What are the minimum mobile broadband data connection signal values?

Beverly McRae

Valid Cellular Data Connections are dependent on a cellular modem’s:      A.  Signal Strength, and
B.  Signal Quality

A.  Signal Strength

  1. Influences connection to the cellular tower.
  2. Represented by RSSI, measured in dBm.
  3. RSSI is a negative dBm value. Values closer to 0 are stronger signals.
  4. The ‘lower number’ represents better signal strength.
NOTE: Signal Strength must be reviewed by the numeric values, ie. -dBm. The number of signal bars displayed by devices may give inaccurate perception of actual signal strength.
B.  Signal Quality
  1. Influences data throughput speeds on mobile broadband networks.
  2. Represented by signal noise ratios, measured in dBm.
  3. Noise ratio representation varies by mobile broadband technology:
  • LTE:  SINR
  1. SINR is a positive dBm value.
  2. Higher SINR numbers = better quality connection.
  1. CINR is a positive dBm value.
  2. Higher CINR numbers = better quality connection.
  1. EC/IO is a negative dBm value.  Values closer to 0 are stronger signals
  2. Lower EC/IO ‘numbers’ = better quality connection.
User-added image
  • Exceptions apply to the following modems in LTE mode only: Pantech UML290 and Novatel 551L.
  • LG VL600 does not report db values, only bars. LG VL600 requires a minimum of 2 bars.
  1. Both Signal Strength and Signal Quality must be considered for successful cellular data connection.
  2. Measured or reported values vary by modem, carrier, and network environment.
  3. There is no black/white answer to what constitutes a successful connection.
  4. Although signal strength may appear to be adequate, throughput speeds may vary due to dependencies on cellular tower loads.
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