View Full Version : Best Cellular Booster System

07-18-2009, 04:28 PM
Ever wished you could have a high speed internet connection all the time and five bars on your cell phone anywhere. Well we have found a solution that helped us come to the decision to remove the MotoSat XF3 from our roof top and save the $300 a month satellite bill.

It is a Wilson Dual Bank Wireless Cellular amplifier with internal and external antennas.

Below are the parts and URL from Wilson.

We now have five bars virtually everywhere. Even in the desert. There have been only a few locations (like the campground at Monument Valley that sits in a canyon) where we have not had a great phone and high speed internet connection.

I have shared this to several POG members and thought I would post it here. I can not help anyone with mechanical aspects of the bus, but I have a lot of experience with electronics. Hope this is helpful.

RV / Trucker Spring-Mount Cellular Antenna (http://www.wilsonelectronics.com////ViewProductB.php?ID=24) (301133) with a mag mount. We screwed a small plate to the roof and sealed it. This way if something low hits it and the spring is not enough it will just fall over.

20+ feet of Low Loss Antenna Cable. You need to have wilson send you a connector. The antenna comes with 50 feet of cable but it is designed for wired connection to a phone and this is a completely wireless solution. Because of the interior antenna you have to have at least 20 feet separation between the antennas and the low loss line is important. The connector is easy to splice into the shorted line of the mag mount antenna.

In-Building Wireless SOHO Cellular/PCS Amplifier (http://www.wilsonelectronics.com////ListProducts.php?Type=7) (801245) This is a 50 dB amp and it is normally installed in a building. It is what adds the extra miles to your reception.

Dual Band Panel Antenna (http://www.wilsonelectronics.com////ViewProductB.php?ID=23) (301123) This antenna we mounted just behind the front header on the ceiling and it makes the entire front of the bus and cellular hot spot.

Your phone antenna will give you about three miles coverage. The exterior antenna increased that to about ten miles. The interior amplifier increase that to thirty to fifty miles. Almost anywhere you are within thirty to fifty miles of a cell tower.

With these components you now have a completely wireless cellular area in the front of the bus. We have four cell phone (two Canadian, two US) and three Air Cards, Verizon, ATT, Rodgers. All of these can be hot at the same time. Meaning we can drive down the road and surf the net at high speed while talking on the phone.

This is the best Under $400 investment we have made since we bought the bus. For us it is a must have technology. Hope you find it helpful.

07-18-2009, 07:05 PM
Sounds real good Lloyd, how about a picture of the antenna mounted on your bus.


07-18-2009, 08:59 PM
Jim the antenna is to the right of the AC unit.

07-18-2009, 11:15 PM
Lloyd, that is some great information, I for one would love to boost the signal strength of our air card, it gets pretty slow sometimes. Not to much problem with the phones though. Thanks for taking to time to post.

07-19-2009, 09:44 AM
Lloyd shared this info with us at the Havasu gathering so I promptly installed the setup in our bus. Initially we had interference issues between the two antennas. The folks at Wilson were very helpful however and had us up and running in no time. It is critical that the two antennas be more than 20' apart, additionally the orientation of the internal antenna cannot be directed towards the external antenna. After getting those issues taken care of the system works great. Highly recommended.

07-19-2009, 01:01 PM
Brian, Lloyd,

I am in the planning stage of installing a Wilson Amplifier system in my coach. I am planning on using Verizon EVDO for internet access, exclusively.

Lloyd, I have a Datastorm unit that I am not installing on the coach. I also need reliable communication access when I travel. Do you recommend the cell tower internet access over the Datastorm?

My plans were to mount the Wilson RV External antenna in the rear/roof of the coach. Then route a 'low loss' cable to the front and mount the inside antenna panel in the forward (upper) area of the coach. My question is the panel antenna will be pointing towards the rear of the coach (Where the external antenna is mounted). Will I need to angle the panel antenna to direct the panel antenna downward, away from the rear antenna. Or will the estimated 40' separation of the antennas make directing the panel antenna down a 'non issue'.

Thanks in advance.


07-19-2009, 02:36 PM
awesome post. I'll certainly mimic this setup for our next tour!



07-19-2009, 04:39 PM
Did those interested in the product see this guide in Lloyd's link?

Installation guide:



07-21-2009, 04:18 AM
Sounds like a great system, think I'll get one too. :)

07-21-2009, 10:12 AM

Thanks! I have been thinking about the best solution for work on the road and this sounds like the one. Another bus project.:cool:

07-22-2009, 10:03 AM
Have you had experience in the mountains, does cell phone coverage depend on line of sight?

07-22-2009, 10:16 AM
We have never had problems on the highways or secondary roads. The mountains have not been a problem. Though I expect there are some passes that might be outside the 50 miles cellular radius. We have only lost coverage in LA for about 90 miles and in Monument Valley Campground in the bottom of a canyon.

I do not know if it is line of sight I think not since it is not a radio signal but that can be answered by someone more knowledgable than myself.

Pamela can surf the net while we drive and we are able to call whenever needed. My iphone received emails though out the drive time.

When I compare it to my satellite experience we are up on the cellular 95% or more and were online 30-60% on the sat and voip.

We had to select very specific campground and campsites to have the sat work and we now with both ATT and Verizon can camp virtually anywhere and be connected. Hope this helps.

07-22-2009, 10:28 AM
We removed our Datastorm system and now only use the verizon or att in US or rodgers aircards in the Canada.

We have the usb aircards installed in a Cradlepoint MBR 1000 router that makes makes the aircard wireless so that any of our five Macs can access the internet from either inside or outside the bus. The Cradlepoint extends the hotspot to about 50 feet around the bus.

At night we get up to 1.9 MB connection of the aircard.

The important difference is the celluar system has faster upload speeds thatn sat. We get 600-900 k upload speeds and that would cost $400-500 a month to get that upload speed on a sat system and then it would still be wind, cloud, tree and sat dependent. We were on Ethersat with iDirect which is the fasted sat system available for public use we only had 50 user on our sat online the thousands sharing a hughes sat. And still the cellular was mor dependable.


Verizon is more reliable and has better coverage. But there are places where ATT is better. Hope this helps. Sorry I missed your post earlier.

07-22-2009, 10:32 AM
Thanks Lloyd, I was just in the mts of north carolina and had a lot of spots that had no coverage. Sounds like this might solve the problem, I might need to talk to the company or maybe hear from others with this equipment.

07-22-2009, 10:58 AM
Bill we have not had problems with the Eastern mountians at all. They are near populated areas and highways and are not as tall as the ones out west. I foresee having more problems in some of the rocky mountain passes and valleys.

We tried one of the smaller amps and it did not work as well the SOHO amp is what really adds the coverage.

Best to you. BrianE will have more experience than us with the western mountains.

We will be heading north through the Rockies in late August and September.

07-22-2009, 12:00 PM

I have a very similar setup and have been very happy the results here on the east coast. BUT I have big favor / request to make. I hope to travel out west next summer and I still work 10 hours a day on line. When I travel I use the verizon and sprint air card to get connected. What I really need is first hand reports of nice campgrounds in the Colorado / Utah area that have good Verizion evdo coverage. Since it seems like you guys cover a lot of territory in your travels, could you please post campgrounds that you find that would be worth staying in for 3 or 4 weeks at a time that have good verizon coverage. I really hope it is not to much to ask and I do not mean to put you on the spot. It just that I may never get to see Colorado and Utah unless I know 100% for certain that I can get a good signal and still work. I can also use camp ground wifi IF the camp ground internet connection is DSL or cable connected. If it goes out on satellite then it will not work for me. I must use VPN and that does not work at all or not well enough on a sat. to get work done. So in most cases I have to use the verizon card as my primary connection method
Are you going to be in OKC for the POG Rally?

Safe travels and hope I have not asked to much of you.

Jon Wehrenberg
07-22-2009, 12:03 PM
This is written from the perspective of a guy that cannot open XL spreadsheets, or that has a cell phone but no camera phone, no voice mail, no text, and who doesn't know what face book or some new texting thing is (twitter?).

When I first considered taking a computer with me I was told all I needed was a wi-fi thingy, and on three occasions and after a lot of time I was actually able to use that in a campground, especially when the bus was parked next to what I was told was the antenna.

But since that access to the internet sucks I started considering a Verizon air card. The problem I encountered was the guy trying to get me to buy one did not speak English. I am not being bigoted, he was born here and when he wasn't talking about computer stuff I understood him clearly. But when he started to talk about Gigs and Megs and K's he started to lose me. Then he talked about how I would be allowed 5 somethings of usage a month, but he reverted to computer talk when I asked what that meant in a language I could understand.

Luckily I talked to an ATT guy and he spoke in terms I could understand. He said if I did not download music and movies I would not exceed the 5 somethings. That's easily understood by me, who did not know you could actually get a movie from a computer. I always thing of the herky jerky videos I have seen on the computer so I never knew people would actually want to watch a whole movie that was like that.

So I got all excited about being able to insult JDUB while on the road. Then Lloyd goes and blows me out of the water. He posts that I need an external antenna, an internal antenna and some other gadget, which as we all know will have a usefull life of two weeks before something better comes along.

Can I just get one of the Verizon thingies to stick in a computer slot and use a computer on the road or do I need to weigh down the bus with more elctronic stuff that I don't have a clue about? The way everybody is jumping all over Lloyd's recommendations I suspect Verizon cards are one notch above WiFi and way below my Comcast cable TV internet connection in terms of speed and quality.

07-22-2009, 12:20 PM
I feel the same as you Jon, but Lloyds way does seem to be the most cost effective way to get internet and cellular coverage at this moment in time.

Tomorrows technology will probably bring something else, but this amplifier system will still be working as it does now unless it becomes broken. The speeds and capability of Lloyds system are certainly good enough for anything I want to do at this time and into the foreseeable future.


07-22-2009, 01:07 PM

I have used a Verizon air card for several years now and, for general use, has worked perfectly 99% of the time.

If you are not working and sending/receiving tremendous amounts of data, you don't need such an elaborate system. Additionally, if you are typically within a reasonable distance of civilization, you will not generally need that extended range of the system described by Lloyd.

I have found that for e-mail, internet banking, googling stuff and staying in touch with POG, my Verizon air card is all I've needed. However, I don't consume a lot of bandwidth with my type of usage, and I'm usually within easy reach of a decent cell signal.

I am by far not an expert in this stuff, but it appears to me that what has been described is kind of a "commercial/industrial grade" installation, which you may or may not need.

Luckily, I haven't found the need........yet :)

Even with this type of up-grade, you still need the air card, so you have nothing to lose by trying the air card alone to see if it meets your needs. It surely beats dependance on local Wi Fi at campgrounds.

07-22-2009, 05:53 PM
Jon the answer is YES. If you have a cell phone for calls and an aircard to plug into your computer you can access the internet and check email and post to POG forum.

If all you do is email and surf the web the 5 GB limit is not a problem.

ALSO you need to be within 3 miles of a cell tower of your provider. Since you only camp in Class A Big Rig sites and stay on the interstate, you are perfectly set.

If you decide to ever get off the interstate or dry camp (god forbid) then you may find yourself more than three miles from a tower and without cellular service. :)

I found for the cost of a $249 router (only needed for multiple computers to access the internet at same time - Pamela and I both have several computers) and $400 wilson system I was safe 95% of the time. But then we dry camp in the desert for a week or more at a time and prefer two lane roads to the interstates. Hope that clears things up a bit.

07-22-2009, 06:01 PM
Andre we will be in OKC. The following is the lastest info we have on Verizon in UT and CO.

Durango - Alpen Rose RV Park - good verizon

Monument Valley - Goulding's RV - inconsistent and poor wifi, no sat or cellular for ATT or Verizon. (you are in a canyon) one mile outside the campground is good wifi at the resort office or resturant, and good Verizon

Blanding - Blue Mountain RV Park and Trading Post - good Verizon, fair ATT

Moab - Riverside Oasis Campground and RV Park - Great Verizon and ATT

We will be in southern UT for the next month and then heading to WY.

Ray Davis
07-22-2009, 06:08 PM
Lloyd, I got a question.

Since the fire I have been using a Sierra modem in my Mac. It's ATT based, and works fine. My concern is how long can these be run without either overheating or causing problems?

It seems if you put the cellular modem in a celluar router, and use wifi, then you are generally leaving this plugged in and possibly on 24/7.

Is there any concerns about that, or do you routinely turn the system off?


07-22-2009, 06:16 PM
Ours stays plugged in the router 24/7 and has never heated up. We use the USB760 for Verizon most of the time.

The only time we turn it off is when we are in a great WIFI location (which is rare). Currently here in Moab it is turned off because the Wifi is great especially in the evening.

The Mac will heat up before the modem.

07-22-2009, 06:21 PM
If you decided to buy a Cradlepoint MBR 1000 Router. Call the 3Gstore.com (http://3gstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=35&products_id=765) they have the best phone support. They really know their stuff. Victor is the best with Mac systems.

08-09-2009, 03:03 PM
Has any one of this forum tried the new "MiFi" from Verizon on their bus???
It's A new gizmo about the size of a credit card? and can feed upto five wireless devices.

Availablle Thru verizon on a two year deal- just looking for some feedback.

08-09-2009, 03:16 PM
Here is a link to a review:


The only limitation will be your distance to the cell tower.

Jerry Winchester
08-09-2009, 09:37 PM

I just made my first trip with the Cradlepoint and a new 3G aircard. It worked very well and faster than the old Kyocera card and the K1 router.

08-09-2009, 11:24 PM
Jerry glad it is working well for you. We have been really pleased with ours. Which 3G card are you using and which provider? We need to buy a new ATT card and are looking for recommendations.

08-10-2009, 08:48 AM
Andre, most campgrounds where you would want to stay for a while will have WiFi, even if there is no cellular signal. You could easily make your choices based on that. You just need to get a spot close to an antenna to keep your speeds up. And, I've never heard of a campground using satellite for public internet access.

A word of caution if you're trading . . . I've heard of people going over their 5 gigabyte limit (very expensive) by streaming data all the time.

We work and travel full time and use a Sprint and a Verizon card. We sort of plan our routes based on their coverage. See these links:
We're on AT&T for voice so we check here: http://www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer/

We use the Cradelpoint CTR350 router. You can hot swap data cards with no issues. No external antenna and it fits in a drawer out of site. http://www.cradlepoint.com/products/ctr350-mobile-broadband-router

Lloyd, good to hear a first hand good report on the Wilson set up. I never have gotten my head around where to run the wires and hide things.

08-10-2009, 09:30 AM

Thanks for the info. Just to make it clear what I am trying to do, this trip we are taking to Buckhorn Lake and OKC Rally in Sep & Oct is a test for a much longer trip next year. The problem I have is that my wife is EXTREMELY dedicated (obsessed ?) to her job. If she cannot connect things will not be pleasent for me. So I am gathering as much info as possible in the hope that things work out on this upcoming trip, then next year I wil finally get out on the road like I want to. I have to show her (not tell her), that we can connect to the net and work on the road in a reliable enough fashion that she can do her job. I have a wifi antannea on the roof and a Sprint & Verizion data card connected to an MBR-1000 and a Wilson celluar amp. If I can't get connected wth all that, I guess it will be time to give up.

Thnaks to evryone for all the information.

08-10-2009, 09:40 AM
Not being connected can be a blessing. When you find yourself out of touch with the world for a few miles ... stop for a while. That kind of silence is golden.

08-10-2009, 10:32 AM
Jim we already had teh satellite wiring running on the roof so it was an easy decision to route the Wilson Low Loss line beside it and just drop it down into the electronic cabinet.

The SOHO amp needs to air circulation to keep it cool.

Andre, we always ask each campground which cellular service works the best, and between Verizon and ATT one seems to always work. Unlike Jim we have not had good experience with campground wifi. We could count on one hand the number of times we have had great wifi from the campground set up. They are many times at best dial-up speed particularly during peek times for the retiree crowd. Late at night and middle of the day are best times to use campground wifi, everybody is asleep or gone. Remember the CandlePoint Cellular connection is great while you are driving, almost all highways are not hotspots.

Best to you and see you both in OKC.

Jeff Bayley
10-09-2009, 07:47 PM
I did a search for "Inernet" and decided to throw this link up here in case this sollution works for anyone. I'm keeping what I have which is an independent card for mine and my wifes lap top but if you've got a family full of laptop surfers this looks like not only an affordable but simple sollution. Suppose it get's slower the more users that are using it at once.


10-12-2009, 09:48 AM
We are sitting at Enota Retreat campground about 15 miles outside of Hiawassee Ga in the pouring rain using our Aircard with our cellphone booster up in the Georgia mountains near Brasstown Bald mountain. Great hiking wonderful location, but absolutely no cell or internet service, as we are surrounded by 3500 to 4500' mountains all around.

I need to stay connected and have installed a cellphone booster antenna repeater on the roof with a 5 watt booster in the motorhome. If I turn it off I get no signal whatsoever, if I turn it on I get as much as five bars a real life saver for us, it allows us to go outside of normal coverage areas and still get service.

If any of you absolutely needs to stay connected then I would recommend the booster along with a Router inside the motorhome with a 3G Aircard installed very nice solution and in most cases no need for a Sat internet dish.

10-12-2009, 10:28 AM
So, Bruce. Can you tell us exactly what you have booster wise and what it took to hook it up. Thanks

10-12-2009, 11:01 AM
Jon: It sounds like you and I are on the same page using computers. When I purchased my last Liberty, I had them put in a gizmo that made the bus a "hot spot". This contraption cost $2,500 and required two Sprint air cards ($124/month!!!) It was a total piece of crap and would not work very well anywhere. After I complained about it for a year and a half, I turned it off and cancelled Sprint, and purchased a single Verizon Air Card. Have had it since Jan. 2, 2009, and it has worked perfectly everywhere I have been, including the Smokie Mtns. It is even better than something on the coach, as I can take my computer anywhere and it works perfectly. It is fast Broadband speed. Even though I get 5 gb or whatever per month, I have never used over l.2. Verizon covers the Eastern US like a blanket. Some holes out West, but even there Verizon is better than anyone else. Go to Verizon.com or ATT.com or Sprint.com and get their coverage map and you will see what I mean. My computer is in the house wirh the air card right now! Ed

10-12-2009, 11:06 AM
Jon: Forgot to mention, but Verizon has an extra antenna that connects to the air card that has suction cups for a window available for $20. I bought one and have never used it as it has not been needed. Ed

10-12-2009, 11:19 AM
There are several options and configurations that will work, Wilson offers a great product as well, we ended up with the PowerMax 70DB system:


The key to this install is to make sure that you place your outside antenna as far back on the rear cap (we drilled hole in cap near right side use lots of sealant to make sure you seal the hole from the weather) as possible at least 40' from the inside front antenna is very important. You will get 50' of cable from the outside rear antenna that needs to be run forward (can be tricky) need a good chase or way for the cable run. On the bus we placed the amplifier, 3 watt over the entry door in a cabinet where we terminated the cable run from the rear antenna. The 50' cable connected to the booster amplifier on the top easy to read well labeled. You will need either AC or DC access for the amplifier you will get both in the kit, (we used AC found it worked better) then you want to connect the inside antenna to the bottom of the amplifier, you will get about 12' of cable for this. We placed the inside antenna over the drivers seat in overhead.

Once all is installed you should be able to use the system and get a better signal for both cellphone and Aircards.

We have 2 laptops that are in use 24/7, so we added a router, I would use the one that Lloyd recommended along with a Verizon USB 727 aircard (depends on your carrier) installed, all in all it works very nicely.

10-12-2009, 11:35 AM
I agree that the Verizon coverage is better overall than the rest, but there are still plenty of locations where Verizon shows nothing but "White" on their coverage map, no coverage at all, which is where we are now, about 14 miles southeast of Hiawassee GA. (go east from Hiawasse Ga on Rte 76, take right on Rt. 17/75 to Route 180, go about 5 miles on 180 to my location) in the pouring rain, no coverage on the Verizon coverage map, yet with our Cellphone booster antenna ($500) we get great signals for everything we need.

10-14-2009, 12:56 AM
The amps really help, I use the 36 db ATT capable Wilson and never lose signal. My Royal had an unused celluar antenna installed when built. I hooked the antenna to the Iphone with a cradle and it may have helped. When I added the amp reception has been prefect.

Cradlepoint is my next tech step.

10-14-2009, 09:21 AM
I spoke to Bob with Wilson yesterday, and he told me that I needed to be careful not get within 50' of a cell tower. He said that the amplifier could blow the cell tower out! He also said that the FCC would confiscate my amp if that happened.

The amps that are being used are to be used in a building, not in a motorhome. The amp that is made for a car has a 2' radius of signal and that is what he recommends. I personally think that it would be almost impossible to get a 45' coach within 50' of a cell tower, so it is a moot point.

Just wanted to pass Bob's info onto everyone.

05-06-2010, 10:50 PM
Well my Wilson Dual Antenna Amplifier came in yesterday and I installed it in the coach.

It is showing a red blinking light on the 800 Mz side; the 1900Mz shows a green light. Hope Lloyd or Andre could chime in here and give me some suggestions.

I followed the instructions to the letter: connect the outside antenna to the amplifier first, then connect the inside antenna, then plug in the 6V power supply.

Why is the red light blinking?

05-06-2010, 11:31 PM
I believe it is because you have no cellular signal using that channel. We have two green light because we have our cell phones on one and our aircards is using the other. I could be wrong about this and will concede to Mills or someone with more knowledge than I have. For the best answer I would call Wilson in the morning.

05-06-2010, 11:34 PM
Thanks for the response Lloyd. So if I dial a phone number on my cell phone the red light will change to green?

05-06-2010, 11:38 PM
If you turn your cell phone on near the internal antenna you should have more bars that when you are away from it and the green light should appear. Make sure you have more than a 20' separation between the internal antenna and the external antenna.

Our system will also flash red when there is not 800 or 1900 mhz tower near enough to connect with. You may only have a 800 Mhz tower nearby.

05-07-2010, 05:14 PM

I called Wilson Electronics 866 294-1660 and spoke to Ernie. To repeat my problem: the red light was on the 800 Mhz side. Ernie told me to unplug the amplifier, disconnect the outside antenna and disconnect the inside antenna at the blue amplifier. Then plug the blue amplifier back in and if both red lights come on it means the amplifier is bad. Both lights came on - it was a bad amplifier.

I installed a new amplifier which I obtained from the Omni Electronics store where I purchased the unit - it works great!

Tommorrow, time permiting I will drive down to Cocodrie, LA (the end of the world) to test the unit's ability. There is very weak cell service in Cocodrie - one bar on a good day.

Thanks for the help and advice. I think that I am going to be very happy with this cellular amplifier.

05-08-2010, 08:27 AM
Wilson is easy to deal with and very helpful. Glad you found the problem. Best to you and Karen

06-24-2011, 12:29 PM
Draggin up an older thread here....

Tuga, how is this system working out for you? How did it work on your trip up north? Any suggestions or comments as I am looking at doing similar pretty quickly here.


06-24-2011, 01:09 PM

The Wilson Dual antenna amplifier worked great on our trip to Alaska. I still have good results with the system; we have strong reception almost all of the time.

I would gladly buy the system again. It is worth the money.

The only trouble I have had was keeping the little magnetic antenna on the roof from falling over when I would drive under tree limbs. I siliconed a piece of metal to the roof (so I wouldn't have to drill holes in the roof) and then put the magnetic antenna on the piece of metal. It works great now.

06-24-2011, 02:57 PM

The Wilson Dual antenna amplifier worked great on our trip to Alaska. I still have good results with the system; we have strong reception almost all of the time.

I would gladly buy the system again. It is worth the money.

The only trouble I have had was keeping the little magnetic antenna on the roof from falling over when I would drive under tree limbs. I siliconed a piece of metal to the roof (so I wouldn't have to drill holes in the roof) and then put the magnetic antenna on the piece of metal. It works great now.

Good deal Tuga - thanks. How did you run your wire from the roof antenna without a roof penetration?

06-24-2011, 06:18 PM
Tuga.. what equipment did you buy exactly?

06-24-2011, 10:05 PM

I just tie-wrapped the cable to another coax that was run on the roof.


I purchased the Wilson Dual Antenna Amplifier. I think if you google it - it will come up. It really is a good system.