How can I improve my Clear internet reception?
April 15, 2012 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Does my building have crazy windows? I'm struggling to get decent reception for Clear Internet even though I live TWO BLOCKS from Clear WiMAX towers. I opened my balcony door a moment ago and BAM! Awesome reception. This is crazy. What's going on and what can I do?

Balcony door open - 4 bars:
5637kb down,
964kb up.

Balcony door closed - 2 bars:
415kb down,
475kb up.

The far wall of my loft is 8 feet wide by 9 feet high of windows. I live on the top story of a high rise right in the center of downtown Portland with a slew of Clear WiMAX towers within blocks of me. I should be getting excellent reception.

I have the Clear Hub Express modem and bought the D-Link external antenna for it. I just got this stuff yesterday and am trying it out to see if I can finally dump Comcast.

What can I do to improve my signal?
posted by 2oh1 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Er.... that should read:
Balcony door open: 4 out of 5 bars on my Clear modem.
Closed: 2 out of 5 bars on my Clear modem... but you probably knew that :)
posted by 2oh1 at 4:49 PM on April 15, 2012

Can you post a photo of your windows, maybe? Are they double-glazed window units? It's possible that your windows are high-efficiency IGUs (insulated glazing units) that use metallic films inside the windows to block some percentage of solar radiation -- and that its the metallic films that are acting as faraday cages and blocking some of the reception.
posted by suedehead at 4:57 PM on April 15, 2012

From an article on Broadband DSL Reports:
[C]ustomers in our forums...haven't been exactly thrilled with the new Mobile WiMax service's speed, range or availability...Apparently...apartment windows have an ultra-thin layer of silver molecules to help block UV radiation, something fairly common in new or renovated homes/apartments, but which isn't playing nice with Clear service.
posted by bcwinters at 4:57 PM on April 15, 2012

Can you place the antenna near a wall rather than the window? Something with "line of sight" but through the wall rather than through the window - depending on the construction of the building it might be better than a thin silver screen.

I believe you can get a hardened outdoor antenna - could you place this outside the window an run the RF cabling into the apartment?
posted by NoDef at 5:03 PM on April 15, 2012

GAH. I'm sure that's what it is. My building was built in 2003 and is touted as being very green. I'm now wondering if I can do some sort of trick to put the antenna on the balcony somehow? It's not a powered antenna and if I could cable it, it would only be less than 15 feet (probably closer to 11). Grrrr!
posted by 2oh1 at 5:04 PM on April 15, 2012

Up against a wall:
1034 down.
865 up.
For $50 a month, I want better than that.
posted by 2oh1 at 5:16 PM on April 15, 2012

Sorry about your lame-ass windows. You can definitely fix this. What you need is a pass-through antenna. Basically it is an antenna on the outside - say, on your balcony - which has a coaxial cable that goes through your balcony window, and then inside there is another antenna, which allows the router to speak to the outside. It's like a happy little tunnel for RF energy to escape.

Unfortunately I'm not able to search for you right now, but if you can't find the right product, just find two antennas in the Clear band (whatever freq it's operating at) and plug them together, one inside, one outside.
posted by fake at 5:46 PM on April 15, 2012

The pass-through antenna is also called a passive repeater.

Also, if the antennas you really are seeing are the WiMax antennas for Clear, you want a directional antenna. With a directional antenna, you might not even need to put it outside and still get good reception.
posted by gjc at 6:14 PM on April 15, 2012

My antenna is definitely directional. If I turn it even 1/4 turn, the signal plummets (indoors. On the balcony, it's really strong regardless of direction).
posted by 2oh1 at 6:17 PM on April 15, 2012

I've officially given up. I've proven that I can get a strong signal with a booster antenna on the balcony or in my apartment with the door open. And, in theory, I should be able to get that signal indoors if I wedge a passive repeater or pass through antenna through the window and onto the balcony... but even still, for the exact same $49 a month, I can get faster internet through Comcast than I got with the best-case sunny day perfect conditions with Clear using a booster antenna on the balcony.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:16 PM on April 16, 2012

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