Just got a 4G LTE Signal Booster for my Cabin

mikeschumann

    I have a small cabin near Milltown WI that has extremely limited T-Mobile service.  I have one window where my iPhone can reliably get service.  However, I have to use the speaker phone to make calls, as moving the phone even slightly causes the connection to drop.

     

    Until recently, I was lucky if I got Edge service, which was still totally useless for any data usage.  A couple of months ago I started getting very limited LTE connections.  The data rate is quite decent (~10 MBits down), but virtually useless, as I can't move the phone from the window sill (the saving grace is that the personal hotspot works with my laptop).

     

    Last week I talk to T-Mobile about getting a 4G LTE Signal Booster.  They graciously waved to rule that I could only have one Cell Spot device for my account (I already have a Cell Spot Router for my basement office;  T-Mobile ROCKS!!!).

     

    Just got the unit installed and running at the cabin.  Here are my observations:

     

    1.  I have a VERY small cabin, making it very difficult to get enough distance between the window and repeater units to get everything working optimally.

     

    2.  It would be very helpful if there was a window unit available that could be installed outdoors.  Another option would be supporting an external directional antenna.

     

    Overall, this is a great step in the right direction.  It would be nice if T-Mobile would come up with an even better solution for those of us who are in really marginal areas and can't use WI-FI calling because we don't have internet access.

      All replies

      • mikeschumann

        Here's some more feedback after a day of playing with my 4G LTE Signal Booster.

         

        I found a temporary outdoor location for the window unit that seems to get a pretty steady 1 bar LTE signal.  The repeater unit is inside our cabin and is now showing 4-5 on the display.

         

        I have an iPhone 5S LTE connection thru the signal booster with about 3 bars when I am sitting next to the repeater.  When I run speed test I get 92ms ping; 11.83 MB down; 0.47 MB up.  I can also us the personal hotspot with my laptop and everything runs pretty well.

         

        However, I can't make ANY voice calls.  Every call I try to make fails, and the iPhone then temporarily shows no service.

         

        When I put the iPhone in my reliable window (getting 1 bar LTE without the booster), I notice similar behavior.  When I try to make a voice call, after a short delay, the iPhone drops LTE and switches to either Edge or just T-Mobile and then the call goes thru.

         

        Anyone have any idea what is going on here?  Without voice call capability, the signal booster is essentially useless.

        • drnewcomb2

          Mike,

          I'm not an iPhone guru but when I look both on this site and GSMarena.com I do not see VoLTE mentioned in the specs for the iPhone 5s. If a phone does not have VoLTE it will have to drop back to 3G or 2G to make voice calls. If the booster is not compatible with 3G or 2G, this might be an explanation. Does that make any sense?

            • mikeschumann

              I ended up talking to T-Mobile tech support and that exactly is the problem.  The iPhone 5S does not support Voice over LTE (it is supported by the iPhone 6), so it drops back to 4G, 3G, Edge, or GPS to make the call.  The T-Mobile 4G LTE Signal Booster does not boost 2G signals, and the Milltown WI area towers only support 2G and LTE.

               

              Looks like a new phone is in my future (hopefully the new iPhones will support the T-Mobile 700 MHz LTE spectrum; that might also help my coverage issues).

               

              I still have to figure out where to put the window and coverage units so that I get more separation with less interference and a stronger booster signal.

                • drnewcomb2

                  Just a couple of thoughts.

                  700 MHz is going to be very important in Wisc. If you're dedicated to iPhones, you might get an iPhone 6 under JUMP Mk 3. ("On Demand") and upgrade to the 6x when it comes out. ITMT, you could try using a VoIP client (e.g. Viber, Skype, etc). Get an inbound VoIP number and forward incoming calls to that number when you're at your cabin. Make outbound calls via VoIP. I don't know how well this would work but it might get around the VoLTE issue until you get a phone with VoLTE.

              • magenta2010622

                T-Mobile overnighted me a Signal Booster for use at my work. I'm in a large building that only gets signal near the windows. I already had a home router from T-Mobile and they didn't charge me shipping or a fee for this second device. T-Mobile is great! Even if another provider had more affordable cell service, I'd stick with T-mobile out of pure loyalty at this point.

                • barcodeable

                  I never had a 4G LTE Signal Booster from T-Mobile. I have terrible service inside of my house except for in a window on my second floor, unfortunately  i can't sit in the window to make phone calls . I will contact T-Mobile tomorrow and request this device. It would be so great to actually make phone calls while sitting in the living room, bedroom or any room in the house for that matter .

                   

                  I'm so excited now after hearing about your success with this device .

                  • magenta2814463

                    I have had my signal boosters for about 2 years now. I recently moved and I called and had my address updated for my boxes. Yet they still aren't working. They told me it would only take about 2 hours. It has almost been 24 hours. I have called 3 times, and the last guy told me to plug up my window unit first, let that get bars, then plug up my coverage unit. I did that, my window unit was still blinking this morning. I have zero service in my apartment. I am having to go sit in my car just to send a text. Any help would be greatly appreciated if anyone knows what I should do now

                      • barcodeable

                        I just ordered my signal booster lastnight... it should be here on Monday. Once I get it and Install it, I will give an update on what I have done. Hopefully it works.

                          • ychu

                            Re: Just got a 4G LTE Signal Booster for my Cabin

                            I received my last week and it only helped the Androids phones, not the iPhone 7.  The Androids phone loved it, and it is getting 4 or 5 bars, with download of 20+ Mbps.  However, all three iPhone 7 is still getting one bar (dot), and not connecting to the booster at all.  The weird part is that every time I power cycle the iPhone 7 it will get 5 bars (dots) at first, BUT it will slowly dropping bars to one again after few minutes.

                             

                            Tech support "said" they are tweaking the nearest cell tower to boost coverage for the iPhone.

                             

                            Why Androids phone get the boost and not the iPhone?  They have no idea, or wouldn't tell me...

                            1 of 1 people found this helpful
                            • mobileguru

                              @barcodeable, how did your new signal booster work out for you?

                                • barcodeable

                                  I have had success with my Signal Booster with one negative aspect.

                                   

                                  Easy setup

                                  Works great in my house

                                  I was able to get LTE all over with no issues

                                  LTE Radiation

                                   

                                   

                                  I started to get headaches and my left eye socket started to hurt only having the Signal Booster connected for about 15 minutes. My wife started to get a headache also without me even mentioning to her I had the Signal Booster on. I contacted T-Force to let them know my experience and was basically told that they were sorry that the signal booster didn't work out . Maybe its just an isolated incident with me and my family, maybe nobody else experience what we did.

                                   

                                  I unplugged the device and put it in my closet. People aren't aware that these devices including our phones give off radiation... and the signal booster amplifies it. I hope everyone else have a better experience than what I had. I did not plan on writing about my negative experience because i did not want to deter others from trying out the device. I'm responding to you only because you asked me directly about my experience.

                                   

                                  Whenever I get the opportunity, I will be sending the device back to T-Mobile.

                            • metalchad

                              I'm planning on placing my window unit in an external enclosure to ensure it gets the best signal to repeat with. I cannot locate any documentation detailing the dimensions of the unit, could someone here measure theirs and let me know? Thanks in advance.

                              • mikeschumann

                                For a small cabin, the signal booster was a BIG disappointment.  The basic problem is that it doesn't have an external antenna jack, so I never could get a decent stable LTE signal.  The second problem is that you need to have a pretty decent distance between the receiver and the repeater.  My cabin is only 700 sq ft, and with the receiver on one side and the repeater in the far corner on the other side, I still didn't have enough distance between the units to be functional.

                                 

                                Finally, the signal booster I have doesn't support Band 12, which has now been rolled out in my area.  I still have a very limited signal which only works if I leave the phone sitting on the window sill on one particular window in the cabin.  However, I have solved my biggest problem by buying a Bose Soundlink II bluetooth speaker, so I can now sit anywhere in the cabin or on my patio and make and receive voice calls using the Bose unit as a speaker phone.

                                 

                                Still a pain to text, get e-mails, or surf, which requires me to stand in front of the window and type very carefully so I don't move the phone.

                                 

                                T-Mobile really needs to get a repeater specifically for these kinds of remote locations where you can't get an internet connection.  Such a unit should support Band 12 and the new 600 MHz frequencies, but most importantly support an external directional antenna that you can put on a pole outside.  That would really solve the problem.

                                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                • mikeschumann

                                  I finally gave up waiting for T-Mobile to come out with a usable signal booster and got myself a weBoost Connect 4G signal booster from Wilson Electronics to try out at my cabin.

                                   

                                  What a DRAMATIC improvement.  Before, installing this booster, my iPhone 7 had 1 bar of LTE service when it was perched in a specific spot on a single window sill in my cabin.  If I moved the phone at all, either to make a call or send an e-mail or text, I would loose my connection.  With the weBoost installed I now have 2-4 bars of LTE service in most of my small 700sq ft cabin and on parts of the patio outside.

                                   

                                  What makes this possible is that the weBoost unit includes an outdoor directional antenna.  This solves two problems:  1.  You get a stronger signal to the booster, and 2.  You can reduce the distance between the outdoor and indoor antennas compared to the T-Mobile unit.  The downside is that the weBoost unit is more difficult to install (you need to connect the outside and inside antennas to the amp using coax cable).  That's a small price to pay to get a solution that actually WORKS!

                                   

                                  A side benefit of the weBoost unit is that it improves the signal strength for other providers, not just T-Mobile.  Friends of mine who had no or marginal service from AT&T and Verizon inside my cabin now also have usable service.

                                   

                                  The weBoost comes complete with all the coax cables and mounting hardware you need.  The only thing you need to provide is a pipe to clamp the outside antenna to.  Well worth the $549 costs if you live in a remote area where you have a very weak cell phone signal.