A number of factors affect your mobile broadband coverage. From 3G network signal strength, to the thickness of your walls, even the weather! If you are banging your head against the computer screen because of a uselessly slow or non-existent connection, here are some pointers to help you improve mobile broadband coverage where you live.
Your network provider may advertise fast connection speeds, but if your modem is not capable of that speed, you will be limited by it. Modems vary in speed between 3.6mbps to 7.2mbps, so if your 3G network provider is advertising speeds of 7.2mbps, make sure your modem is sufficient for the job otherwise you won’t be getting anywhere near that speed.
Much like the bars on your mobile phone, most of the mobile broadband providers software has signal strength indicators so you can tell whether you are receiving a good 3G signal. You can actually improve the 3G signal by moving upstairs, or closer to a window.
As more and more people try and access mobile broadband, the quality of signal deteriorates and the connection speeds slow down. Between 6pm and 11pm is the peak time for network overload, so if you try and surf at a less congested time of the day, you may have much better coverage and speed. 3G networks are also slowed down by voice calls, so it is not just other mobile broadband users sharing the bandwidth. Voice users also get priority over data users at peak times, another reason to try and surf at other times of the day, if you can.
There are three different types of signal booster available to improve your 3G signal. You can purchase a ‘clip antenna’ which as the name suggests, clips onto the screen of your laptop, with a wire connected to your dongle. Another type simply wraps around your dongle, whilst separate antennas can be pole mounted outside, vastly improving 3G signals in areas with poor reception. Most of these antennas do not have universal compatibility though, so before ordering it is important to note the model number on your dongle to make sure there is a compatible antenna available.