Installing a 4g Cell Signal Booster on our DIY Camper Van Conversion

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We work from the road, which means having internet is essential to sustain our travels. Our weBoost 4G Signal Booster allows us to get wifi on the road and continue our work. 

GETTING INTERNET IN A VAN

The simple answer to how to get wifi in a van, at least in our case, is that we use 4G data to tether to our laptops. We have an Unlimited Data plan from AT&T that allows us to turn our phones into a hotspot. We do not have a separate hotspot device; we simply use our phones as mobile hotspots.

UNLIMITED DATA PLAN COVERAGE

Our current AT&T plan allows unlimited data and unlimited tethering across all of North America, which means we can use it for internet as long as we have 4G signal. Getting that signal is the biggest consideration, and while the data coverage for AT&T is pretty good, we often do find ourselves needing better signal. I will note that our plan does reduce speeds in congested networks if we go above 22GB per phone in a month (which we do every month). However, we have had this plan for over a year and have only experienced a slow down one time, in Santa Barbara, CA. Even in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, we never experienced reduced speeds. So far, we have been very happy with the service and coverage.

4G SIGNAL BOOSTER: WEBOOST DRIVE 4G-X RV

To make sure we have sufficient signal when we are out on the road, we use a weBoost Drive 4G-X RV 4G Signal Booster. This 4G signal booster has an antenna on the top of our van that pulls signal in and repeats it inside the van through a second antenna. According to weBoost, the 4G signal booster can improve signal up to 32 times better, with 60% more reach to and from the cell tower. We could go into all the technical specs of speed differences, but we’re going to keep this simple instead. We ran an internet speed test with the booster on and the booster off. Our results were, with the 4G signal booster on: 94.62 Mbps download speed and 27.73 Mbps upload speed. With the booster off: 81.98 Mbps download speed and 1.27 Mbps upload speed. That is over 20 times faster upload speeds with the booster on. Check out the video above for our comparison of uploading a video to YouTube with and without the 4G signal booster.

WHAT CARRIERS WORK WITH THE WEBOOST 4G SIGNAL BOOSTER?

The weBoost 4G-X RV works with all U.S. carriers and all types of phones. It boosts signals for 4G LTE and 3G signal, and it works with multiple devices at once. There is no setup needed on your phone, you just use your phone as normal. The only time you notice the weBoost working is when it isn’t working – if it comes unplugged, you’ll notice the signal getting worse!

CONS OF THE WEBOOST DRIVE 4G-X RV

We’ve been using this booster for nearly a year now and we can honestly say we have no cons that come to mind. Some would argue that the price point, at $499.99 (at the time of publishing), is a con. However, I would argue that the price point is well worth the cost when we can get wifi in our van and run our businesses from the middle of nowhere.

WEBOOST 4G SIGNAL BOOSTER

We chose this specific model 4G signal booster based on the recommendation of weBoost. There are other models of 4G boosters, but many of the less expensive ones are meant to only boost signal in a car’s cab area. This model is meant for RVs and is meant to boost the signal in a larger area, so we do not have to be right next to the booster to get signal. That said, we do find that the signal is better the closer you get to the booster. Installing the weBoost Drive 4G-X RV was pretty simple. The exterior antenna mounts on the far back of the roof of the van, with just one wire running from that to the interior antenna. The interior antenna then connects into power (we hardwired ours in, but it does come with an AC and DC plug). There is no setup needed, it just plugs in and starts working. We found that weBoost customer support was extremely helpful in the entire process, answering all of our questions about installation and use, as well as recommending the specific model before we made the purchase.

GETTING INTERNET IN REMOTE AREAS

Now, this 4G signal booster won’t pull signal out of nothing – it boostssignal, not creates it. In our experience with this weBoost, it will typically take our signal from cell signal only (no 4G) to having 1 or 2 bars of 4G, or it will take it from 1 bar of 4G to strong signal that allows us to upload videos. Over the past year of having this cell booster, we have rarely found a spot in the United States that didn’t get any signal at all. The places that did not have signal were places that were very remote.

OTHER WAYS TO GET WIFI IN A VAN

Before we got the weBoost 4G signal booster, we relied mainly on coffee shops to get wifi on the road. While that may work for some, it was just too inconvenient for us. Typically, we camp in areas that are too remote for a coffee shop to be easily accessible, and it also made it difficult to work for longer stretches of time. Running a business from a coffee shop is not as easy as it may sound. After making the change to an unlimited data plan with the weBoost Drive 4G-X RV, our lives working on the road have been so much easier. We are more productive and able to work in comfort from our van rather than couped up at a coffee shop for hours on end.

14 thoughts on “Installing a 4g Cell Signal Booster on our DIY Camper Van Conversion”

      1. You should check out OTRMobile.com. I pay $70 per month for unlimited internet with no throttling of speed or limitations on data usage. The service uses any AT&T hotspot. I’m getting 54 mbps down and 34 mbps up at my current location. I travel for my job and use it everywhere.

  1. Hello – Thank you for sharing your experience with WeBoost. I live full time in a travel trailer, moving 1-2 times a month. I have a hotspot on my phone with unlimited Data. This is high-speed until 4Gs then slows down. With my business increasing, I will run out of highspeed about 2-3 weeks into the month. I was thinking of adding another hotspot by installing Connectify on an old PC. What does this sound like to you? I would really appreciate having someone else’s opinion about this. Thanks.

    1. I’m not familiar with Connectify, but we have a AT&T hotspot that gets us up to 100 gigs per month plus the 15 gigs per month per phone. Steph has a blog post she is writing on this currently and will be out within a few weeks. If you’re subscribed, I’ll be sure to let you know when it goes live.

  2. I recently purchased a Verizon MIFI8800L (Novtel) for $199 at the Verizon store with no-contract unlimited Gig wifi for $70 per month, prepaid drops it to $65 per month. They tell me that there is no limit or slowdown on the service – and I trust them like I always trust Verizon [not], but it seems to be working ok. I have a WeBoost 4G and get a good signal here, but seem to get a lot of buffering on my ROKU hookup to my TV.

    I have an identical MIFI that I use with my business account and it seems to work the same – I have tested and there appears to be no real difference.

    $65 per month was the cheapest service I could find.

    1. Nice! That’s a much better price than we’ve been able to find (if it’s actually unlimited). We weren’t able to find that particular plan on a truly unlimited fashion as all of the plans we saw (fine print) slowred to 600kbps after 15Gb per month.

  3. Hi there! Was wondering how you determine what areas to travel to next when relying on your mobile hotspot/phone tethering for internet access? Obviously, staying closer to town will increase your chance of having reliable/fast enough internet coverage, but what if you want to stay in more scenic/remote areas? Is this a situation that you encounter often and, if so, how do you plan for it?

    1. It really just depends on the area we need to be in. If we need to get work done, we, obviously, have to have signal and must make concessions to get it; which sometimes means leaving an awesome area. Sometimes, it’s possible to scope ahead of what signal will potentially be by using the Opensignal app. It will give decent data on where we may have signal when in the middle of nowhere. It is worth noting, though, we never stay in cities in the van; so…most of our time was spent in more remote areas, but cell coverage has gotten much better/faster over the years.

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