Want to  Improve Signal Strength & Speed with your Smart Hub?

An external antenna can help to improve the speed and reliability of your LTE wireless home broadband connection.

If you’re using a 4G home broadband service such as TELUS Smart Hub, Roger's Rocket Hub or Bell Turbo Hub, attaching an external antenna to your device 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 and also the option of using a booster to boost the cellular signal.

 

We can help you choose the right solution based on your needs and situation. Cell Carriers use many frequency bands for voice and data which becomes very complex when trying to come up with the proper antenna or booster that will work for you. So let's try and break it down for you.

Key Considerations

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

1. Are download speeds being limited by your LTE cellular connection between the cell tower and Smart Hub (modem), or is it the Wi-Fi signal strength between your device and the Smart Hub?

There are two things that will affect the download speed on your device: the quality of your LTE signal to your Smart Hub and the strength of the Wi-Fi connection between your Smart Hub and the devices you are connecting to.

Before deciding what to do, it’s worth isolating these two factors. For instance, place your device right next to the Smart Hub 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 Wi-Fi extenders or mesh networking technology.

2. Test out different placements for your Smart Hub.

The best place to put your Smart Hub is normally close to a window (ideally, a window that faces in the direction of your nearest cell tower). An upstairs window will usually work better than a downstairs window as there will be fewer obstructions in the way between the tower and your Smart Hub. One other suggestion to find out if the actual cell tower has congestion issues which may be why you are seeing slower speeds is to take a drive with your Smart Hub closer to the cell tower and see if your speeds are slow even in close proximity to the tower. If they are slow close to the tower then the carrier is most likely experiencing network issues due to congestion. In this case a booster or antenna won't help. Increasing speed is a tricky business - in theory, the biggest factor limiting speed is bandwidth. Each phone tower is given a total width of frequencies it can transmit on, and each person that connects is allocated a small channel of a certain width.This means that each tower has a limited number of customers it can service before it becomes congested.

Choosing the right antenna - MIMO 

You’ll need two external antennas (MIMO) to get the best performance from your Smart Hub.

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 Smart Hub to use multiple antenna to communicate with the mobile network at the same time. For this reason, your hub is likely to have two sockets for an external antenna to be connected. You can therefore choose to buy either two separate antennas mounted at 45 degree angles or you can use a combined dual antenna system which has 2 cables that will connect to both ports.

To take full advantage of MIMO, (currently used in 4G LTE communications), two antennas must be used.

When installing directional antennas like a Yagi antenna, the first antenna must be rotated horizontally to a 45 degree angle and the second to a 135 degree angle. This is because of "polarisation diversity".

LTE uses polarisation diversity to help distinguish between the two data streams sent from the tower. The antenna must also be able to pick up the various frequencies the carriers are broadcasting.A great link explaining cell frequencies in Canada can be found here -

https://www.androidcentral.com/everything-you-need-know-about-4g-lte-canada

Click here to find out how to check what frequency your phone is on as well as finding the signal strength. 

Cable Types and length

Cable quality and length is almost as important as the type of antenna that is used. 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.

Due to signal losses from the cable, having a much longer cable will cancel out any benefit of having an outdoor antenna. Using low loss cable such as LMR400 or LMR240 is also important to minimize signal loss as well. 

As you can see boosting cellular signals and data speeds is a very complex process. Starview has recently done lots of testing with antennas and boosters and we are finding that Telus and other carriers are starting to use Band 7 (2600 Mhz frequency) more. The higher frequency means that the signal is not able to penetrate buildings as well as the lower frequencies like 700 Mhz were able to, therefore a lot of people that have had good cell signal in the past are starting to notice a decrease in signal recently. Most of the cell booster manufacturers do not make boosters that boost Band 7 so the only other alternative is to use a passive antenna like the ones pictured above to try and increase signal levels to devices like the Smart Hubs. Below are the Bands the three major Canadian Carriers are using 

Rogers - Band 12 (700Mhz), Band 4 (AWS), Band 7 (2600Mhz)  Band 13 (700Mhz)

Bell -  Band 17 (700Mhz), Band 7 (2600MHz), Band 4 (AWS)Band 2 (1900Mhz), Band 5 (850Mhz), Band 29 (700Mhz), Band 13 (700Mhz)

Telus - Band 17 (700Mhz), Band 7 (2600MHz), Band 4 (AWS)Band 2 (1900Mhz), Band 5 (850Mhz), Band 29 (700Mhz), Band 13 (700Mhz)

If you are experiencing challenges with your cell signal or speed issues with your wireless internet we can perform a site survey and recommend and quote prices on a solution for you. Site surveys are $75 (within 50Km radius). The solution to getting good wireless data service in a challenging location is often found through tower research and some trial and error.  While wireless data is not a possibility for everyone, todays tech advances are making it a reality for most. If you are looking for solutions, a knowledgeable and helpful service provider like Starview Communications can be a good resource as we are out there installing and talking to users with a wide variety of situations and challenges with getting good wireless internet and cellular service.