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Old 08-09-2021, 06:26 AM   #1
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drowning in cell booster/antenna options

So, as the title suggests, I'm trying to pick out an internet solution for my van. It seems like the weboost drive reach is a really popular option right now, and I almost went for it, but my use case is with multiple devices, some of which need wifi. So, what I really want is something like this: MOFI 5500

However, I can't tell if it meets my needs. It's nice to have better service where there was not enough, but I need to work, so unless the signal is strong enough for streaming, I'll need to move the van anyway. It's more important to have a more reliable connection than to be able to be in the most remote places. From my googling efforts, it seems like to maximize bandwidth in areas that already have an ok signal, your device needs better downlink power (as opposed to gain), but the mofi does not mention this parameter. They also sell a panel, directional, and omnidirectional antenna. I'm not sure which one is best. This router has lots of features that I like, but it's not clear if the signal "boost" is on par with other solutions or if it tries to amplify at all.

These and other devices claim to be able to utilize all service providers, but does that mean I need a plan with each provider, or can I use google fi (which also uses the existing infrastructure from the other providers) or some other plan to get the most out of these devices?

thanks for any advice!!
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Old 08-09-2021, 10:43 AM   #2
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I think you are comparing apples to oranges. A cell phone booster amplifies signal (ie...the weboost) and the MOFI 5500 looks like a router to me (ie...distributes the signal to devices on the network). I did not read all the specs so perhaps there is a "booster" built in.

What I have done that works well and is cheap is to get the best booster you can afford (ie..the weboost drive reach is nice). Also get the longer range antenna for the exterior of your vehicle to use at least when you are parked.

Then you can start off with (2) used refurbished hotspots from E-Bay. One that runs on GSM networks (AT&T, T-mobile, etc...) and one that runs on CDMA (Verizon). If you buy "factory unlocked" or network specific units all you need is to go get a pre-paid sim card and pop it in the hotspot and you should be good to go.

Even though the hotspot is just a data point, it will still be assigned a phone number. What you then can do is log into your user portal (ie...Verizon) and then there is a user interface to setup your booster and apply which phone number you want to be allocated to the booster. Simply do that and then you will be effectively boosting the signal on a hotspot which you can then use to connect all your devices to. You should be then able to use wi-fi phone calling as well.

For GSM this is the best one -- https://ebay.to/3yB3zlt

For CDMA this one is solid -- https://ebay.to/2VGiPP8

---

99% of the time I get better signal via CDMA. If you want an ultra simple solution just add a hotspot to your actual phone plan (if you use Verizon) and then you already have a user portal with verizon to setup the Wilson booster with. I think it is $10 per month if you bring your own device (buy a used unlocked one from eBay).

Once it is setup, you can access it in the portal and there is just a dropdown to select which phone number you want to boost. Sometimes if I have an important phone call I will switch the boost from hotspot to my cell phone so that I do not have to rely on the wifi from the hotspot to take the call....I can just use the cell service directly.

So in a nutshell....buy the Weboost ---> boost your hotspot signal ---> connect devices to the hotspot.

If that does not work there are a number of other options that start to get $$$. I would start cheap and work your way up as you learn what you need.
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Old 08-09-2021, 02:56 PM   #3
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I have a mofi 4500 with its own data plan through Ubifi that we use at the house then take with us if we need to work from the road. Most cell phone plans have caps on how much you can hotspot (or how much you can get at full speed). It does not have a booster built in but you can do a signal scan and lock on a certain band which helps sometimes.

No booster yet but it's in the works. Probably external MIMO.
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Old 08-09-2021, 05:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clicker44 View Post
I think you are comparing apples to oranges. A cell phone booster amplifies signal (ie...the weboost) and the MOFI 5500 looks like a router to me (ie...distributes the signal to devices on the network). I did not read all the specs so perhaps there is a "booster" built in.

What I have done that works well and is cheap is to get the best booster you can afford (ie..the weboost drive reach is nice). Also get the longer range antenna for the exterior of your vehicle to use at least when you are parked.

Then you can start off with (2) used refurbished hotspots from E-Bay. One that runs on GSM networks (AT&T, T-mobile, etc...) and one that runs on CDMA (Verizon). If you buy "factory unlocked" or network specific units all you need is to go get a pre-paid sim card and pop it in the hotspot and you should be good to go.

Even though the hotspot is just a data point, it will still be assigned a phone number. What you then can do is log into your user portal (ie...Verizon) and then there is a user interface to setup your booster and apply which phone number you want to be allocated to the booster. Simply do that and then you will be effectively boosting the signal on a hotspot which you can then use to connect all your devices to. You should be then able to use wi-fi phone calling as well.

For GSM this is the best one -- https://ebay.to/3yB3zlt

For CDMA this one is solid -- https://ebay.to/2VGiPP8

---

99% of the time I get better signal via CDMA. If you want an ultra simple solution just add a hotspot to your actual phone plan (if you use Verizon) and then you already have a user portal with verizon to setup the Wilson booster with. I think it is $10 per month if you bring your own device (buy a used unlocked one from eBay).

Once it is setup, you can access it in the portal and there is just a dropdown to select which phone number you want to boost. Sometimes if I have an important phone call I will switch the boost from hotspot to my cell phone so that I do not have to rely on the wifi from the hotspot to take the call....I can just use the cell service directly.

So in a nutshell....buy the Weboost ---> boost your hotspot signal ---> connect devices to the hotspot.

If that does not work there are a number of other options that start to get $$$. I would start cheap and work your way up as you learn what you need.
Thanks for your input!!! This actually makes a lot of sense to me. I actually already have Google Fi though, so I wonder if I can use my Google Fi sim with the mofi5500 to get all the features I want and all 5 carriers paired with a booster.

Does anyone have any experience with Google Fi and signal boosters?
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Old 08-09-2021, 05:50 PM   #5
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Get by as best you can without over-spending and wait for Starlink?
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Old 08-09-2021, 08:42 PM   #6
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@Chams, give the guys at the 5g Store a call. I was looking at a similar solution recently for diversifying my connection in my work truck. By this I mean having 2-3 different sim cards/plans with each carrier so I can get a signal about anywhere. The device you linked above does that and should hop around between different carriers/towers where it can find the best signal, if that is indeed what you need.

I didn't pull the trigger yet. Also, you've got me curious about GoogleFi. I am finding that most carriers will sell you a SIM/data only plan at around $55/month for 100GB. For me that's plenty if I have a couple. Not sure what your needs are for work though.
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Old 08-09-2021, 08:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by 86Scotty View Post
@Chams, give the guys at the 5g Store a call. I was looking at a similar solution recently for diversifying my connection in my work truck. By this I mean having 2-3 different sim cards/plans with each carrier so I can get a signal about anywhere. The device you linked above does that and should hop around between different carriers/towers where it can find the best signal, if that is indeed what you need.

I didn't pull the trigger yet. Also, you've got me curious about GoogleFi. I am finding that most carriers will sell you a SIM/data only plan at around $55/month for 100GB. For me that's plenty if I have a couple. Not sure what your needs are for work though.

So, you're saying you think that if I put my google fi sim into the mofi5500, I'll be able to fully leverage the "carrier aggregation" feature?
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Old 08-09-2021, 08:53 PM   #8
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Oh no, I'm not saying that. I know nothing about Google fi and have just started looking at these myself. Does Google Fi use all available cell towers? If so I'm in.
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Old 08-10-2021, 07:11 AM   #9
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Oh no, I'm not saying that. I know nothing about Google fi and have just started looking at these myself. Does Google Fi use all available cell towers? If so I'm in.
Unless, I'm really misunderstanding something, yes. I think I'm just going to have to make some calls to be sure that it would work like I hope it will.
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Old 08-10-2021, 05:57 PM   #10
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Old technology I know, but still works everywhere & very economical. Added benefit: allows you some time to yourself between responses - Good for the blood pressure.
***I'm considering trading up since I'm sure the Corporate world also views them as an invitation to early retirement.
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