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The Ultimate Internet Access Project – Part Three. Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

My head is really starting to hurt now. I am at the point that I am more knowledgeable on the subject of bi-directional cellular amplifiers so I thought a call to Wilson Electronics out in Utah was the next order of business. I wrote some notes down and some product specs and placed the call. I was really hoping to get someone who spoke American English and not some off shore call center.

Wilson did not disappoint me. They do have a really great reputation and they deserve it. I got right through to tech support and was talking to a nice young guy named Dustin in short order. I told him what my present equipment was

The soon to be replaced Wilson Trucker Antenna mounted on the Fish Bus.

The soon to be replaced Wilson Trucker Antenna mounted on the Fish Bus.

and asked him some very specific questions.

I wanted to verify some information and a good portion of it was from my previous post, Part Two of this project

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

We were discussing using 2 yagi antennas to pull in both the 800mhz and 1900mhz bands and Dustin asked me for my current  zip code. I asked him what for and he said he was going to plug it into Wireless Advisor.  What?  This is one of those web sites that I slammed in my earlier post.  Dustin said he used them all the time and had found the information to be very accurate.  So I have become one of those individuals that spread wrong information on the Internet  that I rant about all the time!   I stand corrected!

Will I have to use 2 yagi antennas, one to pick up the lower band and a second one to pick up the upper band?

After checking my zip, Dustin said that this was definitely out. AT&T is using both bands on this tower and that is not an unheard of practice. Dustin advised me they were probably carrying the phone traffic on one band and the data (aircard) traffic on the other band. If I went with a single band antenna, I would lose the usage of the other device. This was totally new information to me! My research on the subject indicated most carriers used the lower 800mhz band in rural areas almost to a fault. Not so said Dustin– That is outdated information. I will definitely going to have to use a dual band antenna and I was set on using a directional yagi antenna. After speaking to Dustin, I am also considering a panel antenna which is easier to align and not so line of sight dependent.

Rural vs. Metro coverage. 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.

Dustin verified this hypothesis as fact and said the cellular amplifier was the only piece of equipment that would overcome this power mis-match.

Differences in signal loss with different cabling

Dustin gave me some figures for signal loss due to the connecting cables and advised me to keep all cable runs as short as possible.
RG58u is what comes with most antennas and amps. Signal loss is 2.5db per 25′ of cable run.
LMR400 is what Dustin recommended. Signal loss is 0.9db per 25′ run. He also advised me this cable was quite a bit thicker and stiffer and may present problems if I tried to bend it to much.
LMR600 only loses 0.5db per 25′ run bit it is impossible to bend around a corner.

We ended up the conversation by deciding on which Wilson Electronics amplifier would best work for my intended use. I will discuss that and the other pieces of equipment once I make my final decision. It was a real pleasure talking to a bright young man like Dustin who knew his business and was enthusiastic about his job. I had already narrowed the search down to a Wilson Cellular product. Over 2 trouble free years with 3 other systems manufactured by them was one factor. I researched other companies like Smooth Talker, Cyfre and zBoost to name a few and the complaints and problems were pretty frequent. Wilson also is very confident and post third party test results of Wilson vs The Competitors right on the web site.

The Next Installment in the series — Part Four

Part One …. Part Two

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