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Old 08-14-2022, 05:26 PM   #1
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RV WiFi Ranger HD - Cellular Internet

I will try to keep this as short as possible.

I have a 2022 Flagstaff ePro 19FD. It is equipped with a Wineguard WiFi Ranger HD. At the current time it does not have a cellular modem in it.

I have worked with computers and networking for a fair amount of time and am pretty well versed in ethernet and wifi networking. I have a good grasp of what the WiFi Ranger does in terms of WiFi in your trailer. It's exterior antenna should do a better than average job of picking up a wifi signal if there is one to get. It logs on to that wifi network with its WAN port. Then the router creates a private wifi network for you to connect to inside your RV. Pretty basic networking.

We live in Texas and typically visit state parks that don't provide wifi connections of any kind. We both have cell phones (Samsung S21 and Google Pixel 6) on the T-Mobile network. We can and have turned on our phones' hotspot and either connected our devices directly to the phone (tablets, etc) or had the WiFi Ranger connect to the phone hotspot and then connected our devices to the WiFi Ranger's private network.

Works ok if you have a decent cell signal. If you don't then you are really out of luck. We have an Amazon Fire TV that we can connect via HDMI to our Furrion TV. We subscribe to several streaming services. My goal would be to reasonably be able to stream some content. Note that we are retired and this is strictly for entertainment and not for work purposes.

I have read where you can get a cellular modem from Wineguard for the WiFi Ranger. Wineguard admits that the WiFi Ranger antenna is not designed to receive or enhance cellular signals.

I have seen "Cell Boosters" (weBoost etc) that give you an omni-directional exterior antenna, coax cable to go from outside to inside connecting to a cell signal amplifier, which then connects to another antenna on the inside of your RV. This inside antenna then broadcasts the amplified (boosted) cell signal to your phone or hotspot.

You can also purchase just an exterior cell antenna and then connect that to a hotspot that has external antenna connections. Then you would connect your devices (via wifi) to the hotspot's wifi network, bypassing the WiFi Ranger all together.

weBoost Cell Boosters run in the $300 to $700 range. You can get just the exterior antenna for $99 on Amazon (some are less expensive). Yes you would need to purchase connections etc. We can get a hotspot from T-mobile for $0.00 and add a "Hotspot Line" for $10/month to our current plan".

When we turn on our hotspots on our phones T-Mobile regulates the speed to 3G speeds only. If we get a hotspot with corresponding line we get 10 Gigabytes of 4G data at 4G speeds.

I don't want to get into a flame war over Verizon, ATT, or T-Mobile. We have been T-Mobile for a long time and if we do this will stay with them.

Questions:
  1. Any experience with an exterior MiMo antenna and a hotspot? Does it perform well?
  2. Is the amplified signal of the weBoost worth the premium?
  3. If you feel the amplified signal is worth spending the money, there are some less expensive brands than weBoost. Any recommedations as to brand?
  4. Last question. There is a connection on the outside of the trailer grouped with the water connections labeled "Cable'/Satellite". On the inside of the trailer there is a connection labeled "Satellite Connection from Receiver". Does the cable between these two connections run straight from one to the other with nothing in between? Could it be used to connect the exterior antenna to the hotspot that would be mounted inside the trailer?

Comments, advice, recommendations would be very much welcomed.
Regards
Chuck
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Old 08-15-2022, 11:49 AM   #2
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#1 - the Netgear MIMO antenna is worth its weight in gold. It worked in more situations and better than my expensive weBoost Drive X. That did have its place in the world, but by far, the MIMO antenna worked better at a fraction of the price. BUT it requires a hotspot device with antenna ports and doesn't help boost phones/whatnot.

https://learntorv.com/netgear-hotspot-antenna/

#2, see #1.

#3, I've only ever bought weBoost. RVMobileInternet.com has good reviews of other devices, though.

#4, the wires and connectors needed are such that this won't work. I don't know the technical details but have seen it asked before and the answer is as I stated.
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Old 08-15-2022, 01:14 PM   #3
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Old 08-15-2022, 01:43 PM   #4
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From everything I’ve heard recently, a WiFi booster like WeBoost is of limited value since it only uses a single channel. If I was in the market for a cell/wifi setup with an external antenna, I’d start with these guys.

https://mobilemusthave.com/
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Old 08-16-2022, 03:49 PM   #5
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I will say the WeBoost works. I have one on my boat. If there's at least 1 bar of signal for it to pick up it'll amplify that signal pretty good. I've been places were there is only 1 bar and I'd be lucky to get dialup speeds on my phone. With the WeBoost I'll get 5-10 mbps down and 1 mbps up.

As for hotspots that work with external antennas. I have a Netgear Nighthawk M1. Probably the best mobile hotspot router on the market. It does really good on it's own. I've tried external antennas and wasn't impressed. In some cases it made speeds worse. The problem is that the M1 has 4 antennas built in, but the 2x T9 connectors only allow connection to 2 antennas. So, you are going from 4 built in to 2 external when they are connected. Basically negating the MIMO functionality and going to SISO.

There are some other products on the market specifically designed for LTE/5G networking, but the cost of entry isn't worth it, in my opinion. If you were running a business or live streaming / broadcasting I could see dropping the money.
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Old 08-19-2022, 07:07 AM   #6
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I have the WIFI Ranger Teton on on the roof of our 2022 2109s and haven't had great results. Only once I would say it worked great when a camp ground had good WIFI. Then it acted like our own private network.
When cellular is the best signal is when the fun begins. Being on the roof there is no way to tether to the Ranger. We have Verizon phones with one extra line to use as a hotspot and we have an older "pay as you go" ATT 4G LTE hotspot with a MIMO antenna we can stick on the window. That hotspot with the antenna has been the most consistent.
The problem is the WIFI ranger finding our phone/hotspot and staying connected. Sometimes they are on the list, sometimes not and sometimes they disconnect for reasons unknown. Ranger looks like it is picking up half the RV park but not my phone in hotspot mode sitting on the roof next to the device.
As far as 5G? My opinion is that many parks are not located in consistent 5G areas so until it is a more robust network of antennas I wouldn't prioritize it.
I have used Weboost cell boosters on work jobs in remote locations. They are single channel and you should sit your hotspot or phone right next to it. They work but throttle traffic like closing a lane on a highway. If you can get signal with a MIMO antenna use the MIMO.
Typing this on my work computer through the ATT 4G LTE hotspot sitting in a camp ground that doesn't even offer WIFI.
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Old 08-19-2022, 07:47 AM   #7
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I posted this on another thread back in June (post #9)

"We're from Florida, originally from PA, and make multiple trips back to PA to visit family and friends. We usually stay for two weeks on these PA Trips and the only convenient CG has NO Wifi and cell services (verizon) is 1 Bar LTE, sometime 3G, and some times No Service. Since we come here often, I decided to purchase a WeBoost Drive Boost RV to try. I did a 'temp installation' (outside Antenna on a telescopic pole tie wrapped to my rear tire carrier and cable run thru a Bathroom Window. My Single Verizon Bar (LTE) went to 2 Bars and web browsing and email on our laptops worked much better Hotspoted to my Cell Phone. My Hotspot Data (unlimited) is restricted to 900 kbs , so even with a strong cell signal I can't hot spot my TV and stream videos. But my plan's 'Cell Data' is unlimited data and speed, and with the WeBoost I was able to Stream Video via a Apple Lightning Wire to HDMI to my TV from Monday thru Friday. This CG is 90% seasonal campers who start showing up on Friday to Sunday and the all bring their Cell Phones and Pad and cause Cell Tower congestion and the WeBoost can't fix that.

So for us the Weboost, while expensive, worked well as a solution (Mon - Friday ), helped with weak signal, but won't help if you're hitting a 'congested Cell Tower. Once I get back home I do a permanent install."


Since we returned home from our June trip, I did a permanent installation of our WeBoost and have used it a few times on trips.
-Russ
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