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Old 09-05-2013, 10:46 AM   #1
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How to increase cellular service (data + voice)?

I rarely "camp"- we RV and travel and I work my full-time job while we travel.

I've recently had 3 situations where the cell coverage was "just enough" for me to work, but barely. And, once Friday night hit- the service for the weekend was just crap-awful-bad (Internet requests would stop responding and generally rendered my working ability useless). (East Berlin, PA; Jefferson, OH and Colonial Beach, VA have been my 3 culprits.)

(Before you blame AT&T, we've heard from friends with similar complaints from Verizon.)

AT&T iPhone 4 and 4S for voice + mobile surfing. The 4S performs marginally better than the 4 in terms of getting service. My 4 is up for renewal and I'm not against getting a 5 if it gets better service. Though, I'd prefer to stay with iPhone instead of an Android. Originally, I used the hotspot feature on the iPhones.

AT&T Unite as a hotspot. This is a 4G unit and when it works, performs quite well.

Most of the campgrounds that I've stayed at charge for WiFi. Or, if they don't- it's frightfully bad or I camp in the area of the campground that doesn't have it. I just don't trust the campground WiFi enough to trust/rely on it.

I have read about external antennas and boosters and whatnot, but frankly- it's all Greek to me. The AT&T Unite has 2 plugs for external antennas. The iPhones do not.

Any suggestions for things that I can do to increase my cellular service while we travel? We'd like to go away for a full summer, but I just don't know how if I can't get reliable service while I'm on the east coast.
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:56 AM   #2
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Sounds like the character in the movie "RV" trying to get work done while out camping!
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:00 AM   #3
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Believe it or not, there are areas of our country where cell service, well, just plain sucks. I'm not sure there is anything you can do to boost your signal. Have you tried calling your provider and asking them the same question? We went to Arizona a few years ago (Lake Havasu) and found out that Verizon cell service was almost non existent in that area. We also have spotty service at a state park about 45 minutes from us. It is what it is....
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:11 AM   #4
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Doug, On the East coast, it appears Verizon rules for cell service. I also work on the road. My profession allows that, and superior communications are pinnacle. Internet is the most important to me therefore reliable service is a must. (Can you imagine placing a stock trade for a client and losing signal just as you are about to push 'confirm')?....Ughhh. You are dead-on when you talk about campground WI-FI. They are sketchy at best! For my business, I picked up a Verizon 'Jet Pack' and used that as a portable Hot Spot. Now I know you can use an iphone or tablet and do the same thing, but the Jet Pack does only one thing and does it really well...it pulls in signal. We travelled from CT to IN down to KY, TN, Myrtle Beach, Raleigh, Williamsport MD and back with 4-5 bars worth of reception. It's pricey if you pa-as-you-go, but worth every Drachma to me..*s I can attest AT&T sucks in a lot of area's and Verizon has better overall range. It's something to think about.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:13 AM   #5
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I would suggest that you go to the Excapees website and on their forum there is a internet on the road section that has lots of info on the issue. You could try a cell signal booster, there are a number of them. Good Luck
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:14 AM   #6
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If you don't have high data requirements you could use Hughes Sat service, but that can get expensive if you *really* use it.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:17 AM   #7
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As part of my job I also require a connection. Recently we tried out:

Amazon.com: Wireless Extenders zBoost YX545 SOHO Dual-Band Cell Phone Signal Booster for Home and Office up to 2,500 sq. ft. of Coverage: Cell Phones & Accessories

We had fantastic results when visiting a NYSP. I simply put external antenna on the roof of the rig since it was easy with the roof ladder. It made a huge difference. Far from a silver bullet but it has improved my ability to work from the rig in 2 parks thus far.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:26 AM   #8
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I have a wooden 2 piece mast I built that I have a WiFi antenna and zBoost antenna mounted on.

The zBoost antenna feeds a repeater inside the camper that rebroadcasts both the data and voice frequencies to improve my cell service in fringe areas.

Won't help if NO service, though. For that I use "OnStar" in the truck.
It has a higher wattage transmitter than a cell phone.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:29 AM   #9
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I have a friend who loves this gadget. He says it doesn't work miracles but really makes a noticeable difference in spotty areas

Amazon.com: Wilson Electronics - MobilePro - Portable Cell Phone Signal Booster - Includes 12-Inch Magnet Mount Antenna: Cell Phones & Accessories
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herk7769 View Post
I have a wooden 2 piece mast I built that I have a WiFi antenna and zBoost antenna mounted on.

The zBoost antenna feeds a repeater inside the camper that rebroadcasts both the data and voice frequencies to improve my cell service in fringe areas.

Won't help if NO service, though. For that I use "OnStar" in the truck.
It has a higher wattage transmitter than a cell phone.
Lou, do you have links to the products that you're using?
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