Positioning your router
Finding the best place for your router
Almost all of the current AirCards have functionality to determine where your carriers signal strength is the best. If you hover your mouse over and around the signal strength bars on the connection manager, a small window will open with a numeric RSSI (received signal strength indicator). On EVDO modems there will generally be two indicators, 1xRTT and 1xEVDO Rev A. On GSM modems you may see Edge and 3G. The second number is broadband, and the one we want to work with. These numeric indicators give us a much more scientific measurement then the signal strength bars.
Hopefully you have the Aircard connected to a laptop, and can wander around the premises and keep an eye on the signal strength indicator. The RSSI will range between -50dbm (perfect) and -150dbm (forget about it), for the best performance, you want to get -80dbm or higher (closer to -50). Pay special attention around windows, higher is usually better, and determine the area of the home or office that gets the best signal. Sometimes even orientation (vertical or horizontal) can make a considerable difference, so if your modem came with the USB extension cable, it may be best to use it. While you are doing this tests, try to keep the modem itself away from your body, and hold still for about 20 seconds in each location to allow the signal to stabilize.
Now you must temper the optimal location with whatever else needs to be connected to the router and cosmetic considerations. If you plan on connecting desktops or other devices via ethernet cables, you need to accomodate those connections in your decision. If running long runs of ethernet cable isn't practical, then you will need to look for the best location within an ethernet cable length of the desktop or other device to be connected. Another possibility is using a wireless adapter to connect a remotely located desktop without running an ethernet cable.
You can generally find a 'sweet spot' somewhere in the building that will give you acceptable service levels. We have seen situations where the actual aircard could be velcroed to the glass or window frame, and the router located behind the curtains to the side. We don't recommend positioning in a window if the sun will be directly on the modem for very long each day. We now stock USB extension cables that allow you to keep the modem and router separated. These cables are also handy when you are looking for the best location for your aircard.
If the lowest you can find is -90dbm or higher don't despair, you can likely still get acceptable service, but gaming and video streaming are probably not going to work for you. You should still get better speeds than dial-up or most satellite services. If you find that the speeds are not acceptable, you may want to look into antennas and/or booster amplifier. See the our article about Antennas and Boosters
Let us know if we can help!