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Old 10-19-2012, 08:00 AM   #1
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Cell Phone Antennas

Next year we will be starting a new life of inland waterway cruising in the eastern waterway system.
I will probably be relying on my mobile 'Hot Spot' for internet service most of the time. I looked on e-bay and saw many different antennas and signal boosters. I have Verizon service and was wondering if any of you use any kind of antenna and signal booster and how well do they work?
So, do they have any merrit or are they just gimmicks?
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:05 AM   #2
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Next year we will be starting a new life of inland waterway cruising in the eastern waterway system.
I will probably be relying on my mobile 'Hot Spot' for internet service most of the time. I looked on e-bay and saw many different antennas and signal boosters. I have Verizon service and was wondering if any of you use any kind of antenna and signal booster and how well do they work?
So, do they have any merrit or are they just gimmicks?
I don't have a cell phone antenna (external) or booster but I have Verizon cell service and a Verizon mobile hot spot and I had no problems with getting a decent signal on my ICW trip from SC to FL.

Verizon seems to have the best coverage of that area.
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:25 AM   #3
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On my many trips up and down the ICW from Va to FL...the only problem area was the Alligator River/Pungo River Canal and the behind Hatteras sounds area of NC. I'm not saying you can't find anchorages along the way that may be out of range...but right down the middle of the ICW you can get reception with Verizon pretty much the whole time except for short periods of time.
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
Next year we will be starting a new life of inland waterway cruising in the eastern waterway system.
I will probably be relying on my mobile 'Hot Spot' for internet service most of the time. I looked on e-bay and saw many different antennas and signal boosters. I have Verizon service and was wondering if any of you use any kind of antenna and signal booster and how well do they work?
So, do they have any merrit or are they just gimmicks?
Tony

The cellular antennas and booster amplifiers work great at bumping up a low level signal.

I would stick with a marine grade antenna. Mount it just like your VHF antennas. I've installed amplifiers made by both Wilson, and digital antenna. They both work great. This same equipment is used nationwide to provide strong cell signals inside buildings, BTW.

I would go with a dual band system so that you can rx signals at both the 850 and the 1900 MHZ bands.
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Old 10-19-2012, 12:50 PM   #5
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The short answer is yes, they work. We have a Wilson on the bus and a Maxsignal on the boat. I prefer the Wilson but they both work.
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Old 10-19-2012, 03:31 PM   #6
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Excuse the ignorance (Trawler forum promised to protect the ignorant)

I have heard people talking about “Cell Boosters” and WiFi antennas. Even though I own a Verizon Hot Spot, is it true that I might want to own a “Cell Booster” as well as a WiFi antenna when trying to pick up free WiFi? The two systems have nothing to do with each other. Is that correct? Be gentle and speak slowly. I sometimes have trouble understanding electronics.
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Old 10-19-2012, 04:49 PM   #7
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John,

A Wifi booster will bring into your boat wifi signals normally too weak to receive onboard. From the antenna, it passes via ethernet cable directly to your laptop or to your wireless router then retransmitted via wifi to your laptop. This is only wifi signal, not 3G or 4G data from your cellphone carrier. It is only useful for open, non-encrypted wifi signals unless you have the encryption password on secure wifi sources.

If it's cell signal you need to receive, either for phone calls or for 3G/4G data (i.e. for your Verizon Hot Spot), then a cell booster is what you need. This pulls in the cellphone signal which is otherwise too weak to be useful. This boosted signal is retransmitted and received by your cellphone or Verizon Hot Spot box. Now you have enough signal strength to effectively make a voice ccall or use data for your computer/smartphone/ipad.

Clear as mud?
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Old 10-19-2012, 04:57 PM   #8
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FW,

No that was pretty good. I know cruisers that have WiFi antennas that they use to pick up WiFi (either unprotected or paid by the MB / GB) in anchorages in foreign countries. Sounds like a cell booster would do me better, although I hate passing up the opportunity to pick up free WiFi.
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Old 10-19-2012, 05:11 PM   #9
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Here in the CA Delta, we have lots of wifi to choose from, but without the Rogue Wave Wifi Extender, I couldn't us it away from the marina/restaurant since the signal strength drops off quickly.

Rogue advertises that it can pull in signal from 7 miles away, but the most I've seen on the water under ideal conditions was 4 miles. But that's 4 miles further than I could get it without the system since the signal is normally lost immediately on the river just outside of the marina.

Now that I have 3G and a smartphone, I find myself using the wifi less and less for routine checks of email or web searches. But where it really matters is when we want to watch a streaming movie on board. 3G is just too slow, but wifi works great. Besides, once it's installed, it's tough to beat FREE!!
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Old 10-19-2012, 06:00 PM   #10
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I have a wifi booster and antenna. Along the east coast ICW open wifi has gotten hard to find I now teather my internet to my phone. I have at&t and have had several days without phone service
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Old 10-19-2012, 07:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
I don't have a cell phone antenna (external) or booster but I have Verizon cell service and a Verizon mobile hot spot and I had no problems with getting a decent signal on my ICW trip from SC to FL.

Verizon seems to have the best coverage of that area.
Ron, you probably already know this, but you don't need to pay for the Hotspot with Verizon. Just download pdanet onto your smart phone and laptop and it will allow you to tether the phone to your laptop for free. I have been doing this for a couple of years and it works extremely well. Never seems to fail, unless you lose signal altogether. PdaNet -- USB Tether/Bluetooth DUN for Android
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Old 10-20-2012, 07:15 PM   #12
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We made our own similar to Captain Chuck on the Beach House. Check his blog for information. The Trawler Beach House
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:36 PM   #13
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I had just read an article that the old boosters will not work on 4G systems. Have to upgrade.

Check this out:

Sleek 4G-A | Store | Wilson Electronics
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:25 AM   #14
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Before you consider a cellular amp, you should check out our newsletter from yesterday. There are some new issues for amps. Some of the previous info in this thread was good last year but isn't accurate any longer. If you have a cellular amp today, this will explain why it isn't working as well in many locations.

Do Cellular Amps Burn Out:
https://activecaptain.com/newsletters/2012-10-24.php


Since WiFi has also been brought up, we had a newsletter segment on a fantastic long-range WiFi solution a couple of weeks ago. I believe it's the best system for the most reasonable price possible:

Long Range WiFi - the second segment:
https://activecaptain.com/newsletters/2012-10-10.php
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:52 AM   #15
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I am an Active Captian subscriber and user. I got the newsletter. I was just right, just in time information
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:58 AM   #16
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Ron, you probably already know this, but you don't need to pay for the Hotspot with Verizon. Just download pdanet onto your smart phone and laptop and it will allow you to tether the phone to your laptop for free. I have been doing this for a couple of years and it works extremely well. Never seems to fail, unless you lose signal altogether. PdaNet -- USB Tether/Bluetooth DUN for Android
Two things - I already signed up for two years on the hot spot, and I don't have a "smart phone", just a cell phone.
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:39 AM   #17
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I don't have one and don't want one. I am out of cell range in about an hour from the harbor. Fine with me. I like to be out of touch sometimes. No cell phone no wifi. No tv nothing. Just me and Alaska.

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Old 10-25-2012, 12:34 PM   #18
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I don't have one and don't want one. I am out of cell range in about an hour from the harbor. Fine with me. I like to be out of touch sometimes. No cell phone no wifi. No tv nothing. Just me and Alaska.

SD
Does ACS still have service in PWS? They had an antenna on Naked Island.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:26 AM   #19
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