How to Boost your Mobile Broadband 3G Signal

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High Gain 3G Antenna

High Gain 3G Antenna

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.

There are now two 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 real problems with 3G reception. 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.

Both antenna’s can make a big difference to the signal you receive. simply clip on to the top of your laptop screen, and then either plug into, or wrap around your or and depending on the Dongle or Data Card that you’re using, the connection method will vary. Some will have an ariel connection that will plug straight into the dongle, and others will take a Universal “strap on” connection. Antennas are available for Dongles and Data Cards made by all of the main manufacturers for all of the UK networks. To find your dongle on the mobile fun site you can either browse by network or the make of your modem.

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

Identifying your Dongle

Set up is quick and simple:

Clip the Antenna onto the screen of your laptop or mount it 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)

Clip 3G Antenna to screen

Clip 3G Antenna to screen

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 antennas only.

3G Antenna Installation

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.

Clip 3G Antenna to screen

Universal 3G Antenna Installation

The High Gain 3G Directional Antenna will need to be positioned so that it is facing your nearest mobile phone transmitter. To help you out, you can use the Ofcom Sitefinder. This will show you where the nearest transmitters are, but it won’t say which networks they belong to, so finding the right one will be a case of trial and error!

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


35 responses to “How to Boost your Mobile Broadband 3G Signal

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

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