Series 3: What is the best way to determine the signal strength on a cellular modem through a CradlePoint router?
This article describes how to check the signal strength and quality values for a cellular modem when used with a Cradlepoint router.
Low signal strength and high signal interference can cause a cellular modem to provide only intermittent connectivity or slow connection speeds. Knowing the actual values seen by the modem is the first step to troubleshooting connection issues, and can often be helpful when it comes to determining the exact physical placement of the router or the necessity of adding high-gain external antennas.
Configuration Difficulty: Intermediate
- Step 1: Log into the router’s NCOS Page. For help with logging in please click here.
- Step 2: Connect your cellular modem to your Cradlepoint router.
- Step 3: Click on the STATUS tab from the side menu and select Internet and then Connections from the drop-down menu.
- Step 4: Select your cellular modem within the Device List by placing a check into the box next to its name.
- Step 5: Scroll down to the Device Information section and look for the following values:
- Service Display
- Signal Strength or RSSI
- Signal Quality – this value will be labeled differently, depending on the service display:
- All other values: Ec/Io
- WiMAX: CINR
- LTE: SINR
- Step 6: Monitor the numbers for 1 to 2 minutes to get a measure of how much the current signal characteristics fluctuate.
- Step 7: Compare your values with this article.
Suggestions to Optimize Cellular Signal
If your signal values are below the required minimum values, you can try some of the suggestions listed below to improve your connection:
- Switch the Modem Connection Mode between 4G and 3G to check which gives better values. Check this article for more information.
- Move the router/modem to a side of the building that faces the carrier’s cellular tower.
- Move the router/modem to a higher point in the building, on the second floor, on top of tall cabinets, etc.
- Do not place the router/modem near any electrical devices, wiring, or radio devices.
- Use a 6 to 10ft. good quality USB extension cable between the modem and router.
- Use a passive cellular antenna plugged directly into the modem.
NOTE: Cellular signal boosters do not improve cellular signal quality. The use of a cellular signal booster may or may not improve the cellular signal characteristics although the signal level may report a -dBm that is within the modems allowable range.
NOTE: Often a cellular modem’s connection may appear stable while it is plugged directly into a computer, even when the signal is actually marginal. However, when the modem is used in the router this marginal signal may degrade slightly due to physical and electrical differences between the computer and router. This small amount of signal degradation (~1 – 2dBm) can be enough to not allow the cellular modem to connect through the router. Try the router/modem in other locations in your home or office.