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Three Home Broadband ZTE MC801A - External Antenna

andyuk2005

Casual Member
Hi all,

Thought I'd just do a dedicated thread to the issue with the availability to switch on the external antenna option for the Three Home Broadband version of the ZTE MC801A.

Whilst it appears you can get onto the option to turn on the external antenna at this page: http://192.168.0.1/index.html#rf_mmw
It doesn't appear to work with no improvements on signal.

If anyone has any luck with getting these sockets to work, do let us know as especially for me as I don't have the best signal by my windowsill!
 
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Reactions: bon

eccles

ULTIMATE Member
Could it be auto-selecting the internal antenna because there's an adequate signal from it? Have you tried moving or shielding the router to prevent that?
 

WelshPaul

Regular Member
Andy, are you using the router in Bridge mode? I was when I tested the external antenna option yesterday and it definitely didn't work for me. I'm wondering if that option works when not in Bridge mode?

I'm also tempted just to crack open my unit and add two external SMA connectors for 5G only and hook it up to my external antenna that way. Anyone know the location of the internal 5G antenna connectors on this router?
 

andyuk2005

Casual Member
Could it be auto-selecting the internal antenna because there's an adequate signal from it? Have you tried moving or shielding the router to prevent that?
Nope I haven't, I can give it a go.

Andy, are you using the router in Bridge mode? I was when I tested the external antenna option yesterday and it definitely didn't work for me. I'm wondering if that option works when not in Bridge mode?

I'm also tempted just to crack open my unit and add two external SMA connectors for 5G only and hook it up to my external antenna that way. Anyone know the location of the internal 5G antenna connectors on this router?
I had it in Wireless Broadband Mode. When I chose bridge mode with my Linksys Velop nodes everything stopped working, not sure if I did something wrong there?!
 

Roguee

Regular Member
Try to first remove the sim then change to external antenna restart and put sim back .
Bridge mode sometimes restarting everything at the same time works it worked for me with the cpe pro2 global version .
 

Roguee

Regular Member
Andy, are you using the router in Bridge mode? I was when I tested the external antenna option yesterday and it definitely didn't work for me. I'm wondering if that option works when not in Bridge mode?

I'm also tempted just to crack open my unit and add two external SMA connectors for 5G only and hook it up to my external antenna that way. Anyone know the location of the internal 5G antenna connectors on this router?
the external antennas are 5g only .

location of connectors ... use chrome page translator extension


here is a nice project

 
Last edited:

cenuij

Casual Member
Hi all,

Thought I'd just do a dedicated thread to the issue with the availability to switch on the external antenna option for the Three Home Broadband version of the ZTE MC801A.

Whilst it appears you can get onto the option to turn on the external antenna at this page: http://192.168.0.1/index.html#rf_mmw
It doesn't appear to work with no improvements on signal.

If anyone has any luck with getting these sockets to work, do let us know as especially for me as I don't have the best signal by my windowsill!
Heya Andy,

I believe it's working - see https://www.ispreview.co.uk/talk/threads/zte-mc801a-review.37993/post-270893

TL;DR +10 improvement on gain from -81dBm to -71dBm (almost line of sight but very tight angle through the window)

P.S. the hub is in bridge mode
 
Last edited:

andyuk2005

Casual Member
Heya Andy,

I believe it's working - see https://www.ispreview.co.uk/talk/threads/zte-mc801a-review.37993/post-270893

TL;DR +10 improvement on gain from -81dBm to -71dBm (almost line of sight but very tight angle through the window)

P.S. the hub is in bridge mode
Interesting. It definitely didn't work when I used that switch, wondering if it has to be in Bridge mode, but that would be an unusual reason to enable the antenna surely?!

May give a try, although I have signed up to some normal landline broadband as I was getting fed up with Three!
 

WelshPaul

Regular Member
He/She is using a Three supplied MC801A and not a Sotel one. The Sotel device is crippled and external antenna support is disabled even in Bridge mode.
 

bon

Pro Member
He/She is using a Three supplied MC801A and not a Sotel one. The Sotel device is crippled and external antenna support is disabled even in Bridge mode.
I can categorically say that the Sotel MC801a 5G external antenna ports do work.

I bought another Sotel model after ****ing up my previous one with a firmware flash and combined with a Bluespot antenna I get 10db gain on 5G. The antenna toggle button actually doesn't seem to make any difference when enabled or disabled. To test, I set off a large 10GB download, left the antenna disconnected for a minute, then connected for 2 minutes, then disconnected again. When the antenna was connected I almost immediately got a 10db gain and my download speed went from 4MB/sec to 20MB/sec.

I done the same test with antenna toggle disabled and got the same result, so in my experience the toggle is irrelevant.

Just to note also Paul, the new Sotel I received had a firmware update available for it which took it to B09 so perhaps externall antenna was fixed/improved with this update compared to our troublesome B06?
 

eccles

ULTIMATE Member
Mine says the software version is MC801AV1.0B09 build date 9/12/2021 Is that what you mean?
 

WelshPaul

Regular Member
I can categorically say that the Sotel MC801a 5G external antenna ports do work.

I bought another Sotel model after ****ing up my previous one with a firmware flash and combined with a Bluespot antenna I get 10db gain on 5G. The antenna toggle button actually doesn't seem to make any difference when enabled or disabled. To test, I set off a large 10GB download, left the antenna disconnected for a minute, then connected for 2 minutes, then disconnected again. When the antenna was connected I almost immediately got a 10db gain and my download speed went from 4MB/sec to 20MB/sec.

I done the same test with antenna toggle disabled and got the same result, so in my experience the toggle is irrelevant.

Just to note also Paul, the new Sotel I received had a firmware update available for it which took it to B09 so perhaps externall antenna was fixed/improved with this update compared to our troublesome B06?
Interesting...

Must be the firmware update that enabled it because the external antenna definitely didn't work on my unit running B06. Anyway, I'm still testing out the Zyxel NR5101. 👀

Also, you want to disable firmware updates! You never know if the network is going to disable the external antennas in the next update or remove other features such as bridge mode, DNS, MTU etc. Most of the networks like to remove such features/functions. :(
 
Last edited:

bon

Pro Member
Yep indeed - I've disabled updates. Something else to note, it seems that when the DNS of the MC801a is modified, it stops bridge mode working (the 192.168.0.x IP is passed instead of the actual WAN IP). I couldn't figure it out as bridge mode worked a couple of days ago then stopped and the only mod I made was the DNS hack.

After factory resetting the MC801a bridge mode works again. I'll try the DNS thing again shortly to confirm.
 

WelshPaul

Regular Member
Bridge mode was a mess on the MC801A running B06. I encountered many issues including the one you mention above! :/
 

harold82

Member
Have any of you been lucky with external antenna with ZTE MC801A?
I used to have a CPE PRO with external antenna and I was reaching DL +300mbps/UP+100mbps.
Three have swapped my CPE PRO to ZTE. I have just spent the afternoon trying to gain a better signal (activating Antenna switch in the hidden menu) and it unfortunately does not change anything! If I connect/disconnect the external antenna, it will just not change anything to RSRP/RSRQ/RSSI... DL is barely above 30mbps

anyone had managed to definitely get an signal improvement ? I am thinking of buy a CPE Pro second hand.

many hanks
 

bon

Pro Member
External antenna works fine with 5G on my MC801a, but it is the German Sotel model so perhaps as suggested by others there's a firmware limitation with Three etc that deactivates the external antenna ports.
 
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