Choosing a 4G antenna
It might seem obvious to some, but it's important to understand that your carrier's 4G network only provides high speed Internet. Your mobile phone or modem might display '4G' on the box or on its case, but this simply means that it can connect to the Internet via 4G in enabled areas. Please check your carrier's Coverage Map to determine whether you will be operating within their 4G coverage zone before going any further.
What type of antenna?
If you've read the previous section on 4G Equipment, you'll know that as of 2015 there are two new frequencies that must be considered - 700 MHz (Band 28) and 2600 MHz (Band 7).
As mentioned previously the 700 MHz is a long range, wide coverage network. The downside of this however is that the base station can still only fit the same number of subscribers, but now covers a significantly larger geographic area. What this means is that the expectation is that the 700 MHz will be a lower speed network due to the higher number of expected users, so to achieve the best speed possible we have to get tricky.
While the network configuration is already set with a band preference of 2600 first, 1800, and 700 MHz last, higher performance will be achieved by selecting an antenna that has a higher gain in the upper bands so that the modem may achieve a connection to these networks to provide a higher capacity connection.
To take advantage of these network features many of the below antennas operate across multiple bands, usually in the form of a high performance panel or LPDA. The downside of all multiband antennas is that to widen the operating bandwidth, antenna gain must be sacrificed, or, have a very large and heavy antenna. To retain practicality, our multiband antennas have a maximum gain of about 10 to 11 dBi. Larger, higher gain antennas are available, but restricted to commercial projects only due to their impracticality.
High Gain Antennas
Long range 4G connections are possible using high gain antennas. High antenna gain can only come at a cost of frequency bandwidth, meaning at ranges in excess of 20 km you will have to pick one frequency to operate on. Because not all 4G base stations will broadcast all 4G frequencies it's important to do the research and find out what frequency is being operated at the target base station before selecting an antenna. Because of the high degree of complexity Telco can take care of this for you by undertaking a Computer Modelling Survey. Otherwise you'll find a range of high gain dish, panel, and LPDA antennas under the Outdoor section below.
4G uses 2x2 SU-MIMO - meaning two antennas receive two independent data streams. What this means is that for applications requiring high speed data two external antennas must be used. This may consist of one antenna housing two independent radiators, or two completely separate antennas. 4G devices will operate perfectly fine with only one antenna, just at about a 50% reduction in download rate (upload speeds are unaffected).
A common misconception is that one antenna receives while the other transmits - this is most certainly not the case.