Simple 3G indoor signal improvement

25 May 2010
Posted by Laptop Junction

Traveling in countries with emerging 3G networks or poor 3G coverage makes catching a 3G signal a new sport. Here’s a simple solution how to improve 3G signal reception over large distances using a Nokia N95 smartphone.
 

3G with line of sight – internet over a large distance

A 3G UMTS (Europe)  or CDMA (US) signal can travel over a large distance specially when there’s line of sight. With a 3G base station available a few Km / miles away it’s possible to receive a 3G signal, but usually not indoors or with slow connection speed.

With poor 3G signal quality a Nokia N95 switches back to slower gprs/edge. Continuous switching between 3G and Gprs/Edge causes an intermittent / unstable internet connection.

Establishing a line of sight can have a dramatic effect on 3G signal quality. Finding a good spot to receive the 3G signal is one, positioning a Nokia N95 at this spot without having the hold it all the time is a second.

Improve 3G poor indoor reception over a large distance with a smartphone or iphone
Improve 3G poor indoor reception over a large distance with a smartphone or iphone

In this example the Nokia N95 is sharing a 3G connection over WIFI.


 

Nokia protective case with suction cup mount

With a Nokia N95 protective casing and a simple suction cup, indoor 3G signal reception improves dramatically. Key is a protective casing with a hole in it so it can be fixed high up on a window surface with a suction cup.

Improve 3G poor indoor reception over a large distance using a protective case and a suction cup
Improve 3G poor indoor reception over a large distance using a protective case and a suction cup.

In many cases 3G signal reception improved significantly. In some cases it was possible to pick up a 3G signal miles away by attaching the Nokia N95 smartphone to the roof hatch.
 

  Improve 3G poor indoor reception over a large distance with a smart phone or iphone
Improve 3G poor indoor reception over a large distance with a smart phone or iphone.


Window surfaces are ideal for this kind of mounts.

Dealing with weak cell phone reception? Have a look at cheap cell phone signal booster.
 

Why the suction cup mount?

The Nokia N95 first had a seat on the roof - pretty good place since it's high-up with 360 degree visibility. Though the poor phone was forgotten in a sandstorm and had to sit in the blistering heat. Though it survived the treatment. Prefer the indoor mount so the N95 lives a little bit longer.

Mounting it high up on a pole or ladder would surely boost 3G reception even more. Though in Middle-East countries it's best not to attract too much attention with wireless gadgetry like this.

Already had the "Too many antenna" discussion (Outdoor WIFI antenna and Sat dish) in Iran with local freaked out police. Not good at all - but it was discussed over tea and worked out ok in the end.

Indoor 3G internet access? Have a look at professional 3G routers with external antenna + internal simcard
 

Forcing UMTS / 3G mode

To prevent automatic fall back to GSM mode, the Nokia N95 can be set to UMTS mode only.  This setting sits in Menu-Tools-Settings-Phone-Network-NetworkMode. Default is Dual Mode - the setting UMTS will force internet network connections to be UMTS only.

 

 

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