One 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:
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.
Setting up your Antenna
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)
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.
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.