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The short antenna guide

How directional antennas can improve your mobile broadband reception, and how to avoid the pitfalls

More and more high-quality Internet connections will be delivered over the mobile network in the future, and the antenna is a very important element in getting a good quality experience with higher speed.

Data from mobile broadband is transmitted from the telecom operator's antenna via radio signals passing through the antenna on the receiving phone or cellular router. How far the radio signals reach depends partly on the frequency and partly on the obstacles the signals encounter underway between the operator and the user antenna connected to the equipment. Regardless of the distance between the user and the operator antenna, an augmented and in many cases external antenna will improve the strength of signal you receive. With the correct choice of an augmented antenna and installation, the connection quality will be improved significantly, especially when it is on the edge of the coverage area where the signal is weaker.

The augmented antenna has a higher gain and therefore the received signal is stronger. It is very simple physics, since an augmented antenna, regardless of type, is significantly larger than the very small antennas that are built into a mobile modem or a router, and as the augmented antenna covers a larger area, it captures more energy from the radio signal, which is then conducted via the antenna cable directly into the modem or router.

In most cases the augmented antenna is external to the wireless router and placed outside on a building or rooftop. In this configuration the signal must be conducted through a long cable to the modem or a router, and the gain in signal strength from the external antenna is lost in the cable. One way to improve on this issue is to buy high quality cables and connector which both are potential obstacles for the signal to reach the router, but this is both expensive and require a professional installer. MiWire has solved this in a smarter way which make both installation and operation very easy, so most customers can do by themselves. The MiWire RouDem has built the augmented antenna and the modem together in one device. In this way the modem inside the RouDem receives the full signal strength from the build-in augmented antenna, which results in a much better reception and consequently high data transmission speed.

Omni Antenna

Antennas for outdoor mounting are usually divided into two types: omnidirectional and directional antennas. The omnidirectional antenna has the same gain when receiving signals from any direction, whereas directional antennas have a higher gain when receiving signals form a specific direction.

Most user equipment, including all mobile phones, use omnidirectional antennas. In this way the user is not concerned with how the equipment of held or mounted. This is also a complex task in urban areas where the signal is reflected from buildings and where you cannot just point in the direction of the transmission mast when mounting the antenna. In populated areas the distance from the user equipment to the operator’s antenna is typically shorter, and the cellular signal is stronger, so the antenna gain will mostly not affect transmission quality. In some cases, there are several operator antennas within a short distance and the user can hardly predict which antenna the cellular network will use to connect to the user equipment.

Directional Antenna

Directional antennas are suitable for use in the countryside or other places where the distance to the operator antenna is longer. This means that the received signal is weaker. This is where the higher gain of the directional antenna comes into play. The next issue a user with a directional antenna is challenged with is where to point it. Some use signal strength meters to measure the signal when the antenna is pointed in different directions. Others might be able to see the operator antenna and point the directional antenna in that direction. The best signal reception is achieved if the operator and user antenna can see each other in a line-of-sight condition. Be aware that even trees between the two antennas can lower the signal quality. Therefore, the general rule is, the higher the better. It is important to note that wind, rain, and time wear of the materials may change the direction of the antenna, or the operator can simply change the serving antenna to one in another position. Sometimes, operators turn off some radio base stations at night to save energy, and therefore some antennas become inactive. In any case, the user will experience a drop in signal quality and consequently a lower transmission speed for the mobile broadband connection. With the manually mounted antenna the user must then repeat the adjustment procedure for the directional antenna to find a new and better direction to point it. Some users are trying to avoid the complex installation of the directional antenna and have chosen an omnidirectional antenna connected to an antenna amplifier. This will help them to a certain extent, but this solution has two drawbacks. First, the omnidirectional antenna pics up signal from every direction, and the radio noise picked up from other sources will also be amplified and as the desired antenna signal is weak, the signal to noise ratio becomes bad. Also, when the desired signal is very low, the internal noise in the amplifier will be added to the signal before fed into the cellular router, and in both cases the transmission quality will be lower and so will the speed of the mobile broadband connection. The use of 5G has added another dimension to the use of directional antennas. This new cellular standard will in some cases use super high frequencies and the signal reach is quite shorter than with the cellular networks we are used to. This means that even for shorter distances, like in cities, using directional antennas for better signal reception makes sense.

With MiWire RouDem we have eliminated the complexities that comes with the installation and use of a directional antenna. When first turned on, RouDem will automatically scan the horizon and map out the best direction for the built-in directional antenna. Here, RouDem uses more than just the signal strength, and the signal to noise ratio and transmission speed for each operator antenna are also measured to determine the best operator antenna to point to. At MiWire, we have built a database with the position of operator antennas and collect information from the installed RouDems on the transmission capacity of each antenna. This helps the RouDem to speed up the scanning and increase the precision. Cellular networks are very dynamic, and operators shift their “serving cells” frequently, but RouDem will receive the change message from the networks and map out the new direction for the best antenna.

In addition, RouDem also contains several other elements that make things work in practice:

  • A WiFi router that creates RouDem's own WiFi access point.
  • An embedded GPS receiver and a compass that determines the direction to the best operator antenna.
  • A single cable for both power supply and data transmission if you want to connect your RouDem to your in-house network or WiFi router.
  • A very resistant hermetically closed case made of all-year weather resistant materials.
  • A cloud-based remote monitoring system, which can be used by both you and your mobile service provider.
  • Battery for 8-20 hours of operation without external power

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SeaWire & GlobalWire
MiWire/SeaWire & GlobalWire

If there are no dealers in your area, please contact us.

Diplomvej 381
2800 Kongens Lyngby
+ 45 82 820 820
MiWire Group ApS, DK44555395



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