[Completed] Cellular Signal Enhancing Field Testing Results (2nd Quarter 2017)

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We have just completed a new 'speed' round of booster and signal testing. The field testing results are in along with our field notes, and as we compile the data we'll begin updating our Reviews of each product.

The cellular boosters tested:
  • weBoost Drive 4G-X - our tried and true standard, based on many previous rounds of signal testing. We'll be testing all three antenna kits: with the 4" Mag Mount and 4G-OTR and the brand new 4G-X RV Kit.
  • SureCall Fusion2Go-RV - this newly released RV kit from SureCall has arrived to our testing lab.
  • Smoothtalker Mobile X6 - Released in early January 2017 we'll continue testing this new 5-band booster. It performed well in our 1st Quarter testing round.
  • Cel-Fi Go M - Cel-Fi announced this new class of digital booster at the beginning of the year, and will be launching very soon. Our evaluation unit arrived just in time to be included in this round!

We're also tested some antenna only MIMO signal enhancing options:

  • Winegard ConnecT 4G1 - This brand new roof mounted cellular modem on AT&T with MIMO antennas (plus triple WiFi antennas) has arrived, and we'll give it a test against boosters and other roof mounted antennas.
  • WiFiRanger SkyPro LTE - WiFiRangers new roof mounted cellular model (on T-Mobile) and WiFi extending gear unit has arrive to be included in this testing round.
  • weBoost 4" Mini MagMount "Stubby" (301126) - Default antenna bundled with the weBoost mobile boosters. For antenna only testing, we use two of these for a MIMO configuration - plugging one into each antenna port of the mobile hotspot. This creates an affordable (under $40) roof mounted antenna solution.
  • MobileMark 4-In-1- A high-end low-profile MIMO antenna provided by 3GStore
  • Netgear MIMO Suction Cup - An affordable directional antenna that suction cups to an inside window of your RV. We purchased this on Amazon for under $30.

For guides to boosters & antennas:

Understanding & Optimizing your Cellular Data Performance

Selecting a Cellular Antenna

Cellular Booster Overview

Understanding MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) – LTE Speed & Cell Booster Implications

Our testing procedures:

During our testing, we visited 3 locations in a variety of  known signal challenged areas and set up our gear for head-to-head comparisons.

We start by taking 3 baseline readings with each of our cellular devices with no booster or antenna.

Each device is tested independently, with all other nearby devices in airplane mode to prevent any potential interference.

Next, for each device we test each booster and/or antenna combination. We take readings with the mobile hotspot device directly on the interior antenna for boosters, and for those claiming extended interior range we also test at 6' away.

The devices & the carriers we are testing them with include:

The readings taken are:

  • Coverage maps

    Coverage maps

    Coverage? Map snapshot, showing high level view of anticipated service at each location.

  • Signal strength db reading, on devices that support it using Field Test mode.
  • Signal bars/dots present & service type - HSPA, LTE (and specifically which band, when possible), 3G, 1XRT, Edge, etc.
  • DL = Download speed.
  • UL = Upload speed.
  • Ping time.
  • SNR or Quality - Signal to Noise Ratio, if reported by device.
  • Calculated scores.

For speed and ping readings, we are using the Ookla Speedtest app. When testing mobile hotspots we test on one of our iPads while connected via WiFi to the hotspot. We keep the distance between iPad and mobile hotspot consistent over the same WiFi band to rule out WiFi variables.

Each testing location takes a solid 12 hours to complete and burns through a good chunk of data. It was a very time intensive process to collect the raw data displayed below.

All of the individual field testing results and observations shared below are for our members. Not only will the results show the performance of each booster/antenna, but also what to expect in different types of signal situations.

Testing Disclaimer:

Our goal in our cellular and Wi-Fi gear testing isn’t to attempt to create perfectly “fair” lab conditions, which are impossible in the real world. Instead, we try to strike a balance between real-world scenarios and the need to be able to test multiple setups head-to-head while being able to rapidly switch between them.

By testing in a range of locations and situations patterns tend to emerge - and we always try to sanity-check our conclusions by mixing things up to make sure that the overall results make sense and are representative.

Testing Status: May 25: We have just completed a week on the road in our RV visiting 3 signal challenged areas in central Florida. We took readings of about 70 different antenna/booster/carrier combinations at each location. 

The field results & product summaries are below in the member area, and we'll work over the coming weeks to get the data integrated into relevant reviews.


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