Question Cellular Boosters for RV's - are they worth it?

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I see people asking often in Facebook groups about cellular boosters such as Weboost products. This is MY opinion and only mine but I want to share what I've learned since 2017.

When I got my coach Weboost was the thing and my intentions of working from my RV running a software business Internet was and is important. I got the Weboost 4G-X (I think was the model) and later even tried the Weboost RV 65 (very expensive). I tried a half dozen different antennas in talking with support as there were differences in 3G, 4G, LTE etc. Then the problem is, and this is the biggest lesson learned that most don't know about, your cellular device has to be within about a FOOT of the indoor weboost antenna. There are FCC limitations on how powerful the booster can be and also the output of the inside antenna. If you think just putting one of these in your RV is going to make a difference, you are very very very wrong.

In 2021, when I am writing this post, I would say that cellular boosters are obsolete and a complete waste of money. You are likely not going to install it or even use it properly and will see NO BENEFIT from the money you spent. Also keep in mind boosting a signal does not mean improving the signal, you can boost a BAD signal and you are just amplifying noise. You may see an additional bar on your cellular device sitting next to the indoor antenna but that doesn't mean your signal is better.

Around 2018 the RV world, at least my world, was introduced to the Pepwave Cellular routers (including WiFi depending on what you purchase). My world changed tremendously for the better and I thank @turbopilot for making me believe in this as I was a believer, and beta tester of WiFi Ranger, which I also do not recommend using for many reasons. Pepwave (by Peplink) and Cradlepoint are really the only two industry leaders in my opinion and Pepwave are far more affordable with a great user interface making it easy for anyone to use, tech savvy or not. I have no experience with Cradlepoint as I've been a huge fan of Pepwave since I started using them in November of 2018.

Since using an enterprise quality cellular router such as Pepwave I have NEVER been without Internet (I have AT&T and Verizon plans). I have no cellular boosters in my RV, I sold my Weboost RV 65 and the Weboost 4G is stored somewhere never to be used again, by me. If you're looking for something to improve both your cellular and even WiFi capability in your RV then I highly recommend the Pepwave cellular routers. Weboost products are a complete waste of money and money is far better spent on a Pepwave cellular router which come in all shapes and sizes aka price points. You do NOT need an external antenna unless your RV is a metal shell, then a roof antenna is preferred. I am using roof antennas for both cellular and wifi on my coach and after a lot of testing I have determined it to be the best fit for my use but the paddle antennas that come with the Pepwave devices are outstanding and powerful to even cover a 45 foot RV.

In summary, and in my opinion, cellular boosters are OBSOLETE and a waste of money. Ask others or even reach out to your favorite retailer, mine is linked below (not affiliated with them) and ask them what is best for your needs. I'm writing this article as again I think a lot of people in the RV world still think cellular boosters is the answer to better cellular connectivity. It is not. A good cellular modem like that in your phone with good antennas is the answer and not some signal booster with very very weak capabilities limited by the FCC.

Reach out to 5GStore.com for great customer service and ask them what they recommend for your price point and needs. Like buying computers, spend a little more will buy you more time in future proofing your purchase.

 

redbaron

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cellular boosters are OBSOLETE and a waste of money.
X2!

ineedthisforreactions GIF
 

MemoriesByTheMile

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Thank you for your summary. Currently using the FMCA Sprint pack and am pretty happy with it but have been eyeing the pepwave products, though still need a bit more learning to understand the differences. Would be nice to have automatic fall over between 2 sims or even banding together for better speed.
 

"EZ"

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I'm thinking very seriously about going ahead and getting the Peplink Max Transit Cat-20 5G router that you recommended, Neal. I'm afraid that since the FCC is selling all those low 600 frequencies now that the 5G developers are using, that any 4G unit will be almost obsolete since the 4G radio can't even see those frequencies. 5G isn't totally ready or available YET, but it is the future. Billions of dollars have been spent to develop it. 5G is not going away. AND the 5G Peplink is backwards compatible and will run 3G & 4G just as well if you're in an area that has no 5G availability. Wish me luck!! Now to see if I can find some affordable data plans...............😵😵😵
 

Nobaddays

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I spend about 2 weeks each year in a campground where my Verizon service is in and out. I installed a Maximum Signal cell booster and it works great. I can get service all over my motorhome and within about 10 feet of it outside. I’m not tech savvy, so I cant quote actual speeds. Data downloads are slower, but I’m just happy I have some service. Far more common is I run into a lot of areas while traveling whereby the signal is constant, but weak. I see little to no difference in speeds in those situations. After reading your multiple posts on Pepwave, that will be the next addition to my rig. Thanks for the great info.
 

tetranz

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I agree with most of your comments @Neal but will add a few more comments.

I totally agree that a router/modem, preferably with an external roof mounted antenna, is a much better technical and simpler solution than a booster. As someone who's been involved with ham radio over the years, it just makes sense to me to have a single radio transceiver with an antenna. If you're more concerned with good voice communications within the coach than data then use Wi-Fi calling or some other form of VOIP. A good general purpose "pipe" to the internet is pretty much all you really need these days regardless of what goes through the pipe.

I see boosters mostly as a complicated hack to get around the fact that you can't connect an external antenna to a phone or tablet.

I agree that a booster is of no use if the signal quality at its input is no better than what the cellular device can get directly. That's where it's correct to point out that you're amplifying signal and noise equally and therefore not improving the signal to noise ratio which is what really matters. I think a booster can help if you have an external antenna and the signal quality at that antenna is better than what the cellular device can get inside. Then you're improving the SNR.

I think if installed properly, a booster could be useful if you have a good tethering solution that you're happy with but want the benefit of an external antenna. I have a Samsung tablet running the AT&T $20 "unlimited" tablet plan. I tether that to a Raspberry Pi running EasyTether and WireGuard VPN. That effectively gives me unlimited internet for $20 per month. I considered getting a booster solely so that I could use this with an external antenna. I even thought of the perhaps crazy idea of putting the tablet and the booster's inside antenna together in a little mesh cage to act as a faraday cage so I wouldn't have to worry about where to mount it to avoid feedback with the external antenna.

This was at a time when I was getting quite frustrated and disappointed at the lack of good data plans for routers and I was beginning to regret buying the Pepwave MAX BR1 MK2 router and saw tethering as a possible way to avoid shady resellers and not be tempted into doing into IMEI "magic" if you know what that means which is probably illegal and can't be done easily with a Pepwave anyway.

I eventually found what looked at the time to be a reasonable reseller plan so I put that in the Pepwave and never did get a booster. That plan came to an end so I now have the 100 GB for $55 from AT&T. I still tether the tablet and my phone on Visible to supplement the Pepwave plan because 100 GB is really not enough. I find that in most places the tablet inside the coach performs pretty much the same as the Pepwave with the Poynting 5-in1 antenna on the roof. I haven't really compared them in a weak signal area.
 
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DKRITTER

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Last week I got in and configured a Pepwave MAX Transit 5G with a Parsec 7 in 1 antenna. Coming from a SureCall booster, a Verizon MIFI and a Camp Pro2 booster.

All I can say is WOW Simply WOW

Put the antenna blades on the Pepwave in my office and hooked it up to my local WIFI and it matched my setup. Put the MIFI sim card in (needed an adapter) and put both in priority one and it smoked my current WIFI.

Got up Sunday morning and took everything off the MH and drilled a new hole in the roof for the Parsec glued it down and Dicored the pookie out of it.
Hooked it all up in the closet in the mid-bath and it's so much better from what I had. Happy Happy Happy
 

ARD

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Oh crud, didn't see this thread before I posted. 🙄 Soooo, I went from not being able to go online to being able to make these posts once I got my weBoost connected to the antenna and yes, my jetpack is next to the antenna, but that is just fine. So don't know what to think about the above. Will need to ponder.
 

Neal

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Did you have the Verizon sim in the Pepwave? The moral of the story is if you use a proper device such as a Pepwave you shouldn't need a cellular booster. @ARD it sounds like your Verizon sim is in the MiFi device and therefore not taking advantage of the better system you have which is the Pepwave. I'm interested in what you see when putting the Verizon sim in the Pepwave. IMHO both of your sim's should be in the Pepwave and not use the Verizon jetpack.
 

DKRITTER

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Did you have the Verizon sim in the Pepwave?

Yep, I had ordered a couple of the sim card adapters off Amazon. I took the mini sim card out of the MIFI and used the adapter and put it in the Pepwave. No issues.

Had another sim in a different device and put it into the other slot. Since this is not a Duo I can only use one at a time, but can switch easily as needed.
 
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