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Old 09-05-2012, 02:58   #1
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cell phone boosters

What is working for sailors these days?
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:32   #2
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Re: cell phone boosters

It may be time to update these earlier discussions, with more current information.
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:27   #3
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Re: cell phone boosters

Got a cell phone booster on my boat:

It will double the range, crossing from Florida to the Bahamas I loose signal 8 NM from shore without and get 16 NM with the booster.

The antenna is 7 feet or so off the water on top of the bimini, a mast top installation may be better....
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:16   #4
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Right Gord, one of those is mine.

I had heard of a new wireless booster that worked well but did not get any details. Most phones don't have antenna jacks and I'd like to skip the cradle idea.
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Old 09-05-2012, 15:47   #5
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Re: cell phone boosters

I use the Wilson Sleek currently
Product Details

I now see that they have a wireless Booster
Product Details

Might be time for an upgrade.....
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Old 09-05-2012, 16:04   #6
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Read the Active Capt'n article. There is a reason why wireless boosters don't work well on plastic boats and he explains it there
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Old 13-05-2012, 08:58   #7
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Re: cell phone boosters

The RV community has cell boosters/repeaters data well in hand. Google for their discussions. Wilson seems to be at the head of the pack for hardware.
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Old 13-05-2012, 09:04   #8
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Re: cell phone boosters

Originally Posted by earthbm View Post
Read the Active Capt'n article. There is a reason why wireless boosters don't work well on plastic boats and he explains it there
Got a link??

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Old 13-05-2012, 12:45   #9
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Re: cell phone boosters

Originally Posted by mangomuffins View Post
Got a link??

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Old 18-10-2013, 13:17   #10
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Re: cell phone boosters

Wasn't sure if I should start a new post, or just revive this one, but I thought others might find the information already presented useful. It has been over a year, and was wondering if anyone had any new information on this subject. I am looking to cut down the amount of loss I have while crossing over to the Bahamas from South Florida.

Does anyone know from experience if it is worth spending the extra to get the stronger signal? Will 70db signal booster get me further out than a 50db?

Thanks in Advance, I look forward to your responses...
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Old 19-10-2013, 13:10   #11
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Re: cell phone boosters

cell boosters work as long as you are 2" away from the internal antenna.

gone are the days of hardwired mobile phones.
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Old 19-10-2013, 16:18   #12
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Merely boosting say a gsm signal, in noway ensures that you can actually use it , ( see timing advance ) cell boosters are a bit like bank loans. , they tend to work when you don't actually need them

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Old 19-10-2013, 16:47   #13
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Re: cell phone boosters

70 db ??? What company is claiming that? If your cell phone has 0.3 watts output, a 70 db increase would be 3,000,000 watts.
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Old 19-10-2013, 17:54   #14
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Re: cell phone boosters

South Florida to the Bahamas is ~50nm - can't you just not talk on the phone for a couple of hours in the middle?


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Old 21-10-2013, 05:41   #15
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Re: cell phone boosters

Cell phone boosters, or BDA's ( Bi-directional Amplifier) are useful and do improve service to a degree. The article linked to is mostly accurate, except for a few details. Most importantly, these devices should be installed properly. Typically there's a donor antenna and a server antenna. The donor is the one that talks to the cellsite and should be mounted outside as high as possible. The server antenna is the one that talks to your phone. It is typically mounted inside a building, vehicle, or cabin. It's extremely important that the two antennas are far enough away from each other to avoid self oscillation. That's where the donor antenna is picking up the server antenna's output and redirecting through the amplifier and back out the server antenna, and so on. This is a serious issue for wireless providers. The noise generated is severe and affects performance at any nearby cellsites adversely. call quality goes down for everyone in the area, especially those weak signals from distant customers, like a boat several miles out.

Some BDA's have circuitry to detect this and cut back the amplifier, but I'm not so certain how effective the consumer class BDA's are at this. They are common on tugs and workboats that traverse the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The interference, at least for one carrier, has forced the carrier to install very expensive active dsp filtering at cell towers along the river that will search for the noise and filter it out, or rather try to filter it out.

The ACtive Captain article tries to explain how cellphone networks are designed, but missed the most important part. Every carrier has a limited frequency band for customers and they must reuse those frequencies in a manner that doesn't cause interference problems on the other side of town. This is why cellsite footprints are smaller. They don't broadcast signals in a circle around towers either. There are typically three sectors on a tower that usually are oriented in three 120 degree areas. There will be directional antennas that cover just that area. It's technically a different cellsite in each sector. This configuration is a loose rule amongst cell company RF engineers and they will re-orient those antennas, or use wider/narrower antennas due to traffic or terrain. This might include not intentionally covering near-shore, a large lake, or bay. Don't even think about off shore. Their licenses do not allow it. The problem is there are no obstructions over the water and is another big concern for interference when trying to reuse the limited frequencies. This is also why you might get 5 miles offshore and still have coverage from a site designed to reach out about a mile on shore.

There'[s a couple of misconceptions here in previous posts, boosters do indeed work and you don't have to be 2" from the server antenna, unless you have a model that requires your phone be in a cradle, such as the models made for automobiles.

Timing Advance ( aka propagation delay 3G networks) could be used to limit long distance comms, but isn't used much for that, rather it's a statistical reporting tool. For example, I have seen where timing advance was used to help locate the position of many users whose calls registered drops on a particular cellsite. The TA indicated 2.3 miles out, but that was very rural area and not possible to have as many calls as were taking place. It turned out, the actual location was a small town courthouse that was actually 1.2 miles from the tower.

70dB isn't 3M watts in this case because there is no direct coupling with these devices and they're max power out is limited by FCC law.

Bottom line is these things do indeed work, as long as they're installed properly and are designed for the network you have. VZ and ATT put their 4G LTE primarily on specific and discreet portions of the 700MHz band and a BDA designed for one, may not work on the other, or may not cover all the bands these carriers operate on. It's another link that could tie you to a particular carrier and make you less likely to dump one for the other if it means having to purchase another $300+ BDA.

Commercial versions are used in many, many office buildings and hotels in cities to improve service inside. Many of those are connected to elaborate distributed antenna systems that incorporate multiband low power radios that several carriers can all share - similar to the way WiFi is distributed in a hotel, some systems include wifi too.
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