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



We are gearing up for a new round of booster and signal testing that should be completed by the end of May 2017.

The cellular boosters being 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 GoM - Cel-Fi announced this new class of digital booster at the beginning of the year, but has been delayed in getting it into production. We are hoping our evaluation unit might arrive in time to include it in this round of testing.

We'll also tested some antenna only MIMO signal enhancing with these past top performing antennas:

  • Winegard ConnecT 4G1 - This brand new roof mounted cellular modem with MIMO antennas (plus triple WiFi antennas) has arrived, and we'll give it a test against boosters and other roof mounted antennas.
  • weBoost 4" Mini MagMount "Stubby" (301126) - Default antenna bundled with the Drive 4G-X booster. For antenna only testing, we use two of these for a MIMO configuration - plugging one into each antenna port of the mobile hotspot.
  • MobileMark 4-In-1- A high-end low-profile MIMO antenna provided by 3GStore

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 a variety of locations and set up our gear for head-to-head comparison.

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.

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. We take the readings directly on device - on our smartphones & tablets. When testing mobile hotspots we test on one of our iPads while connected via WiFi to the hotspot.

Each testing location will take about 8-12 hours to complete and will burn 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: This round has not yet begun - we are still awaiting the hopeful arrival of the Cel-Go M before we do a complete re-install on our RV from our 1st Quarter Testing round.  We have a multi-stop RV trip planned for mid-May with reservations at several signal challenged areas.  We will proceed then regardless if the Cel-Fi arrives in time. 

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