We travel with both AT&T and Verizon hotspots for our Internet needs finding one of the two cell carriers usually has a tower nearby with a good signal. That was the case until the last year of travel. We have taken our 5th wheel to more remote locations and as a result have struggled to find useable cellular Internet bandwidth. For my work needs, I need minimum download and upload speeds to be 5 Mbps or higher. We were recently contacted to evaluate the HiBOOST RV Cell Booster. For our evaluation, we parked our 5th wheel in a location where we often struggle with our cell Internet speeds and put the HiBOOST to the test.
HiBOOST Travel RV Cell Booster
For our application, we chose the HiBOOST Travel 4G 2.0 RV Cellular Booster for a number of reasons. The system came with:
- HiBOOST cellular amplifier
- Omni directional outdoor antenna
- Indoor antenna
- AC Power Cord
- DC accessor plug and power cord
- Mounting hardware
HiBOOST states the signal booster will amplify 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G signals for any cellular device on all US and Canadian carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and Rogers. The signal booster works with networks on Band 12/17, Band 13, Band 5, Band 25/2, and Band 4. Although not listed in the specifications, we tried the signal booster with Verizon’s band 66 with moderate results.
Conditions at the Evaluation Location
The location for our HiBOOST RV Cell Booster evaluation was going to be challenging when it came to a viable signal. We travel to this location often and have always struggled with one bar of cell signal. While voice and text have worked reasonably, Internet from a phone or hot spot aren’t useable for work needs or streaming entertainment. We knew this would be a worse case environment to test the HiBOOST RV Cell Booster. If a booster could improve our cell Internet connectivity, this was a perfect location to see the unit would provide workable bandwidth.
Evaluating the HiBOOST RV Cell Booster
As recommended in the HiBOOST manual, we opted for a soft installation to ensure the distance from the outdoor and indoor antennas were optimized. Close placement of the two antennas will cause interference along with a significantly degraded the cell signal. Outdoor antenna placement should be placed as high as possible on the RV. It’s important to keep the antenna some distance away from higher devices such as air conditioner units to prevent signal interference.
Our Outdoor Antenna Placement Our first attempt at outdoor antenna placement was mounting the unit at the top of our ladder rack. This gave us ample distance away from the rear air conditioner and placed the base of the unit above the 5th wheel roof line. After testing the unit for several hours, we saw little to no improvement in cell signal strength.
Our next effort was to move the outdoor antenna from the ladder rack and install on an expandable 16’ aluminum painters pole. With a pair of heavy duty suction cups used to install windows and a couple bungie cords, we secured the pole to the side of the 5th wheel and continued our test with much improved results.
Our Indoor Antenna Placement Wanting to ensure we had ample distance from the outdoor antenna, we temporarily ran the cable through the back window placing the amplifier on the kitchen counter top and placed the indoor antenna on the dining table for testing. This is temporary and we have plans for a more permanent and factory style installation.
HiBOOST RV Cell Booster Evaluation Results
Using the bar indicator on a cellular device is handy for a quick reference to see if a cell phone or hot spot will work, but for testing purposes it’s best to see the actual Reference Signal Received Power or RSRP. This measurement is shown as a negative value with the smaller the number, the better the signal.
For a cellular device to work, it must be able to receive a signal from the tower between -50 dBm to -120 dBm. A -50 dBm is considered full strength (full bars), while -120 dBm is considered a dead zone (no service). For our evaluation we used a Verizon iPhone 11, a Verizon 6620 Hot Spot, and an AT&T Mobley Hot Spot. Signal levels received on these devices ranged in the low 100s. We had a cellular signal, but barely useable. For reasonable Internet speeds, it’s best to have a RSRP between the -50s to -90s.
The results of our evaluation were very good. In every device, our Internet up and down speeds improved from a 250% and in some cases over 600%. In every instance our bandwidth speeds increased to a level where we could work efficiently from our RV, moving large data files, conducting video conference calls with bandwidth to spare, and for streaming entertainment. Below is a chart showing our Internet speed tests with and without the HiBOOST RV Cell Booster.
Overall, the evaluation of the HiBOOST RV Cell Booster was a success. Our location for the evaluation site was challenging with a requirement to boost a very weak cellular signal. We look forward to seeing how the booster will perform in locations where a more moderate signal exists. We will follow up in a later video with the final installation for the booster and antennas.
If you are interested in purchasing a HiBOOST Cell Booster for your RV, truck or car go to https://www.hiboost.com and use the code “ilovervlife” to receive 15% off the purchase of your HiBOOST products.
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