thread I detailed the conversion of the WiFiRanger SkyPro Pack
that came as standard equipment in my New Aire to a PepWave MAX BR1 MK2 LTA-A Modem/Router
. After going through a really interesting learning curve I ultimately just added the PepWave and left the WiFiRanger SkyPro in place. The SkyPro has been powered down since installing the PepWave since the PepWave can do everything the SkyPro does and more.
The MAX BR1 MK2 LTA-A Modem/Router is my first experience dealing LTE-Advanced
. LTE Advanced is a major step forward in cellular technology. While there are many changes in LTE-A over LTE the single biggest change is that LTE-A can aggregate more than one LTE source to enhance speed and reception. LTE-A can aggregate LTE radios on different frequencies and even mix reception to include more than one tower. This aggregation capability significantly enhances reception for mobile users since LTE-A can keep the internet alive while on the move working with more than one tower at a time.
For LTE-A to work with more than one LTE source it often has to combine LTE radio sources from LTE channels ranging from 700 MHz to over 2,000 MHz. Antenna performance is very different working over such a broad range of frequencies. Lower frequency LTE channels are much easier to receive and pass down an antenna lead to the modem located inside the coach. With a good installation the lower frequency LTE channels make it to the modem with little signal loss. With the high frequency LTE channels things get very complicated. It is almost impossible to get a good strong high frequency channel from an antenna on the roof down to a modem in a cabinet located in the coach. The result is that anytime the LTE modem latches on to a high frequency LTE channel, reception and speed really suffers.
The issue is compounded with LTE-A if the modem is trying to aggregate a low frequency LTE channel with a high frequency LTE channel to improve performance. If the high frequency channel is too weak the modem will give up trying to aggregate channels and fall back to single channel LTE reception.
There is really no good solution in a coach trying to get a high frequency LTE channel down to an LTE modem radio located in the coach. So the only solution is to place the LTE-A modem/router on the roof in close proximity to the antennas.
With this as background I have now moved my PepWave BR1 MK2 LTA-A Modem/Router to a sealed utility box on the roof. Both SureCall antennas are attached to the utility box with very short RG58 antenna leads. The PepWave is powered by POE using an internet connection between the utility box on the roof and my ethernet switch inside the coach.
Here is the installation:
And here are the results. Here is a speed test done using my previously installed SureCall antennas connect to the PepWave via RG58 cable.
And here is the speed after the conversion to the roof top utility box.
As you can see speed improvement is dramatic, nearly 3X. The first speed test was done using remote antennas. Apparently the high frequency channel was too weak so the modem only ran in the LTE mode.
The second speed test was done a few hours later after moving the PepWave to the roof. Now both LTE channels were strong enough for the modem to switch to the LTE-A mode and aggregate the channels. Here is how it looks in the control panel running in LTE-A mode.
As you can see the modem has placed the high frequency LTE Band 4 in the primary position and the low frequency LTE Band 13 in Secondary position combining them into an LTE-A aggregation.
High end mobile LTE-A modem/routers are beginning to deal with the issue of channel reception by moving the radios to the roof. PepLink just announced the MAX HD2 Dome
that directly deals with the issue of reception performance in LTE radios. The MAX HD2 Dome goes for somewhere around $5,000. For less than $700 you can get the same performance and have built WiFi and WiFi as WAN by just removing the MAX BR1 MK2 LTA-A Modem/Router to the roof.
Got to do more testing of my new installation but early results suggest you need to put an LTE-A modem/router on the roof immediately attached to antennas for the best performance.