Looking to get the best possible data rates from your Peplink MAX BR1 Pro?
You’ll want to purchase and connect external MIMO antennas to the device’s four SMA ports.
In this guide, we'll:
Using a MIMO antenna outside your building, pointed at the nearest tower, can help you get the fastest LTE data rates possible.
The Peplink MAX BR1 Pro has four cellular SMA ports on the back. These allow for a 4x4 MIMO antenna array to be connected to the device.
We recommend two different MIMO antenna options for use with the Peplink MAX BR1 Pro:
For most users the best external antenna choice for the Peplink MAX BR1 Pro is our 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 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 Peplink MAX BR1 Pro support an LTE feature called "carrier aggregation."
Carrier aggregation allows the Peplink 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.
Correctly positioning and aiming MIMO antennas is crucial to getting the best performance to your Peplink, 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 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 Peplink's WiFi. The results will fluctuate a little, but this is the baseline you're trying to improve.
Now connect the MIMO antennas to your Peplink MAX BR1 Pro via the SMA ports labelled Cellular A, B, C, D and then 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 Peplink 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!
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 Peplink MAX BR1 Pro.
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 Peplink MAX BR1 Pro is one of few lines of routers that allow manual band locking in their web interface - here's a step by step guide of how to do it.
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.
Once you've selected the bands you'd like to use, reboot the router for the changes to take effect.
Now, lets test each available band in your area, to determine which will result in the best data rates.
Once you've identified the best tower and band combination, lock your Peplink to that band, and make sure your outdoor antenna is secured so that it doesn't move in the wind.