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Guide for sharing 3G Mobile Broadband with a Wireless Router

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Mobile Broadband is becoming incredibly popular, but it’s not just people that are out and about all day that are finding a use for it – people who can’t get broadband through their phone line, students in halls, those in short term rental.. the list goes on.

Although the prices for mobile broadband have come down considerably over the last couple of years, if you have several people & devices that want to use the internet at the same time, getting a mobile broadband connection for everyone can prove to be quite expensive.

Thankfully though, technology has moved on and we’re no longer restricted to having to use a separate dongle for each computer we want to use and Netgear and Option have both introduced new wireless routers that will make sharing your mobile broadband connection quick and easy.

Netgear 3G Wireless Router MBR624GU

Netgear are well known for making simple, affordable wireless routers that are easy to set up, and this one is no exception. It looks similar to most of their other routers, but the big difference is that instead of having a connection to your cable modem or BT phone line, it has a USB port that you can plug just about any 3G USB Modem in to.

Netgear 3G Wireless Router MBR624GU

Netgear 3G Wireless Router MBR624GU

The router will then establish a connection to your Mobile Network, and once it’s connected it will share the internet connection over both a wireless and wired network.

By creating a wireless network it means that devices like the iPod touch, Playstation3 and eBook readers can all access the internet easily. Infact, it’s not just wireless devices that can use it. The router has 4 ethernet ports on the back that can be used to add non-wireless computers, games consoles, printers and network storage (NAS) devices to the network.

The router has all the standard security options you’d expect to find on any Netgear router and creating your secure wireless network is quick and painless. As your download amount is limited I’d strongly recommend setting up a password for your wireless network. If you don’t and your neighbours start using it, you could end up with excessive bills.

Option GlobeSurfer X1

The GlobeSurfer X1 is similar in many ways to the Netgear, but is much smaller. It supports all 3G broadband dongles on all networks and can be up and running in a matter of minutes. Like the Netgear router, the X1 can be used to create a wired or wireless network, regardless of whether a 3G dongle is present or not.

Option GlobeSurfer X1

Option GlobeSurfer X1

There are a couple of technical differences between the two routers too. Firstly, the GlobeSurfer X1 supports 802.11 b, g and n, where as the Netgear only supports 802.11g. To be honest, this shouldn’t make too much of a difference when accessing the internet, but if all your connected devices support 802.11n, it’ll make sharing files between them a fair bit quicker. Your Mobile Broadband dongle will have a limit so I’d strongly recommend setting up a password for your wireless network. If you don’t and your neighbours start using it, you could end up with excessive bills.

The other difference is to do with the ports on the back. The X1 only has 2 ethernet ports instead of 4 and has a USB port that you can use to attach USB printers or Network Storage devices as the X1 doubles up as a File and Printer server.

Important Notes

It’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to have the Mobile Broadband dongle connected to either of the routers in order for your wireless (or wired) network to work. By that I mean that even if you remove the dongle from the router, all of the devices that are connected to the network will still be connected and therefore able to access shared files, print to a networked printer or stream content from one device to another.

If you are going to be sharing your Mobile Broadband connection, you need to make sure that everyone using it is aware of the download limit that you have with your dongle. Unlike most fixed line broadband services, you don’t get unlimited downloads, with most networks capping your data at 1, 3, 5 or 15GB a month with extremely high charges if you go over your limit. If you are going to be watching video online, downloading movies or game demo’s on your games console, you’ll need to keep a close eye on how much data you’ve used. You can normally do this through the ‘My Account’ section of your service providers website.

How to Install your Mobile Broadband Aerial

Friday, August 28th, 2009

You may have already read on our previous post, that the best way to improve the signal on your 3G Mobile Broadband Dongle is to attach an external aerial.

Although installing a broadband Aerial may sound like a complicated procedure, it really isn’t!

There are two main types of aerial, one with a dongle specific connector, and a universal one. The steps below will show you how to connect the Clip Aerial and High Gain Aerials to your dongle.

Universal Aerials

Clip Aerial:

Installing the Universal Ariel

The Clip Aerial clips on to the top of your laptop screen and is attached to the antenna pad by joining the two cables together. It’s a simple screw connection so shouldn’t cause you any hassle.

To connect the aerial to your dongle, you just need to sit the antenna pad on top of your dongle, and then securing by wrapping the velcro strap around it.

That’s it – just plug the dongle into your laptop and you should see a difference in signal straight away.

High Gain Aerial:

Installing the High Gain Universal Ariel

The High Gain is Aerial designed to be a more permanent solution, and as a result. installation for this aerial is slightly different as the aerial needs to point in the direction of your nearest transmitter.

The 1.2 metre cable that is included will need to be connected to both the aerial and the antenna pad. As with the clip aerial, its a simple screw connection to attach them, and it’s not possible to connect them the wrong way round. If you need a longer cable, 3 metre and 5 metre extension cables are available (High Gain Aerial only).

To connect the aerial to your dongle, you just need to sit the antenna pad on top of your dongle, and then securing by wrapping the velcro strap around it.

You can now plug your dongle in and launch the broadband control panel. You just need to position the aerial so that it now points towards your nearest network transmitter. If you don’t know where it is, then just rotate the aerial until the signal strength increases.

Dongle Specific Aerials

Clip Aerial:

Installing Dongle Specific Ariel

The Clip Aerial sits on the top of your laptop screen and is attached to the antenna pad by joining the two cables together. It’s a simple screw connection so shouldn’t cause you any hassle.

To connect the aerial to your dongle, you need to locate the antenna connection – this is normally hidden under a dust flap. Once you’ve found it, gently push the aerial connector in as far as you can.

That’s it – just plug the dongle into your laptop and you should see a difference in signal straight away.

High Gain Aerial:

Installing Dongle Specific High Gain Ariel

The High Gain Aerial is designed to be a more permanent solution, and as a result. installation for this aerial is slightly different as the aerial needs to point in the direction of your nearest transmitter.

The 1.2 metre cable that is included will need to be connected to both the aerial and the antenna pad. As with the clip aerial, its a simple screw connection to attach them, and it’s not possible to connect them the wrong way round. If you need a longer cable,3 metre and 5 metre extension cables are available (High Gain Aerial only).

To connect the aerial to your dongle, you need to locate the antenna connection – this is normally hidden under a dust flap. Once you’ve found it, gently push the aerial connector in as far as you can.

You can now plug your dongle in and launch the broadband control panel. You just need to position the aerial so that it now points towards your nearest network transmitter. If you don’t know where it is, then just rotate the aerial until the signal strength increases.

If you want help finding your nearest network transmitter, the OFCOM sitefinder website has maps showing the locations of all transmitters.

How to Improve your 3G Mobile Broadband Signal

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

18962One of the great things about Mobile Broadband is that you can go online anywhere you like – but you can almost guarantee that the place you need it the most is the place where signal is at its weakest.

While 3G coverage is getting stronger with all networks, there will still be blackspots where it drops out, or you can only pick up a 2G signal. Thankfully, a couple of solutions are now available to try and get round these signal issues.


If you don’t have a dongle yet and are looking for the network with the strongest 3G signal, then the OFCOM website has just published updated coverage maps (as of 31/12/08) that allow you to view the 3G coverage by network.

There are two solutions to increase your Mobile Broadband Signal:

Clip Aerial

  • This Aerial is designed to be a portable solution that clips onto the screen on your laptop or sits on your desk. It is omni-directional, which means that it will pick up signals from all directions.

High Gain 3G Directional Aerial

  • This is a much more powerful signal booster than the clip aerial and is ideal for people who have real problems with 3G reception. They are directional, which means that you will need to point this towards your network’s transmitter in order for it to improve the signal. The High Gain antenna when positioned correctly will make a significant difference to the signal you receive and can be wall mounted as a permanent fixture.

Both aerials can make a big difference to the signal you receive. Simply clip on to the top of your laptop screen, and then either plug into, or wrap around your or and depending on the Dongle or Data Card that you’re using, the connection method will vary. Some will have an ariel connection that will plug straight into the dongle, and others will take a Universal “strap on” connection. Aerials are available for Dongles and Data Cards from all major networks including: O2, Orange, 3, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Virgin.

To help you find the right antenna for your dongle, you can now check the 3G Antenna Compatibility chart or view all our available antennas in the Mobile Broadband category of our site.

Identifying your Dongle

Set up is quick and simple:

Clip 3G Antenna to screen The Clip Antenna easily clips onto the screen of your laptop or can be mounted in the desk stand (if included).
The High Gain Directional Antenna needs to be mounted on the deskstand, or fixed to the wall (bracket included)

3G Antenna InstallationNext you’ll need to connect the antenna to the adapter cable. If your dongle has an antenna connection, carefully connect the end of the cable to your dongle.

The Clip Antenna includes a 50cm cable, the High Gain Directional Antenna comes with a 1.2m cable. Longer 3m cables and 5m cables are available.

Clip 3G Antenna to screenIf your dongle doesn’t have an antenna connection, wrap the universal adapter round your dongle and make sure that it doesn’t stop it from going in to your pc/laptop.

The High Gain 3G Directional Antenna will need to be positioned so that it is facing your nearest mobile phone transmitter. To help you out, you can use the Ofcom Sitefinder. This will show you where the nearest transmitters are, but it won’t say which networks they belong to, so finding the right one will be a case of trial and error!

That’s it! All done. Use your Dongle or Data card as normal and you should see an increase in signal strength straight away.

Which Mobile Broadband Aerial do I need?

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Mobile Broadband Aerials and signal boosters are perfect for getting better connection strength in areas of limited 3G signal. By connecting an Aerial to your Mobile Broadband Dongle and pointing it at the nearest mobile phone mast can significantly improve both connection speeds and stability.

To find your dongle quickly, press “ctrl” and “f” on your keyboard, and then type in the model number of your dongle (eg: E160G) to search this page. If your dongle is not listed here, don’t worry, this is only a snapshot of the most popular dongles.

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