Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Optimizing your wireless connection speeds

This article was first posted in Mobility Philippines on June 27, 2007. To some degree it is still relevant today so I am reposting it here.

Some people get good speeds with their wireless connections some do not. Sometimes the problems are network related and at other times they are simply settings. Last night, as I was about to connect to Smart 3G's network with a Sony Ericsson P990i as a modem for a laptop from Seattle's Best Tomas Morato I noticed that Sony Ericsson's PCSuite Mobile Networking Wizard it reported that it was connected to the Smart GSM network.

Settings:
All 3G devices will connect to either a GPRS or 3G network depending on the signal detected by the device. By default, our devices are set to auto select. If I allowed the mobile phone to auto select, than instead of running on the 384kbps 3G network, it would run on the 62kbps GPRS network. If I let it do that, than I would have a slow connection with a maximum speed of 62kbps and complain that the network is slow.


Now, the P990i allows you to select between three connections options, GSM only, 3G/GSM and 3G only (UMTS only in other brands). I selected 3G only. This usually requires the device to reboot, but the P990i's Symbian UIQ software allows it to go to 3G only without a reboot. While I have my reservations about this phone as a hand held web browsing device, as a laptop modem it is perfect (except for the absence of HSPA support). The P990i went from the 5 bar GSM signal to a 3 bar 3G signal. But a weaker 3G signal is better than a strong GSM signal.

With 3 bars, I got these results using Speedtest.net:

If I let the phone auto select I would be getting 62kbps or less even with the 5 bar signal.

So if you want to maximize your connection speeds select a device with a 3G only setting and learn how to use this setting. On Globe's HSDPA network I kept my Huawie E620 Data Card on "3G only" all the time, setting it on GRPS/EDGE only when needed. This is a dedicated internet device. With the P990i, it is a mobile phone, so I let it autoselect and set it to 3G only as needed, as 3G only signals are weaker than GSM signals.

Network:
Wireless is great, it allows you to go anywhere, but be reasonable. Seattle's Best, Tomas Morato is a challenging location for both Smart 3G and Globe Visibility. Tonight I sat near the entrance of the shop facing the road and place the mobile phone as near to the window as possible. That allowed me to get a 3 bar 3G signal. If I sat further from the door I would get a weaker signal, and if I went all the way back into the smoking area, I would not be able to get a 3G signal at all and would only be able to connect via a poor GPRS signal. Ten meters changes my 330kbps to 38kbps.

Wireless devices are line of sight, so put them as close to clear air as possible. Don't expect to be able to connect from the basement of your house or from the interior room of a building and get good speeds.

If you are having connections problems from your home try different areas in the house and see if you can get a better signal or place the modem or mobile phone in different locations. The Huawie e220 comes with two cables to connect with your laptop. A short one and a long one, the latter to allow more options on where to place your modem.

Two simple tips. I hope this improves your wireless browsing experience.

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