According to the Office for National Statistics, 92% of adults in the UK use the Internet frequently. Of course this means 8% still doesn’t, and of that majority, some will undoubtedly suffer poor or intermittent connectivity. Where cellular data is relied upon, in the absence of any ADSL or cable infrastructure – for example in a rural or remote location. In this case, problems with access could be as a result of distance from a mast. Or it could even be down to building construction (materials used) and density/frequency of nearby properties which might prevent a good clean signal being available.
A 4G router is a great option for those without ADSL or cable. Using a SIM card, it provides an Internet access using any data plan, anywhere there is a 3G/4G/5G LTE connection. It’s even backwards compatible with HSUPA and HSPDA mobile networks.
Cellular Internet access, however, is only as good as the signal you can send and/or receive. Fortunately there’s an option to increase the power and reach of your 4G router with a 4G antenna.
There are a number of 4G antennas available, with different form factors and performance, depending on your requirements and location. To keep things simple, however, the two main types are directional and omni-directional.
Line it up
Directional antennas are typically high-gain, which means they provide a powerful, focused signal. It’s usual for customers who have connectivity issues to pick one with the highest gain, imagining that this will do the trick. Indeed, it might…but a directional antenna is just that. It needs to have a direct line of sight to the mast, with nothing blocking the signal, including natural formations such as trees.
The problem is that radio waves, as a rule, don’t go through solid objects. If there’s something in the way then a signal gets from the mast to you by a process of reflecting and scattering from neighbouring objects. In practice this means that the signal could be arriving at your antenna from a multitude of different directions. A high-gain directional antenna, therefore, which has a very limited angle of coverage, will possibly make things worse.
Unless you have perfect line of sight between a mast and where you are going to mount the antenna, then a directional antenna is best avoided.
Omni-directional antennas, on the other hand send/receive signals in all directions. Yes, they are usually lower-gain (2dB-3dBi) compared to their directional counterparts, but that doesn’t matter because they aren’t limited to line of sight. And, higher-gain omni-directional antennas are available if required.
Whether you go for a directional or omni-directional antenna, where you install it is also an important factor. Locating it outside and mounted high up will significantly improve signal.
What’s the frequency?
Another potential issue is the frequency range of the signal from your mast. If you have an antenna that only supports the 800MHz range but your provider uses a 2.6GHz service then your 800MHz antenna won’t connect.
It’s best to go for a 4G antenna that covers all three UK LTE bands; 800MHz, 1800MHz, and 2600MHz. If your mast switches frequency at any point, you’ll still have access.
If you want to know more about 4G antennas and routers, and why you might need one, don’t hesitate to give one of our experts a call on the number below.