Understanding 4G Antennas

by Aeyne Schriber on June 30, 2014 in 4G

Understanding 4G antennas is the first step toward choosing the right antenna for your device and wireless service. Although 3G and 4G antennas follow the same basic principles, there are many other factors that come into play when using a 4G antenna.

Like anything else, it is important to have a basic understanding of specific concepts and details when it comes to 4G antennas. Although there are many different types of 4G antennas, there are factors you must take into consideration before choosing a 4G antenna.

4G antennas follow the same basic principle as 3G antennas in terms of installation and certain functions. However, 4G connectivity is fairly new and the specifications have yet to be precisely defined by the ITU-R (International Telecommunications Union). This leaves some gray areas when determining 4G network performance and antenna availability, despite the fact that more and more 4G networks are gradually being implemented and made available through wireless carriers.

The main problem with 4G antennas is determining exactly what makes up 4G and whether or not there is a real 4G network you can use to integrate a 4G antenna. The second problem lies in the fact that you must determine whether or not a 4G antenna actually offers authentic 4G connectivity.

As the ITU-R continues to work towards actual specifications for 4G, WiMAX and LTE are currently the closest example of a 4G network. It is these networks that are commonly referred to as 4G networks. This means that a 4G antenna is synonymous with an LTE or WiMAX antenna. So, when you are looking for a 4G antenna, you can also consider antennas from manufacturers that use the terms LTE or WiMAX to describe the product.

There are many manufacturers of 4G antennas which creates a challenge when choosing the best one. The antenna must also be compatible with your wireless carrier’s service and the frequency they use to deliver the service. For example, if your wireless carrier uses WiMAX, then the standard for delivery is 802.11, a wireless standard set forth by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for wireless Local Area Network (LAN) technologies.

On the other hand, if your wireless carrier is using LTE, the frequency used to deliver the service is operating at 700MHz. This means the required 4G antenna must operate in sync with the type of frequency your wireless carrier uses to deliver their services. One aspect that does remain consistent when choosing a 4G, LTE, WiMAX antenna is the type of accessories and cables that are used to configure a Wi-Fi and 4G antenna as they are pretty much consistent across the board.

Many mobile users commonly ask what they should expect from a 4G network that is fully functional. This is a legitimate question and one that should be understood in order to know what to expect from a 4G antenna in terms of performance.

Since 4G has not been completely defined with specifications in exact detail, many companies are still promoting 4G accessories such as antennas and other devices as “4G.” Some of the major telecom providers such as AT&T and Verizon also promote their mobile devices and smartphones as “4G” as well.

You will also find that the speed of 4G networks will vary according to your wireless carrier. For instance, AT&T may have a different concept of 4G performance than T-Mobile. Typically, you will find a significant difference in performance when comparing wireless carrier services side by side. Below is an interesting comparison of 4G connectivity tests among multiple wireless carriers using the same type of mobile device.

To help you understand this aspect in terms of performance, when it comes to choosing a 4G antenna, LTE, WiMAX, 4G connectivity should be able to provide you with an exceptionally fast connection capable of handling streaming media without any interruption or hiccups in the service. This means that the speeds for data transmission over an Internet connection are extremely fast which is what can commonly be expected from 4G connectivity.

It also means that a 4G antenna must be capable of handling extremely fast data speeds which can potentially consume a lot of energy from your mobile device. This requires you to recharge the device more often than you would using a slower Internet connection. For this reason, a high quality 4G antenna would be your best investment since it is equipped with the technologies you need to handle faster data speeds.

This is a general background on what you can expect in terms of performance for 4G networks. If you have an idea of what type of performance to expect, this will help you to choose a 4G antenna that provides performance that meets your expectations. This knowledge combined with what to look for in a 4G antenna should provide you with the best connection possible from your wireless carrier.

4G Antenna Authenticity and Compatibility

Many mobile users have asked questions in online forums regarding the authenticity of 4G antennas. Others expressed concern over antennas that are promoted as 4G but are actually standard 3G antennas.

If you watched the video posted above, you can see how 4G connectivity can vary, therefore the concerns that consumers have expressed in online forums regarding 4G antennas are legitimate ones. If a 4G connection can be ambiguous among wireless carriers, why wouldn’t there be inconsistencies with 4G antennas? What’s more, how can a 4G antenna be identified when you never actually see an LTE or 4G label on some of the brands?

Like anything else, there are antenna manufacturers that promote their product as a 4G antenna when in reality, the 4G antenna is simply a 3G antenna that has been repackaged and promoted as a 4G product. This means it is necessary to comparison shop and do your homework in terms of the reputation of the company that provides 4G antennas.

  • Read the Reviews: Invest the time to read the reviews written by consumers that have actually used the 4G antenna you are considering. First hand experiences are the best way to get a read on product quality and performance. Try to avoid the review sites that provide a review of a product with an affiliate link where you can purchase the antenna. This can sometimes mean that the review is not sincere since affiliates receive a commission for every sale they generate.
  • Ask Yourself Key Questions: As you are reading through reviews, ask yourself some key questions such as: How technically sound is the information? Does the reviewer appear to be tech savvy? Do they mention anything that may prevent the antenna from providing maximum performance? Is the 4G wireless carrier named in the review? What type of configuration did the reviewer use? Plus, any other information that may provide you with clues can be helpful when reading customer reviews.
  • Investigate the Company: Find out if the company manufactures their own product or if they work with a 4G antenna supplier. If they are working with a supplier, try to find out who the actual manufacturer is to ensure the product is not just a knockoff of the real deal.

Additionally, there are ways to conduct your own speed test on a 4G antenna using products like the one described in the video below.

Finally, make certain the 4G antenna is compatible with the service you receive from your wireless carrier. This may require you to call them to find out what type of frequency they use to deliver their services. You may also want to ask them for their advice on 4G antennas and then compare their suggestions with some of the reviews you read online.

Conclusion

As you are choosing a 4G antenna it is important to keep your purpose in mind as you shop around. In addition to compatibility with your wireless carrier and achieving the best performance, different types of 4G antennas serve different purposes.

For example, a booster antenna is designed for interior use and is used to boost a 4G signal while you are traveling, staying in a hotel room, or simply improving the signal while you are driving your car.

A magnetic mount antenna can be used to improve a 4G signal with easy attachment to your vehicle or RV. This type of antenna is designed to be used outdoors and can withstand the elements.

A full-band antenna is designed for users that lack a direct line of sight to the nearest cell tower without having to worry about positioning an antenna. It is typically designed for outdoor use and covers a wide variety of frequencies.

These are a few examples of different types of 4G antennas. As you browse the market, you will find others that serve a wide variety of purposes and environments. However, one thing that remains consistent, is all 4G antennas should provide a way to boost a 4G signal and in most cases, help you to reach 4G connections that would otherwise be unavailable without the use of an antenna.

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