FYI Cellular Antennas - Roof vs. Paddle

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Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
5,030
Location
Midlothian, VA
RV Year
2017
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
Ventana 4037
RV Length
40' 10"
TOW/TOAD
2017 Chevy Colorado
Fulltimer
No
I'm currently running two Pepwave MAX Transit CAT 18 routers with Pepwave Puma 401 (4x4 MIMO) cellular antennas and Puma 201 (WiFi) antennas. The antennas have been outstanding, no regrets. However in continued testing which I swore I wouldn't do, I'm finding some interesting results.

First off, I have an iPhone 12 PRO MAX with AT&T. This is my first test against AT&T of what I "could" be getting. Realizing I have a SIM from 2017 on a discontinued Mobley plan. Even moving from my iPhone X to iPhone 12 Apple suggested getting a new SIM from AT&T to get the latest updates for the network. I don't know what's all involved in SIM cards so I can't speak to that. Anyways, I expect the Mobley setup not to give me as good as the iPhone for multiple reasons, mainly Apple does a huge amount of R&D in Antenna design so the iPhones perform well. Can't say that I expect that from our roof mounted antenna vendors. In addition with any roof mounted antenna there is line loss, connector loss, etc. It could be traded off with line of sight improvements.

When near "good" towers performance has been amazing with 100+ download speeds. Tests on interstates the same. Campgrounds which are typically in rural areas not near the best cell towers or may have different rules on priority vs. demand but have lead me to take another look at which antennas may be best. My last few campgrounds have been struggles, most have been near airports or military bases which are known not to get good attention from cellular carriers. iPhone has been good, Pepwaves struggling. Frustrating and trying against the 3 carriers I have (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile) which may test well and then throttle later to a crawl, just odd behavior!

Two days ago I decided to try paddle antennas again for cellular and my speeds went up significantly at times, holding pretty strong at other times. If you're not in a metal box for a coach where mine is fiberglass this may be something to consider. This testing will continue but so far it seems the paddle antennas are performing well.

As to the WiFi I'm on the fence, not really seeing much difference. I have paddle antennas on the Pepwave that serves the network within my coach. I left the roof mounted wifi antenna connected to Pepwave 2 which will serve to bring in outside sources which I rarely use and that will feed into Pepwave 1 as a WAN source when that occurs.

It's frustrating getting "great" internet on the road, it's all satisfactory for most use regardless but I'm always striving for the best so that's where I am right now - paddle antennas on cellular.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2020
Messages
65
Neal, I find your results very interesting with regards to your external antenna. I too have (only 1) a Peplink Max Transit CAT-18. Due to my age & some underlying conditions, we've been reluctant to get on the road so my experience is limited to what I have at the campground.
So far, my cellular connections (AT&T & Verizon) have exceeded my expectations with the paddle antennas which came with the unit, The RV park where we are sheltering in place has really decent WiFi with very strong signals on both the 2.4 & 5 ghz bands with the paddle antennas. Based on what you are seeing & information I read, I am beginning to wonder if the external antenna will be worth the effort to install it.
As near as I can determine, both cellular signals come from the same tower approximately 4 1/2 miles away with relatively flat top topography.
Thanks for posting your results.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
5,030
Location
Midlothian, VA
RV Year
2017
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
Ventana 4037
RV Length
40' 10"
TOW/TOAD
2017 Chevy Colorado
Fulltimer
No
I'm back to roof antennas. Curiosity kills me. WiFi from paddles seems stronger so I'll continue serving the internal network off of paddles and the roof antenna from Pepwave 2 to pull in outside sources when used.
 
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