Ever wondered what those data speed symbols mean on your mobile or mifi device?

Getting a fast and reliable internet connection is crucial when working away from home. Typically the stronger the signal the faster and more reliable connection you should expect. 4G/LTE speeds are not available in all areas. All speeds are dependent upon signal strength, available networks, interference, phone type, network contention and congestion.

Here’s what those symbols mean:

Symbol Name Generation Max. Speeds UK Implementation
G GPRS 2G 0.1 Mb/s 2000
E EDGE 2.5G 0.4 Mb/s 2006
3G 3G 3G 2 Mb/s 2003
H HSDPA 3.5G 7.2 Mb/s 2006
H+ HSDPA+ 3.75G 21 Mb/s 2011
LTE LTE / 4G 4G 100 Mb/s 2013

If you wish to find out how fast your connect is I recommend www.speedtest.net who also have free mobile apps available.

There is also an excellent free iPhone and Android app called OpenSignal. This shows you where your nearest phone mast is located and which one you are connected to together with signal strength and typical speed available. Their web site also has signal heat maps of signal quality.

Finding a better signal

Increase your elevation. To get more signal, you need to either get higher in elevation so as to be clear of obstructions or move around the obstructions that are present. Reception may be better higher up.

Try moving outside or to a window. Don’t bother trying to make calls from deep inside buildings or underground. Buildings and other large structures are very unfriendly to adequate mobile phone signal. Some mobile providers have signal map tool for your smartphone. These typically work by pointing the user in the direction of their nearest cell tower and can be extremely effective in locating better coverage.

If inside your motorhome or camper then the metal walls can deflect the signal. If you have a mifi device then you may be able to obtain an external antenna for your device or if using a mobile phone as a hot spot put your phone outside of a sky light – this removes the metal shielding and increases elevation.

We purchased an extra long usb charge cable so our mifi can be placed outside the skylight but kept charged at the same time – weather pending!