Improving mobile phone reception and mobile broadband performance

If your mobile phone reception is poor or if your mobile broadband connection is slow or unreliable, you can improve their performance with an affordable desk antenna or an outdoor antenna. Read more about how to improve mobile network coverage in the antenna guidelines.

  • About mobile network coverage
    • Additional antenna improves mobile network coverage

      If you are having problems with the quality of the connection, something as simple as an affordable desk antenna may be the solution. In case this does not help, you may consider buying an outdoor antenna.

      You can multiply the transmission speed of a poorly functioning broadband connection with a desk antenna. An outdoor antenna will be even more effective. These solutions may enable the use of a broadband connection even in indoor facilities where there is no GSM or 3G coverage available.

      An additional antenna may often help in areas where the operator does not guarantee coverage without an additional antenna. In areas like this, there is necessarily no 3G connection for mobile phones indoors and the reception outdoors may be poor as well, one bar at the most. According to user experiences, for example outdoor antennas have helped to achieve both good reception indoors and a transmission speed of several megabytes per second.

      Remember to ask your operator about the mobile coverage in your address first. Even with an effective directional antenna, the possibilities to increase the network coverage are limited. In case the area with better reception is situated several kilometres from the site where you want to use the connection, check with your operator whether an additional antenna will improve the reception sufficiently.

      Coverage maps for mobile networks typically describe how the service functions outdoors. House structures, such as walls and energy efficient windows, decrease reception indoors. It should also be noted that coverage maps are based on calculations. This is why the effects of all natural obstacles, such as large rocks between the base station and a house, cannot be taken into account.

      Coverage maps of mobile operators

What to do if the reception is poor
  • When using a mobile phone
    • Poor mobile connection
    • There is no reception (no signal)
  • When using a USB modem
    • Poor mobile connection
    • There is no reception (no signal)
  • When using a 3G-router
    • Poor or slow mobile or broadband connection
    • There is no reception (no signal)
  • Tips for buying a desk antenna
    • Tips for buying a desk antenna

      Desk antennas are sold by operators and stores specialised in mobile phone gear and antennas. Desk antennas cost about 20-40 euros. Salespersons will help you to choose the right kind of antenna.

      Remember to check the frequency ranges before you buy the antenna. You can get the information from your operator's customer service or the coverage map on the operator's web site. The antenna may only function in a certain frequency range which can be for example 900 MHz, 1800/1900 MHz or 2100 MHz. Note that your terminal device has to support the frequency range and network technology in question.

      The amplification is another significant feature of an antenna. The figure tells how much the antenna amplifies the mobile network signal. The level of amplification may vary between frequency ranges. The amplification of a desk antenna is typically 2–5 decibels (dB or dBi). The ground rule is that 6 decibels correspond to a distance twice as long, which means that the distance between you and the base station would be cut in half.

      Remember to check that you can attach the antenna to your device. If the connector of your device does not fit the antenna, there are different kinds of adaptors available. The adaptor will always weaken the signal, so it is advisable to buy a compatible antenna.

      An antenna cable will also weaken the signal so it is advisable to use a cable as short as possible. The ground rule is that even a 10-metre low loss cable will overrule the benefits of a desk antenna.

      If the mobile and broadband reception is still poor despite the desk antenna, you may consider buying an outdoor antenna. If you are having problems with your mobile broadband connection, you may consider buying an outdoor antenna straight away, especially if there is barely any mobile phone reception indoors.

      In case your USB modem does not have an antenna connection, use an inductive coupler to connect the antenna.

  • Tips for buying and installing an outdoor antenna
    • Tips for buying and installing an outdoor antenna

      Buying and outdoor antenna

      Outdoor antennas are sold by operators and stores specialised in mobile phone gear and antennas. The prices of outdoor antennas range from 40 euros to more than 100 euros. Salespersons will help you to choose the right kind of antenna.

      Remember to check the frequency ranges before you buy the antenna. You can find the information from your operator's customer service or the coverage map on the operator's web site. Currently, most outdoor antennas function in many different frequency ranges. However, some antennas function only in a certain frequency range. Note that your terminal device has to support the frequency range and network technology in question.

      The amplification is another significant feature of an antenna. The figure tells how much the antenna amplifies the mobile network signal. The level of amplification may vary between frequency ranges. The amplification of directional antennas for outdoor use is typically 7–15 dB. The higher the figure, the better.

      Remember to check that you can attach the antenna to your device. If the connector of your device does not fit the antenna, there are different kinds of adaptors available. The adaptor will always weaken the signal, so it is advisable to buy a compatible antenna.

      An antenna cable will also weaken the signal so it is advisable to use a low loss cable as short as possible. The ground rule is that the total length of the cables must not exceed 15-20 metres.

      If you plan to use your mobile phone or broadband in winter time, it is advisable to buy an enclosed directional antenna. Enclosed antennas function better in winter because snow and ice will not stick to them as much as to rake antennas.

The guidelines given above are also available in PDF format:

Guidelines for improving mobile phone reception and mobile broadband quality [pdf, 84 KB]


Key words: Internet, Telephone, Broadband, Coverage, Mobile phone, Terrestrial, Guidelines


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