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Old 12-05-2020, 10:32 AM   #21
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Thank you, Ronn! I will start looking at Verizon soon. I had their grandfathered unlimited cell phone plan up until 2-3 years ago. I dropped it because we could get 2 lines of 30 dollars a month less than what I was getting for just one line... I know the pre-paid plans are a different kettle of fish...

Thanks again and have a wonderful day!
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Old 12-05-2020, 10:35 AM   #22
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We had Escape mount an external antenna for us during the build back when they would actually do that. It was going to be used with a booster (can't recall the brand). As. it turned out we rarely needed to use it and when we did use it we only got a modest increase in signal strength. In the end it wasn't worth the cost of the booster, the antenna and the installation.
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Old 12-05-2020, 10:41 AM   #23
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Thank you, Stephen99. This is the conclusion I am arriving at. So, your experience supports that conclusion, and I can proceed with greater confidence. Appreciate it!
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Old 12-05-2020, 10:47 AM   #24
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When I bought my Drive Reach in July 2019 it was to replace a full 3W Wilson amp I had for 15 years as it was only 3G and would not boost a 4G signal, which is more and more prevalent. My BIL got the same equipment except for the candy bar interior antenna. He has a "rolling condo" and wanted his whole rig to have signal. His won't work; reason being he doesn't have enough separation between his inside vs. outside antenna.

We get amazing results with our Drive Reach with OTR antenna. Recent case in point: Cottonwood Lake outside of Buena Vista, CO. No signal at wll without; 3 bars of 4G LTE with. Sometimes it will give us just enough to get a text out, yet that is a nice thing to have to let family know where we are.

If you don't get good results with your equipment it may be it is set up wrong. or a tweak or two with antennas could make all the difference.
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Old 12-05-2020, 10:58 AM   #25
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Thanks, Ross! We will likely see how it goes without first and add it later if we see the need. I might have made a different decision if ETI were fully installing it, but they are not ready to do that. This being our first foray into this - we will have our hands full to just get used to the systems it comes with - without adding to it.
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Old 12-05-2020, 02:54 PM   #26
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We have AT&T. We have looked at Cell signal boosters off and on for several years. Over that period, a couple of factors have changed.

1. AT&T coverage has improved in many areas of the US, though it has inexplicably degraded at our home.

2. After multiple cross country trips (including up and down), the frequency of losing cell coverage has diminished for us with one significant exception; heading north out of Winnemucca, Nevada and several hundred miles thereafter.

If you use Carplay or Android navigation software, the loss of cell signals can obviously be very inconvenient, but our tow vehicles have sat nav head units so that loss has not been an issue other than the couple of times our Jeep Uconnect head unit decided to stop booting on a random basis. We were able to overcome those infrequent data losses by utilizing a method that my wife has insisted on maintaining over the years; carrying maps.

As we consider pre wiring options for our recently deposited 21C order, cell booster capability is slowly, but steadily moving south on the list.
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Old 12-05-2020, 04:56 PM   #27
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There is a option in Google maps that lets you download maps to your phone. You lose some search features but you can see the map and see where you are. Obviously you need to remember and do it at home or when your signal is good
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Old 12-05-2020, 05:35 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Effie View Post
There is a option in Google maps that lets you download maps to your phone. You lose some search features but you can see the map and see where you are. Obviously you need to remember and do it at home or when your signal is good
I do this or at least I try to remember to do this. It comes in handy, especially when taking back roads and not traveling freeways. I missed doing it in Illinois once on some very back roads and I learned the value of this feature
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Old 12-05-2020, 05:59 PM   #29
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Thank you! We will have a built in navigation in the TV (F150). Ford claims to be introducing connected navigation optimized for towing (and off road trails) in 2021. So, we expect to use the built-in navigation in the tow vehicle.

It is good to hear that AT&Tís coverage has improved. Thatís go a long way.
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Old 12-05-2020, 07:26 PM   #30
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Thank you, Vermilye! I am a reader of your blog and am still in the middle of reading your earlier Quartzsite trip! Even identify with your Oswego references as I began my career up the road in Ithaca, and even met my wife there (she did her PhD there).

The reason I was looking to do this now is because we are totally not handy with modifications and thinking that ETI doing part of it might make it feasible for us. In our (tent) camping vacations around here (South-/North- West), the cell phone coverage has been quite poor, and we have been staying in the National Park/Forest campgrounds for the most part - with no wifi.

Thanks!
Interesting, as I lived near Ithaca until 5 years ago (was married there), and drove truck to Oswego many times. And I am interested in the WIFI discussion!
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Old 12-05-2020, 07:58 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Tom&Joan View Post
Interesting, as I lived near Ithaca until 5 years ago (was married there), and drove truck to Oswego many times. And I am interested in the WIFI discussion!
Thank you! My wife and I met in Ithaca and got married there almost 30 years ago! We have been away from that area 25+ years but have many fond memories...
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Old 12-06-2020, 08:11 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by kavm View Post
I have looked at several threads on this topic but could use some advice:
  • I am interested in a cellular signal booster for our E5.0 (build finalization: Feb 19).
  • Not entirely clear on brand and models and can use advice. Seemed like WeBoost seems popular on this forum - and seems to have good reviews. There are three models:
    • Connect RV 65 - Most expensive but most powerful. Only for stationary use.
    • Drive Reach RV - Next best, according to them. Stationary and moving.
    • Drive X RV - Seems to be older model. Moving and stationary.
    I am a bit unclear whether moving use is important or not. I think the new F150 (which will be our TV) comes with AT&T based wifi - so might have its own booster in the truck). Regardless - I was wondering about any advice/experience with these options (or something else we should consider).

We have minimal DIY skills. So, looking to get some help from ETI for this to work. Here is what ETI says:
All ETI offers at this time is to pre-wire for a booster. You would need to have an understanding of the booster you were planning on installing aftermarket and let me know where you would want the cables run from and to. If the cables required are RG6 then ETI can provide those. If the cables are anything other than RG6 they would be customer provided. If you are wanting exterior access to the cables the most common location for a roof mount antenna is for ETI to have one end of the cables coiled in the roof top fridge vent for access aftermarket. If you are planning on doing a booster mast off the rear bumper then often customers will have us either coil the cable in the passenger side dinette bench seat so they can access it through the optional access hatch if they add one OR in either dinette bench seat and ask us to install an electrical hatch so they can pull the cable through that.
Ideally - I would want to buy the booster from someone who can answer my questions and advise so that I can answer ETI's questions appropriately.

I would appreciate any pointers and advice!
Your trucks AT&T is not the same as a cellular booster.

A cellular booster receives the signal from the cell tower with an external antenna, boosts the signal and then retransmits it on an internal antenna to your cellphone. The internal antenna receives the outgoing signal from your phone, the booster increases the power of that signal and boosts it and broadcasts it out your external antenna to the cell tower.

The further the external antenna is from the internal antenna the better job the system can do so the two antennas don't interfere with each other (cross talk).

In my opinion you want the external antenna as far back on the trailer and the internal antenna as far forward. Where the booster itself is is not that important.

If you have the internal antenna at the front of the trailer, there is a chance that it will work while you are in your tow vehicle.

I have a weBoost Drive 4G-X in my Sprinter. At the top rear of my Sprinter I have a Wilson Electronics 13.88-inch NMO Dual Band Antenna. It is connected to the weBoost with a Wilson 3/8 NMO Mount w/ 14ft RG58 Cable w/SMA Connectors. I use the included antenna on the interior up front. I will often park my Sprinter facing my trailer to boost the signal in the trailer.
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Old 12-06-2020, 08:26 AM   #33
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Our regular provided is T-Mobile. I have a booster that T-Mobile provided for free. Unfortunately, it seems to be worth exactly that much and doesn't seem to do anything at my home. Maybe we can try it on trips with E5.0. It might do better with fresh air
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Thank you! We are not locked into a plan with T-Mobile. It is cheaper but we can switch to Verizon. We do have non-cellular tablets and laptops. Obviously, we would not expect to use them in a major way while camping in a remote location - we do end up needing the data on the non-cellular devices for work related reasons.

I have used the phone hotspot in a pinch but seemed to be quite limited. That's why I was wondering if Jetpack was much better.

Seems like these details can be things we can figure out (if we decide to switch or otherwise).

This has been a valuable discussion. We will likely forgo the booster idea for now - (likely) switch to Verizon and see how far we get with Verizon + AT&T solution before considering the booster or, even better, Starlink options.

Many thanks!
Before you bail on T-Mobile realize that they have been building out 600 and 700 mhz (long range bands) bands. Verizon has been focusing on short range 5G ghz bands. I have T-Mobile and in 2018 I took a 2 month trip up through Michigan's UP then west to Yellowstone. I paid for a StraighTalk (Verizon network phone) and it was noticeably better than T-Mobile. In 2019 I took a similar 2 month trip up through the MI UP and then west to Crater Lake, and south to Yosemite. Again I signed up for StraightTalk (Verizon network). I didn't renew it after the first month as T-Mobile actually had better coverage.

This September I picked up our Escape 19 in Sumas, WA. I drove east on US 2 from WA to the MI UP. I listened to streaming music on T-Mobile the entire way. I had two gaps of about 20 mile each on the entire trip.

Verizon tries to prevent T-Mobile from getting more 600 MHz spectrum

In its August petition, Verizon said, “T-Mobile’s own statements underscore the competitive harms from T-Mobile’s concentration of spectrum. T-Mobile’s President of Technology Neville Ray recently boasted that, even before these arrangements take effect, T-Mobile’s low- and mid-band spectrum holdings give it such a ‘material advantage’ in the marketplace that its ‘competition doesn’t have a path to match for some time.’”

Verizon says the FCC should not allow T-Mobile access to additional 600 MHz spectrum to “dramatically expand” its lead “in many of the country’s largest markets without subjecting these arrangements to the same rigorous competitive analysis the Commission normally applies to transactions that exceed the spectrum screen.”

AT&T and Verizon complain to FCC about T-Mobile’s spectrum holdings

First up, Verizon filed a petition to the FCC asking the agency to reconsider allowing T-Mobile to strike a 600MHz spectrum lease deal with Columbia Capital. Verizon argues that with these arrangements, T-Mo will exceed the FCC’s 250MHz screen for low- and mid-band spectrum in certain markets, including some where it already exceeds that screen by more than 100MHz.

“Concentration of needed spectrum in the hands of a single operator can raise serious competitive concerns and, over time, threaten the health and competitiveness of the wireless market,” Verizon says in its filing.

Meanwhile, AT&T made its own filing with the FCC in which it says that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger has “resulted in an unprecedented concentration of spectrum in the hands of one carrier.”

AT&T goes on to argue that the new T-Mobile exceeds the FCC’s spectrum screen in Cellular Market Areas representing 82 percent of the US population, which includes “all major markets”. AT&T asks the FCC to transparently re-evaluate its spectrum screen, including in cases where a company holds an amount of spectrum that’s in excess of that screen.
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Old 12-06-2020, 09:10 AM   #34
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I've been using Google FI for several years. Fi uses a combination of T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular networks and switches you between those networks based on which one has the strongest service at any given moment.

I'm never aware that it's happening, the phone just seeks out the best possible network for my location and switches to it. If I am in a location where WIFI is available, it automatically switches to it and uses WIFI for all calls instead of a carrier.

I've been pleased with the service. I've had friends that lost carrier service while I was still connected, after asking how FI worked, switched over to FI as well. I have my wife and I on a plan that costs $35 month + data and our monthly phone bill usually runs about $50. When I had Verizon, the phone bill was usually over $100 month - FI is better and cheaper!

I'm not trying to sell anything but trying to let others know there are options out there that may fit your needs better.
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Old 12-06-2020, 12:43 PM   #35
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I have been away - and found very detailed and helpful posts from TTMartin and TDF-Texas.

TTMartin - Thanks a ton for your insightful posts. Starting with the later post - I had read something about T-Mobile buying the 600-700 mHz range. In fact, they pushed us to upgrade to iPhone 10+ to make sure we had the 600 mHz-compatible model. That said, the coverage, at least around where we are, is still poor at the edge/away from the city. We go camping in Southern Utah and Idaho (e.g. sawtooths) and we can forget about cell phone cover in either of these areas. Perhaps we just need to be more patient and lower our expectations.

It was our poor (T-Mobile) coverage when camping that had led me to post this thread on cell boosters. As the thread progressed, I kind of gave up on the idea for the following reasons:
  • The feedback that one doesn't need it often. While that's not been our experience, I tend to attribute our poor experience thus far to T-Mobile.
  • Escape is willing to do pre-wiring (only) but requires detailed instructions from us and the final installation is left to us.
  • The info I got from contacting WeBoost was OK but it confirmed that I will need third party help to put this together.
Somehow, it started to look like a bigger undertaking and unattractive in view of the feedback suggesting it might not be as useful.

Yet, some level of connectivity is important to us for professional reasons. So, I in the process of shifting to -
  • Adding Verizon to the mix. Whether that's by switching from T-Mobile to Verizon or keeping T-Mobile and adding Verizon MiFi is TBD.
  • We are already adding AT&T through the hotspot in the truck

The question facing me is whether to ask ETI to pre-wire or not. Alternately, what is the opportunity cost of forgoing the pre wiring by ETI during the build stage. Would it make the installation poor / harder / more expensive? If it were desirable to do the pre-wiring, I'll seek to find an installer. WeBoost being a (Southern) Utah company, there might be someone who could help.

PS: By the way, thank you very much for answering the one of the questions: where to position the antenna and booster.

Thanks again!
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Old 12-06-2020, 12:59 PM   #36
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tdf-texas-

Thank you very much for that idea. We have Google Fiber at home and have considered Google Fi before. A few years back when we were considering a change from Verizon, we seriously looked at two options: (a) T-Mobile, and (b) Google Fi. This was because we travel overseas fairly often (or did, prior to Covid), and these two had the best overseas coverage options. [PS: My wife was spending a year in Germany and that shifted the balance towards tMobile, a dominant player in Germany. That said, we found the international coverage to have better options/cost than Verizon but still not that great.]

We shied away from Google Fi as we have and like iPhones and find the integration with other Apple devices useful. At the time, iPhones were not compatible with Google Fi. Now they are but the seamless switching is still not available on iPhones. Furthermore, now that T-Mobile and Sprint have merged, the coverage from Google Fi is not likely to be much better.

When we get the camper next Summer, we will review the situation again. Our best argument for keeping T-Mobile / switching to Google Fi (if it is now better integrated with iPhones) still comes from international coverage. I hope the 600-MHz coverage that TTMartin improves its coverage.

PS: We have a t-Mobile One plan for my wife and I and it gives us unlimited talk plus data on 2 lines for $70. It seemed like you are paying additional amount for data.
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Old 12-06-2020, 03:15 PM   #37
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T-Mo and MVNO's

In 2000 AT&T allowed T-Mobile(who bought Voicestream in 1994 to use their network in CA & NV. Then in 2010 they tried to buy it, however the Dept. of Justice stopped it and it cost AT&T $3 Billion as a breakup charge to T-MO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TTMartin View Post
Meanwhile, AT&T made its own filing with the FCC in which it says that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger has “resulted in an unprecedented concentration of spectrum in the hands of one carrier.”

AT&T goes on to argue that the new T-Mobile exceeds the FCC’s spectrum screen in Cellular Market Areas representing 82 percent of the US population, which includes “all major markets”.
Ha ha, so it would have been just great for everybody had the merger of T-Mo happened for those guys in Texas- just like when they did manage to buy Time Warner and HBO pricing went up 50%!

I love T-Mo because they started a rate plan price war. For many years all the promotions were about handsets vs. rate plans- which is what you are paying for month in and month out. And I'm glad they were able to merge with Sprint to make there be 3 real competitiors, yet it will be some years until they can adequately cover a significant amount of rural areas IMO. It costs a LOT to build towers and all carriers go where the money is: MSA's(Metro Service Areas).

Verizon has an advantage that few understand from being a legacy landline carrier when the different pieces prior to the name change were building out. GTE & Bell Atlantic were LEC's(Local Exchang Carriers or Phone Co.) Those guys got the B license and the others got the A side- remember Cellular One? The B boys had the capital and started building right away. In come cases people who got the A side took 5 years(they had in that time to build or lose the license) as they had to raise capital. So the B side had the $$$ and got towers in places that became much more difficult later due to public fears of RF/MW radiation.

Also, AT&T has many more Roaming Partners than Verizon does. So with voice/text, no problem. Start using a lot of data in one of the areas served by a partner and they don't like it and will send you a letter warning that if the usage continues they can lock your data. I got one of those after picking up my trailer in 2014 and spending a bit of time in WA state.

Lastly- with MVNO's like Google Fi or Straight Talk, etc. they have secondary priority on the towers. So you might be trying to open a page and if the tower is busy with the carrier's own customers you may have a very slow or non-existent data connection.

When we go overseas we just get a prepaid chip and put them in our Verizon phones- which are unlocked, unlike the others. This was a condition the FCC put on Verizon in 2008 in exchange for them to receive the C block license. In June 2019 the FCC allowed Verizon to lock phones for 60 days to help curtail identity theft and fraudulent ordering of phones to resell.
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Old 12-09-2020, 10:51 AM   #38
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My home is a 40’ 5th wheel while I use my E5.0 for camping & travel. I’ve used 3 different weBoost systems over the years, starting with a 3G model with omnidirectional “trucker” antenna. I then upgraded to a 4G model with directional antenna. At my current home location I have the RV65 with the extendable pole for the outside antenna. I would not be reading & posting without it. I burned out the inside electronics of the 2nd system by leaving it turned on when I took down the outside antenna so I now take the RV65 inside electronics camping while using the old inside & outside antennas. I have the outside antenna (for camping) on a 10’ piece of electrical conduit. I pound a 30” piece of steel bar into the ground to mount the antenna on up to 50’ away from the trailer.
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Old 12-09-2020, 01:26 PM   #39
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Generally please with the WeBoost

We went with the WeBoost RV and are generally happy with it but it's not magic. If you have a very low signal to begin with it won't help much. If you get past the minimum threshold it will come close to doubling the bars.

I also bought an antenna for my truck and so I can move the booster between the trailer and the truck. I also bought a collapsable 20' flagpole and have installed the trailer antenna it on top of that.
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Old 12-09-2020, 06:09 PM   #40
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Over the past five years or so here are the places I've found that have poor to nonexistent cellular coverage for Verizon:

Shenandoah National Park, VA - one amphitheatre had coverage


Death Valley NP, CA - weak coverage at Furnace Creek

Big Bend NP, TX - weak coverage at Panther Junction, I think

Mt. Rainier NP, WA - weak coverage at the lodge

Great Basin NP, NV - forget it. Use visitors center wifi

North Cascades NP, WA


Pinnacles NP, CA - can buy wifi coverage at the visitors center

Of course things change, hopefully for the better, every year, so some of my info may be obsolete. After all I can't be everywhere, all the time. But I try.
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