Peplink routers have a collection of features that assist with optimizing cellular data performance.
This article overviews using external antennas, boosters, cellular band locking and combining multiple connections with bonding/load balance.
We have deep dives on all of these topics, this resource is more of a high level overview on each can play a role in optimizing your cellular data performance on your Peplink router.
For more tips on cellular data performance optimizations, check out our full guide at:
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Peplink Cellular Data Performance Webinar Archive
On October 20, 2022 Cherie of the Mobile Internet Resource Center and Erik of MobileMustHave.com teamed up for our monthly member exclusive webinar. Here is the video archive:
Below is a summary of the topics covered in the webinar.
Peplink's line of routers offer some important features that allow an owner to enhance the overall cellular data performance of the router: antennas, boosters, frequency band selection, and multi-WAN.
External Antennas for Cellular Data Performance on a Peplink
One of the more important and easy-to-use tools to enhance cellular data performance is connecting external antennas to a Peplink router.
All Peplink routers come with screw-in paddle-type antennas. There will be one included for each antenna port, which attach using standard SMA connectors. These paddle antennas are well-optimized, and may be all you need in many signal situations - especially if your RV or boat does not contain lots of signal-blocking metal.
But when you have a weak signal, have your router inside a metal RV or boat, have obstacles around that might block signal or when the nearest tower is overloaded - it may be helpful to use roof or pole mounted antennas instead to improve your performance.
Options include using an antenna mounted above local clutter, switching to a higher gain antenna, getting an antenna outside of signal interfering metal, or even using a directional antenna to reach a specific far away tower.
Cellular antennas can be directional or omnidirectional and have several different form factors: monopoles, panels, directional, and domes. When using them in your internet set up these can be roof mounted, pole mounted, or even hung in a window.
Peplink firmware 8.3 (released in February 2023) introduced a new feature called Two Antenna Mode, which allows a modem designed for using 4x4 MIMO (which include Cat 18 and above LTE modems, and 5G modems) to use only two antennas. Unfortunately, the X62 5G modem module does not support this feature. While this does have a hit to some performance gain, it does allow a router upgrade without necessarily needing to replace older 2x2 MIMO antennas right away.
There are trade-offs like cost, storage, setup and mounting, that are important to consider when going beyond the included paddle antennas.
For more information on how to select Antennas check our guide:
Cellular Boosters for Peplink Data Performance
A cellular booster works by amplifying a weak cellular signal and rebroadcasting that signal locally to your cellular devices.
While this sounds very similar to how a cellular antenna works, in practice cellular boosters are not as useful for optimizing cellular data performance.
Some of the drawbacks include:
- When a booster amplifies a signal, it is also amplifying noise.
- They can not tap into the power of MIMO - or multiple in and multiple out that is an essential technology for optimizing data performance. They receive and transmit one signal only.
- Boosters only work for a small number of frequencies (a regulatory restriction) compared to the dozens in active use by the carriers.
But in some cases, boosters may out perform an external antenna setup and may be worth having on board. Such as when you are very far from a tower or need to optimize upload performance for video broadcasting or large files.
To use a cellular booster effectively with a Peplink router, we recommend un-attaching any external antennas, re-attaching the included screw in paddle antennas and then placing the booster's internal antenna very near the router's antennas.
For more information about how to select boosters, how to use them, etc., check out our guide:
Peplink Cellular Band Selection
A unique feature on Peplink routers is the ability to override the default negotiation between the modem and the tower as to which frequency bands your connection is placed over - and select which bands to try.
Sometimes this can optimize your performance, but it can be quite the process to figure out in each location which frequency bands have the best signal strength and more importantly capacity.
Unfortunately, the best frequency band will change by location and even during the course of the day.
But when you have an important meeting or online event, and you've tried your other avenues (antennas or a booster) you may find that this feature is very handy to improve your cellular data performance.
One tip if you use band selection, don't forget to turn it off before you leave! Arriving at your next destination with your router locked to specific frequencies is likely going to be frustrating and not helpful.
We have an in-depth guide going over this feature, including three different approaches to take when selecting frequency bands:
We also have a full member guide to understanding cellular frequencies:
Multiple Internet Sources: Bonding & Load Balancing
Redundancy is something we preach here at the Mobile Internet Resource Center - as each location can have its challenges as to what works best. And sometimes, it's a combination of multiple options that can do the trick.
Peplink routers are designed for bringing together multiple internet options (also called multi-WAN). Many have multiple cellular modems, Ethernet WAN ports, vLAN Ethernet ports, USB tethering, modem modules, Wi-Fi as WAN and Synergy mode to bridge multiple routers together.
For example, the Max BR2 Pro allows 8 different sources: two cellular modems (for two different cell carriers), 2 Ethernet WAN ports and a vWAN port for hard wired connections, USB tethering, and two Wi-Fi antenna frequencies to connect to two different external Wi-Fi sources (Wi-Fi as WAN),
This could even be expanded further by using another Peplink router in Synergy mode and combining its WAN sources also.
Peplink's firmware provides many options for combining multiple connections to give you the best reliability.
Some key options are bonding multiple connections with their SpeedFusion Connect Protect technology, balancing traffic over multiple connections, failing over when one connection goes down, and smoothing out multiple WAN sources.
Each approach has their pros and cons, and configuration - which are covered in these resources:
How to Know if Your Optimizations Are Working
When tweaking your cellular data performance, it's useful to know if your efforts are making a difference.
Another useful resource is our Testing guide, which covers key concepts associated with signal strength, and how to know if your signal enhancing efforts are working:
View our Peplink product line overview and articles - co-authored with our education & action partner at MobileMustHave (who offers advanced support, guidance and discounts to our members):
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