It turns out that there are quite a few known hacks for boosting your 3G performance. Most of them involve getting some sort of curved metal surface to reflect and concentrate the signals to one point (where one might put a 3G modem).
The cheapest ones
First thing is first. Make sure the friggin antenna is vertical, not horizontal on the table next to your laptop.
Change: 3Mbit to 10Mbit (a bit flaky though)
Most people have a larger plastic bottle laying around (I didn’t but luckily for me, the local store had quite a few. (even filled with sugar water!)). I got that and some tinfoil, whipped out my trusty multitool got to it. This can actually get you a couple of more bars of reception. Or as it actually is, a few less bit errors.
Funny thing though. I get evening sun and ended up more or less melting my modem (which I noticed by the connection going all flaky on me). Maybe I can cover it with some white fabric to reduce the eating problem. We’ll see.
One this is certain though, it is very stylish.
Change: 10Mbit to 16Mbit (standing on one leg holding a stick to keep the contraption away from the house wall)
The slightly more pricey
Not very pricey though. Simply getting a USB extension cable. This will allow you to put the modem (with the optional fancy signal booster hack) in all kinds of fun places. They keys are:
- Outside > Inside
- Hanging free > Not hanging free =)
I experimented with hanging it about 1m away from the building wall and yes, it helps. Might not be very appreciated by your neighbors though.
The borderline expensive
This is what is left. I have high hopes for this one. I am currently enjoying about 10Mbit down stream and maybe 2Mbit up stream. But I know this area is capable of at least 16Mbit down but I don’t think the modem will survive for very long if I keep it outside (not even with my fancy antenna hack). So getting a real antenna is the next step. I’ll report back. If I can get to 20Mbit down and 5Mbit up, I’ll call it a win and possibly leave the remaining 12Mbit down for later.