Poynting OMNI LTE antennas

My go-to antenna for a long time has been the Wilson Wide Band Omni-Directional Marine Antenna. One of the main reasons besides performance is the build quality and marine mount. There are better antennas in terms of gain, but they have issues with mounting, quality, and longevity. You can read more about my testing with the Wilson and other antennas in Best LTE antenna and booster for the boat.

Poynting Antennas

Poynting has been around since 2001 and is based out of South Africa with a satellite office in Germany. They have a bunch of different antennas and technologies, and a really cool diagram showing all of them, their purpose, frequencies, and more. I had used some of their equipment a few years ago, but was intrigued with their 400 series antennas.

I chose the following two antennas and used them for the last few months:

  • OMNI-400 – omni directional antenna with a max gain of 7.5 dBi
  • OMNI-402 – 2×2 MIMO omni directional antenna with a max gain of 6.5 dBi

The OMNI-400 is a single cable omni antenna similar to the Wilson, while the OMNI-402 is a dual element 2×2 MIMO omni antenna with two cables, all in one antenna. For the 402, this means you could connect it to your router or other device and have a single-unit diversity setup, hopefully providing better throughput in higher signal areas, and longer reach in lower signal areas. Note that you would need two cables from the antenna to your device. You can read more about antenna diversity on Wikipedia.

Help support SeaBits and purchase your Poynting antennas from Milltech Marine, a local company I trust and have an affiliate relationship with:

Poynting OMNI-400

Poynting OMNI-402

Installation and Build

As you can see from the picture at the beginning of this article, the OMNI-402 (top) is a bit larger than the OMNI-400 (bottom) – the pictures and boxes are pretty accurate representations of the overall size. This would make sense since the 402 has two elements.

OMNI-402 on test mounting

One thing that really impressed me with the Poynting antennas was their build quality and mounting options. Most antennas I have used have really poor marine mountings, or none at all. Many require you to reverse twist your really nice low-loss cable coming to the antenna, so that when you screw the antenna on the marine mount, it doesn’t spin the cable and destroy it.  Even the Wilson marine antenna has this issue.

Bottom of Poynting marine mount

The Poynting antennas come in modular pieces. The bottom portion includes a well built base with a marine mount and a large hole to pass cables through. It is separated from the upper antenna portion.

Top of Poynting marine mount

The top of the mount portion includes a thick rubber seal, and four holes for the screws that go up from the bottom into the antenna. This allows you to screw down the base very tightly and thread the antenna cable through the hole without having the antenna in the way, reverse spinning the cable, or any other nonsense. Very well thought out approach to mounting.

Bottom of OMNI-400 antenna

The bottom of the antenna has matching screw holes and, of course, the cable connector. Installation with this system cannot be overlooked – this is the best marine installation setup I have seen in an LTE antenna.

OMNI-400 mounting base with cable

If you can’t route your cable down the marine mount, there is also a punch out that you could use on the side of the mounting base. However, it is not big enough for a standard connector – you’d need to run the cable the other direction with the small end threaded from this location first.

Poynting also include a big beefy stainless steel L-bracket and associated hardware so you could attach the antenna to a pole or other vertical item. This is usually an add-on item for antennas, or it is not marine grade, and rusts or looks bad within a few months.

OMNI-401 mounted on the flybridge arch

The top of the antenna feels nice and weighty, but not overly heavy. It has an aerodynamic design, and is quite nice to look at.

Wilson LTE vs Poynting OMNI-400

Compared to the Wilson marine antenna, the Poynting OMNI-400 is almost twice as tall. The OMNI-402 is even taller.

Specifications

Both antennas have really excellent specification sheets on Poynting’s website:

OMNI-400 Frequency Bands – courtesy of Poynting specifications

I really appreciate that Poynting not only includes a good description of the specifications and features, but shows mounting options, a graphical representation of bands and frequencies covered, VSWR and Gain charts, and radiation patterns. Not all manufacturers provide this – you may have to request it from them specifically, if they even share it.

Poynting also say you can use these antennas for snagging remote WiFi signals, and even show them in a diagram with a splitter to allow you to switch back and forth. I personally prefer the MikroTik for this, but I could see how this could be useful on a sailboat or other boat with limited outdoor mounting space. I assume it would be mutually exclusive, however, and that you could only use one device at a time.

Both antennas cover the same frequencies which include all of the major bands used by US and Canadian cellular providers, both for 3G and 4G/LTE.

The OMNI-400 claims 7.5 dBi peak gain, while the 402 claims only 6.5 dBi but of course has two elements and cables.

Testing Results

I’ve been using these antennas for a while, swapping back and forth during various conditions, similar to what I’ve used in my previous methodologies. This included 6 different locations including my marina, several urban areas, and several remote areas. It also included two different LTE providers, T-Mobile and Verizon.

OMNI-402 Results

I had mixed hopes for this antenna, having had very OK-to-poor results with any multi-element antenna in the past. Those hopes were mostly fulfilled, as I didn’t see groundbreaking performance, but I did see a difference potentially worth considering.

Overall, the antenna performed well. At some points it performed just about as well as the Wilson marine. I had hoped to see better throughput results given that it is a diversity antenna, but those results were mixed. Sometimes it was faster than other choices, but overall it was just a solid performer.

In some limited situations, I saw much higher throughput than with a single antenna of any kind, and I suspect this was directly attributed to the dual elements / diversity. However, this was only with very specific, urban areas where the throughput side of diversity came in to play. Diversity can also help with hard to reach signals, but with the OMNI-402, I didn’t see that as much as I would like to – the OMNI-400 was much better.

Overall, I don’t think the OMNI-402 is worth the $400+ price for what you get. It would likely be better for diversity to have two OMNI-400’s mounted apart from eachother at the same cost.

OMNI-400 Results

This antenna outperformed the OMNI-402 easily, and outperformed all other antennas I have aboard – whether mounted or in boxes. It was better than my standard Wilson antenna, and even the BoatAnt antenna, which held the record for best performing antenna even though it had a terrible marine mount, and the company stopped making it.

The OMNI-400 did well in all conditions – at the dock, underway, in urban areas, and in remote areas.

Compared to the Wilson, it outperformed it by a measurable amount every time. Sometimes this was just a little bit better signal in the Peplink dashboard, resulting in a bit more throughput. Other times, it was a significant improvement with double or triple the performance – upload, download, lower latency, better signal.

I was very surprised at how consistent the antenna was in all of these conditions.

For $200, this is my new recommended antenna for anyone needing a good quality marine-grade LTE antenna for a booster or router.

Conclusion

The Poynting OMNI-400 is my new favorite marine antenna for a couple of reasons:

  • Marine quality mount
  • Easy to mount and keeps your cable safe
  • Performance

After several years of the Wilson being the top antenna, I’m happy to see innovation continuing in the industry, and can easily recommend the Poynting in its place. For $200 you’ll end up with an easier to mount antenna with better performance.

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