When we travel, we’re often in marginal cell reception areas. We’re not looking for 100% coverage every time we park up, but especially when we’re driving it’s nice to know we have a way to communicate in an emergency. That’s why we bought a cell phone booster kit.
Kits come in multiple configurations and price points, from a piece of foil you stick on your phone (questionable science, questionable value) all the way through to things that pretty much act like a whole new cell tower.
We chose to buy the WeBoost 4G-M cell phone booster kit because it has some good reviews. They also make a 4G-X with more sending power, but for us the price/benefit trade-off put us with the 4G-M model.
The kit comes with an external antenna for picking up and sending cell signals to the tower, an internal antenna to rebroadcast those signals to your phone inside the vehicle, and the amplifier.
The amplifier plugs in to a 12v cigarette lighter socket. The internal antenna needs to be close to where the cell phone(s) will be used. We mounted ours on the headliner just above the rear view mirror in the cab. It comes with velcro mounting tape, but the hook part of the tape on the antenna stuck well enough to the headliner that we didn’t need to add the loop part!
The external antenna is a magnet-mount version. It’s designed for passenger cars, not for big vans. The 15′ cable really isn’t long enough to provide sufficient distance between the internal and external antennae. If they are too close, the two antennae create a feedback condition called oscillation. To prevent it, the amplifier turns down or turns off its power. We replaced this stock antenna with a Laird 3G/4G MultiBand at the back of the van, opposite our wifi antenna, and used some low-loss LMR-400 cable to get from there to the amplifier.
The LMR-400 cable is thick and doesn’t bend into a very tight radius, so you have to plan where you will route it. We used a 90 degree elbow connector on the antenna so that the cable would fit in our ceiling space.