If you read Gearflogger regularly you know we never go full fanboy, but sometimes we get pretty close, and weBoost cell signal boosters are a rare example. For good reason: the construction is high quality, the performance is as advertised, and the out-of-box experience is about as good as it gets.
weBoost produces a complete line of cell signal boosters for stationary and mobile use in cars and structures. The Drive Reach RV for mobile use sits in between their stationary-only RV solution, the Destination RV, and a a lighter-duty mobile solution, the Drive X RV. It’s a perfect compromise to get the strongest boost while still maintaining on-the-go connectivity.
weBoost boosters mostly use the same general configuration: an exterior antenna talks to an interior antenna that talks to your cellular device, with the two antennae connected to an amplifier. The connections that need to be made are amp to power and antennae to amp. The diagram for this is clear and easy to follow, as always with weBoost’s superb instructions, and with a 25′ antenna cable you have plenty of flexibility for where you mount the components. Speaking of flexibility, weBoost includes everything you need to install the Drive Reach RV except tools: they include a ladder mount for the 13″ antenna mast, a cable adapter, and even thread locker.
Some extra installation details follow, but let’s skip to the end result: in our testing we generally saw about a full bar of improvement in signal strength. While a booster is just that – a booster, it can’t create signal from no signal – there are a lot of situations here in Alaska where the only signal is a weak one, and when that happens, power matters. The 5G compatible Drive Reach RV has a max gain of 50dB at 50W. Because of the magic of logarithmic scales, a small boost in power equals a much larger boost in reach. For example the Reach can connect to towers 74% farther away than the slightly less powerful X model. weBoost consistently helps us make an otherwise unusable signal into a usable one. As long as we can get power to the weBoost, we can frequently connect from places others can’t. It’s a nice margin to have in remote areas.
OK, the deets! As usual with cell boosters, the first thing to do is register your device with the FCC. It’s free and just takes a minute. Installation is essentially the same with all weBoost boosters: place one antenna inside, one outside, connect both to the booster and the booster to power and you’re done. Optimizing the placement to squeeze out every dB of signal boost is a bit more involved but pretty simple and worth the effort. Just move the antenna around and test your signal strength each time. The following sequence will get you there; don’t be intimidated by all the codes, just go step-by-step and it will all make sense.
Cell signal is measured from -50dB (perfect signal) to -120dB (dead zone). After installing put your phone in field test mode to see your signal strength in dB, because the bars that supposedly show signal strength really don’t mean jack. On iOS open phone app > dial pad > type in *3001#12345#* > hit send to open a hidden menu. Go to LTE > Serving Cell Meas > look at the rsrp0 number to see the strength of the closest cell tower in dB. On an iPhone this mode used to replace the useless bars with a useful numerical decibel reading where -50dB is a perfect signal and -120dB is a dead zone. However since iOS 11 you now get this funky menu setup that has a lot more information but is difficult to read, not least because the list of data that includes the critical rsrp0 number keeps automatically resorting every second or so. If you’re specifically interested in data up/download speeds get the Speedtest app by Ookla to test your speeds before and after boosting.
Signal strength generally depends on the location and power of the nearest cell tower, which you can find at least roughly with a number of apps and websites. Performance of the booster depends on signal strength: the higher the signal strength, the more you’ll gain, it’s just the nature of the thing, and weBoost recommends a base signal strength of -100dB to operate.
So the bottom line, if you’re on the road and want the most reliable cell signal booster available, with an awesomely user-friendly installation process to boot, do yourself a favor and check out weBoost. You’ll be living large – and boosted – in no time.