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 below.

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.

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.

I purchase almost all of my own equipment for testing and it can get expensive! Please help me continue to be able to do so by using my affiliate link below if you end up purchasing the OMNI-400 antenna.

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13 thoughts on “Poynting OMNI LTE antennas”

  1. Thank you for an interesting article. Quite timely as I am about to buy a Peplink Transit and am considering antennas.

    Why did you decide to try the Omni-400 vs the Omni-291-V2? Can you speculate as to Whether there would be significant differences to your test results between the two?

    When testing the Omni-400 was it with a single antenna to the main port with the aux left unattached? Under what circumstances do you think adding an additional 400 or your existing Wilson to the aux port would have made a difference to speed and range?

    Thanks, Neziak

    Reply
    • It looks like the OMNI-291 has a slightly lower gain of 7dBi, while the OMNI-400 has 7.5dBi. Of course, this would vary dramatically depending on the band, conditions, etc. but it is a .5dBi difference. The 291 has support for 400mhz frequencies as well, which the 400 does not, so if those are important to you, the 291 would be a better choice.

      There probably wouldn’t be a huge difference, although the .5dBi difference might make the 400 win out in low signal areas.

      When testing the OMNI-400, the secondary diversity antenna was connected to the factory provided Peplink antenna, which is a 12″ or so direct attach antenna. Most of my testing with diversity is done this way, and works out very well. Diversity can help with both low signal and overall throughput, but in my testing, I only see it make big differences in throughput. Because of that, diversity really only matters to me when I am in an urban area with good coverage, hence the internal diversity antenna doesn’t need to be boosted or run outdoors.

      I think adding a second OMNI-400 to the diversity port would have helped across the board in all testing. The real question is whether it would make a significant difference – I think it would for upload/download speeds in urban areas. It might also help with remote signal areas, but I think the difference there would be smaller.

      I am actually considering adding a second OMNI-400 myself for the throughput reason, as well as just for redundancy in the case I want to run two routers, two concurrent SIMs or something else.

      Reply
    • See above for some of my more detailed thoughts. I would use the factory provided antenna to start with to see if things are good enough. If I wanted or needed a second antenna, I would use another OMNI-400.

      Reply
  2. Here was what I was thinking for a robust onboard LTE system. Two LTE devices, one on AT&T and one on Verizon. These devices would have an RJ45 output for the wifi router. I picked AT&T and Verizon because one automatically roams to Rogers, and the other roams to Telus. The Netgear 1120 appears to be available for these carriers, is not very expensive, and can be powered over the ethernet avoiding unnecessary wall plugs.

    I was going to use prepaid sim cards for both, with both modems active. Each would have a remote antenna . There is equipment available to bond the two LTE data paths together, but this is expensive, and because this approach creates a vpn with tunnels there are limitations on where this can be used. For instance Netflix doesn’t like a vpn service.

    I liked this approach because I wouldn’t have to change sim cards, could refill the sim card online, and only really use the system when the boat is active.

    To be honest, I haven’t had the opportunity to test this, but I think it would work really well, especially using the remote antennas you have tested and recommended.

    Reply
    • Hi Rick,

      Did you have a chance to check out two other articles I’ve written that talk about the Netgear 1120?
      https://seabits.com/best-boat-internet-systems/
      https://seabits.com/modular-cheaper-boat-internet-solution-via-netgear-and-mikrotik/

      It is a great way to get LTE-to-Ethernet. I have used it a lot myself. It would work great with any outdoor antenna, including the Poynting, combined with some converter pigtails and good cabling. I power my 1120’s directly off my battery bank without an inverter involved.

      More than one LTE connection does not require a VPN. Peplink and Cradlepoint both support this, and you can get normal home routers with dual WAN connections that do the same that aren’t LTE specific. They simply load balance the outbound connections across the WAN connections and you have more overall bandwidth. You’re still limited to a single stream, say from Netflix, to one connection, but that is usually more than enough. You might be thinking of some of the bonding technology those vendors use in order to provide a single connection higher bandwidth, or other similar features.

      I have prepaid SIM cards from AT&T and Verizon that are basically unlimited, and work very well. However, they do not roam in Canada, and most pre-paid plans will not. Some, including Verizon, will cancel your service if you try to use it for roaming in Canada too much. There are some pre-paid plans that allow this, but they aren’t as nice. If you’re going to be in Canada for a longer time, use T-Mobile, who allow roaming on their normal plans (not pre-paid) or get a pre-paid plan from a Canadian provider.

      Reply
      • Steve, thanks for your reply. My understanding is that bandwidth bonding is different from load balancing, and bonding routers are in the 2k+ range. They use VPN tunnels connecting to a server, where the server puts the packets back together in the proper order then out to the internet.

        I was involved in the development of a three channel globalstar terminal in the early 2000’s called the WaveCall mcm3. This used three globalstar channels thru their leo satellite system connecting to our combining server, which combined the three 9.6 kbps channels into one 28.8 kbps pipe (less a little overhead), and overall it worked really well.

        Bandwidth availability has really changed…

        Reply
        • Bandwidth bonding routers aren’t quite that expensive. Even the lower end Peplink and Cradlepoint products support it, and some of those are sub $500. However, you do need the other end – either a server in the cloud, or another router in a data center or a home with higher bandwidth leading out of it. Still not cheap, but definitely more around the $1000 range.

          I have used Peplink’s SpeedFusion (https://www.peplink.com/technology/speedfusion-bonding-technology/) but I have not seen much of a benefit other than if I were doing a huge file transfer and needed massive bandwidth. Netflix, Hulu, Plex and other streaming stuff seem to be fine with a single LTE connection, leaving the second one available for everyone else. But your use case could be different!

          Bandwidth has come very far – I used to work on and maintain banks of 9600 baud modems, and everyone got really excited when the 14.4k and 28.8k versions came out. I also had several HughesNet satellite connections at remote properties that I had to maintain – painfully slow as well. So much has changed!

          Reply
    • The OMNI-400 would be good for an 8800, yes – I have an 8800 that I use for testing. It has two antennas in it, and two external antenna connectors, so you could get one OMNI-400 and have the on-board antenna for diversity, or if you wanted to, you could install two OMNI-400’s if you really wanted the best solution, although it might not be worth the money.

      You will need a few things:

      From the 8800 to an antenna cable, you’ll need converters similar to these https://amzn.to/2SZYzTP to take the TS9 connectors and convert them to SMA. Check to make sure your 8800 has TS9 connectors.

      Then you’ll need a cable from those to the antenna. Make sure you get as high quality as possible, such as LMR-400 or similar. I ordered mine from Show Me Cables at https://www.showmecables.com

      Make sure you keep that cable as short as possible. The longer the cable, the more loss you incur, and given that the antenna only adds 7.5dB maximum, you could end up making things worse if it is more than 30′ and runs near high interference items.

      Reply
  3. Hi Steve,

    Sorry to bother. Do you still use booster for broadband signal, or Poynting antenna has better gain and you do not need booster (in not too remote coastal areas) ? Also can i use Poynting antenna with the booster?

    Reply
    • I only use my booster when I am in very remote areas. This wasn’t changed by the Poynting – I did this even with the Wilson LTE, BoatAnt, and other antennas. If you have a booster on in more metro areas, it actually can (and does in most cases) make the signal worse because it shuts off to prevent a loop, or it just isn’t as efficient as simply using an external antenna vs. internal.

      The Poynting will work with the booster fine. I have mine cabled so I can unplug the cable from the booster, and plug it into one of the antenna ports on my Peplink. 80% of the time I have it directly connected to the Peplink. When I am out in the middle of nowhere, I unplug it, plug it back into the booster, and turn the booster power on.

      Reply
  4. Hi Steve thank you for response.

    I have another question.

    Currently I am using borrowed Peplink with dual sims and I need to return it. However, the problem for me is, that I need broadband frequencies/bands which should cover almost all world-wide wireless bands. In Carribean there are some mess between the islands/countries, because they are using different bands and mostly non-US.

    So idea is to use cellular-enabled iPad//iPhone Xs, and take advantage of eSim. With eSim i can use either GoogleFi or GigSky which works almost everywhere. Plus i would connection to one of the US provides via main sim.

    By using simple router with DD-WRT firmware i can tether router to iPad/iPhone and use iPad/iPhone as a broadband hotspot. Also iPad can be used for navigation and SignalK monitoring.

    My data usage is quite limited, mostly to get weather and some emails.

    I guess for this installations I would need a booster.

    What do you think about it? Did you have experience with DD-WRT?

    Best regards

    Reply

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