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Inseego Wavemaker 5G FX3100 Antenna Guide

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Looking to get the best possible data rates from your Inseego Wavemaker 5G FX3100 indoor router?

You’ll want to purchase and connect external MIMO antennas to the device’s four U.FL ports.

In this guide, we'll:

  • Recommend the best external antennas to use.
  • Show where the U.FL ports are located.
  • Explain how to aim the antennas for best results.

In this guide

Important Note: To connect external antennas you'll need to open your FX3100 Gateway. Read our instructions for doing so carefully to avoid damaging the device.

The Best External Antennas for the Inseego Wavemaker 5G FX3100

Using a MIMO antenna outside your building, pointed at the nearest tower, can help you get the fastest 4G and 5G data rates possible.

The Inseego Wavemaker 5G FX3100 Internet Gateway has four internal U.FL ports which allow for a 4x4 MIMO antenna to be connected to the device.

We recommend two different MIMO antenna options for use with the Inseego FX3100. Which variant 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 Inseego FX3100 is our 4x4 MIMO Panel Antenna kit. This antenna doesn’t require line-of-sight to the tower.

Best For Most Users

This MIMO panel antenna kit will provide meaningful signal improvement, even if you're surrounded by trees, hills, or tall buildings.

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.

Best With Line Of Sight

These cross polarized log periodic antennas have higher gain and are more directional, but work best if you have direct line-of-sight to the tower.

Why External Antennas Are Critical for Improving Data Rates

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 often a less important way that external antennas help.

Here are the three main ways that external antennas help you increase your data rates:

1.They Improve Signal Quality

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.

2.They Allow You To Connect On More Bands

Routers like the Inseego FX3100 support an LTE feature called "carrier aggregation."

Carrier aggregation allows the FX3100 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.

3.They Increase Your Signal Strength

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 4G and 5G networks) is stronger than about -100 dBm, stronger signal often won't speed up your connection any further.

Connecting MIMO Antennas to the Inseego Wavemaker 5G FX3100

Before getting started, it's always a good idea to run a couple of speed tests indoors from a device connected to your Inseego FX3100 Internet Gateway'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 open up your Gateway, connect adapters for external antennas, and close it back up.

Before you get started, you will need the following:

  • A small phillips head screwdriver
  • A thin plastic prying tool, needle-nose pliers, or tweezers
  • Four U.FL to SMA-Female pigtail adapters (included in our 4x4 External Antenna kits, respectively)
  • Tape for securing and labeling cables. Painters or Electrical tape works best.
  • A secure container to keep screws and small parts safe while you work

Important Note:

Be careful not to damage your Inseego FX3100 device while disassembling.

As part of your agreement with your carrier, you "borrow" this equipment from them. When you end your service, you'll likely need to return the gateway. If there's damage to the device they are contractually able to charge you damage fees.

Waveform does not make any guarantees nor take any responsibility for damage caused to your unit when following these instructions. Please proceed at your own risk.

If you do decide to return your unit, make sure to reconnect the existing internal antenna connectors before doing so.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Adapters for External Antennas

Step 1: Power off the Inseego FX3100 Internet Gateway and unplug the power cable.

Step 2: Flip the gateway so that you're facing the label at the bottom.

Step 3: Peel back the label and remove the two screws with a phillip-head screwdriver.

G4SE and G4AR Antenna Ports

Step 4: Use the prying tool to press between the side and bottom cover to pry away the bottom cover from the side cover. “Twist” the pry tool to further displace the bottom cover from the side cover and gently pull the bottom cover away from the casing until it releases from the internal clasps.

Step 5: Disconnect the four cellular antenna cables from the four top-left ports.

Step 6: Reroute the internal cables into the open cavities in the left side of the gateway (as shown).

Note: You will have to partially peel back the foam pad from the heatsink to reroute the far right cable. Place the foam pad back in place once the cable is free and placed into the large open cavity in the left side of the gateway (as shown).

Step 7: Route the U.FL pigtail adapters through the corner of the bottom cover and connect them into the newly open ports on the circuit board.

Make sure that you route the cables as shown to allow for the bottom cover to be correctly placed back into the gateway.

Step 8: Place the bottom cover back onto the Gateway while making sure that the cables do not snag on any of the internal clips.

Optional: Tape the connectors to the side of the gateway to secure them in place safely.

Step 9: Reinsert the screws and you're done!

If you're using one of our 4x4 MIMO Antenna Kits, the cables are labeled 1 through 4 on each end to make it easier to match up connectors from your antenna to the gateway. You will connect your adapters in the order shown below:

NOTE: Our testing of this device is still ongoing. The best ports to use with external antennas for this Inseego FX3100 Internet Gateway aren’t yet determined, but we will continue to update the guide as we learn more.

Congrats! Your Inseego FX3100 is now connected to your more powerful MIMO External Antennas.

Positioning and Aiming MIMO Antennas

Correctly positioning and aiming MIMO antennas is crucial to getting the best performance to your Inseego FX3100 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:

Where to test your signal

Where to test your signal

Pro Tip 1: 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.

Pro Tip 2: When you make bigger changes, try either power cycling or removing and re-inserting the SIM card. This forces the gateway to search for the best signal anew and can help improve data rates.

Once you've found the position which gets you the highest data rates to your Inseego FX3100, 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!

Inseego Wavemaker 5G FX3100 Technical Specifications

Supported T-Mobile bands in the US

  • 5G: n2, n5, n12, n25, n26, n38, n41, n48, n66, n71, n77
  • 4G LTE: B2, B4, B5, B12, B13, B26, B38, B41, B46, B48, B66, B71

Cellular Modem

  • Model: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ SDX62

  • MIMO Support:

    • External antenna ports: 2x2 (provides support for mobile frequency bands within either a 1700-2700 MHz or 3300-4200 MHz range.)
    • Internal antenna Ports (Waveform modification): 4x4
  • LTE Performance Category: Cat 19

Wi-Fi

  • Wi-fi Version: Wifi 6
  • Wifi Standards: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
  • Bands: Simultaneous Dual-Band (2.4GHz / 5GHz)

Ports

  • Cellular Antenna Ports: 4x U.FL ports (internal), 2x external antenna (TS-9)
  • Ethernet Ports: 2x WAN/LAN 1 Gbps
  • SIM Ports: Dual SIM, (2) 4FF Nano SIM slots
  • Other: 1x USB 3.1 Type C (data and tethering)

Other Helpful Resources

Inseego Product Pages for the Wavemaker FX3100

Inseego Wavemaker FX3100 (T-Mobile) Documentation

Inseego Wavemaker FX3100 (Global) Documentation

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