Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

How I solved my own mobile Internet signal problems

In my previous post, I related my own experiences of low signal issues attached to using 3G phone and mobile Internet equipment within the confines of the steel boat.

Although I have no connection at all with the link in my previous post to the 3G networking company, they are extremely helpful in providing information and solutions to this particular problem. As for my circumstances, when I was using my old Nokia 6300, I had reliable calls, Internet access via W.A.P and access to my email. I used the UK o2 service on contract. When I changed my phone to one of the new "smart" phones, working on the o2 3G network, it was a different story, unreliable signal, lost calls, and non existent Internet at the boat.
I have also tried UK Vodafone, and UK Three for mobile Internet while on the boat, all with similar, poor, results, although all work perfectly well in urban areas at home.
However, I wanted to have reliable and fast access to the Internet whilst on the boat, so I began to look for solutions. It rapidly became apparent that the poor reception within the steel boat was as a direct result of the steel structure shielding an already weak signal to the extent that the equipment wouldn't work at all inside the boat. I investigated the signal coverage for all companies using their own website information, and concluded that Three would provide the best chance of success for mobile Internet. I signed up for their 1gb of monthly data allowance, and obtained, included in the 18 month contract, a Huawei 169 USB Internet dongle. The contract also provides for 20 free text messages every month. This, obviously, attached by cable to the laptop USB socket, and with an extension, could be hung out of the window to obtain a reliable signal. This, of course, could be linked to an exterior booster antenna, and a wireless router to make an easier connection, see again the link to "Solwise". I continued to use in this way for the duration of my contract, when the company offered a renewal, this time with the, (far superior), Huawei E585 modem. I renewed my contract, and obtained this equipment.

This is a wireless modem, and can connect up to 4 computer or phone devices simultaneously, and as it can be placed under the canvas cratch cover, removes the need for a wireless router and an external antenna all in one go. The card picks up a reliable signal from outside the boat, and the laptop and phones are connected, close quarters, wirelessly to that. It also has the benefit of being able to connect via USB, or can simply be plugged into a mains charger, or of course works independently on its own battery. It can still be connected to an external antenna if required, using an adaptor, see Adaptors. Both this and the earlier dongle from Three also have the added benefit of having provision to fit a micro SD data storage card, so can also be slipped into the pocket to transport files such as photographs.
This has now been used successfully for the last 7 months, both at the boat and anywhere else. Obviously, I chose the data allowance that was optimum for me, and larger packages are available. As for my phone? I now also carry my old Nokia, connected to Vodafone pay as you go, and have to revert to that in the locations where 3G, (or other o2 service reception), is unavailable to my o2 contract phone.
See this review: Huawei E585
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  1. Hey thanks very much for a fantastic blog! I am hoping to buy a narrow boat soon to be my new home and your articles are priceless!! Well done to the both of you! I envy you and your boat!

  2. Anthony, thank you for your comment. It was our intention from the start to write a magazine style blog, which, instead of just relating day to day "what we did" experiences, explained, "warts and all," our problems, costs, and the ups and downs of owning a narrowboat. We have been involved in both inland and coastal boating since c1972, and I also have experience of working summers with a hire fleet maintenance engineer. The blog was set out with the purpose of informing, particularly those researching ownership.

  3. I have the same problem with my mobile internet signal, thanks for your post, it helps me a lot!

  4. Excellent and helpful post… i am so glad to left comment on this. This has been a so interesting read, would love to read more here…. cell phone detector and cell phone detection

  5. Hi,really nice post.Keep it.up.
    Overall I have been exceptionally inspired with this little unit. It does everything guaranteed no sweat, the "3" network in my my area is extremely solid for information and as I have it on PAYG I will never need to identify with any of their shameful call focus staff. Extremely satisfied with this buy :)

  6. What a fantabulous post this has been. Never seen this kind of useful post. I am grateful to you and expect more number of posts like these. Thank you very much. mobile problems


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