Top Tips for Improving Mobile Broadband Performance - ISPreview
Top Tips for Improving Mobile Broadband Performance
By: Mark Jackson - November 16th, 2009 : Page 6 -of- 7
"Buy a long USB extension cable and stick your modem as near to or high up on your window as possible"

Needless to say that the UNIVERSAL Clip-on antenna was not worth the money and we recommend only buying one of these if your USB Modem is lucky enough to have a CRC9 connector built into it. Even then you can only expect a small improvement; unless you’re willing to spend considerably more on a big directional High Gain or Panel antenna (must be positioned towards your operators nearest transmitter, assuming you know where that is – try http://www.sitefinder.ofcom.org.uk or ask your operator).

In addition, if you live in an area only covered by a 2G service then do not expect to magically receive a 3G or 3G+/3.5G signal from any of these. True it is possible for this to happen but the signal will be extremely weak and most coverage maps are already fairly liberal with the truth about reception for Mobile Broadband services. Note that antennas will give you a better improvement when used in an open outdoor location.

6. The Do-it-Yourself (DIY) solution

Inventive people will of course find their own solutions and there are a few things you can do that will improve your reception without costing the earth.

a. Buy a USB extension cable (not too long though or signal degredation could become a problem, it is somewhat of a balancing act to get right) and stick your modem as near to or high up on your window as possible. You could even dangle it out the window but make sure it is secure in case the modem drops off.

b. Buy a USB extensions cable and grab a used plastic drinks bottle. Pop the USB Modem in the top and then seal it up with tape or something similar. This can then be left outside, in mild weather only (never leave your modem out in cold or hot weather, especially direct sunlight), with a cable running back through your window.

Be aware that, as the image shows, we found that some modems are too big to fit a 2L coke/pepsi bottle. However you can always leave the screw cap on and cut a small slit in the top with a knife, which should allow you to just slide the modem in.

c. Buy a USB extension cable and a long plastic pole.. well by now you probably know where this is going :) . Affix the modem to the top with rubber bands, stick the pole in the ground and then run the cable back to your computer. Try to avoid wrapping the rubber band(s) over the modems antenna area as that could obstruct the signal.

d. (NEW). One reader has pointed us to This Silicon article that mentions using a satellite dish to help amplify the signal :) . Just be aware that some dishes may require local planning permission to put up outside.

e. (NEW). Or how about using a Saucepan to boost the signal?

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Mark (ISPreview)
Posted 1858 days ago
Richard, you could use a different dongle/modem but remember what we said in the above article about a lack of support and software from operators. Vodafone do offer their software for download but others make it much harder to get. The cost is also quite high for buying the modem separately, I would say unfairly so as they are not expensive to make.
shriv
Posted 1860 days ago
this seems to be a sensible solution: http://networks.silicon.com/mobile/0,39024665,39259275,00.htm
Richard fj
Posted 1860 days ago
I tried using a longer usb lead, to position the dongle in a more favorable position, but the performance seemed to be worse I assumed this was due to signal degredation, anyone else tried this? if so has it worked?
The other thing I was considering was buying a dongle from a different maker,not Huawei, maybe Nokia or one of the other more expensive range which have a greater download capacity. Would this be worth doing?
Mark (ISPreview)
Posted 1861 days ago
Good point, assuming you can get a connection of course, but cache and compression web browser boosters are worth checking out. However they will only enhance basic web browsing and email, compressed content (i.e. most downloads) will not benefit.
Robert Naylor
Posted 1861 days ago
Try an oasis bottle. They have big wide openings.

If you just surf the web may be worth giving Opera 10 with its "Opera Turbo" a go. Found it didn't work too well at very low speeds (talking less than a 56k modem here), but on a poor 3G connection it made a real difference.
 

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