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The Ultimate Internet Access Project – Part Four. Why Wilson Electronics?

A remote jobsite north of Newton, TX.  March 2009

A remote jobsite north of Newton, TX. March 2009

The orders have been placed for the new equipment. I will detail the equipment purchases in detail in Part Five. I will let you know that I chose Wilson Electronics for the bi-directional cellular amplifier and the inside antenna. The question is Why?

From an average consumers point of view, these factors influenced my decision.

!) Wilson has a great reputation for quality and performance.

!) Wilson Electronics products are American made and yes, that does make a difference to me.

!) The amplifiers are built like a tank. Very sturdy steel construction, not plastic like some of the competitors.

!) Customer service. Every time I have called Wilson or emailed them I get a truthful response in American English from a knowledgeable tech support person.

!) Past history. I have a 801201 dual band wireless system in my motor home and the 811201 direct connect cell phone amplifier in my Suburban. Both of these systems have been installed for over 2 years and I have had no problems.

For the Ultimate Internet Access Project I was determined to dig into the more technical aspects of the heart of any mobile internet access system.  The heart of the system is the bi-directional cellular amplifier.  I went on a Google search for specifications on the different amplifiers and I was once again disappointed.  Not all published specifications are truthful and you would have to be a mechanical engineer — which I am not– to detect the means in which some of the manufacturers fudged their tests.

I kept going back to Wilson Electronics.  Did you know they have a cell phone tower set up at their facility in Utah to do simulated cell phone tests on new equipment?   Did you know they take each new product and perform exhaustive tests on it and then send the product out to be evaluated by an independent testing facility?  Did you know each product goes through 40 tests before it is sent out the door?  Well, neither did I but you know a great reputation is not earned by being average.

Wilson has a page on their website where they tested their products against the competitors and the results are available.  Now Wilson could be just blowing smoke but I don’t think so.  For one, it would really tarnish their reputation and secondly, the other manufacturers would be quick to refute their findings.  I did not find a similar heads up competition  page on any other manufacturers websites. I did plenty of reading on this page and this is what I came away with.

!) A bi-directional amplifier takes a weak signal and amplifies it for both reception and transmission back to the cell tower. All of the cellular amps do this but the KEY is how weak a signal can they pick up for amplification? I mean, if you can’t capture the signal, it does little good, right? They call this receiver sensitivity and Wilson explains it better than me.

The performance standard we test against is the CDMA performance standard. This is the most complete and preferred testing standard because it tests for the weakest signal that will still give a usable, quality voice and data output from the test device with a 0.5% frame error rate (FER) or less. In other words, an amplifier with better receiver sensitivity can detect a weaker signal, which allows the cell site to communicate with the cell phone at a greater distance. Wilson outperforms all the competition on the CDMA performance standard.

Their also seems to be some exponential factor involved here as well. Wilson states that the ability to pick up a -110dBm signal vs a -104dBM signal, a difference of only 6dBm actually means the stronger receiver will pick up a cell signal from twice as far away! Wilson beats the competition hands down in this category.

!) The second thing I learned was the transmit signal is a touchy subject. A powerful return signal could actually harm the equipment on the cell tower! I didn’t know that. Again, Wilson explains it better.

The second performance specification is the Transmit Test, which includes open loop power, closed loop power, minimum and maximum power tests for CDMA to assure the amplifier meets CDMA specifications and will not harm the Carrier’s cell site. Some amplifiers such as the Richardson Electronics B800-1900-1 do not even meet the minimum power requirements for the cell phone being tested.

I talked to Wilson Electronics Tech Support for 30 minutes on this subject and the result was we picked out the best bi-directional cellular amplifier and internal antenna for my application. I guess time will tell!

The next Installment in the series –  Read Part Five of the Ultimate Internet Access Project  which will detail all the equipment picks and why.

Read the previous installment in this series – The Ultimate Internet Access Project -Part Three

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