UPDATE: see my May 1 2020 long-term usage report.
I travel a lot doing photography in my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van often in remote areas where cell phone coverage ranges from excellent to barely there to not at all. Here’s a quick look in some posts with pictures of the Sprinter.
My #1 issue when traveling is the availability of a good cell signal. I often push 100MB to 500MB (half a gigabyte) to my server at a time, for my photography publications and photo blog and cycling blog, with many high-res images. But even email can take half an hour with a weak cell signal as it is very “chatty” back and forth with high latency.
For example, I recently spent 2 hours in sweltering 100°F heat with the sun beating sidewise on the van. I idled the engine with the A/C on high, I was still sweating profusely while I waited and waited. Why the wait? Because the cell signal while claiming 3 bars LTE was really 1/60 the claimed speed. What should have taken 5 minutes at 1.5 MB/sec took hours at 35KB/sec. I have repeatedly seen bogus signal strength readings on the iPhone—totally misleading garbage information—I wish Apple would fix that bug instead of more and more emojis. Not until I try to use the link can I be sure how good it is. It has been very frustrating.
So recently I purchased the about $480 weBoost Drive 4G-X 470510 Cell Phone Signal Booster. Setup took all of 5 minutes.
Tests as awesome!
I’ve been wary of claims about improvement, but I am won over—several preliminary tests showed a major benefit. Today I drove out in the boonies where the signal showed as 1 bar LTE. There is wide variability due to the network itself, but the improvement is a clear pattern, ranging from good to awesome.
So many hours wasted in past years, but the weBoost Cell Signal Booster his is going to save me a ton of time and stress. It’s not an inexpensive fix, but for my needs, it offers outstanding value.
Figures are time in seconds to upload a 4MB file to my web server with a weak 1-bar LTE signal in a canyon. As can be seen, the improvement ranges from working versus not working at all to 4X to 6.5X faster. Assuming a 5X speedup and using my previous scenario, that’s 2 hours versus 24 minutes plus many miles of driving saved searching for a usable signal. I’ll have more to say on its benefits after my next trip.
|Test #||iPhone only||iPhone + weBoost (seconds)|
|1||FAIL (unable to connect)||56|