Jump to content
Trip

Signal Booster Question - Feasible? Which?

Recommended Posts

I've got an interesting problem.  I'm hoping someone here might have an opinion.

 

I'm thinking about a Christmas gift for my wife's parents.  The background is that my wife and I are on Sprint (as is her sister) and when we visit, and there is no Sprint service where they live.  But unlike where my parents live, which is close to a US Cellular tower and roams comfortably, her parents' location means the phones tend to bounce between the nearest US Cellular tower, a more distant one, and two Verizon towers, depending on what it feels like.  The result, as you can guess, is terrible battery drain and calls that don't connect or drop quickly after establishing.  In addition, her parents' Internet comes from a US Cellular hotspot with a grandfathered 5GB data plan.  As a school teacher, her father can't really do too much with that, and worse, because of the aforementioned poor service there, it's generally on 3G and not B5 LTE anyway.

 

So I started to think about the problem.  I know that boosters are now given the full blessing of my employer as long as they're registered with the carrier.  So the first thought I had was to get a cheapie booster that would fix the US Cellular signal from the nearest tower.  That seems pretty straight-forward, just boosting so that the roaming is stable and the hotspot stays on LTE.

 

But then I had another idea.  I did a terrain path profile from their house to the nearest Sprint tower, which is 10.4 miles away, give or take.  It looks like if the antenna is on the roof, there should be line of sight, not counting trees.  That tower is upgraded with B25 and B26 LTE, and there's even a US Cellular facility near it, though it's not on the same structure.  Doing this would have two main benefits:

 

1)  The various Sprint phones would not roam there, and would retain their battery life much better.

 

2)  Her parents could switch to a Karma hotspot for Internet access once the contract expires.  Still faster than the 3G they usually see from US Cellular, but unlimited instead of capped at 5GB.

 

The question is, what booster would I want?  I was looking very closely at the WeBoost 3G because the frequencies seemed right, but I read a very detailed technical review on Amazon which indicated the filter cuts right through the middle of PCS G-block and it may not include SMR at all.  The frequencies I'm looking for are SMR, CLR A-block for US Cellular, and PCS (including G-block).

 

Does this sound feasible to anyone else?  Has anyone else used one?  Any recommendations, thoughts, or opinions?

 

- Trip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got an interesting problem.  I'm hoping someone here might have an opinion.

 

I'm thinking about a Christmas gift for my wife's parents.  The background is that my wife and I are on Sprint (as is her sister) and when we visit, and there is no Sprint service where they live.  But unlike where my parents live, which is close to a US Cellular tower and roams comfortably, her parents' location means the phones tend to bounce between the nearest US Cellular tower, a more distant one, and two Verizon towers, depending on what it feels like.  The result, as you can guess, is terrible battery drain and calls that don't connect or drop quickly after establishing.  In addition, her parents' Internet comes from a US Cellular hotspot with a grandfathered 5GB data plan.  As a school teacher, her father can't really do too much with that, and worse, because of the aforementioned poor service there, it's generally on 3G and not B5 LTE anyway.

 

So I started to think about the problem.  I know that boosters are now given the full blessing of my employer as long as they're registered with the carrier.  So the first thought I had was to get a cheapie booster that would fix the US Cellular signal from the nearest tower.  That seems pretty straight-forward, just boosting so that the roaming is stable and the hotspot stays on LTE.

 

But then I had another idea.  I did a terrain path profile from their house to the nearest Sprint tower, which is 10.4 miles away, give or take.  It looks like if the antenna is on the roof, there should be line of sight, not counting trees.  That tower is upgraded with B25 and B26 LTE, and there's even a US Cellular facility near it, though it's not on the same structure.  Doing this would have two main benefits:

 

1)  The various Sprint phones would not roam there, and would retain their battery life much better.

 

2)  Her parents could switch to a Karma hotspot for Internet access once the contract expires.  Still faster than the 3G they usually see from US Cellular, but unlimited instead of capped at 5GB.

 

The question is, what booster would I want?  I was looking very closely at the WeBoost 3G because the frequencies seemed right, but I read a very detailed technical review on Amazon which indicated the filter cuts right through the middle of PCS G-block and it may not include SMR at all.  The frequencies I'm looking for are SMR, CLR A-block for US Cellular, and PCS (including G-block).

 

Does this sound feasible to anyone else?  Has anyone else used one?  Any recommendations, thoughts, or opinions?

 

- Trip

 

I'll ask some of the engineers I work with at what customers are using and get back to you.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, that would be amazing.  If I'm going to spend several hundred dollars on such equipment, I want to make sure I'm not wasting my money.

 

- Trip

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is something I was sort of looking into a few months ago. Wonder what is the best out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, yes, of course it needs a directional antenna.  But if the amp is going to fail to pass (or only partially pass) the bands I need, then it won't help.  I'm already planning to go big or go home with this.

 

- Trip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a lot of us at my work have to use the wilson sleek because our building is made of metal and is killer on signal. even though its not meant for B25 or B26 it does work on them. In the past few days a 2nd B25 carrier has gone live in my area, which does fall within the frequencies the sleek works on, and you can tell that its doing a better job at boosting that frequency. I get about 5db better signal from the 2nd B25 carrier from the same tower.

 

we did attempt a "room" type booster at one point, i'm not sure if its because it was a cheap no-name brand from china, or if it just wasn't designed for B25 frequencies so it didn't boost them at all, but it was crap. we basically had to be within a few feet of the antenna to get any kind of signal gains, and then the signal would be really strong but there was so much noise at that point either data wouldn't work or our phones would get kicked off of LTE. 

 

hopefully you have good luck! based on using the sleek it should be doable, just not sure why my attempt at a room one failed, maybe you will have better luck getting a more reputable brand, we were trying to go cheap so it was less than $200 for the booster and 2 antennas.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, are the Sprint NV antennas vertically polarized or is it elliptical or circular?

 

- Trip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, are the Sprint NV antennas vertically polarized or is it elliptical or circular?

 

- Trip

Cell antennas are polarized.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, are the Sprint NV antennas vertically polarized or is it elliptical or circular?

Cell antennas are polarized.

 

I am unsure any longer.  Back in the AMPS days, as I recall, the FCC mandated vertical polarization on the downlink, horizontal polarization on the uplink.  Or I might have that reversed.  But no such polarization dictate exists today.  Some handsets in some bands, though, certainly do exhibit wildly different ERP/EIRP performance based upon horizontal or vertical antenna orientation.  With separate ERP/EIRP tests, the differences I have seen can range from as little as 1-2 dB to as much as 10-15 dB.

 

AJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll ask some of the engineers I work with at what customers are using and get back to you.

 

Deval,

 

Any further information on this?  Thanks again.

 

Everyone,

 

I went over to my wife's parents' house today for Thanksgiving dinner (she came here yesterday) and while I was there, I walked around with her father, my spectrum analyzer, and my phones.  While I wasn't able to get my Sprint phone to pick up anything besides US Cellular 1X outside and the spectrum analyzer didn't show anything, my T-Mobile phone did connect to the site in question with LTE, at -122 dBm on PCS.  Given that Sprint is on 800 MHz and I will be looking with a high-gain directional antenna at some height rather than a cheapie phone on the ground, I don't think the number sees unreasonable.

 

All I need to do is pick out a booster.  :)

 

- Trip

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eh, basically was told that they no longer had an authorized list so the customer was on their own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Problem I see you having is the tower is 10.6 miles away. That is about 17 km. LTE uses a cyclic prefix and guard time to allow UEs close the the antenna and far away to synchronize to the site during random access (connecting for the first time) and not interfere with each other.

 

http://lteuniversity.com/get_trained/expert_opinion1/b/hongyanlei/archive/2010/12/21/cell-size-configuration-in-random-access-procedure-i-preamble-format.aspx

 

If the preamble format is set to 0, this means the maximum cell radius will be about 14 km. I have only ever seen format 0 used on Sprint sites. If you only wanted to do voice, you would probably be fine, but LTE would likely not work.

 

Sprint antennas are cross polarized +/- 45° from horizontal from my experience. For the donor antenna, use a yagi/LPDA which supports your bands and has a narrow beam width (I'd say 60° or less). I have mostly seen them mounted vertically.

 

Place the donor antenna on the roof for isolation from the serving antenna. To further ensure isolation, place the donor antenna on the side of the structure closest to the site. Insufficient isolation leads to the serving antenna signal feeding back into the donor antenna. Think of a microphone in front of a PA speaker. I would put the serving antenna on the ground floor in the center of the structure.

 

Best bet on choosing a device is calling the company and asking if the specific frequency bands you need are supported.

 

[EDIT]

Just looked at the weBoost 3G and unless there is a second PCS LTE carrier, you will be out of luck. The PCS range is 1850 - 1990 MHz. G block down link is 1990 to 1995 MHz. The 800 range is 824 - 894 MHz so the down link frequency is covered (866.3 MHz for 8763) but the up link on 800 is lower than that (821.3 MHz for 26763). I am assuming your market uses the same eARFCN for 800 LTE as mine does.

 

http://niviuk.free.fr/lte_band.php

 

The weBoost 4G covers 1850 - 1995 MHz, but the 800 range is the same so it would work only for G block.

 

I know this does not solve the cell radius problem, but is relevant information nonetheless.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Problem I see you having is the tower is 10.6 miles away. That is about 17 km. LTE uses a cyclic prefix and guard time to allow UEs close the the antenna and far away to synchronize to the site during random access (connecting for the first time) and not interfere with each other.

 

http://lteuniversity.com/get_trained/expert_opinion1/b/hongyanlei/archive/2010/12/21/cell-size-configuration-in-random-access-procedure-i-preamble-format.aspx

 

If the preamble format is set to 0, this means the maximum cell radius will be about 14 km. I have only ever seen format 0 used on Sprint sites. If you only wanted to do voice, you would probably be fine, but LTE would likely not work.

 

Sprint antennas are cross polarized +/- 45° from horizontal from my experience. For the donor antenna, use a yagi/LPDA which supports your bands and has a narrow beam width (I'd say 60° or less). I have mostly seen them mounted vertically.

 

Place the donor antenna on the roof for isolation from the serving antenna. To further ensure isolation, place the donor antenna on the side of the structure closest to the site. Insufficient isolation leads to the serving antenna signal feeding back into the donor antenna. Think of a microphone in front of a PA speaker. I would put the serving antenna on the ground floor in the center of the structure.

 

Best bet on choosing a device is calling the company and asking if the specific frequency bands you need are supported.

 

[EDIT]

Just looked at the weBoost 3G and unless there is a second PCS LTE carrier, you will be out of luck. The PCS range is 1850 - 1990 MHz. G block down link is 1990 to 1995 MHz. The 800 range is 824 - 894 MHz so the down link frequency is covered (866.3 MHz for 8763) but the up link on 800 is lower than that (821.3 MHz for 26763). I am assuming your market uses the same eARFCN for 800 LTE as mine does.

 

http://niviuk.free.fr/lte_band.php

 

The weBoost 4G covers 1850 - 1995 MHz, but the 800 range is the same so it would work only for G block.

 

I know this does not solve the cell radius problem, but is relevant information nonetheless.

 

Thanks for your detailed response. 

 

To your last point first, I am aware the weBoost is not what I need.  I've reached out to other vendors, however, who have either not responded or not made available information I need.  At this point, I'm not sure what to buy, if anything.

 

I have actually planned to put the antenna on an adjacent building because my father-in-law's roof is a death trap.  One of those old metal roofs with a VERY steep pitch.  You wouldn't catch me on that thing.  I figured the most sensible way to go was to mount it on the shed nearby, then run the cable underground and into the house.  I'd hoped that would work.

 

But your comments on the maximum cell size are disconcerting.  If what you're saying is correct, then it sounds like there's simply no way to make it work beyond 14.53 km, and he's definitely 10.46 miles away (16.83 km).  If that's definitely a hard limit, then I probably shouldn't waste too much more time on that plan, and can definitely go for a cheapie and just do the US Cellular Band 5.

 

- Trip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you taken your spectrum analyzer to the place you plan on putting the antenna? A booster needs a signal to boost if you get a weak signal on the roof you should be able to boost it. Band 26 goes farther than 10 miles at least 15 miles line of sight unless my device is special. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took my T-Mobile phone and it saw LTE on PCS from the site in question at -122 dBm.  I don't really have an 800 MHz yagi to play with, and that was on the ground.  I figure a good yagi with some height should improve that signal by a minimum of 15 dB, and probably much more given the frequency difference between PCS and 800, which would theoretically, from a signal strength point of view, make Band 26 usable.

 

- Trip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

T-Mobile B4 goes farther than that limit stated for Sprint. I can get Tmo B4 LTE with a -115dBM RSRP at a local hilltop from a site in Sturgis, 22 air miles away. I can even pull 5-6Mbps from it. B12 from the same site is -110dBm. At another location, I can get B12 from Wanblee, SD in Wall, SD...a distance of 36 miles. But that's a -130 RSRP and will drop if you try to use it.

 

Using Tapatalk on Note 8.0

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I feel stupid.  I work in OET and forgot I should be able to look up the performance in the OET registrations!  So that's what I've done.  So far, what I see is this:

 

weBoost's Home 3G and Home 4G look to be about the same on 800, flat on the uplink and a slight rolloff at the bottom of the downlink.  On PCS G-block, though, the 3G is worthless (fast roll-off) while the 4G appears to have been tweaked to support it, being completely flat on downlink and only a slight rolloff on uplink.

 

zBoost's 3G and 4G/B12 exhibit more severe rolloff on 800.  On G-block, the downlink is flat but the uplink has a very sharp roll-off, so neither one will work well for G-block.

 

Can't find the FCC ID number for this company, so I've sent an e-mail asking for it:  http://wirelesscoveragesolutions.com/

 

It looks like if I want to try anything, I should be considering the weBoost Home 4G, so far.

 

- Trip

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I feel stupid.  I work in OET and forgot I should be able to look up the performance in the OET registrations!  So that's what I've done.  So far, what I see is this:

 

weBoost's Home 3G and Home 4G look to be about the same on 800, flat on the uplink and a slight rolloff at the bottom of the downlink.  On PCS G-block, though, the 3G is worthless (fast roll-off) while the 4G appears to have been tweaked to support it, being completely flat on downlink and only a slight rolloff on uplink.

 

In SMR 800 MHz, Sprint has located the band class 10 CDMA1X carrier near the bottom of the band, so any frequency response rolloff would affect it.  The band 26 LTE carrier is in the middle to the top of the band, thus probably unaffected.  But CDMA1X tends to be much more robust than LTE.  The Home 4G booster probably would work well for both.

 

AJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

T-Mobile B4 goes farther than that limit stated for Sprint. I can get Tmo B4 LTE with a -115dBM RSRP at a local hilltop from a site in Sturgis, 22 air miles away. I can even pull 5-6Mbps from it. B12 from the same site is -110dBm. At another location, I can get B12 from Wanblee, SD in Wall, SD...a distance of 36 miles. But that's a -130 RSRP and will drop if you try to use it.

 

Using Tapatalk on Note 8.0

 

Might be different if you hand into it. It has nothing to do with the band and everything to do with the speed of light/electromagnetic waves. There has to be sufficient "dead" time built into the protocol for random access. If the UE is already synchronized, things are different. I think LTE is the same for all carriers per the 3GPP standards.

 

That said in rural areas with wide cell spacing, the preamble format can be changed from 0 to something that allows random access from a distance greater than 14 km.

 

In Sprint's network this would almost certainly be something the market engineer would have to optimize. Most LTE parameters are set in a "golden" template.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took my T-Mobile phone and it saw LTE on PCS from the site in question at -122 dBm.  I don't really have an 800 MHz yagi to play with, and that was on the ground.  I figure a good yagi with some height should improve that signal by a minimum of 15 dB, and probably much more given the frequency difference between PCS and 800, which would theoretically, from a signal strength point of view, make Band 26 usable.

 

- Trip

 

Just try to keep your cable length at a minimum. I agree, with some height and a directional antenna with decent gain you should have enough signal quality to get something usable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually bought the weBoost Home 4G yesterday on Amazon while it was on sale for $311 (still is that price as of this post).  I likely won't get to try it out until mid-January; I'm waiting to order an antenna until it arrives to be 100% sure I get all the right adapters and everything as well.  What I'm reading implies that it has an F-connector on it, which is good because I have a spool of RG-6 and the appropriate ends/tool for making such a cable.  All I would need to worry about is the antenna and any adapters it needs.

 

I'll have my fingers crossed about the distance.  I really hope that it works. 

 

- Trip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trip, your RG-6 is 75 ohm.  Does the booster not recommend a 50 ohm coax?

 

AJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trip, your RG-6 is 75 ohm.  Does the booster not recommend a 50 ohm coax?

 

AJ

 

That's what I can't figure out.  When I look at the manual for it, the end of the manual has specs which say "50 ohms/75 ohms".  And antenna kits that you can buy for huge amounts of money for either one.  I'm going to wait for it to arrive and then figure out what to do from there.

 

I did manage to get the FCC ID for the third manufacturer, and its performance in the FCC tests showed the worst roll-off on 800 MHz of the three.

 

- Trip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trip, your RG-6 is 75 ohm.  Does the booster not recommend a 50 ohm coax?

 

AJ

 

Well, I opened up the box and the device has an F-connector for the outdoor antenna.  (SMA for the indoor.)  I've only ever seen F-connectors used for 75 ohms; are they ever used at 50 ohms?

 

- Trip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...