In this guide
- The Best External Antennas For the T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway
- Why External Antennas Are Critical for Improving Data Rates
- Installing External Antennas to the T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway
- Positioning and Aiming MIMO Antennas
- T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway Technical Specifications
- Other Helpful Resources
Important Note: To connect external antennas you'll need to open your T-Mobile Gateway. Read our instructions for doing so carefully to avoid damaging the device. Gateways are owned by T-Mobile, and they may charge you a repair fee if you return a damaged gateway device.
The Best External Antennas For the T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway
Using a MIMO antenna outside your building, pointed at the nearest tower, can help you get the fastest 4G LTE and 5G data rates possible.
The T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway has four internal U.FL ports, which allow for a 4x4 MIMO antenna system to be connected to the device.
Since 4x4 MIMO offers superior performance and since a 2x2 MIMO antenna would require you to choose a pair of the four ports to use (which can be a time consuming process), we highly recommend a 4x4 MIMO antenna over a 2x2 MIMO antenna.
Accessing the antenna ports does require some disassembly and we recommend being careful: If you damage the device and then later return it, T-Mobile may charge you a damage fee. Our instructions below guide you through how to connect and test antennas without damaging the device.
We recommend two different 4x4 MIMO antenna options for use with the T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway:
Best for most users
4x4 MIMO Panel Antenna Kit
This 4x4 MIMO Panel Antenna kit will provide a meaningful signal improvement possible data rates, even if you're surrounded by trees, hills, or tall buildings.
For users surrounded by trees, hills, or tall buildings, the best external antenna choice is our 4x4 MIMO Panel Antenna kit. While still directional, this antenna doesn’t require line-of-sight to the tower.
Best with line of sight
4x4 MIMO Log Periodic Antenna Kit
This 4x4 MIMO Log Periodic Antenna kit includes four cross polarized log periodic antennas to provide an even more meaningful signal improvement. They work best if you have direct line-of-sight to the tower.
However, if you have line of sight to the nearest tower, we recommend using a 4x4 MIMO Log Periodic Antenna kit instead. The higher gain on these antennas can also get you better performance, but only when you have a straight shot to the tower.
Why External Antennas Are Critical for Improving Data Rates
There's one big misconception about external antennas.
Most people think that external antennas primarily help you increase your data rates by increasing the signal strength.
But that's not the case.
An increase in signal strength is actually probably the third most important way that external antennas help.
Here are the three main ways that external antennas help you increase your data rates:
1.They Improve Signal Quality
In 4G LTE and 5G networks, signal quality is measured as SINR (Signal to Interference plus Noise Ratio) or sometimes as RSRQ (Reference Signal Received Quality).
Improving signal quality has a huge impact on your data rates.
Higher data rates allow your hotspot to communicate using "higher order modulation schemes." That means they can use the same wireless spectrum to send more data per second.
However, there's one big caveat:
In order to improve your signal quality, you need to both aim and shield your outdoor antenna properly. We talk more about this in the next section.
2.They Allow You To Connect On More Bands
Hotspots like the T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway support a feature called "carrier aggregation."
Carrier aggregation allows the Gateway to connect on multiple cellular bands simultaneously.
The more bands you're connected on, the greater the bandwidth, and the higher your data rates.
However, many of the higher frequency bands aren't able to penetrate into buildings. Using external antennas allows you to access higher frequency bands, which are often less congested and offer higher speeds than lower frequency bands.
3.They Increase Your Signal Strength
As you might expect, using outdoor directional antennas can help increase the signal strength.
This helps increase data rates, but only up to a point.
If your signal strength (called "RSRP" in 4G and 5G networks) is stronger than about -100 dBm, stronger signal won't speed up your connection any further.
Installing External Antennas to the T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway
Before getting started, it's always a good idea to run a couple of speed tests indoors from a device connected to your Gateway's WiFi. The results will fluctuate a little, but this is the baseline you're trying to improve.
Once you've tested your baseline internet speeds, you're ready to install external antennas. The T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway doesn't have any external antenna ports, but it's possible to access the internal ports and install adapters that allow you to connect antennas.
In the next section of this guide, we'll show you how to open up your Gateway, connect adapters for external antennas, and close it back up.
Before you get started, you will need the following:
- A small phillips-head screwdriver
- A thin prying tool or flat-head screwdriver
- Needle-nose pliers or tweezers
- A secure container to keep screws and small parts safe while you work
- Tape for labeling cables. Painters tape works best.
- Two or four U.FL to SMA-Female pigtail adapters (included in our 2x2 and 4x4 External Antenna kits, respectively)
Be careful not to damage your T-Mobile Home Internet Gateway while disassembling.
As part of your agreement with T-Mobile, you "borrow" this equipment from them. When you end your service, you'll likely need to return the gateway to T-Mobile. If there's damage to the device they are contractually able to charge you up to $370 in damage fees.
Waveform does not make any guarantees nor take any responsibility for damage caused to your unit when following these instructions. Please proceed at your own risk.
If you do decide to return your unit to T-Mobile, make sure to reconnect the existing internal antenna connectors before doing so.
Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Adapters for External Antennas
Step 1: Power off the T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway and unplug the power cable.
Step 2: After partially peeling away the sticker on the back of the device, unscrew the unhidden phillips-head screw.
Step 3: Remove the four circular rubber feet on the bottom of the Gateway.
Step 4: Unscrew the four unhidden phillips-head screws securing the bottom cover to the main housing.
Step 5: Use a flat-head screwdriver to apply an outward pressure underneath each corner of the top cover to gently unlatch each one of the four corners of the top cover.
Step 6: Remove the two phillips-head screws located below the top cover.
Step 7: Starting from the bottom of the device, slowly unlatch the two halves of the outer cover by going along the length of the device with a flat-head screwdriver.
Step 8: Once both sides are fully unlatched, remove both halves of the outer covers by sliding them off and revealing the inner unit. As shown below:
Step 9: Located behind the display screen, there will be a series of white cables connected to the circuit board by small U.Fl connectors for ports labelled M1, M2, D, and M.
Depending on which MIMO Antenna kit you own (2x2 or 4x4), two or four of these U.Fl connectors will need to be disconnected. Very carefully disconnect the cables using a prying tool or a pair of tweezers and following these guidelines:
If you have a 4x4 MIMO Antenna Kit, disconnect the cables for port M1, M2, D, and M.
If you have a 2x2 MIMO Antenna Kit, disconnect the cables for port M and D, but leave ports M1 and M2 connected internally.
Be very careful here as U.Fl connectors can be quite fragile. Make sure you're very gentle to avoid breaking the connector.
Step 10: Once disconnected from the internal board, wrap each of the loose stock antenna connectors with painter's/electrical tape to ensure they don't interfere with the performance of the system.
Step 11: Install the U.FL to SMA-Female pigtail adapters by very carefully aligning and pressing them down into the ports you opened up in step 9. A quiet "click" can often be heard once the connectors are pressed down and fully connected.
Step 12: Route your pigtail adapters through any one of the set of vents located on the top of the removed outer casing.
*Note: Try to route the pigtails through the vents such that they will be near the ports on the device once re-assembled to avoid any sharp bends and excessive force.
Step 13: For each pigtail adapter tag and label the name of the port (M1, M2, D, or M) that it is connected to. Looping a piece of tape around the cable and writing down the name in pen/marker should suffice.
Step 14: Reassemble everything in reverse order.
Your T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway should now be fully re-assembled, with the pigtail adapters protruding from the top.
Step 15: Connect your external MIMO Antenna(s) to the labelled adapters installed in your Gateway using either the cable connectors (used for test mode) or coaxial cables (used for installation) as included in your kit.
- If you have a 4x4 MIMO Antenna Kit, you willconnect your adapters in the order shown below:
If you have a 2x2 MIMO Antenna Kit, the order in which you connect your adapters to the external MIMO Antenna(s) does not matter. However,
- If your T-Mobile Gateway is connecting to 5G Band n41, we recommend swapping out port D for port M1.
- If you want your T-Mobile Gateway to avoid connecting to 5G Band n71, we recommend swapping out ports M & D for ports M1 & M2.
Congrats! Your T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway is now connected to your more powerful MIMO External Antennas.
Positioning and Aiming MIMO Antennas
Positioning and aiming MIMO antennas well is crucial to getting the best performance to your T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway, or indeed any other hotspot.
We've actually compiled a detailed instruction manual to accompany our own MIMO Antenna Kits, where we go into depth on the best ways to aim the antennas.
The goal is to find the best location and direction for the antenna(s), to maximize data rates to the T-Mobile Gateway. It can take a little patience, but can have a huge impact – it’s worth a bit of extra effort!
Connect your MIMO external antennas to your modified T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway via the newly installed pigtail adapters, and go outside with your "test-rig".
With each location and direction you try, run a couple speed tests, and make a note of the results. Here are all the locations and directions where we recommend testing your MIMO antenna:
Pro tip: Don’t just go to the highest point of the roof! While signal is generally stronger the higher you go, there’s also often more interference. We’ve found it’s often better to mount the antenna(s) on the side of the building where the structure can shield the antennas from interference.
Once you've found the position which gets you the highest data rates to the T-Mobile Gateway, that's where you'll want to install the MIMO antenna. Go ahead and mount the antenna, run cables inside, connect everything up, and enjoy superior data rates!
T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway Technical Specifications
Supported T-Mobile bands in the US
- 5G Bands: n25, n41, n66, n71
- 4G LTE Bands: B2, B4, B5, B12, B41, B46, B66, B71
- Model: MediaTek T750 ARM Cortex-A55
- MIMO Support: 4x4 w/ internal antennas or external antennas
- Carrier Aggregation: Yes (2x 5G 40 MHz bands, 5x LTE 20 MHz bands)
- LTE Performance Category: Cat 20
- Max Theoretical Speeds: 2.5 Gbps Download, 316 Mbps Upload
- Technologies: 802.11 ax
- Bands: Simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
- Cellular Antenna Ports: 6x internal U.FL
- Ethernet Ports: 2x Gigabit RF-45 LAN Ports
- Other Ports: 1x USB-C LAN port (not functional), 1x USB-C Power Delivery Port
Antenna Port Functions
Other Helpful Resources
A helpful guide on installing and maintaining U.FL connectors
T-Mobile's support page for the High-Speed 5G Internet Gateway
A helpful video of disassembling the T-Mobile Gateway by Nater Tater
Once you've tested your baseline internet speeds, you're ready to install external antennas. The T-Mobile 5G Internet Gateway doesn't have any external antenna ports, but it's possible to access the internal ports and install adapters that allow you to connect antennas.How do I setup my T-Mobile 5G Gateway? ›
- Download the app. Download the free T-Mobile Internet app onto your smartphone and follow the prompts to set up your 5G gateway.
- Find the right spot. Place your 5G gateway device close to a window high up on an upper floor or bookshelf. ...
- Check your connection.
This new model will supplement the existing supply of gateways made by Nokia and Arcadyan. One difference this new model has, however, is that it supports 5G band N77. This is what is referred to as C-Band spectrum, which T-Mobile acquired a chunk of in an auction last year.Does T-Mobile Home internet have a SIM card? ›
It connects to the massive capacity of T-Mobile's 4G LTE and 5G networks. The SIM card will only work with the 5G Gateway device. It cannot be moved into other devices or routers.