Cisco High-Speed WAN Interface Cards

Fourth-Generation LTE Wireless WAN Cards for Cisco Integrated Services Routers Generation 2

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Product Overview

Q. What is 4G-LTE?
A. As part of the standards development, the Third-Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards body evolved the existing third-generation (3G) cellular speeds to Fourth-Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G-LTE) speeds defined in the 3GPP Release 8 standard. This release improves the speeds by 20 times or more and lowers the latency to one-fifth to compete with wired WAN connections. It also promises advanced features such as multiple-bearer for end-to-end quality of service (QoS), and guaranteed bandwidth over radio spectrum. The high bandwidth when mobile also enables newer business models and network deployments for enterprises around the world.
Q. What is the difference between the Cisco ® 4G-LTE and 3G solutions?
A. Functionally, the 4G-LTE solution from Cisco takes advantage of the 4G-LTE network to provide 20 times or more throughput than the 3G with 5 times less latency. With regard to implementation, the 3G interfaces (except the HSPA+7) use Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) as a encapsulation in Cisco IOS ® Software. The HSPA+7 and 4G-LTE bandwidth requirements replace the PPP with the Serial Line Interface Protocol (SLIP) to enable a newer direct-ip interface from newer modems and allow higher throughput.
Q. What is Cisco offering with 4G-LTE?
A. Details about the Cisco 4G solution are listed at, including the data sheet. Cisco has an enhanced high-speed WAN interface card (EHWIC) form factor to be used with its Cisco Integrated Services Routers Generation 2 (ISR G2) (Cisco 1900, 2900, and 3900 Series Integrated Services Routers [ISRs]) platform as a wireless WAN (WWAN). Cisco also has a fixed ISR (Cisco 819 ISR) ( with the same options as the EHWIC. Table 1 gives an overview of the EHWIC and router.

Table 1. Overview of EHWIC and Router



Cisco IOS Software Image



EHWIC for Cisco 1900, 2900, and 3900 Series modular ISRs.

V: Verizon,


G: Global

15.3(3)M1 or later

Available now


Cisco 819 fixed ISRs (hardened or nonhardened)

V: Verizon


G: Europe and regions using similar cellular bands

BE: Canada


15.3(3)M1 or later

Available now

Q. What is the enterprise-class 4G solution?
A. The enterprise-class solution requires a certain level of features, diagnostics capabilities, extended support beyond the warranty, and a robust solution that has a lifecycle similar to that of the host router lifecycle of 3 to 5 years. Such a solution also requires the same management abilities that the enterprise relies on to manage its deployment, including remote Telnet, Secure Shell (SSH) Protocol, and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) MIBs.
Q. Why Cisco?
A. Cisco focuses on providing our enterprise customers a solution that is most optimal for the enterprise-class environment. Therefore, we have 4G-LTE EHWIC for modular ISR-G2 platforms and embedded 4G-LTE modem on the Fixed ISR-G2 platforms. With this embedded architecture, we can control the lifecycle, feature velocity, and diagnostic capabilities of 4G-LTE solution. This architecture allows Cisco to provide the extensive management and debugging capacity demanded by enterprise customers to make their network secure, reliable, and responsive all the time. It also allows Cisco to extend the same enterprise-class support of 3 to 5 years, the same as that of the ISR G2 routers. Being part of the Cisco IOS Software, the 4G-LTE based cellular WAN interface can be used in conjunction with all the basic and advanced Cisco IOS Software features without any special arrangements, and the same management techniques and tools can be used to manage this additional WAN interface on the ISR G2 just like any other existing WAN interface.
Q. Can I use an off-the-shelf USB dongle provided by my service provider for 4G-LTE with my ISR G2 router?
A. No, the USB dongle is not supported and the router won’t recognize it. A USB dongle-based solution does not provide an enterprise-class solution for the following reasons:

External USB modems will never deliver the end-to-end solution that Cisco can claim to offer from a security, manageability, and quality perspective. Our 3G and 4G solutions (Router with the EHWIC or embedded modem) are tested and certified with the service providers as an overall system and not just the individual modems like USB-baed solution.

These system certification tests include not just throughput and performance testing, but also tests for Elector Magnetic Interference(EMI), noise, interference, etc. for each of these modems and hence can guarantee a superior quality overall. Even though most of the 3G and 4G modems comply to the 3GPP or 3GPP2 specifications from a technology perspective, unless they are certified as a system there is a huge potential to encounter problems with the over all solution.

None of the USB modem providers can claim the robust management capabilities that the Cisco solutions have to offer, including some of the following, which can offer huge operating expenses (OpEx) savings:

- Cisco is the first vendor to offer customer premises equipment (CPE)-based 3G and 4G MIBs for remote management.

- You can combine cisco cellular interface with extensive features on Cisco IOS Software to establish IP service-level agreements (IP SLAs).

- The Cisco 4G-LTE solution offers automatic dial backup.

- Software and hardware locking prevents theft of the modem.

- The robust mechanical design and huge portfolio of “certified” indoor and outdoor antenna solutions.

The lifecycle of a USB modem is about 9 to 12 months. Cisco’s 3G and 4G modems come with a 5 -year support agreement that protects them against any end of life or end of sale announced by these third-party modem vendors.

The software locking mechanism also allows Cisco customers to negotiate special “business or enterprise” rate plans and discounts from the service providers.

Cisco 3G solutions are certified with more than 100 carriers worldwide.

Cisco supports an extensive portfolio of VPN technologies including IP Security (IPsec) VPN, Easy VPN, Dynamic Multipoint VPN (DMVPN), etc.

Our 4G-LTE solution support split tunneling, cloud offerings such as ScanSafe, rich services such as Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS), Cisco Performance Routing (PfR), IP service-level agreements (IP SLAs), Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC), and other Cisco IOS Software-based advanced features.

Q. Is 4G-LTE supported on the first-generation ISRs?
A. No, 4G-LTE is supported only on the second-generation ISR (ISR-G2) series such as the Cisco 1900, 2900, and 3900 Series ISRs. It is not supported on the first-generation ISR routers such as the Cisco 1800, 2800, and 3800 Series or earlier.
Q. What 4G-LTE frequencies and bands are supported?
A. The 4G-LTE solution is a multimode LTE device. It supports various LTE, 3G, and 2G mode frequency combinations based on the specific SKU. For exact details per SKU, please refer to Table 1 in the data sheet at:
Q. What antennas and accessories do I need for 4G-LTE to work?
A. By default, 4G-LTE EHWICs and routers are shipped with two panel-mount antennas and two 10-ft extenders. Because of the placement of the router, an extended antenna and cable may be required for optimal cellular signal reception. Cisco offers three additional types: ceiling mount, panel mount, and omnidirectional outdoor antenna along with up to 75 feet long co-ax cable. Exact SKU and ordering details are listed at:
Q. Does the Cisco 4G-LTE solution work on older networks such as 3G, 2G, etc.?
A. Cisco 4G-LTE is a multimode solution. The Cisco 4G-LTE interface works on 4G-LTE networks and can fall back to 3G or 2G networks as per availability and coverage for any given service provider. On the Verizon network, Cisco 4G-LTE can fall back to 1x Evolution-Data Optimized (EVDO) and 2G (1xRTT) networks. Similarly, on AT&T and Global networks, it can fall back from 4G-LTE to a Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS) network.
Q. Why do I need two antennas? Can I use just one?
A. Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs support 2 x 2 multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas. By default Cisco 4G LTE EHWICs ship with two 4G, 3G, and 2G multiband swivel-mount dipole antennas (4G-LTE-ANTM1919D) and two extended low-loss RF cables as part of the LTE EHWIC package. Technically, only one antenna connected to the main port works, but using both antennas and cables will ensure the most optimal use by taking advantage of MIMO and multipath diversity. With this setup you get a higher-quality signal, which helps improve the throughput.

Note: The MIMO and multipath diversity improve with the distance between the two antennas. Please use the 10-ft cable extenders provided to place antennas as far apart as possible to achieve better radio conditions.

Q. What are the 4G LTE performance and latency?
A. Cisco 4G LTE EHWICs support LTE Category 3 (LTE CAT3) with peak uplink and downlink speeds of 50 and 100 Mbps, respectively, on the 10- and 20-MHz channels. Round-trip time (RTT) on the LTE is less than 50 ms. Compared to 3G, in the real world, the bandwidth is 20 times more and the latency is 5 times less.

Note: These performance numbers are theoretical limits and may not be seen in production networks; contact your preferred wireless carrier for expected performance rates.

Q. How can I install the 4G-LTE on the ISR G2?
A. The 4G-LTE hardware installation guide explains how to install the 4G-LTE on an ISR G2. The installation guide is available at:
Q. How do I connect to 4G-LTE networks?
A. The 4G-LTE, like any cellular network, needs an active subscription from a service provider. After you subscribe to a service provider, you will be given an active subscriber identity module (SIM) card to put in to the ISR. The hardware installation guide explains how to insert the SIM card in the 4G-LTE EHWIC or fixed ISR. After you install the active SIM card, you need to follow the software configuration guide to set up the router to make a data call to 4G-LTE networks and get an IP address. After that, it’s the same as routing over any other WAN interface.
Q. Does the Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWIC ship preloaded with SIM cards?
A. No. You must obtain the SIM card from a supported wireless carrier, and the card must be associated with an appropriate rate plan.
Q. Do you support dual SIM cards?
A. We support dual SIM cards only on the Cisco 819 platforms where the two cellular service providers are supported by the same 4G-LTE modem. The Cisco 819 platform has one cellular modem and two SIM card slots. It can use only one SIM card at any given time. In the United States, Verizon and AT&T have dedicated specific SKUs for the modem to work on their network. Thus, the Cisco 819 on the AT&T network cannot work on the Verizon network, and conversely. Therefore, the dual-SIM feature is not supported on a Verizon or AT&T SKU. The modular ISRs can have multiple EHWICs, providing more flexibility than the dual SIM based solution, so dual SIM is not supported on the EHWIC form factor.
Q. Can I use the SIM card from my personal digital assistant (PDA) or smartphone in the Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWIC?
A. No. Typically service providers have different data plans for different devices. Please check with your service provider for the appropriate data plans for your usage.
Q. How do I configure the 4G-LTE on a Cisco ISR G2?
A. The 4G-LTE software installation guide explains how to configure the 4G-LTE interface on a Cisco ISR G2:
Q. Are different firmware versions available for the Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs?
A. Yes. Different firmware versions may be introduced to address feature enhancements or carrier-specific functions. It will be made available on to download, similar to Cisco IOS Software images. The current minimum firmware versions required in the field are listed in Table 2:

Table 2. Current Firmware Versions


Default Firmware Version

SKU ending with LTE-A or 4G-A


SKU ending with LTE-V or 4G-V


SKU ending with LTE-G or 4G-G


SKU ending with LTE-BE or 4G-BE


SKU ending with LTE-JP or 4G-JP


To get the latest firmware and the procedure for upgrading it, please refer to the configuration guide at:

Note: You must use Cisco IOS Software Release 15.3(3)M1 or later to use the latest firmware listed in Table 2. If you are running an older firmware or Cisco IOS Software release, please upgrade immediately to the software and firmware releases listed in Table 2 based on your SKU.

Q. Is the firmware bundled with the Cisco IOS Software image?
A. The firmware comes preloaded with the Cisco 4G WWAN EHWIC; it is not bundled with the Cisco IOS Software image. When a new firmware version is released, it is made available at the Cisco website. To upgrade the firmware of your modem, download the correct firmware and copy it to the router flash memory. Then use the Cisco IOS Software command-line interface (CLI) to complete the upgrade process. Please refer to the software installation guide for details about the procedure.
Q. Is time-division duplexing (TDD) LTE (TD-LTE) supported on the Cisco 4G-LTE solution?
A. No. The Cisco 4G-LTE solution does not support TD-LTE. It works only in the frequency-division duplexing LTE (FD-LTE) mode on supported frequencies.
Q. What features are supported on the Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs?
A. The following features are supported on the Cisco 4G LTE EHWICs:

Cisco Network Mobility (NEMO, Mobile IP, and Mobile Router)

2 x 2 MIMO antenna

Evolved high-rate packet data (eHRPD) for smooth hand-over between LTE and EVDO

Inter-radio access technology (I-RAT) for smooth hand-over between LTE, HSPA, and non-3GPP networks

4G Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) MIBs

Short Message Service (SMS) over IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) (using IPv6 IMS bearer): Service provider dependent

Active standalone Global Positioning System (GPS) with external SubMiniature version A (SMA) antenna

Q. Can I use the GPS clock from the 4G-LTE interface to set the router clock?
A. No. The router clock cannot be set with the GPS time-stamp information.
Q. Can I use multiple 4G-LTE EHWICs in a modular platform?
A. Yes, you can use 2 or more 4G-LTE EHWICs in one ISR G2 platform. We support maximum EHWIC slot density on the given platform; for example, 2 on the Cisco 1900 Series and 4 on the Cisco 2900 or 3900 platforms. You can use the multiple EHWICs as two different WAN interfaces. Cisco IOS Software has rich routing features and can allow you to do load balancing, standby, or other combinations across the multiple WAN interfaces. For details about platform density, please refer to:
Q. Do multiple EHWICs interfere with each other? Do I need to choose specific EHWIC slots?
A. In a multiple-EHWIC scenario, the EHWICs are independent of each other and can be placed in any EHWIC slot. If they are for the same service provider, then they will share the radio, and keeping the antennas as far apart as possible is recommended. If they are for two different service providers, then they are completely independent and operate on different radio frequencies. They will not interfere with each other, so there are no limitations on relative antenna placements.
Q. Can I bond two 4G-LTE EHWICs like channel bonding for more throughput?
A. Because it’s a logical Layer 3 connection, the bonding at radio or Radio Link Control (RLC) level is not possible. The 4G-LTE connection to the network is considered a Layer 3 point-to-point connection from the cellular modem to the Packet Data Network (PDN) gateway (P-GW) in the cellular network.
Q. Can I use multiple EHWICs to get more throughput?
A. Yes, you can use multiple EHWICs for increased throughput, with certain limitations. The EHWICs for the same service provider share the bandwidth over the air because they are served by the same cell tower. This setup may limit the amount of air time each card gets. If the EHWICs are from two different service providers, the throughput will be better because the EHWICs use two different cell towers from two different service providers. The bandwidth aggregation should be done at Layer 3. Cisco IOS Software provides various load-balancing methods across two or more WAN interfaces.
Q. Do I need a special license to use the 4G-LTE on a Cisco ISR G2?
The 4G-LTE EHWIC based cellular interface works with the IP-BASE license on Cisco ISR G2 modular platforms. For advanced features in conjunction with the 4G-LTE-based cellular interface, follow the Cisco IOS Software licensing guideline for advance Cisco IOS Software features such as security (VPNs), Mobile IP, voice over IP (VoIP), etc. Do I need a special license for Verizon Mobile Private Network (MPN) service for the 4G-LTE on the ISR G2?
A. Verizon MPN services use the Mobile IP protocol, which requires a DATA license to be installed on the modular ISR G2. Similarly, if VPNs are part of the deployment, the SEC-K9 license on modular platforms must be installed.
The fixed platforms come with an advance IPservices license by default and do not need any other license.
Q. Can I use the 4G-LTE interface as backup to the primary WAN interface?
A. Yes, you can use the 4G-LTE-based cellular interface as backup to the primary WAN interface. Cisco IOS Software has a rich feature set to achieve the transition based on customer requirements such as dialer-watch, object tracking, etc.
Q. Can I use the 4G-LTE as a primary interface?
A. As per the service provider guidelines, the 4G-LTE offers speeds in the range of 5- to 12-Mbps downlink and 2- to 5-Mbps uplink. With such high speeds, it certainly can be a primary WAN connection for many deployments.
You can send an email message to Cisco at if in doubt, and we can discuss your individual deployment and help you decide.
Q. Where can I use the 4G-LTE as a primary WAN? What are the applications for the new Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs?
A. The Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs are suitable for primary WAN connectivity considering the available bandwidth and latency.
They are suitable for applications that need high data bandwidth, low latency, and high security requirements such as interactive business video and telepresence. They are also ideal for traditional applications such as bank ATMs, gas station kiosks, and telemetry sites.
The Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWIC offers a highly secure, simplified, and cost-effective WAN alternative to DSL or Frame Relay. In areas where terrestrial broadband services (cable, DSL, or T1) are not available or are expensive, 4G LTE WWAN connectivity can be a viable alternative. For businesses requiring rapid setup or temporary connectivity, the Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs enable you to bring up a new site quickly and cost-effectively. Using the integrated services available on the Cisco ISR G2 routers, Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs can provide instant and mobile communications during disasters and service outages.
Q. How many users does the Cisco 4G-LTE interface support?
A. Please refer to the ISR G2 platform guidelines for the number of users. In enterprise deployments, the number of users depends on the type of applications used and the amount of bandwidth and latency those applications require. It also depends on the type of networking features being used such as dynamic routing, firewall, Network Address Translation (NAT), VPN, etc. In addition, the characteristics of the 4G-LTE interface such as variable bandwidth, average bandwidth, and shared nature of radio network should be factored in while making the decision.
Q. What management capabilities are available for the Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs?
A. You can configure and monitor the Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs from the router command-line interface (CLI) using Cisco IOS Software commands. You can use all of the router management techniques such as remote Telnet, SSH, SNMP MIBs, and others to manage the 4G-LTE connection.
For remote management capabilities, the interface MIB provides traps for interface up and down events. The MIBs are specifically developed to provide 4G cellular parameters such as signal strength, type of service, and many more. Supplemental MIBs will be introduced to cover the new capabilities as the Cisco 4G-LTE solution evolves. For details about the MIB parameters, please refer to the and object name. The cellular MIBs provide information about all cellular modes including 4G, 3G, and 2G.
Q. Can I use IP Security (IPsec) with the Cisco 4G LTE WWAN EHWICs?
A. Yes. All security features of the Cisco ISR G2 routers are supported on the Cisco 4G WWAN EHWIC: Site-to-Site IPsec Tunnel, DMVPN, Group Encrypted Transport VPN (GETVPN), and generic routing encapsulation (GRE) tunnel. An appropriate security license must be installed in Cisco IOS Software for the ISR G2 modular platforms.
Q. Can I use dynamic routing protocols over the 4G-LTE?
A. Yes. Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is supported over the 4G-LTE, and other dynamic routing protocols are supported over the 4G-LTE using a GRE tunnel. Cisco 4G-LTE WAN interfaces on ISR G2 routers have the cellular provider’s P-GW as a IP Layer next-hop neighbor. Thus any meaningful routing protocol to route private IP information behind the ISR in an enterprise network will require configuration of a GRE tunnel over the 4G-LTE to form routing adjacencies between two CPE routers. You can use BGP because it’s a TCP-based protocol and can form adjacency with a routed Layer 3 neighbor.
Q. Is voice supported on the Cisco 4G-LTE solution?
A. The Cisco 4G-LTE solution does not support circuit-switched voice such as for a cell phone. Cisco IOS Software has rich VoIP features, and you can use the 4G-LTE as a WAN interface to transport VoIP calls over a data connection.
Q. How many VoIP calls does the Cisco 4G-LTE solution support?
A. According to the service provider guidelines of the average bandwidth per user, Cisco 4G-LTE should support between 5 and 15 VoIP calls. The number of VoIP calls supported on the 4G-LTE connection depends on how much bandwidth is available at any time. The bandwidth is affected by many factors including the distance from the cell tower, signal strength (RSSI), signal-to-noise ratio (ECIO/SNR), Signal to interference Noise (SINR), local radio interferences, surroundings, and the number of users trying to access the same cell tower. Cisco IOS Software has rich QoS features to give preferential treatment to voice packets over data packets to improve the user experience during the call.

Note: Any performance guidance is a best-effort.

Q. Can I get guaranteed bandwidth over my 4G-LTE connection? Is QoS supported over 4G-LTE?
A. Cisco 4G-LTE is hardware-ready to support LTE QoS. Software support will be added in conjunction with service provider infrastructure support for end-to-end LTE QoS. The 3GPP standards have ratified an end-to-end QoS over the 4G-LTE network (both backhaul and radio parts). As part of the standards, the cellular service provider will be able to guarantee certain bandwidth and QoS over the radio to individual users based on the subscription. Many service providers are currently working to implement the QoS standards and are debating the best possible way to make it available to their customers. Cisco will provide software updates to cover service provider-specific LTE QoS implementation.
With regard to Cisco IOS QoS support, Cisco IOS Software has Hierarchical QoS (HQoS) features that you can use to give preferential treatment to packets going out of the 4G-LTE interface. Although this QoS is not an end-to-end QoS, it helps improve the user experience by giving preferential treatment to business-critical applications over other noncritical ones in a branch-office environment.
Q. What is Cisco Network Mobility (NeMo)?
A. Cisco Network Mobility (NeMo) is a robust network capability for ISRs that enables service providers to transform the way they integrate and scale wireless-to-wireline VPNs. Cisco NeMo Version 4 is for service providers that deploy the Mobile IP (MIP) solution to extend private routing over 4G-LTE, similar to Multi-Porotocol Lable Switching (MPLS) WAN access. For more details about Cisco NeMo, please refer to:
Q. Can I make the 4G-LTE to work in a specific mode such as LTE-only, 3G-only, or 2G-only?
A. Yes, the Cisco IOS Software has an enable-mode CLI:
Device# cellular 0/0/0 lte technology ?
auto Automatic LTE Technology Selection
cdma-1xrtt CDMA 1xRTT
cdma-evdo CDMA EVDO Rev A
cdma-hybrid HYBRID CDMA
gsm GSM
lte LTE
umts UMTS
User Equipment( such as routers, cell-phones) can only set the preferrence but the Service Provider network can deny it based on their network and service settings.
Q. Are there any bundled ISR offerings with the 4G-LTE EHWIC?