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Old 09-05-2013, 09:46 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, 09:56 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, 10:00 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, 10:11 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, 10:13 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, 10:14 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, 10:17 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, 10:26 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, 10:29 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, 10:49 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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Old 09-05-2013, 10:50 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Cajun Po-Boy View Post
Sounds like the character in the movie "RV" trying to get work done while out camping!
That's truer than you can imagine! This past trip, I literally carried my hotspot device around the camper to see where it got the best # of bars. I had to run it on it's battery so that it could be closest to a window!
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by trudinator View Post
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....
I do fully understand that. And it'll be a bridge that I have to cross if we really do end up travelling fulltime. I haven't tried calling AT&T- I always seem to get the one really unhelpful person.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:01 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by rattleNsmoke
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
I've just switched to the AT&T hotspot device with marginal improvement in service. I haven't tried anything Verizon yet. But, I was considering picking up a plan from Millenicom (20gb/month for $70) but got differing answers from them in July for starting/stopping their service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whj77372
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
I'll take a look. I've been on their site a couple of times looking for info regarding going fulltime anyway. I'll look around a little more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryD0706.is.awesome
If you don't have high data requirements you could use Hughes Sat service, but that can get expensive if you *really* use it.
That's the trick. Working fulltime = 8-10 hours. I regularly will remote into other machines and do a fair amount of screen sharing through out the day. Lots of emails. Lots of file transfers. I'm at about 6gb since August 6 when my new month switched over. (No Youtube watching and no streaming music.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by another_newfie View Post
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.
I'll check it out. I am positive that my answer lies in some kind of booster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan2503S View Post
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
Thanks Bryan. A quick glance says that's the idea that I need to go with. My concern is that it mentions in the description that part of the device should be within 12 inches of the cell phone.

I'd like something that I can just setup and it'll service the whole camper or front bedroom and main living area (I setup a TV tray table as my desk in the bedroom or work from the dining room table).
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:05 AM   #14
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Important point regarding the Wilson Electronics device, the distance to the base station. That is the advantage of the Zboost. I can easily sit outside having a cold frothy beverage while connected to my remote machines anywhere on the planet. Gotta love that! We also have friends that we regularly camp with that are also on call 24/7 for their business and when they visit with us, they also get the advantage of the zBoost when sitting outside.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:10 AM   #15
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I use Rogers in Canada. All of our travels through Southern Ontario my Hotspot (ZTE) has LTE 50% of the time and 4G the rest of the time. My Ipad mini with LTE barley gets 3G and my Blackberry Z10 has 4G Mostly and LTE sometimes.

I would really try to move from Apple products. Being an end user like you there is no comparison between the RF capability various products the apple products fail. I use wifi to connect through my hotspot with the iPad, just works better. My ipad 2 with 3G works better than the mini, the antenna is bigger.

Like you Doug I also require access for On Call tech support. I believe our LTE and 4G rollout in Canada is way ahead of the US in our populated 49th areas. Even in Killarney Provincial park down 100 km of 2 lane tar chip road we have 4G capability.


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Old 09-05-2013, 11:19 AM   #16
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Important point regarding the Wilson Electronics device, the distance to the base station. That is the advantage of the Zboost. I can easily sit outside having a cold frothy beverage while connected to my remote machines anywhere on the planet. Gotta love that! We also have friends that we regularly camp with that are also on call 24/7 for their business and when they visit with us, they also get the advantage of the zBoost when sitting outside.
Ok. The zBoost sounds more like what I'm after vs. the Wilson.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:25 AM   #17
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I use Rogers in Canada. All of our travels through Southern Ontario my Hotspot (ZTE) has LTE 50% of the time and 4G the rest of the time. My Ipad mini with LTE barley gets 3G and my Blackberry Z10 has 4G Mostly and LTE sometimes.

I would really try to move from Apple products. Being an end user like you there is no comparison between the RF capability various products the apple products fail. I use wifi to connect through my hotspot with the iPad, just works better. My ipad 2 with 3G works better than the mini, the antenna is bigger.

Brian
I do agree that the Apple product antennas kind of suck. But, with my dedicated hotspot device- it should be less of an issue. My phone gets delegated to just voice. It's really data that is my biggest issue. I need it all day, every day.
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Old 09-05-2013, 01:29 PM   #18
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My Sierra card has external connectors and a residential gateway function. Maybe a good external antenna might help as well.


http://www.netgear.com/images/NG_762...1318-74110.pdf

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Old 09-05-2013, 01:53 PM   #19
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Wilson has a variety of products. Not all require you to be within a small distance. We just purchased this unit for our RV. It's necessary for Dh and I both to be able to be in contact with our businesses.

Amazon.com: Wilson Camper Amplifier Kit 801245 With RV Antenna Complete Kit: Cell Phones & Accessories

We have not used it yet, but will in a couple of weeks and I'll report back how it works. In my office we have a similar setup, as we are in a big metal building that interferes with cell service, and it works well.

This next trip, I won't be mounting the unit permanently, but maybe after that.
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Old 09-05-2013, 02:10 PM   #20
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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.
Any idea if that does 4g? Or just 3G?
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