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Posts Tagged ‘Mobile Broadband’

2 Antennas for boosting 3G mobile broadband dongles

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

If you’re struggling with low signal strength on your 3G broadband dongle, we can help. We’ve got a range of antennas which can drastically boost your dongle’s reception, from small and portable units which provide better reception on the go, to more permanent fixtures which can provide even greater benefits. Let’s have a look.

Clip Antenna for 3G Data Cards – RMCP Connection

Our first antenna is the Clip Antenna. This is a small, light and highly portable antenna designed to be used on the move. Using the antenna should make it easier for your computer to communicate with distant cell towers, boosting data transfer speeds and helping to prevent signal drops.

The Clip Antenna can be attached to the top of your laptop using velcro, letting you always benefit from the increased signal strength. This is an omnidirectional antenna, so you can keep it in a convenient position without worrying about its facing.

The Clip Antenna is slim enough to be stored in the pencil pocket of a bag, or just kept attached to your laptop at all times. The cable is a reasonable length as well, to ensure that the Antenna can reach your RMCP card on the back or sides of your laptop easily.

If you’re looking for a way to get a noticeable increase to signal strength while you’re on the move, this is a great choice.

3G High Gain Directional Antenna – CRC9 Connection

Our next antenna takes a different approach, as it’s a directional antenna with higher gain and a number of mounting options. It’s the 3G High Gain Directional Antenna, and it works brilliantly.

The most important thing to know when you’ve got the 3G High Gain antenna is where your nearest cell mast is. Thankfully, it’s easy to figure out – just rotate the antenna 45 degrees at a time and measure the signal strength after 1 minute. This should allow you to find the perfect angle to point your antenna very rapidly.

Once you’ve found the right direction, it’s time to think about where you’re going to mount your antenna. There are a number of options here – probably the easiest is the desk mount, which just slots into the body of the antenna.

You can also mount the 3G High Gain on a wall or mast (if available). This means you won’t be able to travel with the antenna as easily, but typically allows you to access areas of higher signal strength. There is over a metre of cable included in the box, so you have plenty of choices in siting your router if you choose to make it a permanent fixture.

Once sited, you should enjoy considerably stronger signal strength and all of the benefits that brings, including faster data speeds, lower average pings and fewer connection losses.

Conclusion

I hope you find these recommendations useful! For additional choices, please check our USB Dongle Antennas section. We’ll be bringing additional antennas to market soon, including some options for the new 4G / LTE modems. Thanks for checking out the article and have a good one!

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How to Boost your Mobile Broadband 3G Signal

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

This is part of a series of posts on How to improve your mobile broadband signal. Here’s what we’ve covered:

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.

Mobile Broadband: Finding your nearest transmitter

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

This is part of a series of posts on How to improve your mobile broadband signal. Here’s what we’ve covered:

The one thing that I’ve not covered yet though is how to find your nearest 3G transmitter so you can work out how to position the High Gain Antenna or Mobile Broadband Panel Antenna correctly.

High Gain Antenna for USB Modems

High Gain Antenna for USB Modems

Both the High Gain and the Mobile Broadband Panel antenna need to be pointed towards the network transmitter in order for them to work effectively, but chances are you won’t know where your nearest transmitter is. Fortunately there is a great tool on the Ofcom website. Sitefinder shows you not only where the transmitters are, but also which network they belong to, what frequencies they transmit on and how high they are.

Before we get to using Sitefinder, it’s worth putting your postcode into the coverage checker on your network’s website (see links below to network coverage maps) to make sure that you do actually live in a 3G coverage area before you start. If the coverage map shows that you live on the edge of 3G coverage, both antenna’s should help, although the Mobile Broadband Panel Antenna will be the better option. If your network says that you don’t have coverage, then neither High Gain and the Mobile Broadband Panel antenna will be of any use to you.

Edge of Coverage Vs No Coverage

Edge of Coverage Vs No Coverage - Click for more information.

Once you’ve established that you’ve got 3G reception, you’ll need to know where it’s coming from, so for this head over to Sitefinder by Ofcom. It works in a similar way to the network coverage checkers, but instead of showing coverage, shows you the locations of nearby transmitters as small blue triangles on the map. To see details of the transmitter, you’ll need to zoom in as close as you can, until the ‘Zoom in’ option changes to ‘View Base Details‘ as shown below. Once it’s changed click on the blue triangle on the map to see details of that transmitter.

Transmitter Locations on Sitefinder

Transmitter Locations on Sitefinder

A pop up window will then open to show you the information on that transmitter. The first thing you’ll need to check is that it belongs to your network. If it does then you should check the Type of Transmission – 3G Transmitters will be UMTS where as standard GPRS transmitters will be listed as GSM. If it doesn’t belong to your network or is a GSM one then the transmitter is of no use to you and you’ll need to go back to the map to find the next nearest. To do this you’ll probably have to zoom out again until you see more blue triangles, then zoom in on them.

Transmitter Details

Transmitter Details

If you’re struggling to work out exactly where the transmitter is, I find it helps to have a satellite view of Google maps open in a different browser window so that you can cross reference the main roads from the Sitefinder map with the Google map and work out where it is.

Once you’ve determined which transmitter is your nearest 3G one you’ll be able to point your High Gain or Mobile Broadband Panel antenna in the right direction. Keep an eye on the transmitter height too, as you might need to angle it up or down if it’s mounted on the roof of a tall building or you live on a hill.

Coverage Maps

To get started you’ll need to visit your network to check the coverage where you are. These links should take you straight to the relevant page on each networks website.

FAQ’s

We get a lot of questions about the mobile broadband antennas, most of them asking the same thing, so to try and answer your questions here are some of the most common questions and answers:

Where can I find 3g coverage map?

Use the links above to go to the networks coverage checkers

What signal booster would we need?

There’s no set answer to this, but as a rule of thumb:

  • Clip antenna is best suited for mobile users that use their laptops while they’re out and about in areas with generally good coverage
  • High Gain antenna is best suited for those who get 2-3 bars of 3G signal and want a stronger, faster connection
  • Outdoor Antenna is best suited for those who get 3G signal outside, but not inside or those that live on the edge of an area of coverage

Which connection type do you use for my dongle?

Please see our post titled “Which Antenna Do I Need?” or find your dongle on the Mobile Broadband section of the Mobile Fun website

I thought the antenna would help boost that but when I connect it, if anything, it reduces the signal.

This can happen if you’re using an antenna with a long cable in an area that already has good signal. You lose some signal strength the further the signal has to travel, so by using extension cables with the outdoor and high gain antenna the dongle can lose signal. If this happens either disconnect the antenna as the signal is strong enough for you not to need it, or reduce the length of the cable. You shouldn’t see a drop in signal strength if you’re in a poor signal area

Does the 3G USB Modem Antenna work?

Yes, although the difference it makes to your dongle will vary depending on the dongle you have, the current strain on the network, distance to the transmitter etc. Other customers have told us that the antenna with a physical connection to the dongle seems to give more of an improvement over the universal one, but an improvement is still seen on both. If you are considering taking out a Mobile Broadband agreement, I’d recommend that you opt for a dongle that has an external antenna connection if you are given the choice.

If you’ve got a question that’s not been covered here, please post it in the Mobile Fun Forums.

How to share your 3G Mobile Broadband Connection

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Mobile Broadband is becoming incredibly popular, but it’s not just people that are out and about all day that are finding a use for it – people who can’t get broadband through their phone line, students in halls, those in short term rental.. the list goes on.

Although the prices for mobile broadband have come down considerably over the last couple of years, if you have several people & devices that want to use the internet at the same time, getting a mobile broadband connection for everyone can prove to be quite expensive.

Thankfully though, technology has moved on and we’re no longer restricted to having to use a separate dongle for each computer we want to use and Netgear and Option have both introduced new wireless routers that will make sharing your mobile broadband connection quick and easy.

Netgear 3G Wireless Router MBR624GU

Netgear are well known for making simple, affordable wireless routers that are easy to set up, and this one is no exception. It looks similar to most of their other routers, but the big difference is that instead of having a connection to your cable modem or BT phone line, it has a USB port that you can plug just about any 3G USB Modem in to.

Netgear 3G Wireless Router MBR624GU

Netgear 3G Wireless Router MBR624GU

The router will then establish a connection to your Mobile Network, and once it’s connected it will share the internet connection over both a wireless and wired network.

By creating a wireless network it means that devices like the iPod touch, Playstation3 and eBook readers can all access the internet easily. Infact, it’s not just wireless devices that can use it. The router has 4 ethernet ports on the back that can be used to add non-wireless computers, games consoles, printers and network storage (NAS) devices to the network.

The router has all the standard security options you’d expect to find on any Netgear router and creating your secure wireless network is quick and painless. As your download amount is limited I’d strongly recommend setting up a password for your wireless network. If you don’t and your neighbours start using it, you could end up with excessive bills.

Option GlobeSurfer X1

The GlobeSurfer X1 is similar in many ways to the Netgear, but is much smaller.  It supports all 3G broadband dongles on all networks and can be up and running in a matter of minutes. Like the Netgear router, the X1 can be used to create a wired or wireless network, regardless of whether a 3G dongle is present or not.

Option GlobeSurfer X1

Option GlobeSurfer X1

There are a couple of technical differences between the two routers too. Firstly, the GlobeSurfer X1 supports 802.11 b, g and n, where as the Netgear only supports 802.11g. To be honest, this shouldn’t make too much of a difference when accessing the internet, but if all your connected devices support 802.11n, it’ll make sharing files between them a fair bit quicker. Your Mobile Broadband dongle will have a limit so I’d strongly recommend setting up a password for your wireless network. If you don’t and your neighbours start using it, you could end up with excessive bills.

The other difference is to do with the ports on the back. The X1 only has 2 ethernet ports instead of 4 and has a USB port that you can use to attach USB printers or Network Storage devices as the X1 doubles up as a File and Printer server.

Points to note

It’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to have the Mobile Broadband dongle connected to either of the routers in order for your wireless (or wired) network to work.  By that I mean that even if you remove the dongle from the router, all of the devices that are connected to the network will still be connected and therefore able to access shared files, print to a networked printer or stream content from one device to another.

If you are going to be sharing your Mobile Broadband connection, you need to make sure that everyone using it is aware of the download limit that you have with your dongle. Unlike most fixed line broadband services, you don’t get unlimited downloads, with most networks capping your data at 1, 3, 5 or 15GB a month with extremely high charges if you go over your limit. If you are going to be watching video online, downloading movies or game demo’s on your games console, you’ll need to keep a close eye on how much data you’ve used. You can normally do this through the ‘My Account’ section of your service providers website.

Improving your Mobile Broadband signal in the car

Friday, August 28th, 2009

This is part of a series of posts on How to improve your mobile broadband signal. Here’s what we’ve covered:

If you use mobile broadband while you’re travelling or you spend most of the day working out of your car, you might struggle to maintain a decent connection to your network – this will be due to the fact you’re sat in a metal box with no end of interference from all the wiring and electrical gadgets in the car.

If you’re in a cafe or at home you can boost your signal by using a Clip Antenna or a High Gain Antenna, but inside a car they won’t be anywhere near as effective. For this reason we’ve just released our 3G Mobile Broadband Vehicle Antenna for use in cars, lorries, caravans, motorhomes, boats etc.

Car Antenna for Huawei USB Modems

Car Antenna for Huawei USB Modems

Unlike the Clip Antenna and High Gain antennas that sit next to you, the Mobile Broadband Vehicle Antenna is designed to be mounted on the outside of your vehicle. This way it can pick up the signal from your network and carry it directly to the antenna to provide you with a better reception and faster download speeds.

The antenna is small and portable and can be stored in the glove box or a door pocket when not in use. It measures just 15cm long and has a small magnetic base that is just over 3cm in diameter. It can be mounted in seconds and won’t cause any damage to the paintwork on your vehicle.

The Mobile Broadband Vehicle Antenna is currently only available for Huawei dongles that use the CRC9 connection.  These dongles include the E156G, E160, E160G, E169, E620 & E110.