Mini PCIe LTE modem recommendation

Hi OpenWRT/LEDE gurus,

I'm currently planning a new (dual) LTE router based on a pcengines device, more specifically the APU3C2.

I've been looking hours at forums and still can't make a decision on what PCIe LTE modem to choose: Qualcom, Huawei, Sierra... What seems the easiest path to you knowing that I would prefer not to use a serial interface, so preferably qmi, ncm, rndis?


Really, nobody with a recommendation on LTE cards?

For example, you can use cheap lte Cat.4 cards based on SIM7600E-H modem.


I finally settled on two Huawei me909s-120...

They work fine so far... at lest they did once I figured out how to configure NCM connection :slight_smile:

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I've found routers with CAT6 cards pre-instaled. However anybody know about any CAT11 or higher cars supported by / has drivers for WRT?

Any list of supported cards?
Seems a minefield of available mini pcie cards on aliexpress, but could do with some guidance on what is likely work and what isn't.

  • this is for EU bands, must have 3,7 and 20.

Telit LM940 (qmi)

Looks good, if rather expensive at +$200.
Still may go with the GL-X750 at cat 6 which my current tower does and have the option to go to 11 if and when my cell tower gets upgraded next.

Quectel EC-25; but I always use it as serial, to avoid any (possible) issues.

Thank you.
The EC-25 is only a CAT4 (150mbit), But that search led me to their EM06 which is CAT11 (600Mbit) and then EM20 whcih is CAT16 (2Gbit)...

EM06/EM20 is m.2, not minipcie.

Most modern LTE cards are supported, which is why you won't find such a list. Anything running MBIM or QMI should just work. There is also excellent driver support for Huaweis NCM protocol variant.

Note that this might change in the near future. There is a push towards using undocumented PCI interfaces instead of the standard or well-known USB interfaces. Intel is leading the way here. Personally I'd be really careful with any new modem based on an Intel chipset. But the other chipset vendors might follow too, so take this message for what it is: Written in February 2019.

Any recommendations for 2020?

My Sierra MC7455 works flawlessly in my Turris Omnia but it's only a category 6 module. I'm looking to upgrade to something better. Sierra EM7565 (category 12) is hard to get by, and only second hand. Same for Quectel EM12 (category 12 also). Was anyone here able to get Telit LM960 (PDF spec) working on OpenWRT?

Really? AFAICS it is available from the usual Sierra Wireless sales partners. These are typically your local electronics/radio shop. Not eBay etc. The price is about EUR 150, so it's not exactly cheap. But that is what you should expect for these modules.

Something that probably was an early pre-prod version was reported to work with ROOter (which is a modified OpenWrt):

There is no reason it shouldn't work just fine. From the host perspective this is just another standard QMI modem, very similar to the MC7455 you already have. Stuff like vendor AT commands and firmware management will be completely different, but managing connections etc will be the same.

It has the USB3 in mini-PCIe slot issue, though. But you have that with your MC7455 too. Does the Omnia support that, or did you tape the USB3/PCIe pins? Both modems should work fine with just USB2, but this is obviously going to limit the capabilities of the LM960.

I don't know of any local electronic shops. Especially here in the United States where walk-in retail stores are closing because they're getting killed by online competition. Not that I complain, I prefer the stuff shipped to me and not having to leave my ranch, so good riddance. It'll just take a while for retailers of specialized electronics to post their prices online and let me order their stuff without talking to any human.

Either way, following your advice, I looked up Sierra authorized resellers and found some. Sent a couple emails and we'll see if they even want to do business with an individual.

Awesome, thank you. I guess I'll fetch SDKs and all available documentation, educate myself, and when I feel confident I understand it, I'll order and give it a go. 5x carrier aggregation for downloads is very tempting...

Yes, I taped them. Omnia has USB 3.0 as USB-A sockets only. Not in Mini PCI Express. It's fine though - I live in a rural area so I'm never going to be limited by the maximum throughput of USB 2.0. And when I do, it'll be a good problem to have!

Omnia has USB 3.0 ports so I believe a Mini PCIE to USB 3 adapter would do, right? But I wasn't able to find any, hmmmm... All I see is Mini PCIE to USB 2.0, and M2 to USB 3
0 (like this one) - but not Mini PCIE to USB 3.0. :confused:

Not that common, but they do exist. Here's an example:

The USB3 modification of the mini-PCIe slot is a rather new thing, conflicting with PCIe, and mostly replaced by m.2 slots with both. There are only a few LTE modems using mini-PCIe with USB3. So there probably isn't that much of an market for the adapters.

If you don't think you'll blow the USB2 limit, then I would' have gone for the convenience of the internal slot in the Omnia.

Thanks for sharing the device. Happy to hear there's at least one available on the market. When I get my Telit LM960 (if I device to go for it, and not for Sierra), we'll all see if I need an USB 3.0 adapter. I hope I do! :wink:

I use Wilson Electronics directional antennas, LMR-400 coax cable and a set of adapters. When getting a cable, don't get a generic coax like RG-174/U, RG-178/U or RG-59A/U as their attenuation values are very high. Simply said, every cable will lose some of the signal per foot of cable. The better the cable, the lower the loss. Make sure the cable is the best and the shortest - by placing the router strategically close to the outdoor antennas. Good luck.

BTW - I don't know anything about grounding and shielding so I can't address that part. That said, Quectel and Sierra would use the same antennas. They're not different in this regard.

Do they have a housing (doesn't seem so) or how do you protect the electronic parts from dust, insects & co?

There's no electronic parts outdoors so I don't do anything to protect from dust or insects.

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