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Old 11-19-2021, 01:03 AM   #1
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Carefully tailoring Pepwave settings pays off

I'm out in the middle of the boonies where AT&T/Verizon/T-Mobile all barely exist with any meaningful signal level. But with some diligence and a lot of band scanning with a Mofi, I figured out the sweet spot for my Pepwave band settings on AT&T. Signal levels aren't great, but channel bandwidth is way better than any of the higher strength channels.



Went from barely usable in the Auto mode to what is apparently way faster than any of my campground neighbors and consistently faster than I've ever gotten anywhere else to date.


Sadly, Verizon and T-Mobile have like one band each of 5mhz non-functionality.
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Old 11-19-2021, 09:11 AM   #2
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Conceptually, I think I understand what you did. Just not sure how you accomplished it based on your post. Referring specifically to the scanning part.
Would like to ask a few questions as I also use Pepwave equipment (Max Transit CAT-18).
When you say you performed a lot of band scanning with a Mofi, is that a seperate device from your Peplink/Pepwave equipment, or, are you doing some trial & error with the Peplink user interface (UI)?
I am familiar with the cellular settings tabs on the Peplink user interface (UI) where one can specify the bands to be used or not used. I've left mine set to Auto since the initial installation of my device in May of 2020. While I've been more than pleased with the performance of the unit with its paddle antennas, I've yet to be at a location I would consider the boonies.
Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 11-19-2021, 09:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemodrop9344 View Post
Conceptually, I think I understand what you did. Just not sure how you accomplished it based on your post. Referring specifically to the scanning part.
Would like to ask a few questions as I also use Pepwave equipment (Max Transit CAT-18).
When you say you performed a lot of band scanning with a Mofi, is that a seperate device from your Peplink/Pepwave equipment, or, are you doing some trial & error with the Peplink user interface (UI)?
I am familiar with the cellular settings tabs on the Peplink user interface (UI) where one can specify the bands to be used or not used. I've left mine set to Auto since the initial installation of my device in May of 2020. While I've been more than pleased with the performance of the unit with its paddle antennas, I've yet to be at a location I would consider the boonies.
Thanks in advance for any help.
The Mofi I refer to is a separate mobile router (Mofi4500), not nearly as fast as the Pepwave but has a few more advanced features that Pepwave has never implemented. Namely, it can scan all bands for a particular carrier and identify bands based on actual bandwidth.

You can accomplish similar (but more work) using the Pepwave cell details pane and Speedtest.net. You have to manually pick the available bands for your carrier one at a time, record signals and record speed test. When you find a particularly fast channel, note it as your Number 1, then stagger the rest after it based on speed.

The next step concerns your preferred reliability, as in a channel might be blazing fast but the signal levels (RSSI, SNR, RSRQ, RSRP) indicate you're on the very edge of functional. If you happen to pick a group of fast channels for aggregation but they all have weak signal, you might find yourself going from blazing fast to resetting after signal loss every 10 minutes. So you take your fastest channel list and rearrange it by the best speed and signal, weeding out even your first number 1 based on how bad the signals are.

It won't hurt to aggregate weak bands as long as at least one band is rock solid. You can't pick your aggregation order either, just make sure only your preferred aggregation bands are locked and only as many as you can actually connect to simultaneously.

I'll note that it is also possible to aggregate the SAME band multiple times if it's present at multiple neighboring towers. This gets a bit tricky sometimes because you can have for instance a fantastic Band 66 for AT&T, then a neighboring horrible Band 66 for AT&T. The horrible band will happily eat one of your aggregation channels and you have no control unless you disable Band 66 entirely. So now you get to juggle the value of an entire band vs your other options.

The Auto mode will try to automatically join the strongest and already more congested bands first.
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Old 11-19-2021, 10:48 AM   #4
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Thank you for your response.
I have tried to accomplish band selection as you described with the Peplink. The results I achieved were essentially, Peplink does a better job on auto than I do trying to set it manually. I have a lot to learn.
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Old 11-19-2021, 10:55 AM   #5
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Thank you for your response.
I have tried to accomplish band selection as you described with the Peplink. The results I achieved were essentially, Peplink does a better job on auto than I do trying to set it manually. I have a lot to learn.
RSRP and RSRQ are probably more important than RSSI.

https://www.digi.com/support/knowled...trength-values
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Old 11-19-2021, 11:38 AM   #6
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Is there a phone app (android) that can obtain the information?
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Old 11-19-2021, 12:19 PM   #7
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Is there a phone app (android) that can obtain the information?
https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...d.ltediscovery

Really only works on your phone's carrier towers though.
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Old 11-19-2021, 12:58 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Suburbazine View Post
https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...d.ltediscovery

Really only works on your phone's carrier towers though.
Not sure if you are up for it but I would love to understand better the mofi 4500 and how it searches for the best bands. I have a dual band peplink and really frustrated with it. I think if it wasn't such a manual process I would search out better bands on towers. Can you go into more detail of the process with the Mofi.....do you put a sim in the router and then do a general search? At this point I would spend the money on the mofi just to have this feature. If this can be done in an automatic way with a less expensive option, even better.
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Old 11-19-2021, 01:44 PM   #9
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Not sure if you are up for it but I would love to understand better the mofi 4500 and how it searches for the best bands. I have a dual band peplink and really frustrated with it. I think if it wasn't such a manual process I would search out better bands on towers. Can you go into more detail of the process with the Mofi.....do you put a sim in the router and then do a general search? At this point I would spend the money on the mofi just to have this feature. If this can be done in an automatic way with a less expensive option, even better.
Mofi doesn't do anything better automatically. Being based on an open source firmware, it just has better tools for an advanced user to read all the available towers and then manually pick them. It's clunky as hell for anyone to use, with redundant menus and very bare UI.
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Old 11-19-2021, 08:00 PM   #10
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I don't find it a big deal to scan bands on my Transit Duo. I just test and lockout bands as the unit connects to them then enable the fastest ones. Might have to tweak it for times of congestion. I have a Mofi4500 I was using prior and used the scan function, but I didn't find much faster, even though it was easier. Network management and congestion have been bigger issues than signal quality for me. I would like the scan function on the Peplink and have suggested it on their forums multiple times.
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Old 11-19-2021, 09:39 PM   #11
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Thanks, that will help.
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Old 11-20-2021, 10:02 AM   #12
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I don't find it a big deal to scan bands on my Transit Duo. I just test and lockout bands as the unit connects to them then enable the fastest ones. Might have to tweak it for times of congestion. I have a Mofi4500 I was using prior and used the scan function, but I didn't find much faster, even though it was easier. Network management and congestion have been bigger issues than signal quality for me. I would like the scan function on the Peplink and have suggested it on their forums multiple times.
This is going to be a rather lengthy post. It, to some degree is Peplink specific & probably contains more detail & techy stuff than most people care about. Proceed to read at your own peril!
Let me make sure I understand the process with scanning on the Peplink. This assumes you have designated a cellular carrier as Priority 1. From the Dashboard, you would select Details of the connection. From there, you would scroll down to Cellular Connections & select Band Selection - Custom. This will give you a drop down menu displaying the bands available from the cellular carrier that is active. Select the band you want to scan, then Save & Apply. At least this is the process I've used when I attempt to play in this sandbox.
With AT&T, there are 17 bands listed:
[IMG]file:///C:\Users\gk\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\cli p_image001.png[/IMG]
You go through the process on each one. I suspect some of the bands listed for AT&T are not available for use (band 71 for example). Then run a speed test & record the cellular signal information.
I found the following information on the AT&T bands. It's current as of sometime in 2019. Have not found any information more current.
Here is a breakdown of all the individual bands LTE bands that AT&T uses in 2019 and their role:
  • Band 2 (1900MHz frequency range): a core AT&T LTE band with 20x20MHz blocks in most markets.
  • Band 4 (AWS-1700/2100MHz): this AT&T LTE band is used as a supplement for improved capacity and is usually deployed in small, 5x5MHz blocks.
  • Band 66 (AWS-3-1700/2100MHz): AT&T LTE band 66 is a superset of band 4, meaning that it includes all of the band 4 blocks plus adds a few more. AT&T usually deploys this in 10x10 chunks, and you could commonly see it in the New York and New Jersey areas. It is actively being deployed.
  • Band 5 (850MHz): this AT&T LTE band is used most commonly 3G (HSPA+ ) connectivity, but some of it also goes toward LTE. AT&T owns a lot in this frequency range throughout the nation, and band 5 is sometimes used in areas where there is no band 12/17 coverage.
  • Band 12/17 (700MHz): the backbone of AT&T's LTE network and it provides practically a nation-wide coverage.
  • Band 14 (700MHz): AT&T has a nationwide license for band 14. The carrier acquired these bands from FirstNet and they will be used for a federally-funded public safety channel. These will only be deployed in states that opt in the FirstNet service.
  • Band 29 (700MHz): this is a supplementary channel. AT&T purchased this from Qualcomm and it is mostly deployed in a 5x0 configuration, meaning that you get one small 5MHz block for download (in some limited places like the California coast and northeast you have 10x0 blocks). This band cannot be used for upload.
  • Band 30 (WCS 2300MHz): another supplementary band for 4G LTE. AT&T has deployed chunks of 10x10 across the nation.
After going through this process, you select the bands with the best signal strength. Assuming I had gone through the exercise, instead of the Peplink, I would see something like this:
[IMG]file:///C:\Users\gk\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\cli p_image003.png[/IMG]
Overall, the signals looks pretty good to me & produces the speed test results as reflected below. Not bad, and, more than adequate for my needs.
[IMG]file:///C:\Users\gk\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\cli p_image005.png[/IMG]
Is this close to the process others use with the Peplink product?
While I have an external antenna, I've yet to install it. This was accomplished with the paddle antennas.
I'm fortunate that at my location I also have very good RV park WIFI. Have not yet been in remote locations & have not been motivated to install the external antenna. What I have observed with observed with AT&T download cellular speeds is, they are all over the place. With highs frequently over 100 Mbps & lows around 40 Mbps.
We are in SE coastal NC. The population (demand) fluctuates wildly depending on a variety of factors. I attribute the variance in the speeds I see at any given time, primarily to that.
This thread has certainly aroused my curiosity to explore additional features/capabilities of the Peplink. Thank you for taking the time to read this & I solicit any suggestions on how to improve the performance.
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Old 11-20-2021, 11:37 AM   #13
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This is one of the more helpful threads I have read regarding the Peplink and improving the signal. Lemondrop, thanks for the detailed post and I am saving this to use when I'm in a fringe area. I was hoping for much more from the Peplink than I probably should have. I still go back to using the hotspots mostly and rarely use the Peplink up to this point. I think I am close to a year on the Peplink.
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Old 11-20-2021, 01:24 PM   #14
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This is one of the more helpful threads I have read regarding the Peplink and improving the signal. Lemondrop, thanks for the detailed post and I am saving this to use when I'm in a fringe area. I was hoping for much more from the Peplink than I probably should have. I still go back to using the hotspots mostly and rarely use the Peplink up to this point. I think I am close to a year on the Peplink.

Scott,
Thank you for the kind words. Thanks should also be directed to the original poster who provided the incentive for me to accomplish some of the research incorporated into my post.
I don't know what model Peplink you have, but, I've been more the pleased with my CAT-18. What model do you have & where to you believe it falls short?

I created that post in WORD & subsequently copied it into the post. The Word document has screen shots which I reference in the post, but, I don't see. I also created another WORD document with some information on the bands from Verizon. If you will provide you email address (use PM), I'll be happy to share them with you.
I've yet to go into any fringe area, per se.
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