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Thread: 4G LTE Signal Booster...

  1. #1
    Maximum Bitrate rray's Avatar
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    4G LTE Signal Booster...

    Hey guys, I have been reading about 4G LTE phone boosters for your car, and wonder if anyone uses them, and do they really improve your download and connection?

    The reviews I read all seem to focus on "I WENT FROM 1 BAR TO 4 BARS", but that seems stupid to write in a review since the devices are both transmit/receive, and since their transmitter is an arms length away, your phone will always see 4 bars.

    Nowhere in any reviews or device documentation I have found so far, does it say or show how many bars the device is receiving from your provider.

    Are people experiencing the placebo effect or do some of these things really work?


    -Robert

  2. #2
    FLAC SNOtwistR's Avatar
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    My personal opinion on these item is kinda like the old days with the fuel mileage increasers. They have no real effect but people paid money for them so they have to work effect. I only have 3g in my truck and who really knows how strong a signal but I have never run into speed problems with what I do in the truck. I am not really downloading DVD quality movies but I do get a few files here and there without issues. Good luck SNO

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    So, I am trying to think of a few ways that a cell signal booster could actually work. And I'm writing this under the assumption that we are trying to boost the signal for a cell phone, and not a USB Cellular Modem.

    1. The device could have an antenna outside of the vehicle, thereby possibly providing a better signal. But really, I can a decent signal inside of a concrete building, so I don't think a vehicle is that much of an obstacle.

    2. The device could communicate with the tower using a higher energy signal than a cell phone uses. This could be because the booster has more power available to it than a cell phone, or maybe just because it's not right next to your brain.

    They sound kind of like a gimmick. But on the other hand, I see Verizon sells a 3G Cell Signal Booster / Network Extender for $250. That would be a lot of money for something that doesn't do anything.

    I'm like "yo, that's $250 for 3G"
    "I call that getting swindled and pimped.
    I call that getting tricked by a business."
    Last edited by ClockWorK; 09-28-2014 at 11:39 PM.

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    What you're most likely getting is a larger, more sensitive antenna and a preamp. The antenna would typically buy you a 3db signal gain and the preamp gets you a little boost in the signal output to your phone. It's highly unlikely that the output from your phone is boosted, since that would require an RF amplifier, and that would likely require some specific licensing requirements. Maybe a watt or two is possible, but the end result would be pretty marginal.

    I've used one of these with the Clear WiMax system in my truck. Zero difference in 90% of the uses cases. Maybe a little better performance out in the fringe areas, and it might give you a mile or so extra range. No miracles though.

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    All depends on the unit you are getting. There are "repeaters" available that work but you generally are paying $250+ for them. There is big business with these for commercial vehicles. As I understand them they work similar to how an "Airwave" works. Friend of mine had one for his home. Under normal circumstances he would not get any cell service in his home. With the device hooked up he got 3-4 bars on the phone but in actuality that was between the phone and the repeater. The repeater was I believe a 5 watt unit and was far from perfect.

    They use similar units in large buildings to give cell service throughout the building when the structure otherwise blocks it. But it will solely depend on how they do it. There are a lot of low cost fake systems out there that do nothing but for legitimate units they do work and you can't tell the difference if you are connected to the repeater or the cell tower.

    There was a recent "hack" article that talked about fake cell towers setup to capture cell calls. Apparently there are some "secure" cell phones that can identify if they are connecting to a true tower or one of these fake towers. Apparently if you use your cell in D.C. you have a good chance of your call being routed through one of these fake towers. The towers are nothing more than a more sophisticated repeater system that is controlled by a computer. One of these normal repeaters have two antennae. One to talk to your cell phone and one to talk to the cell tower. And be aware that when you get 4 bars on your cell phone it just means you are connecting to your repeater.

    If you want to insure the device you are getting is legit check out the company. The ones I have seen have a variety of units. Some are designed to be used inside of multi-storied buildings where the structure blocks signal.
    Last edited by redheadedrod; 09-30-2014 at 01:08 AM.

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    FLAC SNOtwistR's Avatar
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    Cell phone are limited in the transmit/receiver power by regulatory specs. analog used to be 3 watts now current phones use 1mw since the digital era. Those repeaters are just that a repeater of the signal. They may have a stronger receiver/transmitter inside but that will be still limited. They really are for fringe areas and not for increasing the strength within the solid cellular areas. I think I would save my money as we are due for another bump up in speed once they turn down the last of the 2g service which frees up the band they need for adding to the existing bands of lte/4g. Scheduled date early 2017 for the final turn down. SNO

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    Maximum Bitrate rray's Avatar
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    Based off what I am reading here, by you "real world" guys, it's as I thought, more hype than hands down performance increase. I dont really want to mount an external antenna anyways unless I can mount it laying flat hidden inside my deck spoiler.

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    The repeater systems really are only for use if you have issues getting signal. Where as a cell phone uses very little wattage to save battery power a repeater can use a more powerful transmitter/receiver pair and generally the antennae it uses is much better than the small internal ones in the phones we use. The repeater should say on it how many watts it is.

    It is not a "hype" thing but you really need to know what your issue is. If you are hundreds of miles from a cell tower then increasing your transmission power by 3db (Logrithmic scale) won't do you much good. If you are toggling between no bars and maybe 1 or 2 occasionally then they SHOULD work for you. The unit the good friend of mine had was a $200 unit and it looked like a cordless phone base. It was good for a couple different phones at a time but they are also only good for certain cell phone providers so if you change providers you have to change repeater units. His issue was he lives in a very hilly area and that makes it hard to get service. He is currently considering purchasing a Wilson unit and mounting the cell tower antenna on a pole so he can get good range. Then in essence he becomes like a cell tower extension to any of his close by neighbors that have compatible phones. I think I remember him telling me he gets about a 300' range from the unit he has so he can use his cell phone anywhere in his yard.

    Two other things to be aware of.. While you don't HAVE to mount the "tower" antenna to the exterior of the car it will only do as well as the mounting location. You COULD likely mount it inside your vehicle and because it has a more powerful transmitter get some benefit but not sure it would be worth the $200+ price tag at that point. The other thing is that a benefit is since you have a solid signal your cell battery dies slower.

    My buddy found out about the units because he used Wilson brand at his work place to extend cell availability throughout the facility that was otherwise blocked by the structure of the building. I believe the correct website for that brand is:
    http://www.wilsonelectronics.com/

    I plan to install one of their units in my truck because I do on occasion travel to "fringe" areas. Plus my truck will be internet connected 24/7 here shortly.

    As example... This unit does 4g/3g/2g and is msrp of $399... But does describe what it does...
    http://www.wilsonelectronics.com/sto...5/38/mobile-4g

    Rodney

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    I apologize if I was giving the impression there wasn't legit stuff out there. There is, and some of it is really good. But you pay through the nose for it, and most of it has very specific mounting requirements. If you can't meet those requirements in your vehicle, you're going to end up wasting money. There were a couple of Wilson items I looked at in my experiments out on the "fringe" and I finally decided it just wasn't worth the cash (rare for me, just ask my wife). I had a $400 Cradlepoint Wimax/3G/Wifi router in the truck and I was looking to get whatever boost I could. I still dropped about $200 on a combo Wimax/3g 3db antenna and I can't tell you for sure if it even worked. Like I said above, maybe...a little.

    But if you can afford it, Wilson is one of the good ways to go.

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