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Verizon 5G Home Internet Gateway (ARC-XCI55AX) External Antenna Guide

Updated:

Looking to get the best possible data rates from your Verizon 5G Internet Gateway?

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

In this guide, we'll:

  • Recommend the best external antennas to use.
  • Show you how to access the internal U.FL antenna ports, and how to install adapters for external antennas.
  • Explain how to aim the antennas for the best results.

Note: Our testing of this device is still ongoing, and the best ports to use for external antennas isn’t yet determined. We will update the guide as we learn more!

Got Verizon's previous 5G Home Internet Gateway with the SKU: ASK-NCQ1338 (shown on the bottom)? Check out our guide for that device here.

In this guide

Important Note: To connect external antennas you'll need to open your Verizon 5G Home Internet Gateway. Read our instructions for doing so carefully to avoid damaging the device.

The Best External Antennas For the Verizon 5G Internet Gateway

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

The Verizon 5G Internet Gateway has seven internal U.FL ports for use with cellular antennas, four of which can be used to connect a 4x4 MIMO antenna system to the device.

Since a 4x4 MIMO antenna offers superior performance and would allow more of the internal cellular antenna ports to be used that a 2x2 MIMO antenna, we highly recommend our 4x4 MIMO antenna kits over our 2x2 MIMO antenna kits.

Accessing the antenna ports does require some disassembly and we recommend being careful: If you damage the device and then later return it, Verizon may charge you a damage fee. Our instructions described later will guide you through how to connect and test antennas without damaging the device.

We recommend two different 4x4 MIMO antenna options for use with the Verizon 5G Internet Gateway:

Best for most users

This 4x4 MIMO Panel Antenna kit will provide a meaningful signal improvement possible data rates, even if you're surrounded by trees, hills, or tall buildings.

For users surrounded by trees, hills, or tall buildings, the best external antenna choice is our 4x4 MIMO Panel Antenna kit. While still directional, this antenna doesn’t require line-of-sight to the tower.

Best with line of sight

This 4x4 MIMO Log Periodic Antenna kit includes four cross polarized log periodic antennas to provide an even more meaningful signal improvement. They work best if you have direct line-of-sight to the tower.

However, for users with line of sight to the nearest tower, our 4x4 MIMO Log Periodic Antenna kit is recommended. The higher gain on these antennas can give you better performance, especially when you have a clear view of the cell 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 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

Hotspots like the Verizon 5G Internet Gateway support a feature called "carrier aggregation."

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

Installing External Antennas to the Verizon 5G Internet Gateway

Before getting started, it's always a good idea to run a couple of speed tests indoors from a device connected to your 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. The Verizon 5G Home Internet Gateway doesn't have any external cellular antenna ports, but it's possible to access the ports used by the internal cellular antenna to use with adapters for connecting 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 #1-size phillips-head screwdriver
  • A thin prying tool or flat-head screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers or tweezers
  • A secure container to keep screws and small parts safe while you work
  • Tape for labeling components. Painters tape works best.
  • Two or four U.FL to SMA-Female pigtail adapters (included in our 2x2 and 4x4 External Antenna kits, respectively)
Important note:

Be careful not to damage your Verizon Home Internet Gateway while disassembling.

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 to Verizon, 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 Verizon 5G Internet Gateway and unplug the power cable.

Step 2: Place a piece of tape on the top cover of the Gateway, close to the side with the Verizon check-mark.

Note: This tape will be used to correctly orient the top cover when later reassembling the system.

Taping the top cover for later reassembly.

Step 3: On the top of the device, remove the top cover by using a thin prying tool or flat-head screwdriver to apply an outward pressure underneath each corner of the top cover to gently unlatch each one of the four corners of the top cover.

Prying tool unhooking to top cover from the outer cover.

Step 4: Remove the three #1 phillips-head screws located below the top cover that secure the outer cover to the inner enclosure.

Locations of the three phillips-head screws under the top cover

Step 5: On the bottom of the device, remove the outer cover by using two prying tools to apply an outward pressure between the outer and bottom cover to gently unlatch the outer cover from the bottom cover.

Tip: Sliding both of prying tools into the same corner can help to unlatch both the center tabs and corner tab of the outer cover. Holding the outer cover in place can help keep it from slipping back onto the bottom cover.

Prying tools gently prying off each of the four corners of the bottom cover.

Step 6: Once the outer cover is fully unlatched, slowly lift the outer cover away from the bottom cover to reveal the inner enclosure. As shown below:

Inner enclosure with outer cover sliding off.

Step 7: Rotate the inner enclosure to the side with a set of black cables connected to the circuit board by a series of small U.Fl connectors. These ports are labeled J0 through J7.

Side of inner enclosure with antenna ports labeled J0 through J7.

Note: While ports J0 through J6 are used for cellular antennas, J7 is used by the Gateway's GPS antenna and will stay connected to it's stock antenna.

Step 8: Using the follow guidelines, very carefully disconnect the assigned set of U.FL connectors using a prying tool or a pair of tweezers. Be very careful here as U.Fl connectors can be quite fragile. Make sure you're very gentle to avoid breaking the connectors:

  • For a 2x2 MIMO Antenna kit, disconnect cables for ports J1 and J3. Tip: Unhook J1 from its respective white cable clip for later use.

  • For a 4x4 MIMO Antenna kit, disconnect the cables for ports J1, J3, J4, and J5. Tip: Unhook J1, J4, and J5 from their respective white cable clips for later use.

Note: Our testing of this device is still ongoing, and the best ports to use for external antennas aren’t yet determined. These pairings are preliminary and based on test results from our customers. We will update the guide as we learn more!

Step 9: Once the desired U.Fl connectors are fully disconnected, use a small tweezer or needle-nose pliers to feed each of the loose cables into the open space above the top right of the circuit board.

Note: Keeping these stock cables out of the way can help make placing the outer cover back onto the inner enclosure much easier.

Location to feed stock cables.

Tip: For the nexts steps, Steps 9 and 10, individually routing and connecting each U.FL-SMA pigtail adapter in the order described below can help make managing and installing the cables much easier.

  • For a 2x2 MIMO kit, route and connect J3 then repeat this process for J1.
  • For a 4x4 MIMO kit, route and connect J5, then repeat this process for J4, J3, and J1, in that order.

Step 9: Route the U.FL-SMA pigtail adapters through the hole located on the top of the inner enclosure.

Location to feed the pigtail adapters for the external antennas.

Step 10: Install the U.FL to SMA-Female pigtail adapters by very carefully aligning and pressing them down onto the ports you opened up in Step 7. A quiet "click" can often be heard once the connector is pressed down and fully connected.

Tip: The pigtail adapters used for ports J1, J4, and J5 can be hooked into the white cable clips opened in Step 5 to more securely hold them onto the circuit board.

Install the U.FL-male to SMA-female pigtail adapters into the ports opened in Step 7

Step 10.5 (Optional): If your time allows, test different cellular antenna port combinations to see if they can provide faster data speeds than those recommended in Steps 8 and 9.

To test these different cellular antenna port combinations, temporarily skip the reassembly process in Steps 11-14 and connect your MIMO external antennas to the newly installed pigtail adapters.

From here, you can follow the methods discussed in the next section of this guide to position and aim your MIMO antennas and find which combination provides you with the fastest data speeds possible.

Please let us know what works best for you so we can update the guide as we learn more!

Reassembling the Verizon 5G Gateway

Step 11: For reassembly, feed the group of pigtail adapters through the outer cover and align the side of outer cover with the Verizon Checkmark with the side of the inner enclosure with the antenna labelled "J3C".

Note: When moving the outer cover toward the bottom cover, it may get caught on the J3C antenna. To proceed, press softly upon the upper right side of the J3C antenna. This should allow the outer cover to pass safely over the J3C antenna.

Holding antenna J3 in place to slide down the outer cover.

Step 12: Press the outer cover firmly down to “click” it back into place against the bottom cover.

Pushing down on the outer cover to clip it back in place

Step 13: On the top of the device, screw the three #1 phillips-head screws back onto the outer cover secure it against the inner enclosure.

Locations of the three #1 phillips-head screws during reassembly

Step 14: Place the top cover back onto the outer cover by aligning the tape on top cover with the the Verizon check-mark side of the outer cover. Once aligned, firmly press down onto sides of the top cover to click it into place on the outer cover.

You will need to leave a gap on one corner of the top cover for the pigtail adapters to pass through. Remove the tape. Note: The wires of the pigtail adapters can be fed into the small grooves within the top cover to help it close further.

Reassembled Verizon Gateway with the pigtails attached

Congrats! Your Verizon 5G Internet Gateway should now be fully re-assembled with the pigtail adapters!

Positioning and Aiming MIMO Antennas

Positioning and aiming MIMO antennas well is crucial to getting the best performance to your Verizon 5G Internet Gateway, 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 Verizon Gateway. It can take a little patience, but can have a huge impact – it’s worth a bit of extra effort!

Connect your MIMO external antennas to your modified Verizon 5G Internet Gateway via the newly installed pigtail adapters, 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 Verizon Gateway, 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!

Verizon 5G Internet Gateway Technical Specifications

Supported Verizon bands in the US

  • 4G LTE: B2, B5, B12, B48, B66
  • 5G: n2, n5, n48, n66, n77

Cellular Modem

  • Model: MediaTek MT6890
  • MIMO Support: 4x4 w/ internal antennas or external antennas
  • LTE-A Carrier Aggregation: Yes (Uplink)
  • LTE Performance Category: Cat 18
  • Max Theoretical Speeds: 600 Mbps Download, 75 Mbps Upload

Wi-Fi

  • Technologies: 802.11 ax
  • Bands: Simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

Ports

  • Cellular Antenna Ports: 7x internal U.FL
  • Ethernet Ports: 2x LAN

Thank you NaterTater for your assistance with testing this device.

Other Helpful Resources

A helpful guide on installing and maintaining U.FL connectors

Verizon's support page for the High-Speed 5G Internet Gateway

Documentation

A helpful video of disassembling the Verizon Gateway by Nater Tater

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