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Old 11-06-2019, 12:15 PM   #1
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Cell Boosters

We spend the summers in the Desolation Sound are and north of there. Cell service (which we use for data too) is spotty.

We have been experimenting with cell boosters with some success.

I am now doing some modifications to our system to make the directional antenna better and to reduce oscillation issues. We have also ordered some "Faraday Cloth to Prevent Oscillation" and plan to install it above the interior antenna.

I'd be interested in hearing other boaters experiences and opinions on what works and what doesn't.
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:36 PM   #2
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When I saw the title of this thread I thought, I hope someone in my area answers it, I wa curious how well cell boosters would work in Desolation Sound and the Broughtons. I will be following this thread.
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:20 PM   #3
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We had a Shakespeare "Super Halo" kit in our last boat and it worked pretty well, but our friends worked better, even when we were rafted in the same place. He got us to put our phone right on the antenna and that helped. I now believe that the installation was part of the problem.

On our current boat, the amplifier wasn't working well at all. I started reading and found out that the interior antenna was installed upside down. It was pointed up at the topside antenna, which apparently causes oscillation and shutdown.

I now plan to mount it on the ceiling with some shielding material over it.

I am not an engineer or expert, but I think a lot of boaters are struggling with this and want better solutions.

I found this video to be a good primer. (I think )

Another thing that I discovered is that most of my early testing was a waste of time. It turns out (makes perfect sense) that the amplifier automatically shuts down if there is already a strong signal. Testing at my dock was a complete waste of time. I should have read the manual first.
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:31 PM   #4
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When I saw the title of this thread I thought, I hope someone in my area answers it, I wa curious how well cell boosters would work in Desolation Sound and the Broughtons. I will be following this thread.
I have a Wilson cell booster as well as their antenna on my radar arch. I've never had trouble connecting in Desolation Sound or the Broughtons. Once around Cape Caution, you may connect around Rivers Inlet and again around Pruth Bay. Bella Bella is well equipped with cell towers. We use an Iridium sat phone and an Inreach in the dead spots.
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Old 11-06-2019, 04:41 PM   #5
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There is a good Youtube channel called Mobile Internet Resource Center. The couple that does it also has another channel called technomadia where they chronicle doing the great loop in their Bayliner. They also travel extensively in an RV. Anyway, the first channel has very good information on some of this stuff and reviews on various pieces of equipment. One thing I found interesting is the difference between boosting cellular voice vs. cellular data and the associated challenges.
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Old 11-06-2019, 05:46 PM   #6
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Ken E. Good information. Do you know which Wilson Cell booster you are using and what cell carrier?

Thanks,

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Old 11-06-2019, 06:31 PM   #7
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Ken - I'll have to check on the Wilson model number when I'm at the boat. I installed it about 6 years ago, and it was the only model they offered at that time. The carrier is Verizon. There is a lot debate on cost vs coverage by the various carriers, but we've found that for central/northern BC and Alaska, Verizon is very good. Maybe not the cheapest these days, but we're staying with them.
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Old 11-06-2019, 06:53 PM   #8
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Thanks, I also have heard that Verizon is pretty good along the inside passage. My experience with Verizon is that it is pretty spotty in the San Juan's. (Reed Harbor, Fossil Bay, Rolfe Cove, Garrison Bay, etc.) Maybe I need a new phone
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Old 11-06-2019, 09:59 PM   #9
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I had a Sure Call Cellphone Mate booster and a Digital Antenna Cell antenna for about 10 years.

We were able to get phone and text in Desolation and Broughtons fairly well with the combo. It got best reception if we were in a east - west oriented channel open to towers from Vancouver Island.
When the carriers started switching to LTE a few years ago, reception started getting iffy.

Texting seems to work in areas where there is no strong signals. It may take 30 minutes to send a text but it eventually goes through.

I plan on purchasing a LTE system from WeBoost or Sure Call next year.
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Old 11-06-2019, 10:23 PM   #10
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With out a booster, the cell service in Desolation sound itself is superb. If you can't see Sara Point, however, ...
We found Pendrell Sound to be a wonderfully quiet place, likewise Teakearn Arm. otherwise, all those wonderful anchorages we call Desolation Sound have good service.
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Old 11-06-2019, 10:39 PM   #11
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Thanks Prospective.

I have watched a couple of the videos already. They review lots of options that I have never heard of.
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Old 11-06-2019, 10:58 PM   #12
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Thanks, I also have heard that Verizon is pretty good along the inside passage. My experience with Verizon is that it is pretty spotty in the San Juan's. (Reed Harbor, Fossil Bay, Rolfe Cove, Garrison Bay, etc.) Maybe I need a new phone
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Ken - I'll have to check on the Wilson model number when I'm at the boat. I installed it about 6 years ago, and it was the only model they offered at that time. The carrier is Verizon. There is a lot debate on cost vs coverage by the various carriers, but we've found that for central/northern BC and Alaska, Verizon is very good. Maybe not the cheapest these days, but we're staying with them.
Ken I have the same system. SE Alaska has some issues. Verizon is good in the bigger towns like K-Town, Juneau. Wrangell, Petersburg not so good. At the smaller sites it all A&TT. If you are a non-A&TT customer, there is no data and 3G.
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