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Old 05-28-2018, 05:42 PM   #1
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Does anyone have a really good connection to the internet? If so, what are you using?
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Old 05-28-2018, 06:05 PM   #2
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Does anyone have a really good connection to the internet? If so, what are you using?
Yes. Verizon Jetpack AC791L mobile hotspot:



connected to an AntennaPlus AP-CC-M-SCSC-WH roof-mounted MiMo antenna:



You can't beat a good outdoor MiMo LTE antenna setup. Stay away from "Cell Boosters" such as the WeBoost line of products. Although many will swear by them, they do not really work under typical conditions.
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Old 05-28-2018, 06:44 PM   #3
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Good source of info is at...

https://www.rvmobileinternet.com
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Old 05-28-2018, 07:47 PM   #4
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I use the WeBoost 4G-X and am happy with it.

I've never used a MiMo antenna so cannot compare the two.
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Old 05-28-2018, 09:25 PM   #5
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I carry both a WeBoost and a MIMO antenna that can be attached to our AT&T Nighthawk mobile hotspot that is under a now discontinued unlimited data plan for stand alone mobile hotspots.

As a full timer there is an advantage to having both Verizon and AT&T available to get the best chance of coverage. We have Verizon on two phones and two tablets. We have AT&T on a phone (transferred our old home number to it when we sold our house) and the mobile hotspot. There is unlimited data on the Verizon devices except when using them as a hotspot. Unlimited data on both AT&T devices but there is the potential for throttling if on a congested cell tower.

The general strategy is to only use the WeBoost or MIMO in the case where we are not getting good coverage without it. First step is to connect the MIMO to the Nighthawk and if that works connect the rest of the devices to the wi-fi from the Nighthawk. We also have an Apple TV connected to the Nighthawk Wi-Fi that can use the unlimited data for DirectTV Now and HBO Go which are pretty cheap with the AT&T plan and Netflix and Amazon Prime. If the MIMO doesnít get us going then we try the WeBoost to see if we can get a decent signal with the booster.

I expect a more expensive external MIMO antenna might be better but I use this Netgear MIMO antenna that you attach to a window which is cheap and has worked well...

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 05-28-2018, 10:53 PM   #6
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Some random comments:

1) HBO Go is "free for life" if you have an AT&T unlimited data plan. It is a hassle to set up sometimes, but once it is working, it is great and seems to continue working.

2) A good rooftop MiMo antenna will be significantly better than a window one and vastly better (and cheaper) than a WeBoost under similar conditions. I won't get into why (or why people thing WeBoosts are good when they are not) except to say: "Bars" on your phone show signal, but performance is determined by signal-to-noise ratios. WeBoosts amplify both signal and noise.

3) The MiMo antenna I referenced above is pretty good and costs $100.

4) Your smart phone almost certainly has a feature that lets it send and receive calls using WiFi if there is no cell service. Therefore, if (for example) you have an AT&T hotspot that has a signal but a Verizon cellphone with no service, the Verizon phone will be able to send and receive calls normally, even though it is getting WiFi via the AT&T network. Of course, the converse is also true. This is important to understand when thinking this through.

5) Don't forget that you can swap SIM cards (at least among GSM devices, and sometimes beyond) to move service to a preferred device depending on local conditions.

6) There is a family of really good and inexpensive WiFi antenna/routers called UniFi (used to be called Ubiquiti):
https://www.ubnt.com
You can put one of these on your roof and vastly improve your reception of campground WiFi. There are both directional and omnidirectional versions. They are very good. That said, they will not make your campground's crappy network any faster. I have one, but never end up using it.

7) If you want nice, seamless networking inside your van, you should consider a dedicated router. I use a Pepwave Surf SoHo (although there are cheaper alternatives). We use both wired ethernet and WiFi. The SoHo can also tether via USB to your mobile hotspot and automatically select from it or other Internet sources. Very slick, although a bit complex to set up.

8 ) One downside of using a MiMo antenna with your mobile hotspot is that the tiny little coax connectors are pretty fragile usually. This is bad if you frequently connect and disconnect the device. To get around this, I designed a cradle specifically for the Jetpack AC791L and 3-D printed it. I can just slide the Jetpack in and out and everything connects nicely.

IMG_7275.jpg

If anyone wants to print their own, I am sharing the model for personal use. If you want one, just PM me.
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Old 05-28-2018, 11:51 PM   #7
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I use my phone as a hotspot.
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Old 05-29-2018, 01:01 AM   #8
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Avanti,

Thanks for the info...

AT&T offers DirectTV Now for $15 a month with the unlimited plan I have, I think it is, and HBO Go for free with the DirectTV Now subscription. Not too hard to set up but they donít make it real easy...

The MIMO antenna you have seems to have been replaced by a newer model but not too many places seem to carry it. They seem to carry the versions that include GPS and Wi-Fi antennas in addition to the cell antenna. Price seems to be about $140 for the cell only version and I may get one to try it out. So far, the window mount NetGear has worked fine. Technomadia keeps evaluating MIMO antennas and the NetGear seems to perform better than many more expensive models.

At some point I will probably add a router connected to the Nighthawk but at the moment I am not using anything that would require it. We donít travel many places where there will be wi-fi so I am not too interested in a long range wi-fi booster/antenna. I was a software engineer before I retired so I have the expertise to handle configuring all the network stuff I could ever possibly use but at this point that sounds like work and I will probably just get something off the shelf that requires minimal configuration...

Again, thanks for the info...
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Old 05-29-2018, 01:29 AM   #9
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The MIMO antenna you have seems to have been replaced by a newer model but not too many places seem to carry it.
You can purchase it directly from AntennasPlus. They will build you any permutation you want with whatever cable length you specify. They are great. Give them a call.
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Old 05-29-2018, 01:52 AM   #10
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You can purchase it directly from AntennasPlus. They will build you any permutation you want with whatever cable length you specify. They are great. Give them a call.
Looks like they have been taken over by Airgain, I will give them a call to see if they still sell direct...
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Old 05-29-2018, 03:30 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, 04:25 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, 08:17 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, 08:49 PM   #14
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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, 02:56 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, 03:18 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. CampSkunkís 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, 01:45 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, 02:13 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, 02:42 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, 11:43 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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