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Old 09-30-2016, 02:33 PM   #1
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Cell phone booster

I have a Rougewave WiFi booster which does not seem to be as effective as it once was at receiving WiFi signals. Furthermore, it seems that nearly all WiFi access points are locked making WiFi difficult to capture. Therefore I am looking to add a cell phone booster and likely retire the Rougewave. There are many cell phone boosters on the market and was wondering what kind of experiences others have had with cell phone boosters and which brands might be best. Thank you for your input.
-David
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:22 PM   #2
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I have a older system from these folks. Wilson Electronics & weBoost Cell Phone Signal Boosters, Repeaters & Antennas


I also saw this from Shakespeare: Shakespeare Marine Antennas | Marine
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Old 09-30-2016, 04:03 PM   #3
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I have a Wirie AP (wifi only) but they also make a unit that seamlessly integrates to LTE cell service. I've been very please with my current set-up and don't really need Cell phone interface..

Marine WiFi and RV WiFi 3G/4G/LTE solutions – The Wirie
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Old 09-30-2016, 04:59 PM   #4
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The Wiriepro is da bomb. I know the developer as a fellow cruiser, very bright guy and stickler for quality.

The Wilson/weBoost products are very good, but the Wirie is by boaters for boaters.

I'm in the cell biz, by the way.
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Old 09-30-2016, 05:36 PM   #5
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George, not only are you in that biz, but you're in the right part of it!

At nearly $700 that Wirie Pro sounds pretty darn expensive to me considering David doesn't want Wi-Fi (and the Wirie system uses the exact same Wi-Fi amp -Ubiquity Bullet- that the Rogue Wave is based on). Plus, that is one small cell antenna!

David, I have a few questions for you:

1 - Which carrier do you use?
2 - Where do you plan to use a cellular connection (state-side or other/both)?
3 - Are you looking to boost both voice and data or just data?
4 - If just data above do you own a device that can take an external antenna connection?
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Old 09-30-2016, 05:38 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Alaskan Sea-Duction View Post
I have an older 3g booster from Wilson, used it all over the US on land in the last RV trip. It worked very well. Antenna would not have been marine worthy, not sure what to recommend there.

PS: Important to have multiple carriers. Verizon is the best domestically, hands down in terms of coverage. AT&T next, but T-Mobile is nice because streaming netflix etc doesn't go against your usage.

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Old 09-30-2016, 10:02 PM   #7
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I have a system from Uniden that's the best I've ever had. I paid over 400 for it, so it isn't cheap, but it works like a charm.
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Old 10-01-2016, 05:42 AM   #8
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There are many cell phone boosters on the market and was wondering what kind of experiences others have had with cell phone boosters and which brands might be best.
The radios in cell phones and even iPads are rather weak to extend battery life. What we found is a MiFi device has a much more powerful radio and in our land home case, convinced us not to spend big bucks on a cell phone booster to get better data through put. AT&T provided the MiFi device for $1 with a 2 year contract but was added to our data bucket plan for $20/month. There was also an activation fee. It is portable and can be taken anywhere with you or it can be plugged into an electrical or USB outlet. It also serves as a WiFi access point and router. You might want to consider that before getting something that requires hard wiring into the boat. I have been so impressed with it that we took our two cellular iPads off the plan and now use them as WiFi only.
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Old 10-01-2016, 06:56 AM   #9
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The radios in cell phones and even iPads are rather weak to extend battery life. What we found is a MiFi device has a much more powerful radio and in our land home case, convinced us not to spend big bucks on a cell phone booster to get better data through put. AT&T provided the MiFi device for $1 with a 2 year contract but was added to our data bucket plan for $20/month. There was also an activation fee. It is portable and can be taken anywhere with you or it can be plugged into an electrical or USB outlet. It also serves as a WiFi access point and router. You might want to consider that before getting something that requires hard wiring into the boat. I have been so impressed with it that we took our two cellular iPads off the plan and now use them as WiFi only.
+1 However I think ATT is expensive. Most carriers only charge $10 a month.
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Old 10-01-2016, 08:26 AM   #10
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Or buy a used, unlocked, MiFi (often around $30) and transfer a SIM card from a phone to it when you need to use it. Many MiFi models have external antenna jack's for even greater reception.
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Old 10-01-2016, 10:00 AM   #11
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Interesting discussion. We have a Wilson 4G cell booster and I can't say it does very much. We also have a MiFi utilizing the Verizon network. My business depends on the internet and the MiFi has never let us down in 6-years of cruising the east coast.
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Old 10-01-2016, 10:03 AM   #12
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Question for you experts....

Are we talking about hardware that simply extend one's current service?

Are there service options that give good coverage for cursing with reasonable rates with high speed internet?

I have Verizon, but there data plan is brutally expensive, at $50 per month for 4g, which is not close to enough for streaming movies.

I also have a TMobile account, but no data with it yet, but coverage is not as good.
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Old 10-01-2016, 10:13 AM   #13
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Interesting discussion. We have a Wilson 4G cell booster and I can't say it does very much. We also have a MiFi utilizing the Verizon network. My business depends on the internet and the MiFi has never let us down in 6-years of cruising the east coast.
Which Wilson booster do you have? The best option is a direct-connect amp (with external antenna) that connects to the antenna port on the MiFi. They have phone cradle products that are marginal. It also takes a rather large vessel to have enough separation between an external and internal antenna for a repeater-type setup.
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Old 10-01-2016, 10:16 AM   #14
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Question for you experts....

Are we talking about hardware that simply extend one's current service?

Are there service options that give good coverage for cursing with reasonable rates with high speed internet?

I have Verizon, but there data plan is brutally expensive, at $50 per month for 4g, which is not close to enough for streaming movies.

I also have a TMobile account, but no data with it yet, but coverage is not as good.
Yes, we're discussing hardware that improves reception and transmission to and from towers. I would not recommend 4G service as your primary entertainment/TV source. There's a reason there are data caps and streaming movies is the primary reason. It takes a lot of bandwidth to stream HD video. I find satellite TV to be a better entertainment solution.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:10 AM   #15
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See this..

How a Cell Phone Booster Kit Enhances Coastal Cruising

He knows of what he speaks.

I have a Wirie and, although it is not cheap, it works quite well, especially with the 6DB cellular antenna.

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Old 10-01-2016, 11:19 AM   #16
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Yes, we're discussing hardware that improves reception and transmission to and from towers. I would not recommend 4G service as your primary entertainment/TV source. There's a reason there are data caps and streaming movies is the primary reason. It takes a lot of bandwidth to stream HD video. I find satellite TV to be a better entertainment solution.
Mixman,

Thanks, interesting. If you don't recommend 4G, what would you recommend?

Not up to speed on satellite TV, need to research that... can you get netflix there?
All of what I watch is netflix, and the Admiral only needs other channels for news and sports.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:24 AM   #17
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That is an excellent article, thanks for posting it. I've had a similar system to what the author has. I still find it better to forgo the below-deck antenna setup and hard-wire to something like a MiFi. This method greatly reduces both interference and installation complications. And, in the spirit of KISS, it is sometimes better to simply have a hi-gain external antenna and not an amp. Amps can overdrive cell towers and actually decrease throughput speeds.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:26 AM   #18
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Or buy a used, unlocked, MiFi (often around $30) and transfer a SIM card from a phone to it when you need to use it. Many MiFi models have external antenna jack's for even greater reception.
I don't know about you guys, but I have yet to get a sim card to work in a different mifi or USB LTE modem device other than the one it originally come in. I've tried Telus, ATT, Verizon sims, and never been able to get any combination to work other than as originally purchased.

I know it's supposed to work, but has anyone actually been successful doing this?
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:05 PM   #19
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You'd have to hack the things to get them to work on different carriers within the CONUS. Most are unlocked for foreign SIM cards (like Bahamas, Europe, etc. - I'm not sure about Canada) but they are typically carrier-locked when State-side. However, at around $30-40 used on eBay you could buy one for each US carrier and have them with you.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:22 PM   #20
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Mixman,

Thanks, interesting. If you don't recommend 4G, what would you recommend?

Not up to speed on satellite TV, need to research that... can you get netflix there?
All of what I watch is netflix, and the Admiral only needs other channels for news and sports.
US (CONUS) satellite TV options are DirecTV and Dish Network. Netflix is a streaming-only service so you need an internet connection for it. Technically, 4G can handle it unless there are multiple users connected to the same tower, but, as you know, it comes at a premium for the amount of data required (roughly 3 GB per hour for HD video programming). One would hope that Wi-Fi would be an option but I've never run into public (especially marina-based) Wi-Fi that had enough bandwidth. Granted, at my home slip I can do it but that's because I installed the Wi-Fi system and am the only one using it! If a marina has a cable modem with 30Mbps (a typical commercial account with Comcast) and more than 10 boats are trying to stream movies, it ain't going to turn out well!

I don't think you're going to be in much luck for NetFlix on your boat (unless you stay in your home slip and have great Wi-Fi). But satellite TV does give you some options. I have Dish at my home so the boat only costs me an additional $7/month for the receiver. You'll need a satellite dish antenna to receive the signal. A rough idea of options:

Stationary dish mounted to a piling: $100.
Ugly and you can't take it with you (easily).

"Carry out" dish (not in-motion) that you set on a pier - $300-$500.
Would work decently mounted on a boat if tied to a floating pier. These units will acquire satellite signal but do not keep it if in-motion or at anchor.

Marine-grade dish that mounts on your boat and can "track" sat signal:
$900-$15,000. These work in motion at anchor, in a slip, etc. Lower end functions fine state-side.

Sorry, you asked for it! :-)
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