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Old 08-08-2022, 08:03 PM   #1
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Cell Phone Booster

Sorry, I'm guessing this must be a discussion topic already, but I'm a new RV owner, and very new to both RVs and online forums (i.e., I've tried to look in the forum for the answer, but failed). My RV is parked on our land by Buena Vista, CO, two hour from my home - just to give you an idea of use (Remote area, weekend use). I live in in the city, and my wife and I just spend a few days or a summer week in the RV. I have horrible reception. I'd like to get a cell phone booster, but it's tough to tell what works. Does anyone have any advice? A specific cell phone signal booster that works well?

Thanks, and I promise the whisky by the fire is on me (as long as I can get a d@MN signal!).
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Old 08-08-2022, 09:54 PM   #2
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Although I don't own one, from my reading and searching this seems to be the best solution according to many.
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Old 08-08-2022, 10:38 PM   #3
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The WeBoost Drive Reach series seems to be the best when it comes to portable cell boosters. I have three of them, one in each of my trucks plus the rv edition. They are pricey, but they do work. But do know that it does have its limitations. If there is zero service… well you’ll probably end up with zero boost. (This is isnt 100% true though. Plenty of times I have 0 bars or a “No Service” with my booster off, but get service when I turn it on). If you are looking for something to help make phone calls or texts, a booster can help with that a lot. But if you are hoping to boost service enough to stream or download… you could be in for a shock. I’ve had plenty of areas/times where I had service to talk on the phone, and had “full service” show, but had data speeds in the low single digits, making the internet useless.
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Old 08-09-2022, 04:15 AM   #4
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My home while not remote is in one of those places "in between the towers". To get decent cell reception in my house i have a weboost set up. They are pricey but work with any carrier. In my home shop and fiver, i have a much cheaper version but they are band specific and you will have to get the right one for your carrier
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Old 08-09-2022, 08:26 AM   #5
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There are lots of previous posts on iRV2 about this. The discussions go on endlessly. Finding those posts is a challenge.

There are two basic methods of improving cell coverage. Each has its place.

One method is mentioned in above posts. It is a cell signal booster. It is good for extremely weak signal boosting. Some in cab models hold the cell phone while driving.

Some are roof mounted. They receive the signal using a high gain antennae and powerful transmitter and receiver. It then re-transmits the cell signal inside the RV. These are tricky to set up to prevent the powerful roof transmitter from interfering with the weak interior re-transmitter, but do provide better performance with extremely weak signals. A high mast mounted directional antennae provides the biggest effect.

Cell boosters are not as good as the other method at providing high data rates.

The other method is to put a cell phone system on the roof with 4 antennae (MIMO) and use a WiFi router to communicate with devices inside the RV. This system requires one or more SIM cards and cell account of its own. A cell phone requires WiFi calling to work with this system.

The MIMO system has much better data throughput. And greatly improves data in low signal situations. It may not connect in extremely low signal situations that a single mast mounted directional antennae may pull in.
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Old 08-09-2022, 09:58 AM   #6
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My OTR Drives with trucker omni antenna really helps. The inside antenna has limited distance due to preventing feedback.
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Old 08-09-2022, 10:50 AM   #7
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The cell boosters work when there is a weak signal and don't work if there is no signal at all. The weaker the signal the closer to the internal antenna you will have to be. There are times when you have to touch the phone with it but usually within arms reach will do. It's really only good for "better than nothing in case of emergency" situations so you have to decide on your own whether it's worth the cost. IMO it is only worth it if you constantly go to areas with low signal strength. As far as data it is usually not the best solution a good antenna/router setup will be much more useful.
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Old 08-09-2022, 10:58 AM   #8
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We went with the - it seems to work well in fringe areas.
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Old 08-09-2022, 11:13 AM   #9
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I use cell phone boosters for my job. I've used Wilsons, and they work.

The Cel-Fi units are more expensive, but they work much better.

The critical piece to any booster is the outside antenna. My current install has a Proxicast antenna mounted on the roof of my MH (which can be removed if clearance is a problem) and the antenna connector can be attached to a different antenna on a pipe pole at a campground if needed.

You also have to pay attention to the placement of the inside antenna, if you get a feedback loop between the antennas, it's a problem

The Cel-fi boosters can be configured/monitored over bluetooth, so you can aim a directional antenna and make actual measurements until you get it just right.

I'm on Verizon btw, no real world experience with other carriers. I haven't used a 5G booster yet either, but I don't think 5G is in really rural areas yet
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Old 08-09-2022, 11:16 AM   #10
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Before installing an external antenna and/or booster, read this article about "ground planes":
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Old 08-09-2022, 11:24 AM   #11
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You know the "tower" is just north of the Chalk Cliffs, and if you don't have line of sight to it, getting a signal is tough out here.
My sticks and bricks is just south of the airport runway and I have Verizon, which is the "best" carrier here in B.V. Though none are as good as C.S.

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Old 08-09-2022, 02:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by BCam View Post
Before installing an external antenna and/or booster, read this article about "ground planes":
One feature of the Proxicast antenna is that it is a "no ground plane" or NGP antenna. Having said that, it has a advertised SWR of about 2.5, which I verified with an antenna analyzer. Even so, I get good up/down gain and nothing has overheated.

Cell signals are in the 900 MHz and up range. This means that ground planes can be fairly small compared to things like CB's and HF radios. I ran a ground wire to the nearby AC unit on my roof just to have an earth ground, and the SWR didn't change enough to matter.
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