Looking to get the best possible data rates from your Cradlepoint E300-5GB or E320-5GB for T-Mobile Business Internet?
You’ll want to purchase and connect external MIMO antennas to the device’s four SMA ports.
In this guide, we'll:
Note: The Cradlepoint E320-5GB and Cradlepoint E300-5GB have identical hardware and access to Cradlepoint’s NetCloud, but the Cradlepoint E320-5GB is for T-Mobile Business Internet users and also includes T-Mobile Business Cloud features.
Using a MIMO antenna outside your building, pointed at the nearest tower, can help you get the fastest LTE data rates possible.
The Cradlepoint E300 has four cellular SMA ports on the back. These allow for a 4x4 MIMO antenna array to be connected to the device.
Which of the two different MIMO External Antenna kit options to use depends on whether or not you have line-of-sight to the tower.
For most users the best external antenna choice for the Cradlepoint E300 is our 4x4 MIMO Panel Antenna kit. This antenna doesn’t require line-of-sight to the tower.
However, if you have line of sight to the nearest tower, we recommend using a 4x4 MIMO Log Periodic Antenna kit instead. The higher gain on these antennas can get you better performance, but only when you have a straight shot to the tower.
There's one big misconception about external antennas.
Most people think that external antennas primarily help you increase your data rates by increasing the signal strength.
But that's not the case.
An increase in signal strength is actually probably the third most important way that external antennas help.
Here are the three main ways that external antennas help you increase your data rates:
In 4G LTE and 5G networks, signal quality is measured as SINR (Signal to Interference plus Noise Ratio) or sometimes as RSRQ (Reference Signal Received Quality).
Improving signal quality has a huge impact on your data rates.
Higher data rates allow your hotspot to communicate using "higher order modulation schemes." That means they can use the same wireless spectrum to send more data per second.
However, there's one big caveat:
In order to improve your signal quality, you need to both aim and shield your outdoor antenna properly. We talk more about this in the next section.
Routers like the Cradlepoint E300 support an LTE feature called "carrier aggregation."
Carrier aggregation allows the Cradlepoint router to connect on multiple cellular bands simultaneously.
The more bands you're connected to, the greater the bandwidth, and the higher your data rates.
However, many of the higher frequency bands aren't able to penetrate into buildings. Using external antennas allows you to access higher frequency bands, which are often less congested and offer higher speeds than lower frequency bands.
As you might expect, using outdoor directional antennas can help increase the signal strength.
This helps increase data rates, but only up to a point.
If your signal strength (called "RSRP" in LTE networks) is stronger than about -100 dBm, stronger signal won't speed up your connection any further.
Before getting started, it's always a good idea to run a couple of speed tests indoors from a device connected to your Cradlepoint E300's WiFi. The results will fluctuate a little, but this is the baseline you're trying to improve.
Once you've tested your baseline internet speeds, you're ready to install external antennas.
In the next section of this guide, we'll show you how to connect adapters for external antennas to your Cradlepoint E300.
The Cradlepoint E300 has four cellular antenna ports that are labeled 1 through 4 and are grouped together on the back of the device. These are the ports your MIMO external antenna(s) will be connecting to.
Step 1: Disconnect the standard paddle antennas that are connected to the cellular antenna ports according to the MIMO Antenna kit you own (2x2 or 4x4):
If you have a 2x2 MIMO Antenna Kit, disconnect the standard paddle antennas on "port 1" and "port 4" and keep the standard paddle antennas on "port 2" and "port 3" connected.
If you have a 4x4 MIMO Antenna Kit, disconnect the standard paddle antennas connected to all of the cellular antenna ports.
Step 2: Connect the external MIMO antennas to the newly available cellular SMA ports on your Cradlepoint E300, according to the MIMO Antenna kit you own (2x2 or 4x4):
Note: For our 4x4 MIMO Antenna Kit, the cable paths of the Quad-RS240 cable are labeled 1 through 4 on the cable jackets to assist with matching the cable connectors on each end of the cable.
Congrats! Your Cradlepoint E300 is now connected to your more powerful MIMO External Antennas.
Correctly positioning and aiming MIMO antennas is crucial to getting the best performance to your Cradlepoint E300, or indeed any other router.
We've actually compiled a detailed 4x4 MIMO instruction manual to accompany our own 4x4 MIMO Antenna Kits, where we go into depth on the best ways to aim the antennas.
The goal is to find the best location and direction for the antenna(s) to maximize data rates to the hotspot. It can take a little patience, but can have a huge impact – it’s worth a bit of extra effort!
Once you've got your external MIMO antennas connected, you're ready to go outside with your "test-rig".
With each location and direction you try, run a couple speed tests, and make a note of the results. Here are all the locations and directions where we recommend testing your MIMO antenna:
Pro tip: Don’t just go to the highest point of the roof! While signal is generally stronger the higher you go, there’s also often more interference. We’ve found it’s often better to mount the antenna(s) on the side of the building where the structure can shield the antennas from interference.
Once you've found the position which gets you the highest data rates to the Cradlepoint router, that's where you'll want to install the MIMO antenna. Go ahead and mount the antenna, run cables inside, connect everything up, and enjoy superior data rates!