How to choose an Antenna

Poynting manufactures a large selection of antennas across a broad range of applications. Read the guidelines below to find the best solution for your needs.


How to choose an antenna


The basics of selecting an antenna:

You may not know this, but the weaker your signal strength – for data connections using the LTE/3G and HSPA data bands – the slower your connection speed will be.

There are many possible reasons why your data speeds are influenced and they include your distance to the nearest base station, your surroundings, including the buildings around you, and the type of equipment you use to make your data connection.

The fastest and possibly the most reliable way of boosting your signal strength and data connection if it is weak and slow, is to fit an external antenna. Using an appropriate external antenna can double your signal strength and data speed, but it can in some instances improve it by up to 10 times!

In one use case the user connected his Huawei E160 3G USB stick to an ADPT-26 and an external OMNI-121 Antenna. This combined to boost the boost data download speeds by between 3 and 6 times, which greatly benefitted the user and his productivity.

What are the two major considerations when choosing an antenna?

Before you can decide which antenna is the best for your requirements, you must understand that the antenna’s strength is called “gain”. When you search for your ideal antenna, you should look for one that has a significant gain in all of the frequency ranges that are applicable to your needs.

Your device will indicate in which frequency band it operates. This will give you a good idea which antenna to look for to help boost your device.

Do not be fooled by cheap antennas that offer a wide band or high gain in a small band. Rather look for a proven solution that covers a wide band and yet offers a significant gain.

Once you have found the ideal antenna, you should consider placing it outside your office or home or near a window. This is very important as solid walls significantly impair signal strength and it can hamper even a strong antenna.

Different Antenna Types

In general, antennas are classified as “directional” (sending and receiving in one specific direction) or “omnidirectional” (same sending and receiving qualities all around the antenna).

  • Directional and Omnidirectional Antennas
    • Antennas that have to be pointed in the direction of the signal source, such as a base station, are classified as directional antennas. These antennas work best when they are mounted high and with the best possible line of sight to the base station that it is receiving a signal from.
    • Poynting manufactures several directional antennas, including products in the XPOL and LPDA ranges.
  • Omnidirectional Antennas
    • Certain XPOL and OMNI antennas manufactured by Poynting Antennas can receive a signal from any part of the antenna. These types of antennas does not have to be mounted in a specific direction and they automatically connect to the nearest source of a signal.
    • You should choose a directional antenna when your outside signal is weak and you need a significant boost. If your outside signal is reasonable, you can choose an omnidirectional antenna that is easier to install and that will still give you a significant boost.
    • Omnidirectional antennas are easier to install and directional antennas offer a higher gain.

What should I consider when installing an antenna outside?

When installing an antenna, you should balance the height of the installation with the length of the cable that you require.

When you look for a place to install an antenna on the outside of your home, for example, you should consider the highest possible place that uses the least amount of cabling. The quality of the cable does of course influence the length that you could use before it affects the strength too much.

As a rule of thumb, you should consider a cable length of no more than 8 metres when you use an omnidirectional antenna, while you can stretch the cable length up to 15 metres when you use a directional antenna.

When you install a directional antenna, more it by 10 degrees at a time and check the strength of the signal boost on your mobile phone every minute. This is a quick and relatively easy way to align your directional antenna with the source of the signal.


Using cables

The length of your antenna cable will dramatically affect the quality of the signal that you receive and a too long antenna cable can cancel out any gains that your antenna has achieved.

Using a cable such as RG-58 is not ideal for high frequency bands such as HSPA, while HDF-195 has a much smaller loss per metre. It is important to consider the quality of your cabling when choosing the ideal position to place an antenna.