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Find a tree and make that call
Posted: 27 February 2012

Many of us struggle with wireless signals. I happen to live in a wireless shadow, where signal strength from all three major mobile operators is adequate, but barely good enough for decent 3G broadband, even though there is full strength on all carriers just over the hill, two kilometres away.

It's pretty frustrating. Some of my Twitter friends complain about similar issues in the heart of the busiest city in Africa, while on a road trip you can forget about your iPad until you get to a major town. On the other hand, I've received text SMS in the most remote and unlikely places, including the wilds of Mana Pools, on the banks of the great Zambezi river, the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In these situations, it's often not the lack of spectrum that is the problem - rather the lack of clear reception, and the need to generate a strong enough signal from your mobile device or 3G modem to reach the nearest tower. Imagine if you could easily create a powerful antenna, without the massive inconvenience of launching a helium balloon trailing a length of wire.

How about spraying a nearby tree or lamp post, and hey presto - full signal? What a wonderful idea!

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