comment. That looks like a really interesting product! Yes, unfortunately 5G broadband hardware still seems to be quite expensive – I guess partly to do with the fact it’s still an early adopter product. Hopefully we’ll see the price come down over the next few years, like it did previously for 4G hardware.
      Ken

  • Your site has been a great resource of information during the last 12 months. Thank you.
    I do have a question that I am unable to find the answer for – Where does the Wi-Fi come from when using an external antenna mounted on the outside of my home. I have seen that some external antenna specifications also state the Wi-Fi power of the antenna so wondered if Wi-Fi still comes from the router or from the antenna.
    I currently have a small test antenna (30cm wire antenna £9 on eBay) that has tripled my download speed to 30 meg and is mounted within line of sight of my ring doorbell that used to have sketchy reception but is now perfect. Is this improved reception due to the Wi-Fi from the aerial?
    I have just purchased the Poynting A-OMNI-0121-V3 again from eBay and my very first Speedtest resulted in 58 meg download while holding it out the window. I’m planning to mount this on a mast that is not in direct line of sight of my ring doorbell and was wondering if I should reconsider the location if the Wi-Fi link to the doorbell would be compromised.
    My first 12 months of 4G broadband has been with the Huawei B311, I have just signed up for a new contract with Three and just taken delivery of the new Huawei B535.

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks very much for taking the time to share your comments and experiences!
      With regards to the wi-fi, this will come from your router rather than the aerial you install. Adding a 4G antenna will not affect the wi-fi signal at all. If you’re experiencing issues with the wi-fi, you can install a mesh networking solution like BT Whole Home Wi-Fi. This attaches to your router through the Gigabit Ethernet connection, creating a new wi-fi network to cover your whole home.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

    • Hi Ousmane,
      Thanks for your comment. If you’re mainly using 4G coverage, I’d recommend the Poynting XPOL-1. You can use this on your Huawei H112-370 router with a SMA-to-TS9 adapter. Obviously, it won’t work with 5G frequencies. There are a couple of antennas now compatible with 5G but I haven’t looked into those in great detail so I wouldn’t be able to recommend anything in that area at the moment.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Steve Dempsey said:

    Hi there. I have an antenna mast to pick up a Vodafone signal for my home broadband. I am looking to get a better deal on data plans. EE have given me a quote, and the signal is fine. I get a good 3 signal. I see O2 has been taken over by Sky. Do Sky do a home broadband service with an antenna? Any help or advice would be appreciated.

    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. O2 previously had a fixed-line home broadband service, but that was purchased by Sky Broadband around 2013. Whilst Sky now has a mobile service that uses the O2 mobile network, they haven’t got a 4G or 5G home broadband service. They currently only offer fixed-line home broadband. More information here about Sky Broadband.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hello
    Thanks for a very informative article.
    The house I rent has an outdoor antenna whose cable ends in an ethernet connection – can I use/ change this ? To attach to my Huawei 525 ?
    Thanks and regards

    • Hi Duncan,
      Thanks for your comment. Do you know what type of antenna this is – does it already have a router built in to it? I don’t think you’ll be able to connect it to a Huawei B525, but it’s possible you might be able to get an internet connection directly from it.
      Ken

      • Duncan Macintyre replied:

        Hello Ken thanks for taking the time to reply – I have no idea if the antenna has a router built in – it came with the house, its inaccesible to me as it looks like it has been installed by professionals and is very high up.
        I cant make out any name on it either. But Im sure you are right it must be an external router its the best logical explanation for the ethernet connection at the end . I guess I cant use it as a simple antenna ?
        Thanks again and regards
        Duncan Macintyre

        • Hi Duncan,
          I’m afraid not. There are a couple of high-end antenna/router systems, where the router is essentially built in directly to the antenna. The reason for doing this is because a SMA cable can cause lots of signal loss. On the flipside, there’s no signal loss or slowdown on the Ethernet part of the connection. For these two reasons, it ideally makes the most sense to put the router as closely as possible to the antenna to maximise the overall performance. These systems will normally have an Ethernet cable at the other end which you can attach to a switch to distribute the signal across the rest of your home. Unfortunately, the SIM card will be built in to that system so if you’re unable to access the device, it won’t be possible to use it.
          Hope this helps,
          Ken

  • HI, if I purchase a Huawei 4g router with only 1 SMA antenna port, does that mean a Poynting XPOL antenna which has two cables with SMA connections will not work or if it does when I plug in just one cable, will it work at a decreased capacity? Also, what antennas do you recommend for routers which have only one antenna port?

    • Hi Stu,
      Thanks for your comment. You can still use the Poynting antenna system, but you’ll only be able to use one of the antenna in it (i.e. you’ll only be able to plug in one of the cables to use that antenna). That can still give you some benefit, though you obviously wouldn’t benefit fully from the dual-antenna system.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Hi Ken, I’m in the same position as above, with just a single SMA connector on the router. Is it possible to combine the antenna cables using a 2 to 1 adapter, or similar? Would this offer much benefit in boosting the signal?

        • Hi Andy,
          Thanks for your comment. Sadly, it isn’t possible to combine the two antenna cables into one (and even if you could, I’m not sure it would actually deliver any benefit). You can however just plug in one of the two provided cables and you can use the antenna that way.
          Hope this helps,
          Ken

  • Clay Robinson said:

    Hi Ken,

    I’ve followed your blog for years you’re doing the world a service with all this top quality information.

    The Poynting XPOL-1 has a surprising number of reviews on Amazon commenting that it had poorer performance than the two “standard” external antennas that come with some huawei routers, and in one case that using the Poynting antenna actually reduced signal strength by 5db when used with a Netgear LB1111 4g router.

    It’s impossible to know whether these reports are accurate of course,
    But I wonder if you have any comments on whether there are any factors at play that could have caused such surprising/disappointing results?

    • Hi Clay,
      Thanks for your comment, and for the kind words about the website!
      With regards to using any external antenna, it’s always situation and location dependent. An external antenna can either improve or worsen the signal or performance of your device. With the Poynting XPOL-1, you should be able to pick up a stronger signal. This is especially the case if you mount the antenna outdoors and facing in the direction of your nearest mast. However, working against that is the fact it has a 5 metre cable which causes some loss in the signal strength to the router. These two factors play off against each other, meaning your mileage may vary. For instance, in some homes & some areas, there’s a significant difference between the signal strength indoors and outdoors. Here, it’s likely an antenna will give better performance as the benefit of using an external antenna outweighs the loss through the 5m cable. In other places, the external antenna might not make very much difference, so you end up worse off after using the 5m cable.
      The good thing about buying the antenna from somewhere like Amazon is you do have the opportunity to return it if it doesn’t make much of a difference.
      Ken

      • Clay Robinson replied:

        Thanks Ken,
        Yes indoors/outdoors and the cable length trade off could be it.

        I was sort of wondering whether it was possible that a mismatch between the frequencies picked up by the antenna and the frequencies predominantly used by a particular 4g carrier, or the internal support of certain frequencies in the wifi router itself could be an issue? Or are antennas ranges broad enough that they’d work across any 4g carrier / with any router.

        Clay.

  • Thanks very much, this is really helpful. I am using a Huawei B525 and though it works sitting in our window, it’s unreliable (RSRQ is very good, but RSRP is consistently poor to awful). So based on your advice here, I have ordered the XPOL-1 which will arrive in a few days. I hope that will help out somewhat.

    That said I have another question for which I can’t find answers for anywhere. If I prop my iPad Pro in the window and tether to its connection, I get a *significantly* faster and more stable connection than if I’m using the Huawei router, sitting in the same position, despite them being on the exact same mobile network with the same 4G plan.

    Do you have any ideas of what could account for this? Any insights, or suggestions on what to research to figure this out, would be really helpful.

    • Hi Christopher,
      Thanks for your comment. Indeed – fingers crossed you’ll see an improvement with the XPOL-1. With regards to why the iPad Pro performs a bit better, there are multiple possible reasons for this. Assuming you have the latest iPad Pro, you’ll find it supports 4×4 MIMO. The Huawei B525, meanwhile, only supports 2×2 MIMO. Upgrading to the Huawei B618 will give you 4×4 MIMO and possibly faster download speeds than on the B525. Unfortunately, however, this wouldn’t be compatible with your external antenna as that only allows you to use up to 2×2 MIMO.
      Hope his helps,
      Ken

  • Caron Grainger said:

    Hi Ken

    Thanks for this. The question I really want to answer is how do I know if an antenna will improve things? I have newly acquired an EE 4G router and get 2 bars. Don’t want to spend an extra £100 unless I have too! Any advice gratefully received. Thanks

    • Hi Caron,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question – it really depends on the signal available in your area and where you place the antenna. Look out for the returns policy when you order your antenna. For instance, if you’re ordering the Poynting XPOL-1 from Amazon, you have the right to return the product as per the returns policy detailed here.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken, first of all I’d just like to thank you for this blog and all its content. It’s super high quality, and given I just moved into a home with no landline option, it’s been crucial to helping me choose which alternative 4G/5G network and solution to use.
    On the topic of 4G for your home. Is there any difference between acquiring a Home Broadband plan, like Vodafone’s GigaCube, and simply buying the Huawei 5G CPE Pro yourself (Amazon for example) and acquiring a SIM Only Unlimited plan from Vodafone? (Or any other carrier)
    I have looked into Tethering limitations some of these plans might have, but other than that, going with buying the router and the SIM Only plan seems to be a much better option, with a lower monthly price, and usually a better plan. Am I missing anything?

    Again, loving the blog and thanks for any help. Some topics I’d like to see are (Maybe there are posts already I just didn’t find them): discovering which home broadband will have the best signal at your post code. Maybe something like, looking at CellMapper and other sources, (maybe crowdsourced?), to know Masts closest to your area, etc.
    Cheers

    • Hi Pedro,
      Thanks for your comment and for the kind feedback about the website! It’s absolutely fine to buy your own CPE/router and to use an unlimited data SIM card inside it. As you say, however, one thing to watch out for is the tethering limitation on certain mobile networks which may discourage you from using the SIM card in a router (though they can’t actually forbid this due to net neutrality).
      The other thing to consider, I guess, is that 4G/5G broadband plans are specifically designed to be used in such a way. Therefore, if the service doesn’t perform in the way you’d normally expect (e.g. poor speeds or poor coverage), you’ve got more recourse to talk to or complain to your mobile network. In the case of a router and SIM card purchased separately, the network could still argue the SIM card is fit for purpose (as the service isn’t being sold to be used specifically in one location).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Patrick Newnham said:

    Hi Ken,
    We live in a slight hollow which means that the antenna would have to be at the top of the garden in order to receive signal. I saw on a YouTube video that a farmer had made his own 4 mg antenna which was connected to fibre optic cable running 1km down to his house. Do you have any idea how this could be achieved?
    Many thanks,
    Patrick

    • Hi Patrick,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how this is achieved! In general, however, it’s best to place your router as close as possible to the antenna, and to use an Ethernet cable to run the connection closer to where you’d like to use it. I suspect this won’t extend to 1km however – I’m not quite sure how they managed to achieve it in this case.
      Ken

  • He,I have an old Dish that I used to get wireless broadband from an ISP that is now bust, it uses an ethernet cable that required PoE. Is there a way I can alter this to work in my EE 4GEE Home Router (4GEE Home) to get a signal boost, it seems to be pointing in the right direction?

    • Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your comment. Sadly, I don’t think there’s a way of using it with the 4GEE Home Router, as that only supports an external SMA antenna.
      Ken

  • Graham Newberry said:

    Hi Ken,

    Is there anyway to improve the signal to my Huawei B900. I realise that an external aerial is not supported.

    Looking forward to your reply

    • Hi Graham,
      Thanks for your comment. As you say, the Huawei AI Cube B900 unfortunately doesn’t have support for external antenna. For this reason, the only way to improve the signal for it would be to move the router to another location. Normally, it’s best to place the router close to an upstairs window, ideally facing in the direction of your nearest mobile mast from Three.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    Excellent article – much appreciated.

    I have just started using TP-link Archer MR600 router on the Three network. The connection is proving unreliable and I am thinking of getting an external antenna. I notice that you don’t have this router in your list and was wondering if you have any info on an ideal antenna. Any additional tips specific to this router and network would also be appreciated.

    Ted

  • HI Ken

    Thanks for this resource! Has helped me and loads others a lot

    I was wondering if you’ve had any feedback on 5G external antennae that have hit the market such as the 5G-XPOL-A0002 (XPOL-2-5G)

    Thanks

    • Hi Danny,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I’ve not had any feedback about this antenna yet – probably because most people go with the omnidirectional antenna. Would definitely love to hear some feedback on the XPOL-2-5G if anyone has used it!
      Ken

  • Hi, I’m installing a mifi system in my motorhome I’ve bought the ariel and cables to go from the ariel to the mifi box and the cables are pretty long,so I was thinking about shortening the two cables and fitting new ends on to keep it tidy , would you advise doing this because I don’t really need the cables to be any longer than 3ft. Your thoughts on this would be very helpful as I personally have no concept of electrical technology.

    King Regards Mick

    • Hi Mick,
      Great question! Unfortunately, I couldn’t advise on cutting your cable to make it shorter – this isn’t something I’ve ever tried to do myself! Perhaps someone else reading this article might have some experiences they can share?
      Ken

  • Martin Winlow said:

    Hi Ken,

    Excellent article, thank you – well written and informative.

    I have a networking Q related to 4G routers that I would be very grateful if you can help with. I live on a remote Hebridean island which is quite hilly and which recently (finally) had its GSM cells upgraded to 4G. It has made a huge difference to mobile coverage and call quality. However, I have a friend who lives at the far end of the island and whose house is at the foot of a big hill and in its shade, from a 4G (or indeed any sort of mobile signal) perspective.

    I recently set up a 4G router connected to a LiteBeam M5 wifi link in an old marine radar housing (works very well to keep everything dry) powered from a 12V lead-acid battery. The setup uses about 6W and we might get around to adding some PV in due course but it is right next to the track from farm to road (2miles) and so changing the battery once a week or so is no biggy. The ‘repeater’ is about 1km from the house and we get 20 to 60Mbps compared to the 0.1Mbps-to-nothing from BTs landline. In fact, *I* get the best BT BB on the island at 7Mbps! Whoop, whoop! (and it’s been out since the storms started 4 days ago).

    Anyway, my question relates to the best way to set up the network addresses on the various bits of kit: 4G router (Huawei E5172 with external directional antenna), Litebeams and BT HomeHub4 which being used as a WAP in the house. Neighbour wants to keep his existing BT setup running in parallel (I think its a business line so it’ll have one of the business BT hubs).

    As it stands, I have given the 4G router and LiteBeams their own IP address in sequence and configured the HH4 to use DHCP and, once you get past the HH4’s issue with not having BT’s BB connected to it, it seems to work OK.

    Just wondering what the *best* way to set everything up would be. It would be useful to use the WAP on the 4G router (currently turned off) as there is an agricultural building quite close (200m away) that could use the BB connection but not if it will increase the energy use of the repeater significantly and/or cause complications.

    Any help would be gratefully received.

    • Hi Martin,
      Thanks for your comment – it’s fantastic to see what a big difference the launch of 4G broadband has made to you! Sadly, I think your question with the multiple different components is far beyond my level of expertise however! Perhaps someone else reading this might be able to help?
      Ken

  • Hi Ken
    Thank you for all the info within your comments.
    I have had installed an EE 4G home broadband system with a Mimo antenna with Gain fitted low down on an external wall facing due South. When this was first installed we were the first in our area (a low density farming area) to have a 4G home broadband system. At first we were getting around 20Mb download speeds but after a few neighbours became aware of the system and had external antenna fitted my download speed has reduced to around 10Mb/second. Originally the antenna was about 3 metres (of a 5m cable length) from the router with the remaining 2m length curled up inside the house and the neighbour antenna are much higher and facing in a different direction. My questions are:
    1. How can I find out which mast is best to face ?
    2. Would there be any point in using the extra 2m of wire to fix the antenna up higher? Can I use a longer cable to get the antenna higher?
    3. I have just found out that Three provide a 4G home broadband with a much reduced premium (£20 per month for unlimited against £60 per month for 300G) and I wonder if I should cancel the EE contract and install a new Three system. I have just started an new EE contract but can cancel within 14 days

    • Hi Geog,
      Thanks for your comment. To answer your questions in order:
      1. Unfortunately, it’s normally just a matter of trial and error. You can use websites such as mastdata.com to see nearby mobile masts which can help you to figure out the optimal direction (but still worth testing out different locations if possible as it may not always be the mast you think!).
      2. In general, you should normally get better coverage if you have a higher antenna. However, it’s difficult to say what an extra 2 meters will do. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth trying but there’s no guarantees it will make a significant difference. With regards to the download speeds on your router, this may or may not improve (e.g. if your speeds are limited due to congestion on your nearest mobile mast, having a stronger signal may not actually improve your speeds).
      3. Once again, it’s definitely worth trying out the service from Three, especially if you’re able to cancel at no charge in the first 14 days. I’ve had lots of really good feedback from people on Three’s service, though it really does seem to depend on your location & the quality of your signal. Take a look at my guide to Three home broadband in case that helps out at all!
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    I can’t see the answer above. I have a B311. Once you attach an aerial, do you need to tell the device to ‘turn on’ or ‘use external aerial attached’ or does the device automatically recognise when an external aerial is attached?
    Thanks.

  • Hi Ken

    Could you give me some advice please? I am looking to get a 4g router and an antenna from ee. I want to set up cctv and do not have WiFi. We have patchy 4g coverage due to the tall buildings on the farm. Would you recommend the ee router and antenna or is there others that are better? Also do you know if the antenna can be used on other networks or is it locked to EE?

    • Hi Vikki,
      Thanks for your comment. If you’re signing up for EE’s 4G home broadband service, 4GEE Home is a good package that allows you to get it all in one place (with an optional antenna installation available for £100). If you’re looking to get it from another network, or if you’re looking to save a bit of money, I’d recommend getting an unlocked 4G home broadband router instead (e.g. from Huawei). You can use that in conjunction with an unlimited data SIM card and one of the antennas listed on this page (e.g. the Poynting XPOL-1).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Thanks Ken. One thing that puts me off with EE is apart from it is more expensive is that the router only has a 30 metre range. As it is for outside I would like the furthest range possible.

        You blog has been very helpful.

        One other question we have tall farm buildings where I want to put the cctv. Sometimes there is no service. With this in mind I presume the higher the antenna is the better but with the shortest lead to the router?

        Thanks

        • Hi Vikki,
          Thanks for your comment. I wouldn’t worry too much about the wi-fi range figures that are advertised – this is really based on indoor conditions with things like walls, ceilings, etc interfering with the quality of the signal. If you’re using the network outdoors, you can normally expect the wi-fi range to be a little bit better. Are you able to install wired Ethernet cables in your farm, or would you be willing to use something like an outdoor mesh wi-fi networking system? This would be the best way to get wi-fi coverage across your entire farm.
          Ken

  • Hi Ken
    Thanks for the info.
    I am considering the TP-Link MR600 4G LTE.
    It has removable antennae.
    I have a direct line of sight 1.4km to my nearest mast.
    If necessary is this router compatible with an external antenna and, if so, which would you recommend?
    Thanks again.
    Stephen

    • Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for your comment. This is something I’d probably double check with TP-Link directly. If their included antenna are removable, it’s possible you’ll be able to replace it with your own external antenna. I normally recommend the Poynting XPOL-1 antenna.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • hi
    I have a D-Link DWR-953 Wireless AC1200 4G LTE Multi-WAN Router installed in a property in central Brighton. I would like to install an external aerial. The local signals from several carriers including Three (my SIM card provider) are said to be excellent but the router is registering 2 bars inside. What would you recommend for an external aerial? I have looked at the Poynting range and am unsure if this is a DIY job.
    Frank

    • Hi Frank,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I had a quick look on Google and I think the router you have doesn’t support external 4G antenna? If you’re sure it definitely supports external antenna, the Poynting is definitely a good choice in my opinion (but yes, you’ll need to set it up yourself). If your router doesn’t support external antenna, I’d still recommend testing out different placements for your router (ideally in an upstairs bedroom, facing in the direction of your nearest mobile mast if possible).
      Ken

      • Thanks Ken, I assume that you think the router may not have an external connection point for an aerial. I has two. I have now checked with D link and Poynting. They say it should be OK to use with the eternal connection points on the router. It comes with two onboard external aerials. I am now using the open signal and meteor apps on my iPhone to do a bit of onsite research. These look like very good aids for this job.

        As regards fitting, looks like there’s a trade opening in Brighton for a TV aerial company to diversify! Frank

  • Hi Ken
    I use a Vodafone 4G Router for our home broadband.
    I have installed a Poynting XPOL1 Omni Directional aerial to the outside of a window in a loft room in the roof in my house. Because the window is sloped at about 45 degrees the aerial is pointing up towards the sky but the results are still very good with far higher speeds than we can achieve using copper wire in our area (15 to 20 mb instead of 4).
    The trouble is with my neighbours who use O2 for their mobile telephones. The signal from O2 in this area is almost non-existent but my neighbours have decided that it is my external 4G aerial that is now causing their ongoing reception problems.
    My question is this. Is it possible for my external 4G aerial to adversely affect normal mobile phone service on the O2 network?
    Thank you for your excellent post and your Q&A service, it’s excellent.
    James

    • Hi James,
      Thanks for your comment and really pleased you found the website to be useful! No, I don’t believe a functioning external 4G antenna should adversely affect the 4G service for other users. In theory, it’s possible for a faulty antenna or a badly shielded cable to have some small effect (as could any of the devices listed here) but I think this is highly unlikely to affect a neighbouring property.
      Ken

      • James Lucas replied:

        Hi Ken
        Thank you so much for your reply.
        It is actually their O2 VOICE reception (not 4G) they have problems with and are blaming my 4G Aerial for.
        I imagine your response would be the same..?!
        Thank you again,
        James

        • Hi James,
          That’s possibly the case. However, the only way to find out for sure would be to use some equipment to try and diagnose the issue, or to do something like stopping use of the antenna for a period of time and seeing whether things change as a result of that.
          Ken

    • Hi I note that a research study is being done on 4G and Freeview interference in Brighton. Google it for info. Once people get the idea of interference, everything is under suspicion, even the kettle! But there’s some emerging concern about the potential of 5G to cause interference.

  • Hi Ken.we currently use Talk Talk telephone system using Copper Cable into our property.
    This gives us telephone and Broadband but with max speeds of 10mbs download and 0.6mbs upload speed. We have contracts with Vodafone and get a mobile signal using their “Sure Signal” box (linked into the landline ) for our mobile phones.
    In our area within 50-80 metres we have almost full bar coverage for Vodafone 4G from the mast theyt fitted about 2/3 years ago, approx 1mile distance max. Our router is the current Talk Talk wireless unit which works for our 2 computers(mac) and our epson printer. If we considered an External antenna for a good mobile signal would this work for us and what would we need to get.
    If you could help us we would be very greatful.

    • Hi Rob,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you looking to switch to Vodafone’s 4G-powered home broadband service, using it as a replacement for TalkTalk home broadband? If so, an external antenna may help with the speed of your connection, but I’d definitely try it out first without an antenna. If you’re simply looking to improve the coverage on your mobile phones, an external antenna unfortunately wouldn’t help you here (it’s only compatible with devices like a router).
      Ken

  • Hi
    I have a hauwei b535 router and a Poynting XPOL-1 aerial. I use this set up at my caravan in North Devon. The signal is ok but can be very variable .
    Is it possible to shorten the leads of the aerial to get better gain and thus a more reliable download speed.
    Regards Geoff

  • Garret Burns said:

    Hi, got what may be a simple question.

    Just bought a 4G home wifu router and the signal is not great but better than nothing (around 1meg, up and down) so looking at getting a simple SMA antenna… Will a 35 dBi antenna with a 2m lead give better results than 2 stubby 9 dBi antenna that plug directly into the back of the router?

  • Phil Edwards said:

    Hi Ken,
    I have got a Huawei 5G CPE Pro on Vodafone and just purchased a Poynting XPOL-1 external antenna which has made zero difference, I tried the antenna on every side of my property. Is there another antenna which may be suitable? Many Thanks Phil

    • Hi Phil,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the Poynting XPOL-1 antenna isn’t designed to be used with 5G networks. Vodafone’s 5G network uses 3.5GHz spectrum which I don’t believe the XPOL-1 is compatible with. I believe they’ve just released a 5G version of the XPOL-2, though this is a directional antenna rather an omni-directional antenna. I’m currently unsure when they’ll release a 5G version of the XPOL-1.
      Ken

  • Nozor Boletti said:

    Hi friend! Do you know any software for PC to improve the gain (DBi) of the 3G signal, at 900MHz, using a AT&T – Sierra USB 305 dongle? The original software&driver don’t work in WIN10.
    Tank You

    • Hi Nozor,
      Thanks for your comment. Sadly, I don’t believe it’s possible to improve the gain or signal strength using software on your PC. As it’s a radio-based technology, the signal strength will need to be improved by using something like an external antenna on devices that support it.
      Ken

  • I have successfully installed a 4G system myself using the Poynting aerial.

    I wrote a blog on it here

    http://lizburton.co.uk/wordpress/everyday-stuff/how-to-install-4g-broadband-if-you-dont-have-fibre/

    However I still have poor (none) mobile phone reception in the house. I could add another external aerial and a signal booster but was wondering if there is any router than can do both i.e transmit wifi around the house and a mobile phone signal?

    It would seem to make sense as the external aerial is already installed for a router to be designed that could do both?

    Hope that you see what I’ getting at.

    Thoughts

    • Hi John,
      Thanks a lot for sharing a link to your blog post – this is fantastic and a very good read!
      Sadly, I’m not aware of any way to use the antenna directly to boost the indoor 4G signal to your phone. However, does your mobile network & tariff support Wi-Fi Calling? If so, this will be the easiest way by far to improve the signal on your phone: your phone calls and text messages will be able to leverage the stronger signal to your broadband router (via a wi-fi connection, so allowing you to benefit from the antenna indirectly). Alternatively, there are some femtocell solutions floating around like Vodafone Sure Signal (or alternatives from other mobile networks are listed here). This will plug in to your broadband router and will broadcast a 3G signal.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

    • Hi Harold,
      Thanks for your comment. I haven’t actually tried out this antenna for myself, so I wouldn’t be able to share any feedback on it. I believe a number of other readers have also mentioned this previously in other comments. Specification wise, it should work fine as an 5G antenna but I’m yet to hear any real-world feedback on it.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken, stumbled on your page while trying to set up in Portugal. I’ve just finished rebuilding a ruin in Portugal with massive 2 foot thick stone walls. As it was a full rebuild I have had to have the Portuguese ITED tv/network system preinstalled. It seems pretty useless other than all rooms do have ethernet outlets. I’ve been living in a caravan for the past 2 1/2 years and been entirely happy with my Huwawei 315 mobile router and external aerial — now want to transfer that to the house. The optimum place for the aerial on an end wall would require probably 20 metres of aerial cable to reach the built in IT control box in my hall. So my understanding from your article is that I should place the router closer to the aerial then run an ethernet cable from the router in prexisting conduit to the control box. I’m thinking I would then have a powered 8-way ethernet switch in the control box patched to each of the room outlets then put a wifi extender in some/all of the rooms as necessary? I might also like to put an external wifi extender aerial on the outside of the house for the grounds and surround — any issues with that I should think about?

    • Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I would definitely opt to have the router closer to the antenna, and to run an Ethernet cable instead from that router to your main switch. Alternatively, you could go with the wi-fi repeater or mesh wi-fi system instead, but Ethernet will likely give you better overall performance. Having a 20 meter cable between your router and antenna will definitely cause lots of signal degradation, whereas an Ethernet cable will not cause signal degradation or speed loss.
      With regards to placing an external wi-fi extender, there are no specific issues I can think of, except from making sure you can run an Ethernet cable to that extender if possible, and ensuring the extender you place outside is designed to be used outdoors!
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi

    Can you split out a single antenna to work with multiple 4g routers? We have a number of routers in use (mainly for failover) at a time and if we could somehow split the single antenna out into multiple routers that would make a massive difference to our current setup.

    • Hi Alan,
      Sadly, I don’t think it’s possible to do this. Out of interest, why are you using multiple 4G routers at the same location – is it because they’re on different mobile networks or something? If so, one option would be buying something like a dual-SIM 4G router (albeit, these are much more expensive than regular 4G routers as they tend to be fairly professional devices).
      Ken

  • Hi, I live in a rural location and have just got a Vodafone 4G Huawei router which does look like it has an external ariel connection. Have you got a recommendation on which ariel to get?
    Thanks.

  • Ashley McGuire said:

    Hi Ken

    Thank you for such an informative piece. I wonder if you might be able to advise me: we just moved to rural france and our WiFi signal is poor. I understand a router, sim and external aerial are a good solution, we have a good 4g signal. Do you know any French specs, or would you happen to know anyone that does? Our network is Orange France.
    Best

    Ashley

    • Hi Ashley,
      Thanks for your comment. As you already have a good 4G signal, I wouldn’t recommend getting a 4G antenna. Instead, it sounds like you’re trying to improve the wi-fi in your home, which is best solved used a wi-fi repeater or a mesh wi-fi network system. There are lots of off-the-shelf systems you can buy for this (such as BT Whole Home Wi-Fi, Google Nest Wi-Fi, Eero Home Wi-Fi, etc) – all of these should work in France without any issues.
      Ken

  • I have in the last week got a B535 as BT was max 2meg…..with 3 broadband I get between 15-20 which for us is like light speed. Being greedy I also bought an external omni antenna (the recommended one after reading this page). It arrived today so a few quick tests and I have an issue. For some reason my download speed is reduced to about 7 but my upload speed increases from 4 to 13 approx…..any ideas why this may be ? I’ve not installed the antenna yet as was trying to find the best place but the figures seem consistent wherever it is.
    As for some if the guy above looking to change the settings it looks like the B535 by default is set to auto and once you connect the external antenna it senses it and selects it….however there is an option to manually select internal/external as well.

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for the feedback, and glad to hear that you’re getting better speeds with the Huawei B535. With regards to why upload speeds are higher and download speeds are slower, it’s difficult to say definitively why this might be the case. My guess is your router might now be connecting to a different mast than before, hence giving a different speed profile to what you had without the antenna. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a bit of trial and error trying out different placements for your router & antenna to try and optimise for the fastest speeds and for the most stable overall connection.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken, interesting and informative piece on aerials. I have a Netgear Nighthawk M1100 (M1) which is located inside a narrowboat, a steel structure like a Faraday cage. This router has twin TS9 connectors, I have looked through all the setting to see if there is any obvious external aerial setting – did not find any but some settings are not of my understanding. Do you have any suggestions for an external aerial that is omni directional -as I can be on the move?

    • Hi Tony,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I’m not very familiar with the Netgear Nighthawk M1100 so this is probably best answered by the Netgear support team! With regards to a suggested antenna, I normally recommend the Poynting XPOL-1 for people who are looking for an omni-direction antenna. I believe it should also work on a narrowboat, but do check the mounting considerations before you go out and purchase. If you buy this antenna, you’ll also need a SMA-to-TS9 adapter.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Hi Ken,
        Many thanks for your reply. Your suggestion confirms my selection – Poynting XPOL-1, it is great to have a confirmation. Mounting, as with many locations, adaption maybe necessary.

        I had already ordered an antenna, https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NZ5MT5T/ref=pe_3187911_185740111_TE_item – it covers all the range of bands that are necessary so I give this one a chance first.

        Netgear Nighthawk router appears to get good reviews and seems well respected by some staff in mobile phone shops, bit expensive but there is always special offers.

        Thanks again, it is a really good article.

        Tony

  • Hi Ken,
    Thank you for all your work in this field.
    I am setting up an XPOL1 with my B535 router.
    My question is to do with the router configuration, will it automatically detect the XPOL and function or is it required that I configure it myself.

    I have looked for Antenna controls and haven’t yet discovered them.

    • Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe there’s a setting you’ll need to change within the router settings to use the external antenna rather than the internal antenna.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Thanks for that Ken.
        I have found the setting in the router and set it for the XPOL 1 antenna.
        Sadly the performance hasn’t improved and today I have told that Three does not have an adequate service in my area and have organised the cancellation of the contract.
        I now need to find another provider.

    • I have a B311 router. To change to using the external antenna, once you are logged into your router settings, usually http://192.168.8.1, the settings are as follows:

      Wifi settings, more wifi settings, system, system settings, expand antenna settings, change status settings. Hope that helps.

  • Ken thanks for you previous responce, i couldnt get the reply button to work, but an a followup question.

    I saw some potential new 5g antennas on a post above, and it seem to only boost 5g if im correct?

    Im hoping this will help me as i had Three engenier visit and they said a have an isse there are starting see, but dont know the cause. I have a great 5g signal, but i have an even closer 4g mast with better signal. The hub keeps getting stuck on the 4g mast and not connecting to the 5g ine for weeks at a time. Any thoughts on this? Having too good a signal just seems like a bit of an excuse and they are asking to take the box back and drop me to a 4g package, not ideal 🙁

    • Hi Rs,
      The 5G antenna that several other people have alluded to claims to boost everything from 698MHz to 4800MHz. If it works as advertised, it should also boost 4G as all of the 4G frequencies also sit inside of that range. Do let me know how things go if you decide to try it out, as I’ve still heard very little on how well this antenna works.
      Ken

    • Hi Ericsson,
      Thanks for your comment. Another reader actually recently asked me the exact same thing very recently! You can read my response here but in short: the specifications do suggest the antenna supports the 3.5GHz frequencies used for 5G in the UK. I haven’t actually tried this antenna for myself so I wouldn’t be able to comment on how good it is (though would love to hear feedback from readers if anyone has actually tried this for themselves)!
      Ken

  • Leigh Wetherill said:

    Hi, I stated with the B311, but the download speed was poor only 15mbps up to 25mbps with an external Poynting XPOL-1 aerial mounted on top of the roof, with a direct line to the mast. The signal slowly diminished to 2-5 mbps over the next two weeks. I persuaded Three to upgrade to the B535 router which after using Resolver they obliged. The signal was initially up to 20mbps but has now dropped again to 2-4 mbps. I have contacted the customer service and the engineers with little or no progress. One engineer guided me through changing the router to 3g only and at 20Khz which gave download speeds of 20-30mbps, the drawback is the stability was very poor, so the next engineer a few days later guided me to reset the router to 4g now speeds of 1-4 mbps and uploads of 14mbps, when I commented that the download speeds are not acceptable his comment was that it would get better, and not to rely on external speed tester software. I am in need of guidance. All of the static machines TV’s and computers are connected via ethernet.

  • Andrew Perkin said:

    Hi Ken,

    I desperately need a solution as we are getting only 5mbs down and 1mbs up on our copper line! An antenna solution looks great since we will never get fibre down our rural lane what ever Boris says. The vodfone antennas are 1.2 and 1.3 km away through forest. Our phone signal is better at the top of the house. Question what type of speeds might I expect from a voda gigacube plus antenna or go for a 3rd party solution with vodafone simcard. Anyway its not like I have a choice at this stage, just which one do I go for, and hope the outlay pays off. Cheers Andy

    • Hi Andy,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to say what speeds you’ll get without actually trying it out and testing it for yourself! I’d say the speeds and coverage you can get with a Vodafone SIM card in your handset are really the “worst case” for what you can get in a router (I’d usually expect it to be better on a router due to the larger antenna, no need to optimise for battery life, etc). With an external antenna, things should be even better on your router.
      Do you already have a Vodafone SIM card? If so, you could consider buying an unlocked router like the Huawei B525. If not, you could try it out with a Vodafone Pay As You Go SIM. If things work out, you can then pair the Huawei B525 with Vodafone’s Unlimited Max SIM card which will give you unlimited data for £30/month.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • I am thinking of getting the Huawei home Fi B311 for my home with 3 for £21 per month , but I am hesitant in case the signal is not strong enough , both our phones are on 3 and to be able to use them at home we have had a 3 booster hub connected to our VM router , once we step outside the house the phones show a signal with the home hub off , so I was wondering if I got the deal with 3 and outside antenna would that work , regards Joe

    • Hi Jo,
      Thanks for your comment. Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that the Huawei HomeFi B311 is no longer available – it’s been replaced by the Huawei B535 HomeFi+. This is actually a far better router (see the full review here) – you can also get it for £20/month through this link, saving you £1/month against what you would have paid for the HomeFi.
      To answer your question more directly, the coverage you get on your phone is really a “worst case” for what you’ll get on a router. This is because a router normally has far better antenna and also has no need to optimise for battery life in the way that a smartphone does. There’s a 14-day returns period for your router if you order it online so you can use that time to see how well the service will work.
      With regards to an external antenna, it’s definitely well worth trying if you normally find the coverage is better outdoors. I’d also make sure to do lots of testing around where you place the router (ideally, it should be close to an upstairs window that faces in the direction of your nearest mast).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Joseph Croft replied:

        Hi Ken thanks for the reply its given me more confidence to try it , i will have to wait until January for my virgin media contract to end first , i may try one on the 3 monthly contract and consider buying the router outright , would buying one and getting a sim work out cheaper , being an OAP i have to try and get savings where possible , but thanks for your help
        Regards Joe Croft

    • Hi Rs,
      Unfortunately, I don’t believe it’s currently possible to buy a 5G antenna in the UK. You can use a 4G antenna like the Poynting XPOL if you like, though this may not allow you to access 5G functionality. Fingers crossed some 5G antennas will come out soon!
      Ken

  • 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).

Leave a Reply