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The Ultimate Internet Access Project. Part Two. Too much of a good thing?


Read Part One here -Subscribe to the RSS feed if you want to stay updated on this unique thread.

It is still too wet to work here north of Newton, TX with almost 4″ of rainfall last week. I have been throwing myself into the research portion of this project and I have just one thing to say Is there no original content left on the Internet? I have tried every combination of search terms I can think of – long range wireless reception, improve cell phone signal, cell phone amplifier, yagi antenna — you name it. Fully 98% of the search results are commercial results from cell phone providers and suppliers and the ad copy is parroted from one web site to another. Many of them just copy the dialogue found on Wilson Cellular’s site and it is just repeated over and over and over.  I have been looking sometimes 10 pages deep ( which is 100 results) to find that one crumb of original content.   One crumb of information that will unlock the secret. Results from the various Internet forums show up and they look encouraging until you go and look at the thread — my initial assertion  in Part One of this project was that most people think an aircard + amplifier + external antenna is as good as it gets.  That has proven to be true.  Strangely enough, one of the most productive threads was from an Internet forum that supports the Storm Chasers!

Research Central in the Fish Bus- Powered by Wilson Cellular -- and Jim Beam :)

Research Central in the Fish Bus- Powered by Wilson Cellular -- and Jim Beam 🙂

I have found out a few things after exhaustive (!!) research which will have a bearing on my final equipment configuration.

!) The various websites that promise a map or location and configuration of cell phone towers are grossly inaccurate and a complete waste of time.

!) The coverage maps provided by the cell phone providers ARE very accurate.  I went back and looked at various remote locations the Old Girl and I have been over the last two years and  I concur completely with their maps.  If you are looking to get an aircard, look at the various provider’s coverage maps for the areas in which it will be used and go with the provider that has the best coverage.  It really is that simple.

!) Rural vs. Metro coverage.  I won’t go in to the technical specifics here because I really don’t understand them but since I am most concerned with extreme remote areas and I will expand on that.  Have you ever been way out in the country and your cell phone showed one or two bars but yet you could not place a call?  Maybe even your phone would ring and you could hear the caller but they could not hear you?  Here is the reason.  Cell phone towers cost money.  No big shock there.  In rural areas, you do not have many users who access the towers which makes the costs of ownership skyrocket.   Cell Phone providers are in the business to provide service to their customers in a  cost effective fashion.  Ever wonder why you have great coverage along the interstate highway system and then as soon as you exit and hit one of the blue highways it goes to hell?  BINGO!    Most of the users are on the big roads  — not off in the boondocks somewhere.  So here is what the cell phone companies are doing.  They build these huge towers  –maybe 500 ft high in some extreme remote locations and then they ramp the power up so these towers are broadcasting a signal over 300-400 square miles.  Your little cell phone can certainly receive this powerful signal but its’  pitifully underpowered transmitter can’t make the trip back.  Are you going to complain?  NOPE!  You have a signal and you just figure it is your crappy cell phone–not a ploy by the cell phone company that is an abject exercise in failure.  That is why those old 3 watt analog bag phones were so outstanding in rural areas.

!) Most of the companies who make cell phone signal enhancers state unequivocally that you must have a signal to start with before their products will help you.  They state this as a hard fact and I am going to agree with it to a degree.  My research has led me to believe a marginal signal is -100dBm.   That will show on your cell phone as 0 to 1 bar.  I am in an area right now that shows -109dBm as an average.  That is 0 bars.  If I amp up, I go to -87 to -91dBm and I have an internet connection which , according to what Wilson publishes, is not possible.  What if I was a few miles farther out at say -115 or -120dBm, would I get a connect?  Maybe–maybe not.   I am hoping with the new system, i will be able to pull that signal in AND be able to transmit  back to the tower.

You know I am not a mechanical engineer and I don’t even pretend to understand everything involved with this cell phone  technology.  I do find it amazing and improbable that I am able to even publish this blog in such a remote area but I am most thankful for the technology.  Heck, I am watching the Dallas local news 275 miles away in Deep East Texas on the DISH 110 spotbeam right now and I am loving it!    What disturbs me is there is no information that I can find related to the subject of extreme Internet aircard access.  Everybody takes it to a certain point and then leaves it alone.  I guess that is a good thing for me because Google just loves  original content so i guess I am heading down a road where few have gone before.  Sorta sounds like Star Trek doesn’t it?

Stay tuned for  Part Three…we might all learn something.

Read Part One Here

Read Part Three Here

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