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NCOS: USB 3.0 Interference

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USB 3.0 Interference

Summary

USB 3.0, or SuperSpeed USB, uses broadband signaling that can interfere with cellular and 2.4GHz WIFI signaling. This interference can significantly degrade cellular and 2.4GHz WIFI performance. Customers using cellular networks or 2.4GHz WIFI networks near USB 3.0 devices should take measures to reduce the impact of these devices on their network connectivity.

Please note that interference is generated by both the actual USB 3.0 device as well as its cable. 5GHz WIFI is not significantly impacted by USB 3.0 signaling. 

How to Verify Signal Strength and Quality


On a Cradlepoint device, signal quality values can be found under Status > Internet > Connections. See the following Knowledge Base articles for more information on accessing and interpreting signal strength and quality values:

How to Identify USB 3.0 Devices

Visual inspection of the USB port is the simplest way to identify a USB 3.0 port. Users can look for three things: 

1. SuperSpeed Logo

USB 3.0 is also called SuperSpeed USB. To differentiate USB 3.0 ports from other USB ports, hardware manufacturers often use some variation of the SuperSpeed USB logo shown below: 
User-added image

2. Port Color

USB 3.0 ports are often blue to distinguish them from USB 2.0 ports.
User-added image
Image Credit: Asus

3. Pinout


USB 3.0 ports have a different pinout than USB 2.0 ports, as shown in the images below:
High-Speed USB 2.0 A plug pinoutSuperSpeed standard A plug pinout
User-added imageUser-added image
Image Credit: www.usb3.com

Mitigation

  • Relocation - antenna transmission and reception can be impeded by USB 3.0 interference. For this reason, investigate proper placement of the Cradlepoint, its antennas, and any USB 3.0 devices. Optimal positioning of the antennas would allow them to radiate freely. This requires placing antennas as far away as possible from objects that might affect their performance and efficiency.
  • Use USB 2.0 ports - USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0. This allows users to connect a USB 3.0 device to a USB 2.0 port. While this will reduce transfer speeds to that of USB 2.0, it will eliminate USB 3.0 interference. 
  • Shielding - Shielding around the USB 3.0 device will reduce its signal propagation. It is unlikely that many users will be able to implement proper shielding so this is the least-recommended mitigation method. 

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