5G network – how to choose an antenna?

Wireless Internet access services provided by mobile network operators are an increasingly popular access method chosen by subscribers.
The 5G network is the fifth generation of wireless telecommunications technology standards, which offers significantly faster data transfer speeds than the earlier 3G and 4G generations. 5G has the potential to change the way people, vehicles and devices will communicate with each other. In addition to high-speed data transfer, the 5G network provides lower latency and higher network cell capacity (supported by 1 transmitter) to support a much larger number of devices simultaneously. This makes 5G a key element for the development of technologies such as autonomous cars, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud gaming, and augmented reality (AR).
The maximum speeds achieved by a 5G network can vary depending on a number of factors: the transmission mechanisms used by a particular network operator, the frequency band used, infrastructure availability and environmental conditions. In general, a 5G network has the potential to offer data transfer speeds of up to several gigabits per second. In practice, however, typical 5G speeds can be much lower. This does not change the fact that a 5G network provides much higher speeds than those offered by earlier generations of wireless networks. Depending on specific conditions, these speeds can range from tens to hundreds of megabits per second (Mbps).

In Europe, the frequency bands used for wireless communications, including mobile technologies, are regulated by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). The most commonly used frequency bands include:
  • 700 MHz: a low frequency band that offers better coverage and penetration in buildings. Used in both 4G and 5G.
  • 800 MHz: a low frequency band that offers better coverage in the field, especially in rural areas.
  • 900 MHz: frequency band mainly used for 2G and 3G. Can also be used for some 4G implementations.
  • 1800 MHz: a medium frequency band that is widely used for 2G and 4G.
  • 2100 MHz: a medium frequency band that is often used for 3G, but can also be used for 4G in some regions.
  • 2600 MHz: a high frequency band that is often used for 4G, and is also a significant component in some 5G implementations.
  • 3500 MHz (3.5 GHz): a frequency band that is becoming a key area for 5G development in Europe. It is widely used for its implementation due to its ability to transmit large amounts of data with high throughput.
It is worth noting that the specific allocation of frequency bands may vary between countries, as decisions on this issue often depend on local regulations.
Bands for 5G in Poland
The following bands for 5G are planned in Poland:
  • 700 MHz: a band to be used for 5G development and to provide better coverage on the ground, especially in rural areas.
  • 2100 MHz: a medium frequency band that is planned to be used for 5G deployment, especially as a complement to higher frequency bands.
  • 2600 MHz: a frequency band that is also planned for use in 5G, due to its ability to transmit large amounts of data with high throughput.
  • 3500 MHz (3.5 GHz): a key frequency band for 5G, which is expected to be widely used in Poland for the implementation of new 5G-based services and applications.
5G signal parameters
5G signal parameters can vary depending on specific environmental conditions, distance from the transmitter, frequencies used and network configuration. Here are some key parameters to read from a 5G modem or router:
  • Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI): signal strength (Received Signal Strength Indicator) measures the strength of the 5G signal received by the device. The higher the RSSI value, the stronger the signal. RSSI measures the total signal strength received by a device, without distinguishing between the signal coming from the targeted base station (BS) and background signals such as noise and interference. The value can vary depending on specific environmental conditions, but typical limits for RSSI in 5G networks can range from -50 dBm to -120 dBm.
  • Signal Power (RSRP): Signal power (Reference Signal Received Power) is a measure of the power of a 5G signal received by a device. It is one of the key indicators that determines the quality of connection. RSRP reflects the strength of the actual signal, which is the signal that is used to synchronize and make measurements on the mobile network.
  • RSRP focuses on the strength of the signal coming directly from the base station, ignoring other interference and noise in the channel. The higher the RSRP value, the stronger the signal. RSRP limits can range from -44 dBm to -140 dBm.
  • SINR (Signal-to-Interference plus Noise Ratio): SINR measures the ratio of usable signal to noise in a radio channel. A higher SINR value indicates better signal quality. Typical limits for SINR in 5G networks are from about 0 dB to 25 dB.
  • CQI (Channel Quality Indicator): CQI is an indicator of channel quality and indicates the possible throughput of a channel. The higher the CQI value, the better the channel quality. CQI values typically range from 1 to 15, where higher values indicate better channel quality.
  • Throughput: Throughput is the amount of data that can be transmitted over a network per unit of time. In the case of 5G, throughput can be very high and reach gigabit data transfer rates.
  • Delay: is the time it takes to transfer data between a device and a server. In 5G, this time can be much lower than in previous generations of networks, which is especially important in applications that require fast response, such as online gaming or remote medical operations.
How to improve 5G signal?
An external antenna for a modem can improve the radio performance of a connection by both increasing sensitivity (receiving the signal) and efficiency (transmitting the signal). External antennas often have better characteristics, allowing them to "pick up" and transmit radio signals more efficiently compared to antennas built into modems.
Changing antennas can result in better signal reception even in areas where the signal is weak, resulting in fewer errors and higher bandwidth. In addition, external antennas compensate for signal attenuation caused by obstacles (walls, windows), which results in the quality and stability of the connection.
How to choose an antenna for 5G?
1. Examine the environment: conduct an assessment of the environment, identifying possible obstacles and other factors affecting signal reception (sources of potential interference, etc.). Check whether it is possible to install the antenna on the building so that it faces the BTS and is not obstructed by anything.

2. Check for signal availability: before purchasing an antenna, evaluate the signal strength in the area using available measurement equipment. Take network signal measurements, for example, using a phone, router, or 5G modem, and compare with the values:
  • RSSI: -100 dBm
  • RSRP: -110 dBm
  • SINR: 10 dB
If the measured values are lower use an external antenna.

3. Choosing the type of antenna: based on the analysis of the environment, choose the appropriate type of antenna, taking into account its application and directionality. If the antenna is intended for the home, choose a directional antenna. On the other hand, if the antenna is to be used with a modem used on the road (truck, camper, etc.), use an omnidirectional antenna.

Frequency band selection: make sure the antenna supports the frequency band used by your service provider. For 5G antennas, use broadband antennas from 700 - 3800 MHz. The exception is if the base station is more than 10 km away, in which case you should select an antenna for a specific band. They have a slightly higher gain than broadband universal antennas.

4. Compatibility check: most fixed routers (modems) have an SMA connector and the antenna can be plugged directly into the device. For mobile routers, an adapter for TS5 or TS9 connector may be required.

5. Purchase and installation: after selecting the antenna, the system should be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions. The antenna should be mounted in vertical polarization and horizontal polarization in the case of MIMO antennas. X-cross polarization is also acceptable.

6. Testing: after the system, test the antenna's performance by taking signal strength measurements before and after installation. Such tests are best performed during nighttime hours so as to avoid overloading the BTS associated with serving a large number of customers.

7. Optimization: if necessary, make adjustments to the antenna position to get the best results.
When signal parameters suggest that an external antenna should be selected?
The decision to use an external antenna in wireless networks, including 5G networks, depends on many factors. It can be assumed that with parameters worse than those shown below, an external antenna should be used:
  • RSSI below -100 dBm
  • RSRP below -110 dBm
  • SINR below 10 dB
Which antenna for 5G to choose?
Directional antenna for 5G:
The log-periodic antenna has a high gain. However, this is due to its large size, which can be a problem during the system of the antenna on the mast (remember to keep a minimum distance of 37 cm between antennas).
Antenna TRANS-DATA 5G KYZ 10/10 + 5 m cable + SMA [698-960, 1710-2700, 3300-3800 MHz]
TRANS-DATA 5G KYZ 10/10 antenna A741027_5 (2x5 cable), A741027_10 (10m cable). The antenna has SMA connectors.
A panel antenna has smaller dimensions, but also slightly lower gain.
TRANS-DATA 5G KPZ 8/9/8 antenna
TRANS-DATA 5G KPZ 8/9/8 antenna (30cm wires) A741026. The antenna has N connectors.
An omnidirectional antenna for 5G:
TRANS-DATA 5G DZ7 antenna
TRANS-DATA 5G DZ7 antenna
Cable length
The length of the antenna cable affects the attenuation of the signal. However, this attenuation is not that important, and one should not struggle to save on every meter of cable at all costs. In most situations it will remain irrelevant whether the connecting cable is 5 meters or 15 meters. Of course, this length should be chosen as optimally as possible.
Most often, a modem with built-in antennas is placed in the house, where the walls, windows or roof effectively attenuate the signal. The use of an external antenna "bypasses" the above-mentioned obstacles, so that the signal reaching the modem is much stronger. The attenuation brought by the cable is relatively lower than that brought by the walls, windows or roof.
What kind of connector for the modem?
Various types of antenna connectors are often used in 5G modems to connect an external antenna to the device. Here are some common types of antenna connectors used in 5G modems:
  • SMA (SubMiniature version A)
  • TS9
  • CRC9 (TS5)
Make sure what type of connector the device to which the external antenna is to be connected has.
List of modems with an SMA connector:
  • Huawei:
    • B535
    • B311
    • B315
    • B525
    • B593
    • E5186
    • B890
    • E5175
    • B880
    • B310
    • B315
    • B593u-12
    • B593s-22
    • B593u-91
    • B593u
    • E5172AS-22
    • E5172S-22
    • E5172
    • B525
    • B612
    • B520s-93a
    • B715(B715s-23c)
    • 4G Router 3 Pro B535
  • ZTE
    • MF286
    • MF283
    • MF286D
  • TP-Link
    • Archer MR200
    • Archer MR400
    • Archer MR600
    • TL-MR6400
    • Archer C50
    • MX515v
  • D-Link
    • DWR-921
    • DWR-953
    • DWR-956
  • Netgear
    • Nighthawk M1 MR1100
  • Asus
    • 4G-AC68U
  • Mikrotik
    • wAP ac LTE6 kit
  • Ubiquiti
    • AmpliFi HD Mesh Router
  • Tenda
    • 4G680
  • Vodafone
    • B4000
    • B3500
    • B3000
    • B2000
    • B1000
  • Peplink
    • Balance 30 LTE
  • Alcatel
    • Linkhub HH40
    • Linkhub HH70
    • LinkHub HH41
  • Zyxel
    • LTE 3311
List of modems with TS9 connector. For antennas with SMA connector, use E83206 adapter.
  • Huawei:
    • B190
    • B528
    • B529
    • B529g
    • B618
    • B618s-22d
    • B618s-65d
    • B628-265 (pro 2)
    • B628-350 (pro 3)
    • B818 (Router 3 Prime)
    • B818-263
    • E392
    • E397
    • E398
    • E587
    • E587u-2
    • E589
    • E5332
    • E5332s-2
    • E5372
    • E5375
    • E5377
    • E5573
    • E5577
    • E5577c
    • E5577Cs-321 Lite
    • E5756
    • E5775
    • E5776
    • E5785Lh-22c
    • E5785-23c
    • E5785Lh
    • E5786
    • E8278
    • E8377
  • Orange
    • Airbox
    • Airbox LTE
    • Airbox 2
    • Airbox 2 Plus
  • ZTE
    • MF60
    • MF61
    • MF62
    • MF63
    • MF80
    • MF90
    • MF91
    • MF91D
    • MF91E
    • MF91S
    • MF93
    • MF93D
    • MF93E
    • MF192
    • MF195
    • MF289F
    • MF297D
    • MF626i
    • MF631
    • MF633
    • MF633+
    • MF633BP+
    • MF645
    • MF668
    • MF668+
    • MF669
    • MF669B
    • MF669+
    • MF821
    • MF823
    • MF825
    • MF910
    • MF971v
    • MF980
  • ZTE
    • MC801A
    • MC888
  • Alcatel/TCL
    • Linkhub HH71
    • Linkhub HH71V1
    • HH130V1
    • HH130VM
    • MC727
    • MC760
    • U727
    • U760
    • USB727
    • USB760
  • Sierra Wireless
    • Sprint 598U
  • AirCard
    • 305
    • 306
    • 309
    • 310
    • 310U
    • 312
    • 319
    • 320U
    • 402
    • 501
    • 502
    • 503
    • 504
  • Compass
    • 597
    • 885
    • 888
    • 889
    • USB301
    • USB302
    • USB305
    • USB306
    • USB307
    • USB308
    • USB309
    • USB598
    • APEX 880
  • Netgear:
    • AC810s, Nighthawk M1 MR1100
  • Cyfrowy Polsat
    • B150
  • D-Link
    • DWR-932C1 LTE