450 Micropop omni antenna performance

As much as I hate omnis, we have a few sites that just don’t justify sectors (unless we used something like the $100 Ubiquiti Lite AP, but that’s another discussion). The thing is, our definition of a small cell is more like 3 miles, with every link having excellent signal and 6x or 8x modulation. We can’t afford to shrink the cells and still have poor performing links because of poor antenna gain.

So my question is whether anyone has converted a site with a connectorized 450 AP and a dual pol omni to the Micropop AP with the integrated omni, and compared the signal level and modulation before and after? Or some other method to compare real world antenna performance?

With the exception of 3.5 GHz where we have used the Alpha Wireless omni which is excellent, we have used the 13 dBi omnis from various sources like L-Com and KPP. I think they are all basically the same Chinese made antenna no matter who you buy it from. And I know that in the antenna world specs are often aspirational more than real world numbers.

If I remember correctly, the Cambium integrated antenna is supposed to be 9 dBi. In theory that would be 4 dB less than our current setup. The antenna pattern suggests much nicer null fill which would help with subscribers very close to the AP. But for the subscribers at 1-3 miles range, will we really lose 4 dB of antenna gain? I don’t think we can afford that.

I also know that some omnis have “cloverleaf” patterns, where the gain will vary 3-5 dB over the 360 degrees of azimuth, and that the two polarizations may not track each other. So if the Cambium antenna really does have 4 dB less gain but keeps that gain very constant with azimuth and polarization, maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds.

The decision would be easier if the gain spec was a little higher, like maybe 11 dBi, with better null fill and more constant performance vs. azimuth than the Chinese antennas.

We have a few kpp omni’s and a couple other brands too. Th kpp omni is by far the more stable when it comes to gain pattern gain shift. Some antenna manufacturers report the -3db pattern gain, others report the -6db pattern gain(kpp) The cheap knockoffs typically use the highest power recorded and dont bother to state that.

Above aside, we have links 5 and 6 miles off a kpp omni that would never link with the cheaper antennas we tried. We typically use a 10mile cell size and monitor each links quality during install to ensure a trouble free connection. Its amazing what a 8ft pole can help with!

To the casual observer, the KPP and L-Com/Hyperlink omnis certainly look identical.

Every few years it seems we have to replace them. Usually we suspect storm damage. We’ve seen the tops popped off and the antenna filled with water or one time full of bees. Right now I’ve got one where every SM has 8-10 dB V-H ratio and I suspect another water or bee event.

We put Polyphaser inline coax surge protectors on both antenna ports so at least we’ve never lost an AP due to lightning. Using the capacitive coupling type that don’t pass DC, not the gas tube type.

I have a fairly good communication line with KPP, never had a problem with them when expressing concerns of poor design issues.
If the cap is coming off, let them know!

I did have one of their early omnis that got full of water due to the vent/drain becoming clogged with what looked like mud (suspect insects), next antenna I ordered had silicone sealant where there was none before.

Bees are another matter, they will eat their way in if they want to! Since its ABS plastic, there are options to make these less attractive to bees, but also being way up in the air and away from trees helps too.

For our go to lightning protection of omni’s, we simply use a bonded aerial about 10ft long and for 5ghz, 24" off to the side of the omni. We havent had a direct strike yet with this method but make sure the rod is bonded not just to the tower but to the runner to the ground. This is more important than bonding the radio and antenna.

We have lost radios to lightning, but none had burn marks on the antenna or radio but the radio was dead. Thinking either a near field strike (where its close enough to dump the emp into the antenna and just fried the receiver) or it was a ground strike surge which is very hard to proove especially if the cisco switch its attached to is fine.

We are looking at Mimosa’s 4port omni for use with epmp3000. Heard some good news from some wisps about them. Also trying to get kpp to make something similar at a better price point.

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We have a few KP Omni’s, 2.4 and 900 in the field, and their performance far exceeded our expectations, and we’ve not had any issues with them. Perhaps your installers were a little too brutal with them when rigging the tower, or perhaps KP really improved their durability/design over the years.
Either way, if you can’t justify sectors, I would have no problem recommending them.

Well, KPP and L-Com share the same parent company these days so that’s probably by design. That said, they’ve borrowed designs a few times over the years too.

Well, we did the swap today (already had the hardware, had to wait a couple days for an unlock key because we had a couple subs at 2.5 miles).

All subs were as good or better signal and modulation with the Micropop, both AP->SM and SM->AP.

This might not have been a totally apples-to-apples comparison. The old setup was a 450 AP with an L-Com 13 dBi omni, 16 inch coax jumpers, and coax surge protectors. We had a connectorized 450i AP and a KPP 13 dBi omni on hand in case Micropop didn’t work out, but we didn’t need them.

I will say that the KPP omni has 2 degrees downtilt so it might have performed better than the L-Com antenna, also it had a nicer mount. (Personally, given the choice between downtilt and null fill, I’ll take null fill.)

It’s possible the old AP or omni might have degraded over time, although the omni had been replaced a couple years ago and looked almost new. But based on this one experience, I wouldn’t be scared off by the 9 dBi spec on the Micropop. Obviously it will be more attractive to you if you don’t need the unlock key, there’s a big difference between a $1000 price and $2500. It would be nice if the restriction was just on number of subs and not the max distance setting.

I’ll second the suggestion that it would be nice if the “lite” restriction was just on number of connected subs and not distance. I have a few of the micropop units that I keep wanting to deploy, but each time there is at least one subscriber just outside of the 2 mile distance limitation. I haven’t been able to justify the extra licensing costs in any of these situations, so install ePMP instead.

We also have a competing WISP that is kicking our butt on price because they use the Ubiquiti LiteAP GPS ($99) and LiteBeam CPE ($65). They can put up 4 sectors for under $400. From a hardware perspective it’s similar to the the sector version of the MicroPOP, but no unlock key needed.

They are sweeping up the new customers and taking away our existing customers because they have “disruptive” pricing. I’m tired of doing the install so they can come and swap a CPE radio and take the customer because of pricing. They are able to convince customers it’s because they are using new, superior technology.

“I’m tired of doing the install so they can come and swap a CPE radio and take the customer because of pricing. They are able to convince customers it’s because they are using new, superior technology.”

Not sure of your area, but here we use a term contract to help prevent this kind of thing from happening. Free install IF they sign a 24month contract and if they cancel within the first 30 days (mandatory cool off period here) then they are responsible to pay for the non-recoverable install which is fairly pricey, if they choose a shorter term, they pay for the portion of the install not covered by the contract, based on a 24 month max contract term. If they cancel after the first 30 days, then they have to pay out the contract at the current applied plan rate. You would be amazed at how quickly your client realizes that they will be out a fair chunk of cash just to switch to a NEW provider.
I would also be asking how they can afford to offer such low pricing and still keep afloat? Is this one time offer rates with them goin up once they have a sizeable stable client base? Better business model that you could adopt parts of? Better upstream costs? (this one is what my competitor tried, using DSL packages to provide shared uplinks. This does work but there is a breaking point!)

The UBNT LiteAP and the LiteBeam CPE are hardly NEW and it is questionable to say superior technology since they use the Atheros MIPS 74Kc, 533 MHz CPU with only 64MB ram. This is a 2x2Mimo radio with a fixed 120degree sector (60degree -6db roll off, -15db @120 degrees!), the MicroPOP is already a better radio! The epmp1000 is a comparable radio except it does the same speeds with an N based chipset! Cambium may not be on the bleeding edge of tech but at the same time they do more with whats stable than the competition does with the bleeding edge.

The only ways I know to beat these disruptive tactics once they are started is to either be distruptive yourself (the attrition game, who can last longest loosing money), show value to your service (the customer general help desk), superior plans that the competition cant carry at good price points or sign ups price breaks (first two months at a significant loss on a full term contract?).

Honestly, just better, more stable service with minor perks like actually providing good customer service (I get more clients from the competition over this issue than I can count!) generally proves to your clients that they made a bad choice. Initially we lost a few to the Starlink craze, all but 3 have come back (these 3 are clients you would give to the competition willingly), we just let those whom are unsatisfied go, but are always ready to welcome them back just takes time.

Doug, CambiumMatt might read this, you gotta say the Cambium product is too expensive, I’d buy tons more if it cost less!


Im in Canada, we get hosed on pricing anyway!