Wilson 4G 460108 Signal Booster - Review
The most difficult adjustment to make out here in the backwoods of the Ozarks is mobile internet/voice connectivity. After having spent a good deal of time playing with HAM radios and antennas, I understand why the high frequency radio waves for 4g are so difficult to come by out here in these hills and valleys of the Ozarks. The small populations contribute to the supply/demand of carrier (repeater) antennas... but even then it's always going to be a problem picking up a signal here because of the terrain.
Simply put... I wouldn't be able to use my iPhone 5 out here at all without the Wilson 4G 460108 signal booster. Driving through the rural moutains here we are about 30 minutes away from a small city. There are a couple of highways were signal is prevelant, but in the backcountry without the Wilson, one is lucky to receive even one bar on their cellphone. When the Wilson booster is hooked up in my Subaru Forester, I'll usually have at least three bars on my cellphone.
Do not get me wrong, you still need at least one bar of (regular) signal for the Wilson to amplify the boosted signal up a couple of bars. At the rental cabin here, we almost never have even one bar of regular signal... we are right on the cusp of where the AT&T tower signal will reach us. With that said, it makes for some good experimentation. It might be considered forced experimentation though when I get cabin fever and need my internet fix? I have driven around the driveway and around the property here in search for a signal at times with the booster plugged in. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I know that the signal is of such high frequency that its communication is line-of-sight versus the bouncing off of the ionisphere. When it gets really humid out here at the remote rental cabin, one can see the signal fade every ten seconds between no signal, one bar of signal, and three bars of signal. My iPhone's signal indicator must be off, because I was receiving three bars all day long, but could barely make a phone call. At one point I called a friend about ten times before it finally rang and I was able to leave a message. (With the limitations of this piece of hardware, I was quite impressed!) I think in an emergency out here I would be able to connect to help. Or, I could just drive a few miles and get a connection to satisfy a rescue.
To summarize, if you are going to be needing a 4g cell phone connection in a rural area, buy one of these. They are expensive at around $350 USD, but having communications in rural country is essential to survival in my opinion. Go buy a Wilson 4G 460108 signal booster and thank me later!
Wiring the Wilson 460108 4G booster is easy. The only reason I have done a not-so-professional install on mine is because I already have a Yaesu HAM radio wired in my Subaru Forester. The directions basically state that the outdoor antenna gets wired through the door weather stripping. One can get really fancy and wire it through the interior's trim. The same goes for the interior antenna. Though I have read that, for optimal performance, one needs the phone within ten or twelve inches from the indoor antenna when it is being used. This is true in very poor conditions, but I have found that in medium signal areas this is certainly not the case. Anyway, you simply plug both antenna connections into the booster and then plug the 12 volt adapter into your cigarette lighter... flip on the switch and yOuArEiNbUsInEsS!
The directions on the Wilson 460108 says to keep the supplied outside antenna away from other antennas. Well, I do have a dual band half whip 144/430 Mhz antenna for the Yaesu that might be causing interference with the Wilson antenna?
In my situation my Subaru has a center ceiling console which fits the supplied indoor antenna perfectly... well except the cord is not long enough to route around the window trim. I can set my iPhone inside the cradel of the console interior where I have the indoor antenna mounted and place the phone on speaker when the signal is not very strong. It works pretty well in these situations. If there was one thing I would like to see Wilson change on their next revision, it would be to make the inside antenna line longer.
If it weren't for my Yaesu amplifier sitting under the driver's seat, I would certainly put the Wilson booster there. But, since I don't have the room down there for the booster, I've just wedged it between the driver's seat and the center console.
(wedged between my driver's seat and center console):
With my 2003 Subaru Forester, I have an additional 12 volt adapter in the center console where I can plug the booster in for power. The adapter has an on/off toggle switch. Fortunately for me my 12 volt adapters do not stay powered with the car turned off. So, I simply just have it turned on which makes it automatic when the car is powered on :-)
(in my center console versus the cigarette ligter):
At the time of this writing, I am waiting for the release of the Wilson Power Supply 859102. I'd like to expiriment with this booster at our base station with 120 volt means. There are an assortment of home antennas that just might work at this remote location on the mountain. I will probably end up needing a yagi antenna to reach my AT&T tower for maximum performance. I still want to experiement with an more powerful outdoor omnidirectional antenna though, because it would be nice to provide a signal at home for multiple carriers. When this experimentationn begins, I will definitely write more on the subject. Until then, "Don't worry, be happy!"