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Old 01-15-2011, 11:08 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by SpaceEgg View Post
I didn't know you could put a cellular antenna on/in your house. Where can I find out more? Do these simply amplify signals or...?

For what it's worth, I've recently been told that the bars of reception only help define signal strength when you are not on 3G. If you are on a data network, then you are live, and it operates equally fast no matter what the connection strength. If you are having connection speed difficulty usually it is because of other user traffic or your device is switching from 3G to Edge coverage.
You might google Wilson electronics on the antenna question.

The number of Bars are an indication of relative signal strength, Unfortunately they give you no indication of signal quality, reflection problems, or slow downs caused by other traffic. You can get excellent speed in a low signal area if traffic is light.
Actually proper signal strength reading are measured in dBm, Some phones
will let you access that info from service menus. In the case of Verizon, it can be read off the access manager software used with both phones and data cards.. Since strength is measured
in dBm below a reference level so -100 is a weaker signal than -80dBm
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:37 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceEgg View Post
I didn't know you could put a cellular antenna on/in your house. Where can I find out more? Do these simply amplify signals or...?

For what it's worth, I've recently been told that the bars of reception only help define signal strength when you are not on 3G. If you are on a data network, then you are live, and it operates equally fast no matter what the connection strength.
Yes you can put a cellular antenna pretty much anywhere and there are lots of options. A fixed antenna on a house can give even better results because you can get models that "point" in the direction of your tower. Mobile antennas (car, RV) need to be omni directional.

A call or data connection requires two radio transmissions. One from the antenna on the cell tower to the antenna built into the device and, one from the device antenna back to the tower.

External antennas do not amplify the power of the signal going into or out of the cellular device, they are just more efficient than the antenna built into the cellphone or 3G data card. They can capture more of the signal coming from the cell towers, and transmit more of the power coming out of your cellular device. Most importantly an external antenna moves this two-way "conversation" outside the walls of the RV or building so that less signal gets blocked. Better signal strength - more bars.

An omni directional whip antenna like the Wilson RV Shorty do this in a circular pattern (think of dropping a stone in a pond). Antennas for fixed locations (e.g. yagi) can do better by concentrating the signals in once direction like a funnel.

Signal strength does seem to affect voice calls differently than data calls like you say. My cellphone calls are about the same whether it has 4 bars of signal strength or 2. I only start to notice voice problems when it drops to one or no bars. But my experience with cellular data cards is different - the stronger the signal the faster the data rate.

You can add a power amplifier between your device and the antenna to add signal power. This can amplify the signal your device transmits to the cell tower but obviously, cannot increase the power of the signal the tower transmits. I took out the amplifier I put in my first setup - it did not noticeably improve the data rate for me but probably would in conditions where the device signal was not getting back to the tower. I recommend a good antenna first and then try an amp if you are still having problems.

Different cellular companies use different frequencies. Frequency affects the antenna design so double check that before buying. Your local cell phone store will not ne able to help with antenna and routers. Here is a link to the 3Store. They know RVs and provide me very good customer support.
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Old 01-17-2011, 09:25 PM   #31
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Reporting back... Verizon Pantech UML290

The new aircard (Pantech UML290 4G) was a complete disaster. Regardless of signal strength, after an initial period of somewhat adequate connectivity (5-10 minutes) the card consistently disconnects, locks up, or crashes. The reason we selected this model is our USB760 fell apart, and the Pantech was the only model available with an external antenna jack. We weren't particularly interested in 4G because we don't live in an area anywhere near 4G service. The Verizon representative told us that the USB760, or any other 3G aircards were no longer available. So we had to select from two 4G models - the Pantech, or the LG (without external antenna jack).

After virtually zero connectivity for two days after (on all three of our computers), we stopped at at a Verizon corporate store in El Paso, who ran exhaustive tests (their words), and proclaimed it to be working properly, and to give it a chance in other areas. They no longer stocked the USB760 either, and claimed it wasn't available.

So, after two more days of giving it a chance, and research of the Pantech UML290 on the Interwebs, we discovered that this very problem is widespread, and Verizon refuses to acknowledge, or provide support for it. So, we stopped at a Verizon authorized representative store in Ennis, TX. They informed us they didn't carry this model for the same reason, but they did still carry the USB760. They they also said that they have pulled numerous Verizon products off the shelf because of defects and the resulting complaints. They went above and beyond to get Verizon to agree to exchange the new 4G for the 3G, which I have been using for the past 3 hours without any problems. The dealer did this at no cost to us except for a nominal charge for the USB760, which we expected. They also took the time to set up the aircard on our computer, and test it before we left. The level of service was unparalleled.

This is only my experience. Take it for what it's worth. Others may have been more successful.

EDIT: We went through Fort Worth today, where 4G is available, and tried it out. It wouldn't connect.
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Old 01-17-2011, 09:55 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceEgg View Post
I didn't know you could put a cellular antenna on/in your house. Where can I find out more? Do these simply amplify signals or...?

For what it's worth, I've recently been told that the bars of reception only help define signal strength when you are not on 3G. If you are on a data network, then you are live, and it operates equally fast no matter what the connection strength. If you are having connection speed difficulty usually it is because of other user traffic or your device is switching from 3G to Edge coverage.
Try here. Cell Phone Antennas and Cell Phone Boosters at Wilson Electronics
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:10 PM   #33
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Here you will find what I used.



amplifier Cell Phone Antennas and Cell Phone Boosters at Wilson Electronics

Inside antenna Cell Phone Antennas and Cell Phone Boosters at Wilson Electronics

Outside antenna Cell Phone Antennas and Cell Phone Boosters at Wilson Electronics
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:31 PM   #34
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I used the 901104 mount. I did not use the small clamp plate, I just screwed through the four bolt holes into the joist at the peak of the roof.

Check out Amazon for the parts.

These guys have a good price on the trucker antenna. http://www.accessorygeeks.com/wilson...r-antenna.html
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:24 AM   #35
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Can anybody explain how the soon to be released (Feb 2010) Verizon iPhone will be better/different than the AT&T iPhone?
Verizon allows you to tether and offers an unlimited data plan. It is supported by the carrier and on the phone preinstalled. This might matter if you use it a lot. I use about 4-5 gigs per month on one of our phones, the other is still TBD because we just switched it over too. Verizon's network is much better, and their customer service is much better. Count on Apple's dictatorial censorship of the app store to remain the same, or jailbreak.

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A word of caution to people planning to get the Verizon iPhone and use that for their internet connectivity... the first generation of the VZW device will be EVDO only, so they won't be able to support data while you're on a call until the LTE version comes out on Verizon.

If they're like Sprint with their Android devices, the app will be on the phone but in order to use the HotSpot functionality you'll have to subscribe to an extra add-on to your plan. With Sprint it's an extra $30/month.
Good point to bring up. Yes it annoys me too that I can't get data and voice at the same time. I have noticed that I can txt and data though if that matters to anyone.

Mostly that quirk has been annoying when I'm not around the computer, like I want to search my gmail box while I'm on the phone. There's ways around that when I'm tethered (google gears, etc). Or I use our other phone for the call while I'm on data with one. My annoyance is thereby solved by annoying the user of the other phone I temporarily confiscated. It's not without repercussions though.

As far as the extra monthly fee, that's only if you want to pay for it. PdaNet -- USB Tether/Bluetooth DUN for Android is just one option for a pay once data app. There's free ones in the market that I haven't tried but have seen write ups on. You can also get super geeky and root your phone and install the free wifi tether app and use it as a wireless router. I'm personally happy with wired tether since it charges at the same time from the USB connection.

All this talk about antennae is interesting, but I haven't ever been somewhere that I was on the fringe of service that something like that would have helped, and saved money over driving a few miles to get service. Mostly we have service everywhere. I drove 2600 miles streaming Pandora radio over the phone through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, California and it only dropped something like 3-4 times in extremely remote areas or the bottom of valleys between big mountains. Point is, reception is very good in most areas I've been other than Hwy 1 in NorCal where it was nonexistent.

WiFi at RV parks is a joke. Yesterday was the first time I have tried it at one and didn't want to throw the computer out the window. Same park today, and it sucks. I tether more often than not now, and usually only test the signal at a new park so I can include it in my review when I write that up.
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:54 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by webtrippin View Post

All this talk about antennae is interesting, but I haven't ever been somewhere that I was on the fringe of service that something like that would have helped, and saved money over driving a few miles to get service. Mostly we have service everywhere. I drove 2600 miles streaming Pandora radio over the phone through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, California and it only dropped something like 3-4 times in extremely remote areas or the bottom of valleys between big mountains. Point is, reception is very good in most areas I've been other than Hwy 1 in NorCal where it was nonexistent.

WiFi at RV parks is a joke. Yesterday was the first time I have tried it at one and didn't want to throw the computer out the window. Same park today, and it sucks. I tether more often than not now, and usually only test the signal at a new park so I can include it in my review when I write that up.
I wouldn't spend the money for the amplified antenna system in my Airstream, because, like you say, service in most areas is improving, and you can usually drive a short distance to get the service you need.
But is sure is nice at our house.

As for WIFI at RV parks, we have found great WIFI at some, like the Elk's Lodge in Chula Vista, CA, Pismo Coast Village in Pismo Beach, Shadow Hills RV Park in Indio, CA and several others that we frequent. But, as you say, most suck. At the three I mentioned the WIFI/broadband service is so good that we can use it to connect to phone service with our Magic Jack from inside the trailer.
Fun stuff.
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Old 01-18-2011, 01:07 AM   #37
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connect to phone service with our Magic Jack
Now that you mention it, that reminds me about another difference between Verizon and AT$T.

I routinely use Skype on my VZW droid and it works fabulously. No minutes used and the unlimited data helps. When I had my iPhone I had to jailbreak to get 3rd party skype and google voice apps. I would expect the VZW iPhone to allow skype calls over 3g like they do with Android if Apple doesn't get in the middle again.

It would be super cool if someone copied Kayak's hotel wifi speed application and repurposed it for RV parks.
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:43 AM   #38
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...It would be super cool if someone copied Kayak's hotel wifi speed application and repurposed it for RV parks.
I just checked the Kayak site for Taos, which has a string of hotels/motels offering wifi. It listed only one. Not too successful.

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Old 01-18-2011, 08:48 AM   #39
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Friends,

I use an AT&T lightening aircard with a Cradlepoint MRB1000 router with my Packet8 DTA (ip phone) hard plugged to it, use wifi to my laptop from there. I also use a Wilson signal booster that works great with the antenna just stuck to the inside of the window in the airstream. I have the AT&T dataplan for the datacard as I use it a lot. But one thing that AT&T told me that you may want to take advantage of...if you have a family plan for your cell service you can move the data card to the family plan as a phone and pay just the $9 a month for months you are not using it on the road, then move it back to data plan ($60 a month) when you are traveling.
Thanks,
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:29 AM   #40
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I have the same system as Jim I carry it in the AS. When I need it I mount the antenna on a flagpole and connect everything inside. The reception is great. I use a mifi.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:22 AM   #41
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It would be super cool if someone copied Kayak's hotel wifi speed application and repurposed it for RV parks.
I use this site to check the internet speed wherever I happen to be at the time.

Speakeasy - Speed Test
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:48 AM   #42
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Must Choose Soon

So, it looks like:

1. A smart phone, Android?, with a plug in for antenna,
2. A plan with unlimited phone data plan
3. a. A phone that has wifi
b. Or the USB tether for Android app.

Thinking the Walmart unlimited from T-Mobile.
But, do they have Android?

Thoughts?
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