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Discussion in 'iPad Help' started by Gstvgrc, Sep 11, 2011.
Is there any way to improve the 3g navigation speed?
The speed of a 3G network is determined by a number of factors.
Firstly the protocol being used - either GPRS, EDGE, 3G or '3.5G' (HSDPA). Strictly speaking the first two - GPRS and EDGE - are 2G protocols but many service providers have a mix of 2G and 3G networks. GPRS and EDGE work on an enhanced GSM protocol and provide relatively low data rates of, at best, a 100 kbps or more.
3G, by contrast, can provide several megabits per second. 3G employs adaptive protocols (more correctly, adaptive modulation). The link quality is assessed dynamically and the base station (known as a node B in 3G terminology) adjusts the modulation used (encoding strategy). A good quality link will lead to an efficient modulation scheme and hence a better data rate.
This is generally controlled by the signal level - a stronger signal giving a better link quality - though, more correctly, it's the signal-to-noise ratio that's really important.
So, from an iPad's perspective, in order to get a better data rate the most a user can do is to try to improve the signal level (more signal bars). There are other factors too - I've mentioned the 'noise', so electrical interference will adversely influence the link quality.
Another factor is so-called 'fading', whereby the strength of the signal varies dynamically as a result of a number of factors - absorption by buildings, trees etc when the iPad is on the move, by reflection from objects - all metallic objects reflect radio waves, for example.
So, generally, more signal bars are better than fewer.
Generally, stationary is better than moving (less fading)
Generally, outdoors is better than indoors (less metallic objects to reflect the signal).
The antenna in the iPad, although designed to be 'omnidirectional' (good at receiving signals from any direction) does have optimal angles and receives the signal better in some orientations than others - you may be able to observe the change in the signal bars as you slowly change the orientation of the iPad.
Of course, choice of service provider is another factor - some service providers have better coverage - higher density of cell sites - in some areas and that, clearly, might influence your choice of service provider (if, indeed, you have a choice).
Generally, though, there's no too much that you can do other than find the position that gives you the best signal strength - move to an area where you get 3G rather than EDGE or GPRS - stationary rather than moving, outdoors rather than indoors...
Great post by Tim.
You might consider getting a signal booster. Sometimes a provider will provide one for free to keep a customer. AT&T will do this in the U.S. sometimes, for instance.
I own homes in different places, one of which has a lousy 3G signal, but I like my AT&T service enough to keep it with a signal booster.
Some places have crummy signals because of building density, geography, building construction, competing signals creating interference, etc. My brother lives on a hillside, for instance, and signal strength varies from room to room.