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Author Topic: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?  (Read 987 times)

SargeW

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2020, 10:10:34 AM »
Everybody wants a simple solution to poor cellular service, but once you get out into the fringes it is anything but simple. We'd like to think you can just turn up the Gain knob and have everything work, but that happens maybe only 10-20% of the time.  Mostly just in wide-open regions where distance from the tower is the only factor.  You can't amplify a signal that isn't there at all, nor can you successfully get a signal that comes and goes (intermittent). Reflected signals are nigh impossible to use because they drop out from one direction then reappear from another, sometimes within a fraction of a second but still breaking the digital conversation. Your wireless device shows a decent signal strength, but it's so inconsistent that the device is always in recovery mode, trying to complete the last handshake with the tower.  The symptoms include dropped calls, a phone that rings but has no voice, and data timeouts galore for internet access. Text messages may get through, though, because they are the simplest protocol to recover.

On top of all that, the bandwidth goes into the toilet because it's hard to get even tidbits of data through the system. You have no practical use even though the cell system may be technically "working as designed".

That's a great explanation Gary. One of the best I have heard, but it still doesn't make the DW happy when she can't get results from a Google search function! 

Sometimes I can boost the odds by switching to a different carrier in a location. I use both T-Mobile and Verizon and switch back and forth as necessary.  T-Mobile recently did an update to their towers for the up coming 5G standard, and claim that it has doubled the range of their existing signal.  I haven't been anywhere to test it yet, so for right now it's just hearsay to me. 
Marty--
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PJ Stough

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2020, 10:26:41 AM »
For those who may want to read a lengthy and thorough discussion about cellular data signals and signal strength and the latest hardware here is a link.

http://www.irv2.com/forums/f103/best-rv-internet-for-dummies-442761.html

Part of the solution offered is what Sarge mentioned and that is having two separate carriers.  The routers they mention are capable of using sim cards from two different carriers.
PJ Stough   Iowa
2005 Winnebago Voyage 38J

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Lou Schneider

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2020, 11:30:47 AM »
I installed several of the Pepwave MAX BR1 routers mentioned in that article at mountaintop transmitter sites and they are pro grade and bulletproof.  Not cheap, but their main market is service trucks and emergency vehicles where ruggedness and top performance is mandatory.

Usually I was able to get by with the included indoor antennas (not shown) but at one relay site I had to use outdoor directional antennas to reach a cell site on the valley floor 80 miles away.  Note the Pepwave uses dual cellular antennas (inputs on the rear panel) for diversity ... due to the cyclical nature of weak RF signals, if one antenna nulls out chances are the other will still have a usable signal.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 11:42:31 AM by Lou Schneider »

Back2PA

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2020, 11:39:49 AM »
Is the Pepwave a booster or just a router with an external antenna? If it's a router, how would one use it to boost cellular voice calls, use VOIP over wifi? Re the dual antenna inputs, in extreme conditions what two types of antennas would you use, directional and omni together?
Scott
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2020, 11:48:07 AM »
It's a cellular data modem and router.  There's no need for a booster as the direct inputs are as sensitive as what you'd find on a booster so you can connect it directly to the outside antennas.

There is no cellular output so voice calls would have to be VOIP.  Something to be aware of is since Verizon is shutting down their CDMA/3G network to make more room for 5G they're making VOIP standard on all of their new phones and converting existing phones via updates.   When the phone finds an open wifi hotspot it seamlessly places the call using the wifi signal instead of the 4G network.  Verizon calls this "HD Voice" as it uses a faster bitrate than standard CDMA calls.

It's something to keep in mind if you're running an open WiFi hotspot  ... you may find it's carrying a lot more traffic than you expect unless you password protect it.

The CDMA/3G shutdown was supposed to happen now but they pushed it back to the end of this year as they haven't been able to convert enough phones over yet.  I expect other carriers will follow soon as they also minimize or shut down their 3G networks.

It's also one reason for their Visible subsidiary - to get real world experience converting existing phones to VOIP.  Their success rate was less than they expected so they're now concentrating on selling new VOIP enabled phones.

The principle behind diversity antennas is radio signals cycle in strength on a wavelength basis.   If you have two antennas situated an odd number of half wavelengths apart, when one fades out the other will be at or near peak signal strength.  For cell signals a half wavelength is about 6", for FM broadcast signals it's about 3 ft.

You can mix antenna types. the important point is to mount them about 6" apart horizontally on the mast.  Hopefully so they're facing broadside to the signal source.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 12:25:46 PM by Lou Schneider »

SargeW

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #35 on: January 07, 2020, 01:19:50 PM »
I have been using a Pepwave MAX BR1 mini for over 2 years now.  The main difference with the MAX BR1 and the MAX BR1 mini is that the mini doesn't automatically come with the "Wifi as Wan" software activated.  Since I never use park Wifi in the rig, I didn't need the function.  It can be added later if desired, but I have not needed it yet.

I had one issue with the BR1 mini a while ago where it would only connect to Verizon on a 3G basis. I called 5G store where I bought my equipment, they contacted Pepwave who logged into my router and reloaded the software.  Other than that it has been bullet proof, and I get regular software downloads by Pepwave from 5G store.   I paid $299 for my BR1 mini, but with the built in 3 and 4G modem, all I needed was a Sim from which ever provider I wanted to use. 

I did opt for a Wilson Signal 4G Direct Connect Amplifier for the times when I am just on the fringe of a signal area and need that extra oomph to hit the tower.  That coupled with the Omni antenna on a mast and I can get signal in a lot of places most can't.  As Lou said, it wasn't cheap, but I have been thoroughly satisfied with the performance.
Marty--
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Back2PA

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2020, 01:53:39 PM »
with the built in 3 and 4G modem, all I needed was a Sim from which ever provider I wanted to use. 

I did opt for a Wilson Signal 4G Direct Connect Amplifier for the times when I am just on the fringe of a signal area and need that extra oomph to hit the tower.  That coupled with the Omni antenna on a mast and I can get signal in a lot of places most can't.  As Lou said, it wasn't cheap, but I have been thoroughly satisfied with the performance.

Sarge (and Lou),

I guess I'm still not clear on how this all ties together:
  • So you use a booster with this modem/router? I feel certain that I will always need a boosted signal
  • Is the output still just wifi as Lou said (so voice requires VOIP) or are you getting wifi and boosted cellular (i.e., someone with a flip phone could use the boosted cell signal)
  • Is this modem something I could add to my booster and if so, what benefits would I get? I'm willing to spend money for quantifiable improvement, but not just to have a "wired" RV with state of the art router and integration if it doesn't improve data speeds and voice quality
  • You talk about SIM cards in the modem/router - I currently have a basic communication/internet setup - iPhone from Verizon plus AT&T Mobley. New SIMs sounds like additional accounts?
Appreciate a layman's breakdown, thx
Scott
2014 Montana High Country 343RL (37')
2011 SD F-250 Crewcab LB 4x4, 6.2 Gas, 10K gross
Eezrv TPMS
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SMR

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #37 on: January 07, 2020, 06:13:06 PM »
After talking with a camper today who is using an omnidirectional antenna we will definitely be getting the directional antenna. He is getting no service with his Weboost.
We are at Colt Creek  State Park near Lakeland, Florida and have some service. I will get something ordered in the next week, been busy researching bike racks and hitches, LOL lot of learning on that too.
Thank you for all the info
Gonna put the world away for a minute......
Steve
2016 Bighorn 3760 EL
2015 Ford F350
me, DW and Mattie dog

magothy1

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #38 on: March 25, 2020, 08:57:23 AM »
Very good info here altho  a good bit is way over my shining head.

Would you deal with wilsonsignalbooster.com or weboost.com ?  I haven't looked yet at the one Sarge recommended. I'm happy to pay a bit more for good customer service, because I know I'll need help.

SargeW

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #39 on: March 25, 2020, 09:47:56 AM »
WeBoost and Wilson are the same company. Wilson is the parent company.  Go with where ever you can get the best price and customer service. 
Marty--
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John From Detroit

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Re: Cell booster antenna directional or omnidirectional?
« Reply #40 on: March 25, 2020, 11:09:26 AM »
Directional or Omni.....

Take a necklace chain and a map. Drop a pin on the map and arrange the chain around it in a perfect circle.. THis is an omni.

Now pull it into an egg shape with the pin in a bit below the minor axis (the widest part of the egg) This is a directional antenna.. the higher the forward gain the taller, and skinnier the egg.

You can pick up signals from towers INSIDE the chain.

So if you know where the tower is or have a good tool to find it the directional antenna is tops

But if you don't then the OMNI works
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