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Netgear 4G LTE Modem LB1120/LB2120 External Antenna Guide

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Looking to get the best possible data rates from your Netgear 4G LTE Modem LB1120?

You’ll want to purchase and connect external MIMO antennas to the device’s two TS9 ports.

In this guide, we'll:

  • Recommend the best external antennas to use.
  • Show where the TS9 ports are located.
  • Explain how to aim the antennas for best results.

In this guide

The Best External Antennas For the Netgear 4G LTE Modem

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

The Netgear 4G LTE Modem has two TS9 ports at the back. These allow for a 2x2 MIMO antenna to be connected to the device.

We recommend two different MIMO antenna options for use with the Netgear 4G LTE Modem:

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 Netgear 4G LTE Modem is our MIMO panel antenna kit. This antenna doesn’t require line-of-sight to the tower.

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.

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 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 Netgear 4G LTE Modem support an LTE feature called "carrier aggregation."

Carrier aggregation allows the Netgear Modem 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 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 Netgear 4G LTE Modem, or indeed any other hotspot.

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 hotspot. 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 Netgear Modem's WiFi. The results will fluctuate a little, but this is the baseline you're trying to improve.

Location of the TS9 ports on the Netgear 4G LTE Modem

Location of the TS9 ports on the Netgear 4G LTE Modem

Now connect the MIMO antennas to your Netgear 4G LTE Modem via the TS-9 ports, and 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: 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 Netgear Modem, 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!

Netgear 4G LTE Modem Versions and Technical Specifications

The Netgear 4G LTE Modem comes three main versions:

  • LB1120 - The base model, and the one we reference throughout this guide
  • LB1121 - This version can be powered over PoE (power over Ethernet) as well as via the power jack
  • LB2120 - This version adds an ethernet WAN port to be used as input. This allows the LB2120 to act as a failover and take over providing internet if the wired internet goes down.

All three modems have the same chipset and look identical aside from the athernet ports on the back panel. For most folks we'd recommend the base LB1120 version, which is what the technical specifications below refer to.

Technical Specifications

Supported 4G LTE bands in the US

  • AT&T: B2, B4, B5, B12, B17, B14, B29, B30, B66
  • Verizon: B2, B4, B5, B13, B46, B48, B66
  • T-Mobile: B2, B4, B5, B12, B41, B25, B26, B66, B71

Cellular Modem

  • Model: Netgear LB1120
  • MIMO Support: 2x2 with internal or external antennas
  • LTE-A Carrier Aggregation: No
  • LTE Performance Category: Cat 4
  • Max Theoretical Speeds: 150Mbps Download, 50Mbps Upload

Wi-Fi

  • None

Ports

  • Cellular Antenna Ports: Dual TS-9
  • Other Ports: Gigabit Ethernet

Other

  • Power: AC power only (no battery)

Other Helpful Resources

A helpful video by Mobile Internet Resource Center

NETGEAR's product page for the 4G LTE Modem LB1120

Documentation

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