New EVDO and HSDPA services available from Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, Alltel and Cingular Wireless have made broadband mobile services a reality. But as many users are finding out, the speed of the data connection depends strongly on the signal quality. Data services are considerably more sensitive to errors in transmitting and receiving signals than traditional cellular services, so the same signal that works adequately for a voice call is often incapable of providing reliable broadband signal.
Unfortunately, if there is no EVDO/HSDPA coverage at all in your area, there’s no way of improving the signal. However, if you have at least 1 bar of signal somewhere nearby, it’s possible to use a high gain antenna and repeater to amplify the signal and provide reliable broadband access. Since all of our recommended units are dual-band, they will work with services from any of the major carriers, and will also improve voice signals if used with a normal cell phone.
Here are our recommendations:
Universal wired kit: Wilson Signalboost ($219)
For users who want a mobile solution for their broadband woes, we suggest the Wilson Signalboost Kit. The Signalboost amplifier boosts the broadband signal and channels it through a velcro patch that is stuck directly onto your data card or cell phone. Since the Signalboost uses this easy universal connection method, it can be used with cell phone and data card devices from any manufacturer. The kit comes with a 12V DC Cigarette Adapter as standard, but add a Wilson 12V AC Adapter to make the kit usable anywhere.
Direct Connect kit: SignalWide Clickitbase ($249)
For users who need an additional signal improvement, it’s possible to connect a cell phone repeater directly into the antenna port of their data card or cell phone. For these situations we recommend the SignalWide ClickItBase, which is sold with a custom connector for your phone or data card. The ClickItBase is designed specifically for 3G applications, but will improve all signals.
Wireless kit: Wi-Ex zBoost zPersonal zP ($169)
Wireless Extender’s new zP unit is a very low-cost wireless kit that can be used to cover a radius of up to 6 feet from the indoor antenna. To improve broadband coverage throughout a room or small building, we highly recommend Wireless Extender’s zBoost YX-510 repeater kit. The zBoost YX-510 comes with 35 feet of cabling that connects an outdoor antenna to an indoor unit that amplifies and rebroadcasts the signal. The standard YX-510 kit can cover up to 2,500 square feet from a strong outdoor signal.