Increase WiMax USB Modem Signals Even Further – Cantenna Version 2

An improvement over the Wimax Cantenna I shared in my last post, this configuration has taken the signal strength to new heights – ie. from the 40-60% of v1 to a consistent 80%!

The principal is the same as version 1: take a 330ml can, cut it into half (but laterally this time). Chop off both ends so that we are left with a concave sheet, make a slit in the center to insert the USB modem in, and try it out. I used scissors to cut the can, but be careful not to cut yourself. Plug the modem in, and find the angle and orientation that gives the best signal.

I get an 80% signal when the modem is almost parallel to the table surface, which is very counter-intuitive (as we expect antennae to be upright), but it may have to do with the relative position of the tower from my home in this small valley – and as long as it works, who cares!

Cantenna Version 2 Cantenna Version 2

Please do share your experience in the comments if you are a(n unfortunate) Wateen customer and if you try this hack out.

Cantenna and Plantenna for Wimax

A fixed line PTCL DSL is not a viable option for me in Abbottabad, so as luck would have it, I ended up owning not one, but two Wateen Wimax connections after moving to Abbottabad from Lahore – I believe this irony has something to do with god deciding to punish me for my sins in this world rather than the hereafter.

My first Wateen router, the indoor CPE, did not work out of the box, as I live on the ground floor and Wimax was probably invented exclusively for people higher up. After trying a hundred locations all around the house, multiplied by a hundred different angles and orientations, the best signal strength that I could find was a measly 2/5 bars, which translated to a 20Kbps out of the 1Mbps speed that I was paying for. Out of sheer desperation, I tried placing the device sideways and facing upwards, which is the exact opposite of how it is supposed to stand, and placed it closer to the floor, under a plant – and in a eureka moment (anything that increases bandwidth is pure bliss, right?), the signal strength shot from 2/5 to 4/5 and even 5/5 bars! Apparently, the plant catches the signals and throws them downwards using some kind of druid magic.

Since then, my experiments show that most plants and small trees act as great Wimax antennae – for the USB modems, for example, if you are working from a park, sitting below a tree will give you at least a 20% increase in signal. Now I understand what Buddha was up to when chose to spend his life beneath a tree. So here it is, my plantenna

plantenna plantenna

Perhaps Yateem can resuscitate their business by giving out a plant with each modem. If you try this configuration, do let me know about your results.

A few months ago, Wateen released the USB version of its Wimax modem, which would be perfect for the “location independent professionals” if not for the same signal strength situation as the larger modem. Their towers are a kilometer from my house, but the USB modem failed function inside my house. As I did not intend to die by frost or mosquito bites, I was planning to return the device the next day when I decided to experiment with cantennas. The cantenna I made took the Wifi signal inside my home from a non-functional 0%-20% to a fully functional consistent 40%-60%!

cantenna wimax cantenna

The instructions are simple. Take a cola can, chop off the top half, create a slit wide at the base that is enough to place the can between the modem and its USB adapter and you are done. No wire loops to make, no can diameters to calculate and no need to wrap aluminum foil around concave surfaces.

I think this hack should also work with the EVDO USB devices, as I hear a lot of complaining regarding the signal strength from the PTCL EVDO users. If you try it out, I’d be very interested to hear about it in the comments.

P.S. Being away from one’s blog for months isn’t a great idea, but I have been busy coping with a lot of change – the deliberate kind (like moving from Lahore to Abbottabad for a while – more on that later) and the uncontrollable kind (my family getting into a car accident – more on that later).  I will resume the brain-dump here in the days to come.

Wateen Spampaign on Pakistani Blogs

I can’t say that I’m disappointed with Wateen, as I don’t really care at all about that brand or whatever they sell, be it bandwidth, cell connection or water-balloons. I do have a serious problem though, when there is an intrusive attempt by corporations to use my belongings (this blog being one) or my surrounding to  sell their products – and Wateen did just that!

Today, around noon, I received a comment spam from Wateen advertising their broadband packages on a post that has nothing to do with broadband.

Exhibit A - Spam by Wateen
Exhibit A - Spam by Wateen

The spam was sent by a certain H. S. Kiani (probably a desi John Doe) from the IP, with the email

I whois’ed the IP to verify that it was official Wateen spam generated from their own servers (and not a negative marketing campaign by one of their competitors), before trying to call their tollfree number and asking them about a certain Mr. Kiani, and was amused to see that the IP belonged to PTCL.

Despite being a very satisfied PTCL customer, I sent an email to Mr. Kiani, showing my interest in their amazing offer, and I also added him up on Yahoo Messenger, but so far there has been no response from him. If he does reply (one can dream, no?) I intend to ask him a LOT of questions.

A quick look at my analytics plugin (Open Web Analytics) revealed that the visitor had hit the same post twelve times before submitting the spam.

Rasala Group Spam
Wateen Spam

In parallel, I was also asking my tweeple on Twitter if they had received the same spam today, and not surprising, many of them confirmed their blogs, or the blogs that they read, were targetted by Wateen today as well. Here are a few tweets from this noon, recording things as they were uncovered. The ones in italics are mine.

  • Nice! Wateen (or some Wateen rival) just sent some comment spam about their broadband on my blog, including their URL and phone #! about 2 hours ago from TwitterFox
  • Has anyone else from Pakistan received comment spam from Wateen about their 1mbps package today? about 1 hour ago from TwitterFox
  • UzEE @reallyvirtual Lol. Tell them you wont remove the comment if they give you 6 month subscription free. about 2 hours ago from mobile web in reply to ReallyVirtual
  • @uzee I’m emailing the guy who spammed me, and calling the Wateen # mentioned afterwards. Funny thing, they used PTCL IPs to spam! about 1 hour ago from TwitterFox in reply to UzEE
  • phpgurru @ReallyVirtual I also received wateen spam from the IP 40 minutes ago from TwitterFox in reply to ReallyVirtual
  • aqeeliz @ReallyVirtual Quite a few other Pakistani blogs I read have gotten comment spam about Wateen package. less than 5 seconds ago from web in reply to ReallyVirtual
  • harisn @aqeeliz @ReallyVirtual I also got that Wateen spam comment. Infact I still have it in my pending comments hehe 8 minutes ago from in reply to aqeeliz

Shafiq from also shared that the text in the comment spam is the same as the one broadcast in Wateen’s radio ads, so this is a coordinated campaign. Aamir Atta pointed out this article by Bites85 on his blog that notices the recent rise in spampaigns by Wateen and other telcos very recently, so at least a few other bloggers have noticed as well.

This is the normally the point in the post where I start my rant, but it is almost my bedtime so I will not spread a lot of negativity, and instead, I will just ask a few questions and hope that the relevant people (read Mr. Kiani & Co.) will step up and answer them. What I really want to know is:


  • How could you possibly conceive a spampaign in the Pakistani Blogosphere and not worry one bit about it backfiring? Do you think the Pakistani bloggers are so naive that we will let your comments pass by unnoticed and let them stay on our blogs?
  • How can you support bloggers’ meetups all over Pakistan one month and spam the same bloggers the very next month?
  • I wrote down my email and blog URL on paper during LBM08 , which was supported by you. Did you take the URLs so that you may add me to your spam list? Did I opt-in? or are you spamming all the blogs aggregated on ?
  • Do you think I will trust your brand in the future, after you abuse my contact information?
  • I was all praises for LBM08 and still think its effect as a catalyst was significant, despite whatever motivations you had as a supporter. Do you think that I’ll feel the same way the next time you support any event?



  • Did you receive the same spam from Wateen this week? Care to share your  blog URL?

Enough questions. Time to sleep.