LTE is a modern marvel, allowing people to connect to the internet through their smart devices over the air, with no need for physical cables. And because it’s wireless, it’s the most popular way for South Africans to access the internet.
But it’s also an imperfect technology. While local networks have deployed thousands of cell towers all over the country, each one offering connectivity over a medium-sized area, LTE’s wireless signal still can’t reach absolutely anywhere.
Physical limitations are usually the culprit: objects and geography interfere with wireless signals, weakening them and preventing them from providing 100% coverage. This is why some people complain of poor cell signal at home or at their offices, commonly called “dead spots” that LTE and WiFi just don’t reach.
When you’re reliant on LTE connectivity when working from home, this can be a major source of frustration. People in this situation typically end up seeking out the one spot in their home where their LTE signal is strongest, and setting up their home offices there.
If this is a convenient spot, great, but sometimes it isn’t, and people can end up in their kitchens or bathrooms with their laptops in a bid to get some work done.
But fear not, there is a solution! The only downside is it’s not free; read on to find out more.
Boost that LTE signal
The answer to a weak LTE signal is to install equipment that can boost it. These devices are collectively called “cell phone signal boosters”.
The principle they are built on is quite simple: once installed and facing the closest cell tower, the signal booster picks up on the weak LTE signal in your area and amplifies it within your home. This improves the number of bars you’ll see on your phone, and boosts the data transfer speed of your LTE internet connection.
Finding the one that’s right for you is a simple matter of entering “cell phone signal booster” into your favourite search engine and sifting through the results.
Prepare for these devices to cost upwards of a couple thousand rand, however.
If your LTE internet connection enters your home through an LTE router, you can also purchase a standalone “high-gain LTE antenna” and connect it to your router. You can choose whether you’d like to mount it on the outside your home, or you can place it near a window.
These high-gain antennae work similarly to the antennae that came with your router, they are just better at picking up LTE signals. Once installed you should see a noticeable improvement in your internet speeds.
The only trick is figuring out which antennae to buy, as the means of connecting antennae to LTE routers is not one-size-fits-all, so be sure to figure that out before clicking the “buy” button.
Costs here range from a thousand rand and up.
A better WFH experience
Poor internet speeds owing to low LTE signal strength can really make or break your efforts to work from home. They are responsible for dropped video meeting calls, unstable access to online company resources, and even important emails not arriving at all or arriving late.
Fortunately, knowing what you know now you won’t have to live with that forever. A cell phone signal booster or a high-gain LTE antennae will cost a few thousand rands, but it will be money well-spent.
Especially if it means you can work from anywhere in your home, and not just that one spot in your bathroom between 11am and 12:30pm.