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Old 05-29-2018, 02:30 PM   #11
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The issue with gathering opinions on cellular connectivity is that people tend to find something that works for them, and then they begin to assume it's the only option, or the best option, and so they proffer it as such, when with a sufficient number of iterations, what they'd actually find is that their solution is just one option.

I've invested a great deal of research and I've done a large number of trials in multiple areas, including in west Texas and in Canada. What I've found is that sometimes the MIMO works and sometimes the weBoost 4GX works. Where and when they variably work may not be predictable based on "known" conditions. I've had the 4GX work fairly well for 3G and other technologies when the MIMO couldn't raise a signal of any kind. And I've had an "unboosted" MIMO work where the 4GX couldn't find anything to boost. And I've had an expensive carefully-aimed directional antenna fail miserably when a five dollar omnidirectional did just fine. And I've done enough trials to suspect that the outcome is based on more than just my own level of competence (or lack thereof). There are many, many variables that influence cellular transmission and reception.

The best approaches are:

(1) Have a diverse kit that includes all of the technological options named in this entire thread (I'm not the first one to recommend that, as Technomadia originated the suggestion), and

(2) Pray or hope that our public information resources improve going forward. My husband and I thought that we had identified a two-step method for pre-evaluating specific sites for their cellular connectivity potential. What we found was that the published resources don't seem to be as precise as advertised. If you'd like to read about that boondoggle, I've got a blog post here. And I would welcome any criticisms or suggestions on the content of that post, because I still don't have a good explanation for our findings (I gave one example in that post, but the same outcome pattern manifests routinely).
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Old 05-29-2018, 03:25 PM   #12
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The issue with gathering opinions on cellular connectivity is that people tend to find something that works for them, and then they begin to assume it's the only option, or the best option, and so they proffer it as such, when with a sufficient number of iterations, what they'd actually find is that their solution is just one option.

I've invested a great deal of research and I've done a large number of trials in multiple areas, including in west Texas and in Canada. What I've found is that sometimes the MIMO works and sometimes the weBoost 4GX works. Where and when they variably work may not be predictable based on "known" conditions. I've had the 4GX work fairly well for 3G and other technologies when the MIMO couldn't raise a signal of any kind. And I've had an "unboosted" MIMO work where the 4GX couldn't find anything to boost. And I've had an expensive carefully-aimed directional antenna fail miserably when a five dollar omnidirectional did just fine. And I've done enough trials to suspect that the outcome is based on more than just my own level of competence (or lack thereof). There are many, many variables that influence cellular transmission and reception.

The best approaches are:

(1) Have a diverse kit that includes all of the technological options named in this entire thread (I'm not the first one to recommend that, as Technomadia originated the suggestion), and

(2) Pray or hope that our public information resources improve going forward. My husband and I thought that we had identified a two-step method for pre-evaluating specific sites for their cellular connectivity potential. What we found was that the published resources don't seem to be as precise as advertised. If you'd like to read about that boondoggle, I've got a blog post here. And I would welcome any criticisms or suggestions on the content of that post, because I still don't have a good explanation for our findings (I gave one example in that post, but the same outcome pattern manifests routinely).
This is not wrong, and I've tried to put the appropriate qualifiers in my strong statements. And, if your life depends upon getting cell service under all conceivable circumstances, then obviously carrying around all permutation of tools is optimal.

That said:
1) I am not guilty of "find[ing] something that works for them, and then they begin to assume it's the only option". I have been attempting to get reliable cell service in a number of challenging situations in many parts of the country for a very long time, involving both mobile and fixed situations. I have been attempting to use "cell boosters" since before they were legal. I shudder to think of the amount of money I have spent on them over the years. I have used pretty much every conceivable antenna approach, and have a sophisticated understanding of the underlying technology. My opinions may be wrong, but they are not shallow.

2) It is true that there are a great many things that affect which technology will be most effective. But, there are only a few important ones. These are: (a) the nature of the cell tower you are talking to. Performance varies and not all towers support MiMo (see below); (b) the signal-to-noise ratio of the available signal. Rarely, there is a very weak signal and little noise. Such a signal can be successfully amplified by a "dumb" amplifier such as the WeBoost products. More typically, absolute signal strength is not the sole issue. In these cases, MiMo will always win (if it is available). (c) The directionality of the noise. If it is coming from a different vector than the signal, then a directional antenna will make a big difference. Otherwise, it will not.

3) OF COURSE one can find situations where a cell booster works better than a MiMo antenna. The reason is very simple: Not all cell towers support MiMo. But, most do, and the number increases regularly. If you are talking to a non-MiMo tower, AND if the signal is weak but clean, then, yes, a cell booster will help. These are not common conditions, and will become less so over time. People who think that boosters are generally useful typically are making one or both of two mistakes: (a) judging performance by "bars" rather than measured S/N ratio or bottom-line data throughput; and/or (b) comparing performance of a cell phone performance of a booster with a roof-mounted outdoor antenna to a hand-held cell phone inside the vehicle. In the latter case, it is generally the antenna that is helping, not the "boosting".

4) I find the claim that sometimes an omni antenna works better than a directional one to be dubious. I do not see where this is possible, unless the directional antenna is not optimal for the band being tuned.

5) Most people are looking for a single solution, not a bag of tools to apply as a local science experiment. For those people MiMo is the best forward-looking solution.
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Old 05-29-2018, 07:17 PM   #13
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I was speaking in general terms. On every van, trailer, RV, and travel-related forum, the same question arises over and over again. And the opinions are predictably both strong and inconsistent, for good reasons.

This is a question that is important to a lot of people, to the point where they / we are willing to earmark significant time, effort, and money to solve it. Some people because they have medical or family issues that compel them to stay in touch. Me because I work from the woods. Or try to.

On the main property that I've been mapping in terms of its cell potential, I'm at the point where I'm trying to figure out whether I should:

(1) erect an antenna,
(2) erect a cellular antenna plus couple it with my own wireless,
(3) send my air card up on a helium balloon (believe it or not, it has been done successfully by others),
(4) opt for a current-gen satellite solution (I've been advised against it),
(5) wait for Elon to get his butt in gear and surround us with a few thousand next-gen micro-satellites, or
(6) just give up entirely.

Hobbled by lack of 911 service in particular (in a place where rural landlines are no longer supported), the nearest village of less than one hundred souls is trying to:

(7) raise money from us landowners to deploy their own private short-range cellular system which I don't even understand yet in terms of its technology.

I was out there a few days ago trying to suss out what is and is not achievable with MIMO alone. Attached is one of the photos I took and at first glance it looks mildly promising - HSPA+ and -99 dBm. I routinely see worse. But just a few hundred feet from this spot, the MIMO registers nothing at all, whereas the weBoost can get a slow if fairly reliable 3G. But not the LTE that I really need to do my job from this location given that the 3G tends to be too erratic for database interface. So far I have no answers, other than recommending "all of the above" to whoever else faces this question, for whatever reason they face it.

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Old 05-29-2018, 07:49 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
On the main property that I've been mapping in terms of its cell potential, I'm at the point where I'm trying to figure out whether I should:

(1) erect an antenna,
(2) erect a cellular antenna plus couple it with my own wireless,
(3) send my air card up on a helium balloon (believe it or not, it has been done successfully by others),
(4) opt for a current-gen satellite solution (I've been advised against it),
(5) wait for Elon to get his butt in gear and surround us with a few thousand next-gen micro-satellites, or
(6) just give up entirely.

Hobbled by lack of 911 service in particular (in a place where rural landlines are no longer supported), the nearest village of less than one hundred souls is trying to:

(7) raise money from us landowners to deploy their own private short-range cellular system which I don't even understand yet in terms of its technology.
We own a vacation home out West that had a similar problem. The ultimate solution was for the neighbors to band together, build a microwave tower pointed to the nearest available broadband trunk, and burying community-owned fiber from the tower to everybody's property. Not cheap, but property values to houses without broadband are tanking everywhere.

Of course, every situation is unique.
Quote:

I was out there a few days ago trying to suss out what is and is not achievable with MIMO alone. Attached is one of the photos I took and at first glance it looks mildly promising - HSPA+ and -99 dBm. I routinely see worse. But just a few hundred feet from this spot, the MIMO registers nothing at all, whereas the weBoost can get a slow if fairly reliable 3G. But not the LTE that I really need to do my job from this location given that the 3G tends to be too erratic for database interface.
Not surprising. A 3G tower is unlikely to support MiMo, so a cell booster might help a bit. I would bet that a really good properly-spec'd Yagi antenna would do better, though. I have also found that a booster that works one day will disappoint the next.

A couple of suggestions:
1) You really need a ground plane for one of these antennas to work well. That is one of the problems with those flat "window" antennas. When I first got the AntennaPlus antenna, my initial tests were disappointing because I was holding it in my hand. Then I stuck it onto a metal tool chest, and BAM!.
2) There are secret iPhone modes (and apps) that will tell you what tower you are connected to and websites that will say what is in your vicinity and their bearings. I am not sure how to do this with a Jetpack, but I bet there is a way.
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Old 05-30-2018, 01:56 AM   #15
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A thank you to those that know more than I and took the time to post. A solution in one location that requires another solution in another location is the surprise to me.

I did look into the Hughes Gen 5 thing. The reviews were not good, one positive out of 500 if I remember correctly. People were most upset about the two year contract to try it and no way out if a week later you found it didn't work for you.

I would like to hear a positive Hughes Gen 5 review. They continue to advertise so surely someone must be getting a useable signal, maybe. Anyone use it?
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Old 05-30-2018, 02:18 AM   #16
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A thank you to those that know more than I and took the time to post. A solution in one location that requires another solution in another location is the surprise to me.

I did look into the Hughes Gen 5 thing. The reviews were not good, one positive out of 500 if I remember correctly. People were most upset about the two year contract to try it and no way out if a week later you found it didn't work for you.

I would like to hear a positive Hughes Gen 5 review. They continue to advertise so surely someone must be getting a useable signal, maybe. Anyone use it?
There is a Facebook group for users where you can get info and see experiences...

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1133...96760940386939

And there is Mr. CampSkunk’s info on the Roadtreking website...

Taking the New Ka Band Satellite Internet On the Road - RV Lifestyle
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Old 05-30-2018, 12:45 PM   #17
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Kymeta's satellite product apparently shows promise, but getting into that space still costs in the neighborhood of $50,000. The infrastructure to force that price downward just has not reached critical mass yet.

In the case of my rural property, we landowners are 25 miles beyond the nearest broadband infrastructure. The entire coastal area tries to rely on a single cellular tower located 10 to 30 miles away from the scattered population, which is why I keep dogging the issue and trying to make it work. It comes down to a choice between poorly-rated this-gen satellite, or find a way to tease more out of the wretched cellular availability.

First-world problems, eh? These difficulties are the price we pay for this:

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Old 05-30-2018, 01:13 PM   #18
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I just use my phone as a hotspot, but I'm not working online, so it works well enough for my needs. I'm on AT&T with Direct TV Now and HBO. As said above it works well once you finally get it working. LOL It is really a pain to be forced to deal only by chat... no phones. It took me 4 months to get the charges correct. (It was supposed to be $10 a month and they kept charging me $15. AT&T was just as bad to get the billing correct, so perhaps being able to talk to a human doesn't help all that much. Direct TV Now has just added a cloud and you can store programs there for future watching.

AT&T no longer sells hot spots. You can buy an unlocked one and do it, but they are seemingly getting out that concept.
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Old 05-30-2018, 01:42 PM   #19
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I just use my phone as a hotspot, but I'm not working online, so it works well enough for my needs. I'm on AT&T with Direct TV Now and HBO. As said above it works well once you finally get it working. LOL It is really a pain to be forced to deal only by chat... no phones. It took me 4 months to get the charges correct. (It was supposed to be $10 a month and they kept charging me $15. AT&T was just as bad to get the billing correct, so perhaps being able to talk to a human doesn't help all that much. Direct TV Now has just added a cloud and you can store programs there for future watching.

AT&T no longer sells hot spots. You can buy an unlocked one and do it, but they are seemingly getting out that concept.
AT&T still has hotspots on the web store but maybe not in retail stores?

I got a Netgear Nighthawk hotspot back in Feb while you could still get a plan with unlimited data on hotspots. The new plans have a limit of 15 GB I think and then throttling so not something very attractive for a hotspot. The older unlimited plan only had reduced bandwidth if there was network congestion on the tower and you were over 22 GB for the billing period.
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Old 05-30-2018, 10:43 PM   #20
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The mention of phased array satellite antennas for data (Kymeta, Alcan Systems) was interesting.

I have used the KVH phased array Direct TV antenna (A5) for eight years with good results. It's 5" high dome has a liquid water problem as all domes do but the product NeverWet solves it. A coating requires renewal every 6 months, or so, but certainly works.

I purchased the A9 but haven't installed it yet. I would certainly be interested in a phased array data antenna near the same price point (expensive). Probably it is 5 to 10 years out.

The KVH phased array antenna is pretty big for a class B and takes a lot of solar room so I have it on the class C. My favorite destinations have no broadcast TV. Getting TV reception is one thing, getting decent program choices is another. A topic for another thread.
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