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What's the best omni antenna for Band 3

Defnas

Casual Member
Hi,

Due to Covid-19 we're going to be starting to live stream our point-to-point racing at the start of next season in October. These races take place in what are farmers fields for the rest of the year, but luckily many of the 15 racecourses are not too far from Motorways or A-roads, so there is sufficient cellular bandwidth to allow us to stream (with one or two where we might need to use a BigBlu Flyaway Satellite to get enough signal). We're planning on using a LiveU encoder to bond four LTE cellular connections to help ensure we can get sufficient bandwidth and stability.

I've been site testing upload speeds at several of the courses using EE PAYG sims as that is typically the best coverage and speed in the Westcountry, and a Three SIM mainly as a backup. As I don't have the LiveU unit yet, so I've been surveying with my iphone 11 Pro connected over Wifi to a Netgear nighthawk MR2100 and a Poynting A-XPOL-0001 antenna. I'll have to repeat the exercise once I have the actual equipment later in the summer.

For most race days I'm expecting to use two EE SIMs and two 3 SIMs for the four connections, with Vodafone and O2 SIMs on hand as backups in case of tower congestion, or possibly steered SIMs if I can afford them (5x as much as the PAYG option) etc. The modems will be two Huawei E8372-153h USB modems connected directly to the LiveU, and two Huawei B635-232 routers connected to the liveu by ethernet and wifi. I know there might be limitations with the PAYG option, but we only have a 7 month season so it feels like a waste to pay for 5 unused months of data.

The surveying so far has shown that nearly every connection had Band 3 available, with one also having Band 1 and Cellmapper reports Band 20 is available for most of these towers as well.

As our races are single day events, I'd prefer not to have to set up four directional antennas each time. Is there an Omni directional antenna that performs better than the Poynting OMNI-600 out there in principally Band 3, but also has good gain in the 800Mhz and 2100Mhz bands?

Also are there any signal interference limitations with using four of these antennas (one for each modem) in close proximity that I should watch for?

Thanks, Steve
 

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GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
Great work on all the investigation effort, your use case is pretty unique! It's lot of information to digest and I'll ponder over it this evening.

One comment I have at this time is where you saw Band 1 with Three there will definitely also be Band 3 available. Your MR2100 would likely have been reporting only the primary band (which is used for upload) but it would probably have been aggregating with Band 3 to improve download, though I know that's not something you're prioritising here.
If you were able to lock the router to Band 3 alone then you should have seen a small uplift in upload speed as Three own more spectrum in Band 3 and Band 1 (15mhz vs 10mhz).

Edit: my other comment is for Band 20. If that's with EE or Three then I would ignore it, they only have a small 5mhz each and that won't provide much upload speed at all - 12.5Mbps maximum theoretical.
 

Defnas

Casual Member
Thanks Gavin, I should have mentioned the site where I had band 1 that was on 3 and the band 3 was on EE, but the point is true where both are available on the same carrier. Download isn't a great priority for us, we might in the future have a small amount of IFB feedback communications on download or stream status monitoring, but it will be 99% uplink for our needs and I'd need that to stay at 2Mpbs+ for 5 hours.

12.5Mbps maximum would be fine for us, the model of LiveU we can afford uses a maximum upload speed of 10Mpbs bonded across the (up to) 4 connections and from that can stream upto Full HD at 1080p60. It is only if we wanted to stream 4k content that we'd need 20Mpbs+, but I don't think that is likely in the Westcountry for a few years and I'd need to find £13k for the LiveU model supporting those speeds. :)

Most of our viewers will be viewing on mobile devices these days, so 720p60 will be fine for the majority and that's what we're likely to target. Although one broadcaster is interest in taking some of the content, so we might have to push the stream for those to 1080i50.

I didn't realise when I bought the Nighthawk M2 but it can't be locked to a band, unlike the M1 version where that can be enabled (by telnetting in and changing the configuration). However I understand the B535's (or B818-263s if I can afford them) will be able to lock on a band. I'm not sure whether I will use that yet or not, as I'm trying to make the set up as idiot proof as possible as I won't be in attendance at every fixture.

It maybe that an EE band 20 with just the 5Mhz is enough for us if the EE band 3 is too congested to use (that might be when I need to deploy some directional yagi antenna), but we're not likely to hit those issues until about May when the picnic crowd come along. Until then we only have a public crowd of a few thousand to content with and we are far enough away from decent sized towns for cell towers to not be too congested.
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
If I'm understand correctly you need 10Mbps upload from 1-4 bonded connections?

You say 12.5Mbps would be fine with B20 on EE/Three, in practice you'll never see that, it's more likely to be in low single digits, especially if you're saying there is likely to be a localised crowd specifically at your events from May, I'd be concerned of things grinding to a halt.

B20 for Vodafone and O2 is their primary 4G band, and while they own more spectrum on it than EE/Three, their networks aren't as dense - they never had to be, since B20 covers a much greater distance - but that does mean more of the population is covered with fewer masts, resulting is generally lower speeds for all.

To your original question, regarding gain of antennas.
Looking at the specs of the various Poynting antennas the Omni antennas that do show high-gain seem (~8dBi) to be SISO models (one antenna cable/one signal) opposed to the MIMO Omni models which are lower gain (~2-3dBi) which could be lost through cable signal loss depending on the length.
Compared to the directional Poynting models, those are more likely to be MIMO and have high gain.

If you're chasing for signal resilience through improved gain then I feel directional would be the way to go. While I understand it'd be a pain to align each time some of that work could be done beforehand - finding out where each line-of-sight provider's mast was and so what bearing would be needed. The directional antennas don't need to be dead-on, it looks like you have 15degrees or so each way before signal gain begins to drop off more considerably.

I've never seen LiveU products before, and I dont have any knowledge of them, but from their website is it the LU210/220 you're looking to use?
If so, the datasheet says there is only 1xUSB for a 3G/4G modem. You mention above you plan to use 2 USB modems which I don't think is possible. As you already have the Netgear M2, I think you could use that, and its WiFi instead though.
 

Defnas

Casual Member
Thanks for the feedback. I've been plotting out the directions of the different towers for each carrier on cellmapper for each of the courses, so perhaps I just need to bite the directional bullet.

10Mbps would be ideal, but in reality I'm looking for 2-6Mbps on each connection.

It is the LiveU Solo that is in our budget range. What the LiveU unit does is send the video stream across several connections and then bonds it back together at the packet level in their cloud service. So if one connection drops or misses a packet the stream is unaffected. This video explains how it works to an extent:
.

This is the equipment that has allowed news and sports broadcasters to move away from Satellite trucks and to be able to report on breaking events. You can get these units fired up in a couple of minutes as opposed to half a day to set up a satellite broadcast truck.

I would use the Netgear but they have a reputation for overheating and the TS9 connector keeps falling out, I prefer the SM9 connections of the Huawei B535s. If I can get away without the antennas at one of the events I might use the M2 and it might be useful if upload CA ever became a possibility - probably not in the operational life of that mifi though I suspect.
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
I was typing this as you responded... so I'll post it anyway.

I know you're saying you're planning on using PAYG SIMs but there are some good SIMO plans out there that might work out cheaper than using PAYG.

I don't know how long your events last for, or how much of that you'd be streaming but assuming 4hrs at 10Mbps = 18GB of data. Assuming some months there'll be 2-3 events in a (billing) month then you'll need up to 54GB a month. Assuming that gets evenly split between 2 providers (EE and Three) then that's 26GB per provider.

ID Mobile (MVNO of Three) currently offer 24GB of data for £12 per month on 30day contract.
They do data-rollover, so unused data from one month can be used the next month.

Smarty (also MVNO of Three) offer 30GB of data for £10 per month.
Also 30 day contract (actually start/stop when you want by 'renewing' manually).

EE and its MVNOs are generally more expensive, but I think the cheapest might be Virgin Mobile. They don't do 30day contracts, but they currently have 12months with 36GB for £13. They also rollover their data to the next month.
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
Thanks for the feedback. I've been plotting out the directions of the different towers for each carrier on cellmapper for each of the courses, so perhaps I just need to bite the directional bullet.

10Mbps would be ideal, but in reality I'm looking for 2-6Mbps on each connection.

It is the LiveU Solo that is in our budget range. What the LiveU unit does is send the video stream across several connections and then bonds it back together at the packet level in their cloud service. So if one connection drops or misses a packet the stream is unaffected. This video explains how it works to an extent:
.

This is the equipment that has allowed news and sports broadcasters to move away from Satellite trucks and to be able to report on breaking events. You can get these units fired up in a couple of minutes as opposed to half a day to set up a satellite broadcast truck.

I would use the Netgear but they have a reputation for overheating and the TS9 connector keeps falling out, I prefer the SM9 connections of the Huawei B535s. If I can get away without the antennas at one of the events I might use the M2 and it might be useful if upload CA ever became a possibility - probably not in the operational life of that mifi though I suspect.
You probably want to take into account the terrain too. For example your first postcode EX 5 4DU is just slightly blocked from getting a clean line-of-sight from the Vodafone mast in Silverton (3m elevation in the field, 10m elevation for the mast).

This is probably OK for B20 as it should deflect over, but higher frequencies may not so there could be other masts that are not viable.
This is from Solwise's Elevation Tool: https://www.solwise.co.uk/wireless-elevationtool.html

For the M2, can't that run without a battery in but plugged into mains - I think that's something the M1 can do and people use to run it continuously without too much heat buildup? I guess it depends if you will always be within WiFi distance of it for the filming (if it had to be in one static location plugged in)
 

Defnas

Casual Member
I've been offered an ex-military 9m mast, perhaps I need to take that up to help with line of sight. I had been planning to mount them to antenna poles on either to the 3m scaffolding tower used for film or the videographer's van roof.

For card use I've attached my current plans for card use (each row is a fixture and each colour block how many fixtures I can fit into a 30 day period, the columns are different SIM capacities) and the data use/cost calculations. I'll have spare capacity within the 30day periods, but we might hire our set up out to the neighbouring area and there should be enough for both.

My idea would be the Garland steered SIMs (M2M SIMs) that automatically switch between carriers is the preferred one isn't available. But they are too expensive for me this year (our two main revenue streams for the sport have been impacted Covid-19 - no or fewer paying public entering the courses, and few of our sponsors have spare cash for sponsorship this year)
 

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GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
Personally, I'd think the more height you can get the better, though I guess it depends how cumbersome it would be to have to align directional antennas 9m up.

You really have done your homework on all this! I can see why you'd like some Garland SIMs (also not something I've come across before), they clearly look designed to fulfill that purpose.
 

Defnas

Casual Member
I imagine it we could align the antenna at ground level and then raise the mast, if we have 15 degrees of leeway that should be accurate enough.

I did toy with one racecourse where there is a wood in direct line of sight to the cell tower of sticking a mifi router on a helekite balloon and running off the wifi from that or running an ethernet cable down the tether line. Not sure whether would have worked though. http://www.allsopp.co.uk/index.php?mod=page&id_pag=10
 

Defnas

Casual Member
So Poynting's LPDA-92 looks like the best bet for gain and cable loss for me. I don't know much about antennas, so I'm confused by the mounting options in the spec sheet. Can anyone explain the benefits of a A-LPDA-0092-30-LTE Mount or A-LPDA-0092-LTE Mount over the standard pole mount (the pole mount is what comes to mind when I think of directional antenna)?

I guess either way, I'd need two LPDA-92 antennas to each router, or would the router work just as effectively with just the one external antenna connection in place? From my limited experience they've always seemed to need pairs of antennas.

Poynting LPDA-92 spec sheet: https://396qqg3d9d2v3whu6ji8htpr-wp...92/Technical-Specification-A-LPDA-0092-V1.pdf
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
It seems the -30- SKU comes with a mounting bracket (A-BRKT-030), and the other one does not.
1594998855452.png


In terms of using one or two antennas, using two really only benefits download speed as it enabled MIMO. When using one the connection would be just SISO, however I don't know if/how the routers would accomodate for only connecting one external antenna. Perhaps it would use one external antenna and one internal, which wouldn't be ideal - I believe when using multiple antennas they should be 'the same' as each other.

But MIMO only actually benefits download, upload I think is usually SISO anyway. For you purposes, one would be OK, providing it doesn't mess up with the router doing funky stuff.

 

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Pwablo

Top Member
All of the pentaband antennas wheather directional or omni will compromise in either gain, resonance or VSWR to achieve their bandwidth or vise versa. A Mono, Dual or Tri band antenna with the design centered around a desired frequency will outperform any of the penta-band antennas all day long.
If you dont want the hassle of aligning a directional antenna there are options out there for Onmi antennas that provide a decent gain even in excess of many of the directional offerings. There is no need to spend a fortune on overpriced brands like Pyonting on Panorama to cover all the bands, when you only have any chance of receiving less than half of them.
My advice would be for you to get one of these antennas below, and survey the sites again, aiming to achieve an improvement on Band 3 metrics at each site. I would be forgetting about trying to use (and benefit from) a MIMO antenna on each device, and would focus my efforts on using a single SISO antenna on Band 3 only on each radio.

7.5dBi Tri Band Omni Directional
Covers Band 3, Band 1 on LTE, and HSPA+, UMTS

15dBi Dual Band Omni Directional
Covers Band 3, Band 1 on LTE, and HSPA+, UMTS

Dont be put off by these antennas not stipulating 4G or LTE in the descriptions. They both work excellently for Band 3 on 1800Mhz.

Both of these antennas can be pole mounted (1.5"-2" dia)...you can get all sorts of mobile mounting hardware like poles, drive on mounts, guy wire brackets etc. from many of the CB/Amateur radio retailers, like Knights Ltd.

I use one of these the 7.5dBi Tri-banders on EE 4G Band 3 and they really work great. See below a comparison against an expensive Fullband MiMo Pentaband Omni, to illustrate the difference in performance.

Use the best quality coax you can get...e.g HDF400 or LMR400 with losses less than 0.3dB/m. Avoid RG58 and RG174 as its infinitely more lossey than decent coax. Keep the coax runs as short as physically possible.

FullBand MIMORAD 6dBi Omni (RG58 Coax 5m) on Teltonika RUT 240 Router

Signal strength-63 dBm
Cell ID
RSRP-97 dBm
RSRQ-11 dB
SINR1.3 dB
OperatorEE
Operator stateRegistered (home)
Connection type4G (LTE)
Connected bandLTE BAND 3

7.5dBi TriBand Omni (HDF400 Coax 5m) on Teltonika RUT 240 Router

Signal strength-57 dBm
Cell ID
RSRP-88 dBm
RSRQ-11 dB
SINR11.3 dB
OperatorEE
Operator stateRegistered (home)
Connection type4G (LTE)
Connected bandLTE BAND 3


Hope this helps.
 
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GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
^^^ listen to Pwablo - he actually knows what he's talking about! I don't have, or use, an antenna so all my comments are based on information I've gleaned from the web and extrapolated on.
 

Pwablo

Top Member
^^^ listen to Pwablo - he actually knows what he's talking about! I don't have, or use, an antenna so all my comments are based on information I've gleaned from the web and extrapolated on.
Thanks for the vote of confidence Gavin, but you are far more knowledgeable than you give yourself credit for. You are spot on recommending a SISO and not far off suggesting a Log Periodic to cover the bands and improve directional gain. You are also correct in stating that higher is better.
Theoretical gain will increase as the antenna is elevated relative to the ground. This applies to the majority of common antenna types, with the exception of a few like 4 square, and ground plane verticals using radials etc.

Reading the results posted from the initial site survey's, I cannot see why Defnas will not see a substantial improvement on Band 3 metrics using either of the vertical omnis i have suggested. Given that the XPOL-A0001 antenna he used to test with only has a max 4dBi gain on Band 3, and comes with 5m of poor coax (~0.5dB/m loss), I am surprised it has improved anything over the routers internal antennas (if it has any).
In my experience, a lot of these Penta-band omnis only provide substantial gains a few km from the cell or closer, as they simply compromise so much to make them a marketable product. Folks don't want a 1 or 2m long antenna bolted to their house and this has given rise to a popularity of enclosed 1 or 2 wavelength omnis, flat panel (stacked plates) and enclosed log periodics (folded Yagis basically). These are so often coupled with fixed length of a flexible small diameter coax (to make them easy to install) which tends to be cheap quality and lossy at higher frequencies. This is usually the reason I read so often of folks complaining that they splashed out on an antenna and it did'nt make any difference. They simply purchased a multi-band antenna that "can" work within a few km of a cell (sometimes further in the right conditions), and "can" enhance all of the available bands, and "does" have a fitted coax and connectors. Unfortunately what they should of purchased was an antenna that was specific to the band that they needed to improve upon, and installed it with the shortest lowest loss feed line possible to maximize the gain, and installed it at the highest point possible. IMO it is preferable to use PoE and situate the radio as close to the antenna as possible than use a long run of coax.

Looking again at the comparison I provided above. The FULLBAND MIMORAD is very similar to the XPOL-A0001 in specs, yet its clear to see how much better the higher gain tri-band vertical is when fed with a true low loss coax. (-9dBm improvement on RSRP) (-6dBm improvement of RSSI) and (10dB improvement on SINR). Both of these antenna are about 1m from each other. Both are mounted outside at the same height and both connected to the same and only EE LTE cell in my locality, which is approx 5km away. Looking at the topography between the cell and my antennas, you can see how obstructed the LOS is, and yet @1800mhz the metrics are not too shabby.
With this simple set up on the PAYG EE Sim I get most days anywhere between 15-30mbps down and 20-35mbps upload. A quick speed test as I type this......



Defnas - please keep us posted on your project. It is most interesting and I would love to know how you get on as your research progresses.
A useful link if you want to research topography and PtP elevations.....Ubiquiti Link Budget Tool

Best of Luck !
 

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Defnas

Casual Member
Thanks I'll investigate those antenna, but might not be for a while - also trying to design the live streaming video production architecture, find some presenters, persuade the stakeholders that it's a good idea (1 last approval to go), sort out the video distribution to viewers etc and juggle the kids. :)

The XPOL1 did show an improved performance over my iphone 11 (business contract), iphone 11 Pro (monthly EE contract on fastest speed) and the netgear M2 (PAYG) without external antenna in most cases, but not always. For testing the XPOL 1 I just attached to an umbrella and balanced on my Landrover's roof, so probably no more than 8' off the ground. I've attached a couple of my testing notes pages, sorry they are a bit scrappy.
 

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aimdev

Casual Member
Hi Defnas
I am curious to how you got so much detailed data in your first and subsequent posts, I went to the Ofcom site, and all that was there was a simplistic map for presumably non technical people.
Thanks
 

Defnas

Casual Member
I am curious to how you got so much detailed data in your first and subsequent posts
I just used the OFCOM site to get an idea of the coverage at a location, the map is probabilistic, generated from cell tower locations and terrain, as I had 15 locations and it would have nearly 1200 miles of driving to get to them all. There was enough information from the OFCOM site for me to be confident we could live stream at all the locations and which were likely to the the strongest two providers at each site for an initial business proposal.

The detailed information about RSRP, RSPQ, cell tower ID, band, channel etc, came from either the field test mode on my iphone or the network information in my mifi's Netgear App.

After that (not show in the thread above) I've used Cellmapper.net to identify where the tower I connected to was located, and which directions that tower serves. I will be plotting all the cellmapper reported towers for all four carriers on a google earth map with carrier, bands and angles from my likely router's position on a racecourse, for each racecourse in case we need to use directional antenna

(I've attached a screenshot of all the towers mapped on Google maps for one course, with the angle to the one that connected in testing and the second shows the terrain between that tower and the racecourse)
 

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