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Old 03-21-2017, 04:37 PM   #1
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WIFI hotspot or cell booster?

I'm curious as to what people are using. My partner and I have both Verizon and ATT cell phones. We live in California. Sportsmobile offers a built in WIFI hot spot, or a cell booster. There's also just a little portable Verizon one you can get. Suggestions?
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Old 03-21-2017, 04:49 PM   #2
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A cell booster will amplify existing cell tower signals. If there isn't a signal (no bars) there is nothing for it to amplify. I used one in remote areas, but it is not a miracle worker. Good for making calls from one device at a time, but some boosters are cell phone carrier specific.

A wi fi hot spot will convert cell tower signals into a wi fi signal, but only if there is a cell tower signal. Good for communicating, especially with multiple devices.

Ideally, a cell signal booster would feed a wi fi hot spot.

Edit: I use a Wilson cell phone booster.


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Old 03-21-2017, 05:27 PM   #3
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These devices do different things:

1. Cell phone signal booster: amplifies the signal (but no signal means no benefit, of course as there is nothing to amplify).

2. Mobile hotspot: takes the cell phone signal (with or without the booster) and allows you to access the internet with e.g. a laptop. This is advantageous because now you do not have to use your cell phone to create a hotspot. Using your cell phone to create a hotspot works, but it is hard on your phone because of the heat. So if you need internet access a lot for laptop, then it is smart to create mobile hotspot with dedicated device rather than with a cell phone. Note: a mobile hotspot, will still eat your cell phone data plan (mobile hotspot is typically integral part of a plan with a provider that may include one or more cell phones)....
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:28 PM   #4
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I have a Verizon "jet pack" hotspot. The little jet pack has an antenna port and can pull in more bars when the magnetic antenna is stuck up on my roof. It actually works better than my phone while standing outside. Still you pay quite a bit for a data only device. They are claiming that all networks are close to the same but I've got a buddy with T-Mobile and it has a lot of dead zones compared to mine. At work I had AT&T but the Verizon Jet Pack also performed better in the area I'm in. I also have a Wilson booster but it was for a 2-3G system. Worked good in its day.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:30 PM   #5
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I have both. A Wilson 4G booster (like the weBoost 4G) with the bigger antenna, and a Verizon MiFi LTE hotspot. The booster works fairly well, although as others have noted it can only boost a signal that's there, even if a faint one. No signal at all equals no signal.

The MiFi works really well, and you can connect multiple devices to its wifi signal. My work lays for mine, which is great, but I'd pay for one myself if I had to since I work remotely and the ability to work anywhere I can get a signal is worth a lot. I don't end up using it that much, though, because most of the time I can find a free wifi signal to use if I plan it well enough. But when I need it, it's great. Like the time I did my taxes and filed them while camping in my SMB at Assateaque National Seashore!

I don't see the need to have SMB install them, as they are easily user-installed/used. Why pay a markup? I have my Wilson mounted in a way where I can easily remove it to use in a different vehicle or even in a building with the optional AC plug and antenna window mount. Nice for remote cabins and the like.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:42 PM   #6
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Thank you, that is really helpful!!
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:07 PM   #7
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I have a mifi unit I use as my primary internet source at home. We live in an area that the local cable company doesn't reach so I had to find an alternative. Satellite was limited in speed and data so that was out of the question. I "purchased" an unlimited data account on ebay and I get Verizon unlimited data for $135/mo. Works pretty well and the 4GLTE gets about 20-30 gig speeds. Would be an awesome unit for travels since you can plug it into a usb to charge and have data wherever you go.
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:16 AM   #8
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i use a verizon mifi and my phone is on at&T. it is pretty handy, as you can send imessage texts over the wifi if cell coverage for the phone drops. at our last campsite near Ouray, CO, we only got a signal on the Verizon Mifi, and not out at&T phones.
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:57 AM   #9
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Well just wanted to revive an older thread to see if anyone has found any other solutions, or if weboost is the way to go.
Have just returned from an event where the cell service would come and go and thought that I would try and see what options are now out there.
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Old 09-12-2018, 06:17 PM   #10
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Events can be tricky for cell providers. Am not sure that a booster would help. At Oregon State football games the cell phone companies setup portable towers to handle the load. Without them the system gets overloaded with the number of wireless devices. Just not enough channels on the towers.

This can even happen at small events like the Northwest Overland Rally in Plane WA. The 1,500 to 2,000 people overloaded the single tower serving the town resulting in service being painfully slow.

This kind of overloading can also happen to wireless hot spots.
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