How to Boost your Mobile Broadband 3G Signal

High Gain 3G AntennaOne of the great things about Mobile Broadband is that you can go online anywhere you like – but you can almost guarantee that the place you need it the most is the place where signal is at its weakest.

While 3G coverage is getting stronger with all networks, there will still be blackspots where it drops out, or you can only pick up a 2G signal. Thankfully, a couple of solutions are now available to try and get round these signal issues. If you don’t have a dongle yet and are looking for the network with the strongest 3G signal, then the OFCOM website has just published updated coverage maps (as of 31/12/08) that allow you to view the 3G coverage by network.

UPDATED: There are now three different types of antenna available:

  • Clip Antenna: This Antenna is designed to be a portable solution that clips onto the screen on your laptop or sits on your desk. It is omni-directional, which means that it will pick up signals from all directions.
  • High Gain 3G Directional Antenna: This is a much more powerful signal booster than the clip antenna and is ideal for people who have problems with 3G reception or use their dongle in a fixed location. They are directional, which means that you will need to point this towards your network’s transmitter in order for it to improve the signal. The High Gain antenna when positioned correctly will make a significant difference to the signal you receive and can be wall mounted as a permanent fixture.
  • Mobile Broadband Outdoor Panel Antenna:This is also a more powerful signal booster than the clip antenna and is ideal for people who have real problems with 3G reception. They are also directional, which means that you will need to point this towards your network’s transmitter in order for it to improve the signal. The Outdoor Panel antenna when positioned correctly will make a significant difference to the signal you receive and is designed to be wall/pole mounted outside.

Each of the antenna’s can make a big difference to the signal you receive. Some will have an ariel connection that will plug straight into the dongle, and others will use a Universal “strap on” connection. Antennas are available for Dongles and Data Cards made by:

View all Three 3G Dongles View all T-Mobile 3G Dongles View all Vodafone 3G Dongles View all Orange 3G Dongles View all O2 3G Dongles View all Virgin 3G Dongles View all BT Mobile 3G DonglesView all Huawei 3G Dongles View all Option 3G Dongles View all Sierra Wireless 3G Dongles View all Novatel Wireless 3G Dongles View all ZTE 3G Dongles

Make sure you get the right Antenna! Click Here

To help you find the right antenna for your dongle, you can now check the 3G Antenna Compatibility chart or, to view all available antennas, head over to the Mobile Broadband section of the site, and then choose your device – either a USB Dongle or a Data Card. You’ll need to know the model number of your dongle, but this should be printed on a label on the underneath of your Dongle or Data Card.

Identifying your Dongle

Your model number is printed on the base of your dongle and is not the CE number

Setting up your Antenna

Clip 3G Antenna to screen

Clip 3G Antenna to screen

Set up is quick and simple. The Clip Antenna easily clips onto the screen of your laptop or can be mounted in the desk stand (if included).
The High Gain Directional Antenna needs to be mounted on the deskstand, or fixed to the wall (bracket included)

3G Antenna Installation

3G Antenna Installation

Next you’ll need to connect the antenna to the adapter cable. If your dongle has an antenna connection, carefully connect the end of the cable to your dongle.

The Clip Antenna includes a 50cm cable, the High Gain Directional Antenna comes with a 1.2m cable. Longer 3m cables and 5m cables are available for the High Gain and Outdoor Panel Antenna.


Clip 3G Antenna to screen

Universal 3G Antenna Installation

If your dongle doesn’t have an antenna connection, wrap the universal adapter round your dongle and make sure that it doesn’t stop it from going in to your pc/laptop.

The High Gain 3G Directional Antenna and Outdoor Panel Antenna will need to be positioned so that they are facing your nearest mobile phone transmitter.

Our post on Finding your Nearest Transmitter should help you to work out which way your antenna should be facing.


That’s it! All done. Use your Dongle or Data card as normal and you should see an increase in signal strength straight away.

  • http://www.celcomplan.com SarahZigler

    Thanks for this article great sharing. This week Im buying a 4g booster in my home the information real helpful!

  • Josephine

    Hi
    Received the WiFi repeater yesterday in the post, plugged it in upstairs and could not believe it, full signal everywhere. Magic. Thank you so much, amazing how 1 little item can make such a difference.

  • http://williamjudd.com/ William Judd
  • Josephine

    I have 3 broadband wifi. I need to boost the signal throughout the house as its only here and there. What would I need to do this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jr.madelo.7 Jr Madelo

    I HAVE A DONGLE E357. THERES NO E357 MODEL ON YOUR LIST..

  • http://www.facebook.com/jr.madelo.7 Jr Madelo

    HOW ABOUT MY HUAWEI DONGLE E357. THERES NO E357 MODEL IN YOUR LIST..

  • Santoo

    Hi,
    i have visiontek 3g dongle could you please tell me which antenna suite for my device,i have very very weak signal strength,how can i find which panel antenna suite for my dongle tnx….

  • Graham Hendry

    I’m looking for a booster to boost the signal I have before it goes into my P.C.
    Graham (gandkhend@gmail.com)

  • Freddy

    Most of the USB sticks do have an antenna plug built in but often blanked out by the case. If you are handy with jewellers screwdrivers and don’t mind voiding the warranty then you can usually open the case and plug an antenna straight in.

    The only real solution is to buy a proper signal booster with a proper externan roof antenna. This will set you back approx £400 but will give you a decent signal..SO LONG AS YOU HAVE A SIGNAL TO WORK WITH FIRST..no signal means the booster won’t work..its not magic.

  • Andy

    Sorry Jim, Missed your comment, Yes, if you’re not happy you can return it within 30 days for a refund

    Andy

  • Andy

    there is no set answer to this – it depends entirely on where you are in relation to the transmitter, the load on the network, maximum speed provided by network etc..

  • carl

    does anyone have any idea of the speed boosts that you get with the high gain directional antenna, and also if it lowers your ping?

  • jim

    andy

    If i buy one and is does not work.

    does your return policy allow me to return it with a full refund.

    Regards
    Jim

  • Andy

    They should do, but if there is something causing interference and blocking the signal then they may not work.

    Andy

  • Jim

    I have no signal for 3g in the building i live in.

    Though i know in the building 50 meters away i can get 2-3 bars.

    Will these antennas enable me to get 3g in my building?

    Regards
    Jim

  • Andy

    It might help. It’ll give you a stronger connection (ie 3/4 bars instead of 2) but if you lose connection because of a fault on the network, it won’t help with that.

    As it’s not been a problem for 9 months, I’d say it’s more likely to be a network problem.

  • Micky

    Hi there, I have a 3 ZTEMF627 dongle and for the last two weeks I have lost connection multiple times (first real problem since March). Would a booster help matters? Or would this be an error with 3?

  • Andy

    Hi Beck,
    If it’s saying an error has occurred then I don’t think this is a signal issue and therefore a booster won’t help. Your best bet will be to uninstall the software, restart your laptop and then re install it. If you’re still having problems I’d speak to the tech support team at t-mobile as they might have a solution.

    Andy

  • beck

    hi i have a mobile broadband dongle with t mobile, the signal is generally good over 70% normally, however the computer often wont let me go online and says an error has occured etc. i don’t understand as if the signal is strong why cant i access the internet? would a booster help?

  • Andy

    Hi Leigh, as the MC930D doesn’t have an external antenna connection you’ll need to choose an antenna with the Universal connection.

    Andy

  • Leigh Varnham

    Hi – I have the 3g card MC930D from o2 – and need a booster as I only get a gprs connection, and it’s on a contract for 18 months (6 months to go).

    Can you let me know which booster is suitable (I can’t find the model number when I look at your compatibility chart).

  • Andy

    Hi Caroline, the antennas that we sell are designed to work with USB modems rather than phones. Having said that, any of the antennas should work as long as you go for one with a universal connector, you’ll just need to strap this onto your phone as and when you need to.
    You’d need to position it as close to the antenna on the phone as possible, but I can’t say how much of a difference this will make as we’ve not tested them with phones.

    Andy

  • Caroline

    Hi, I have a Nokia 6630 which I use to connect to the internet from my laptop (via bluetooth). According to vodafone’s website I should get 3G in my area but can’t even get 1 3G bar in the house. Which antennae/device do I need? I think there’s a base station about a mile away.

    Thanks

  • Andy

    There are 2 high gain antennas, one universal, one is dongle specific. there is also an outdoor panel antenna that’s slightly stronger.

    As long as you order the universal one you’ll be fine

  • Alex

    Thanks Andi, though I had the idea to buy the universal one already. There are two of the high performance antenna which have different compatibility charts. Is it likely that I could spend £50 on the wrong one?

  • Andy

    Hi Alex,

    The antenna’s are designed to work with specific 3G dongles rather than handsets, but you should find the Universal one will work fine on the Skype phone (or any 3G handset) as long as you position it as close to the antenna on the phone as possible.

    As far as I know these are not available in high street stores.

  • Alex

    Hello, I am curious about what I antenna I should buy. I have looked at the charts but I don’t see what is compatible for the 3 skype phone s2 as an external modem. Also are these antenna possibly available at any local retailers?

  • Pingback: 3's dongle broadband - Page 2 - Broadband Forum()

  • Andy

    Hi William, It will make a difference, but how much of a difference depends on where you’re using it. A high gain one will make more of a difference than a clip antenna.

  • William

    Hi – I get strong HSDPA signal but it keeps dropping to 3G and sometimes GPRS (All high number of bars) – Will the antenna help with stability of maintaining HSDPA for example? Cheers

  • Pingback: Mobile Broadband Antenna Questions - Mobile Fun Forums()

  • Andy

    Hi Marie, If T-Mobile are saying no 3G where you are, then it’s highly unlikely that a signal booster will make any difference. It might improve your 2G signal, but that won’t really speed things up for you as 2G only goes as fast(!) as old dial up internet

  • Marie

    I only get 2g reception where I am, and t mobile say that they aren’t covered with 3g here. Is it worth me getting a booster still? thanks

  • http://link name

    Good Job,

  • Andy

    Hi Steve, There’s no reason why it won’t work, You’d need the universal antenna as there isn’t an external antenna connection on the N95, but the clip antenna cable is only about 2 feet long.

    We should hopefully be launching a range of antennas that are designed fir use in the car in the next week or two. These will have magnetic bases and longer cables and will probably suit you better.

    Keep your eye on the blog for an announcement shortly.

  • steve

    Hi, I use my N95 as a modem on 3, and would like to be able to boost the signal in my van. I am usually static and so think one of the directional ones would be better. how long is the cable? so i could clip it to the roof. do you think this would help on N95.

  • Andy

    It sounds like you’re only getting a standarg GPRS signal which is why it’s slow. The clip antenna will improve both GPRS and 3G signal, but the High Gain one will only help with 3G signal. Have you checked coverage on the vodafone website? If it says you should get 3G signal, then I’d go for high gain, if not then go for the clip one. Can’t really say what difference it will make as there are so many factors that can affect it. Overall feed back is good with most customers seeing an increase of 1-2 bars with the clip antenna

  • John

    hi,
    i live in ireland and am using a usb stick modem from vodafone, on the pack it says “Huawei E169” an on the modem it says “K3520”,
    i am currently gettin download speeds of 1.0kbps and 30.0 kbps, i have 3 out of 5 bars of signal. Sometimes i can pick up a 3G signal but its always too weak to connect.

    which antenna do you think would best suit me?
    will it increase my download speed by much?

  • Andy

    Hi Paul,

    I’m afraid there isn’t a definite answer as to how much of a difference it will make, as you said signal is different in each area so it’s difficult to judge. Having said that, I normally get 3 bars at work and it goes up to 4 with the antenna on. At home it goes from 3 to 5, but I know I’m only about a mile away from the transmitter.

    If you want more people’s thoughts on them, it might be worth having a look at the reviews page for the antennas:

    http://www.mobilefun.co.uk/18115-Clip-Antenna-for-Huawei-USB-Modems-CRC9-Connection-Reviews.htm

  • paul

    hi,
    just enquiring as to the boost that i will see from each type of antenna?
    obviously the high gain antenna will give more but would i see a strong connection with a clip on antenna. i have a 3 mobile huawei e160g, the normal signal is about 3 bars but some days it just doesnt load any pages.
    i know my question is the same as how long is a piece of sting and signal will be different in each area but are there many sucess stories with the antenna?
    thanks a mil

  • Andy

    Hi Bob.

    This is something that we’re still investigating. There isn’t an external antenna connection on the laptop, so you won’t be able to connect one directly, but if you know where abouts the 3G antenna is that is built into the laptop then in theory you could use the universal clip antenna. These work by an antenna pad sitting above or next to the internal aerial (in a similar kind of way to how an electric toothbrush would charge)

    The downsides to using this are that in most cases, the antenna in the laptop runs across the top or down the side of the screen, so attaching anything to it/near it will be quite tricky.

    The Clip antenna will work on GPRS and 3G, the high gain antennas are 3G only.

  • Bob Bowlby

    I have a Dell Netbook (Inspiron 910) with a Dell Wireless 5530 HSPA Mobile Broadband Minicard Modem with a Vodafone SIM card (ie no dongle or external card).

    Is there a Booster Aerial for this setup and if so will it boost GPRS Signals as well as 3G signals (my main use will be for GPRS where there is no 3G coverage).

    Many thanks

    Bob

  • Pingback: How to Measure & Improve Mobile Broadband reception | The Mobile Fun Blog()

  • Andy

    Hi Tom,

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be a UK dongle, so I can’t say for certain which one will fit it, but if in doubt, the universal one will work with all USB Dongles

  • tom

    sierra wireless usb 598 is my model number

  • Andy

    Which card do you have?

  • tom

    i have recently purchased a mobile wireless broadband card but im in a weak signal area. does your product work with external cards ( i wouold imagine i would need some sort of booster that plugs from my laptop to the antenna to the mobile broadband card.

  • Andy

    Hi Neil,

    As your phone won’t have an antenna connection, you’ll need to use the universal one. It will work on a phone in exactly the same way as it would on a usb dongle, you just need to make sure that you strap it onto your phone as close to where the antenna is as possible.

    Andy

  • Neil

    Hi…I use my c902 as an external modem with Tmobile. I connect using bluetooth to my Mac. The problem is that in my flat the signal is pretty ropey to say the least. Can i use your product to boost the signal on my phone? I’ve been searching online for a while now and cant find any products that will boost the signal to my phone. hers hoping….cheers,Neil

  • Andy

    Hi Daniel,

    The main difference is that the clip one is designed to be a bit more portable and is a bit easier to set up signal difference is normally 2-3 bars depending on your network.
    The High Gain one is a bit more of a permanent solution – it has to point in the direction of your transmitter, so if you’re constantly on the move it’ll take a while to set up each time. If you’re only going to be using it in one location and can leave it set up all the time, this is your best bet as it will have the biggest difference to your signal. If you’re more likely to be using your broadband while your out n about or on trains etc, then go for the clip antenna.

    Andy

  • daniel

    hello there im wondering about the High Gain 3G Directional Antenna.
    whats the difference between this and the clip anntena?
    i am with 3 mobile broadband and currently get 0-1 bars of internet
    please help

  • Andy

    Hi David,
    The K3565 is Branded as the Vodafone USB Stick/Stick Lite so it will need the Universal Antenna as it doesn’t have a port to plug an antenna in directly.

    Andy

  • David

    I have a Huawei K3565 stick would like to know which signal booster I need to buy??

    Many thanks in advance.

    David

  • Andy

    Hi Jeff,

    I’ve contacted our supplier and tried to find the spec of the card that you’ve got, but as its not a UK Data Card its proving difficult to track down.

    If you can email us a photo of the aerial connection on the phone I can try and match it that way.

    Send it to customer.services@mobilefun.co.uk and put FAO Andy in the subject line.

    Andy

  • Jeff

    I have a Option Wireless GT Ultra Express laptop connect card. Model number GE0302. My carrier is AT&T. Could you tell me which antenna is the best for this device. I live about 10 miles out of the 3G area. There is a place on the side of the card where something plugs in but I’m not sure if it is for a antenna. I did not see the name of this divice listed in your chart. Can you please help me.

  • Andy

    Just an update for you all, I’ve added a compatibility chart now that shows which dongle works with which antenna:

    http://www.mobilefun.co.uk/blog/which-3g-antenna-do-i-need.html

    We’re still working on improving the layout on the site to make it a bit easier to navigate.

  • shaun

    Hi Andy,

    every time i click on my dongle (t-mobile) it says a error has occured!! i cant find if there is a booster for my dongle

    please help

    many thanks Shaun

  • Andy

    Hi Peter, I’ve been looking at the layout on the site this afternoon and agree its not as clear as it could be, so this should be changing on Monday.

    Currently you need to click mobile broadband, then select your network provider – you’ll then be presented with all the available dongles, just choose yours from those shown.

    Huawei Dongles are also listed although the images for these and dongles by other manufacturers won’t appear on the category list until monday.

    If you still get stuck, please let me know the dongle you’ve got and I’ll post the link for you.

  • Peter Colby

    Hi Andy…I have tried for an hour to find a link for the plug in antenna for my 3 mobile dongle. You gave Dean a direct link for the velcro jobby, but try as I might I can not find the correct link. I can’t be the only one having this problem. There is no way I can put this item in my basket if I can’t find it. HELP !!!

  • Andy

    Hi Dean, Your dongle doesn’t have an antenna connection, so you’ll need the universal one – this attaches to the dongle with a velcro strap the same as is shown in the last picture above.

    This is the link for it:

    http://www.mobilefun.co.uk/product/18117.htm

    I’ll update the compatibility now

  • http://??? Dean

    I also would like one of these atenna, but my dongle isn’t listed. I have a 3 ZTEMF627, and I can’t see it listed on your site. I REALLY need one of these boosters as I live in a basement flat!! (I only get one bar 3g at the moment – usable, but poo).

  • Andy

    There are 5 different ones available, which dongle have you got and i’ll put the link on here

  • Andy Strain

    Please could you link to the exact product page as I have just spent 5 mins on your site trying to find it to no avail

    cheers!

  • Andy

    Hi Roxie,

    The antenna’s are available now from us. I’ve put a link below for you.

    Currently these are priced at £24.47.

    http://www.mobilefun.co.uk/cat/Mobile-Broadband.htm

  • Roxie Yasin

    Hi There!!

    I have just read through your advert for “How to boost your mobile 3G signal” and was very intrested to find that an antenna is availble to increase mobile broadband signals.

    Please could you tell me where i could purchase on of these antenna’s and how much will they cost??

    Thanks again for the information and hope to hear from you soon.

    Thanks

    Miss.R.Yasin

  • Pingback: 3 Mobile Broadband » Blog Archive » How to Boost your Mobile Broadband 3G Signal -()