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MOFI5500-5GXeLTE External Antenna Guide

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Looking to get the best possible data rates from your MOFI5500-5GXeLTE router?

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

In this guide, we'll:

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

In this guide

The Best External Antennas For the Mofi Network MOFI5500-5GXeLTE

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

The MoFi 5500 has four SMA ports for cellular on the sides, which allow for 2x2 or 4x4 MIMO antennas to be connected to the device.

We recommend two different MIMO antenna options for use with the MoFi 5500:

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.

For most users the best external antenna choice for the MoFi 5500 is our MIMO panel antenna kit. This antenna doesn’t require line-of-sight to the tower. Using two of the MIMO Panel Antennas will allow you to make use of the MoFi's 4x4 capabilities, for maximum data speeds.

Best With Line Of Sight

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

However, if you have line of sight to the nearest tower, we recommend using a 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. If you're looking for 4x4 MIMO with the MIMO log periodic kit, you'll need four antennas, but using just two antennas will still give you 2x2 MIMO.

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 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:

1.They Improve Signal Quality

In 5G and 4G LTE 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

Hotspots like the MoFi 5500 support a 5G and LTE feature called "carrier aggregation."

Carrier aggregation allows the MoFi 5500 to connect on multiple cellular bands simultaneously.

The more bands you're connected on, 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 5G and LTE networks) is stronger than about -100 dBm, stronger signal won't speed up your connection any further.

Positioning and Aiming MIMO Antennas

Positioning and aiming MIMO antennas well is crucial to getting the best performance to your MoFi 5500, or indeed any other router.

We've actually compiled a detailed instruction manual to accompany our own 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 MoFi. It can take a little patience, but can have a huge impact – it’s worth a bit of extra effort!

Before getting started, it's always a good idea to run a couple of speed tests indoors from a device connected to your MoFi's WiFi. The results will fluctuate a little, but this is the baseline you're trying to improve.

SMA adapters connected to the MoFi 4500 4GXeLTE

SMA adapters connected to the previous model, the MoFi 4500 4GXeLTE. The MoFi 5500 5GXeLTE has the same SMA connectors, but they now occupy four ports, two on each side edge of the router.

Now disconnect the standard paddle antennas, and connect the external MIMO antennas to your MoFi 5500 via the cellular SMA ports, like in the image above.

The device has a whopping eight SMA ports:

  • The four on the front edge, labeled "2.4GHz" are for the WiFi antennas (the ones with the red accents) - leave these connected.
  • The two on each side, labeled "Primary #1 / #2" and "Secondary #1 / #2" are for cellular - these are the ones you'll be connecting your MIMO external antennas to.

Connecting the MIMO external antennas

Given the 4x4 MIMO capabilities of the MoFi 5500 router, it's important to make sure you're connecting the right antenna ports.

On each side edge of the router, you will see two SMA Antenna ports. The ones on the left hand side of the device are labeled "Primary #1" and "Primary #2". The ports on the right hand side of the device are labeled "Secondary #1" and "Secondary #2".

For each MIMO Antenna you connect, you'll need to connect it to a primary port and secondary port.

This means that if you're connecting a single MIMO Panel Antenna, for example, you will connect it to Primary #1 and Secondary #1.

If you add a second MIMO Antenna to achieve 4x4, then you'll connect that one to Primary #2 and Secondary #2.

MoFi 5500 5GXeLTE Cellular Antenna Ports

MoFi 5500 5GXeLTE Cellular Antenna Ports

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:

Suggested test and measurement locations

Where to test your signal

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 MoFi 5500, 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!

Advanced Optimization

If you've gone through the trouble of installing and accurately aiming a MIMO Antenna Kit, you're likely already getting excellent data rates from your MoFi 5500.

That said, there's always more that can be done!

Band locking is a great way to optimize data rates through an LTE router or hotspot. The idea is that you test every different frequency band being received by your device, and lock it onto the band that results in the best data rates.

The MoFi 5500 is one of few routers to allow manual band locking in their web interface - here's a step by step guide of how to do it.

Band Locking the MoFi 5500 5GXeLTE

The reason this works so well, is because different frequency bands transmit with different bandwidths.

Generally speaking, higher frequency bands (like 1900 MHz and 2100 MHz) offer more bandwidth but travel less far and penetrate building materials less well than lower frequency bands (like 700 MHz and 800 MHz).

As a result of travelling less far, higher frequency bands tend to be less “congested” - they have fewer users connected to them, and data rates are often faster.

This isn’t always the case though, sometimes a lower frequency band may have better data rates, depending on your location.

This can be quite time consuming, but often results in significant improvements to data rates.

We'll keep the steps below as simple and concise as possible! If you need a little more guidance, you can find a video about this here.

Step 1: Access the MoFi's web interface

  • Use a laptop to connect to your MoFi's WiFi network, and open a web browser - Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari are recommended.
  • Enter "192.168.10.1" into the URL bar to log into the MoFi's web interface.
  • Login to the interface with your username and password - default username is "root" and the password is "admin".

There's a fair amount of useful and interesting information to be found in the web interface. For now, we're only interested in the band locking feature.

Step 2: Lock the MoFi to a frequency band

  • In the left hand menu, navigate to "Network" -> "MoFi Internal Modem" -> "BandLock".
  • Expand the dropdown menu next to "Bandwatcher" and select "ON".
  • Expand the dropdown menu next to "Lock Modem to a Band".
  • From the list, select the band which you'd like to lock the MoFi to. In the example below we've selected Band 4.
Locking the MoFi to Band 4 in the web interface

Locking the MoFi to Band 4 in the web interface

Once you hit finish to select a new frequency band, the MoFi will take a few minutes to reboot. Once it's back up and running, connect to it's WiFi network again.

Now, lets test each available band in your area, to determine which will result in the best data rates.

Step 3: Test and select the best tower and frequency band

  • Look up your nearby towers. This can be time consuming and accuracy is often questionable - we've listed our suggestions in an article on the Best Ways to Locate Nearby Cell Towers.
  • Aim your external MIMO antenna(s) at each nearby tower and band lock the MoFi to each band that the tower transmits.
  • Run 3 to 4 speed tests on each band to find the fastest bands. Speedtest.net is a great tool for this.
  • Repeat this for every tower in your area, and make notes of the speed test results you get from each band and tower combination.

Once you've identified the best tower and band combination, lock your MoFi to that band, and make sure your outdoor antenna is secured so that it doesn't move in the wind.

Note: The above steps were tested with a MoFi4500 4GXeLTE, but should work precisely the same on the MoFi5500 5GXeLTE.

MoFi 5500 5GXeLTE Versions and Technical Specifcations

The MoFi 5500 5GXeLTE comes in a few variants:

  • MOFI5500-5GXeLTE-COMBO - WiFi only, no integrated cellular - $299.99
  • MOFI5500-5GXeLTE-7411-COMBO - Base model, with single Cat7 4G LTE Modem - $399.99
  • MOFI5500-5GXeLTE-7411-GPS-COMBO - Cat7 4G LTE modem, plus GPS for vehicle tracking - $439.99
  • MOFI5500-5XeLTE-7411-DUAL-COMBO - Dual modem Cat7 4G LTE, for two SIM cards - $549.99
  • MOFI5500-5GXeLTE-7690-COMBO - Cat20 4G LTE, for faster download speeds - $499.99
  • MOFI5500-5GXeLTE-9191-5G-SUB6-COMBO - Cat20 4G LTE and Sub-6GHz 5G - $649.99

If you need any 5G bands, then the "9191-5G-SUB6-COMBO" is the model to get - but it does come with a higher price tag. For most folks we'd recommend the "7411-COMBO" version.

Technical Specifications

Supported 4G LTE bands in the US

  • AT&T: B2, B4, B5, B12, B14, B17, B29, B30, B66, B46
  • Verizon: B2, B4, B5, B13, B66
  • T-Mobile: B2, B4, B5, B12, B25, B26, B41, B71

Cellular Modem

  • Model: 7411

    • MIMO Support: 4x4
    • LTE-A Carrier Aggregation: Yes (up to 2x carrier aggregation)
    • LTE Performance Category: Cat 7
    • Max Theoretical Speeds: 300 Mbps Download, 150 Mbps Upload
  • Model: 7690 or 9191

    • MIMO Support: 4x4
    • LTE-A Carrier Aggregation: Yes (up to 5x carrier aggregation)
    • LTE Performance Category: Cat 20
    • Max Theoretical Speeds: 2 Gbps Download, 211 Mbps Upload

Wi-Fi

  • Technologies: 802.11 ac
  • Bands: 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz simultaneous
  • MIMO: 4x4

Ports

  • Cellular Antenna Ports: 4x SMA
  • WiFi Antenna Ports: 4x RP-SMA
  • Other Ports: 4x Gigabit Ethernet LAN; 1x Gigabit Ethernet WAN; 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0

Other

  • Power: AC power only (no battery)

Other Helpful Resources

A helpful review by Mobile Internet Resource Center

MoFi's product page for the MoFi 5500 5GXeLTE base model

Documentation

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