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I live close to a tower — why do I have such poor cell service??

We continually hear people complain about their cell service being slow, weak or otherwise unacceptable even though they live near a cell tower.  Of course, the simplest response is to question whether or not the tower they can see is actually used by the cellular carrier they have an account with.  Even if you can access the fence around most towers, you can’t always tell from the signage which carrier(s) are using that tower.  Towers are often owned by third parties and any particular carrier may or may not be broadcasting from any particular tower. 

Assuming that you are correct and the tower near your location has an antenna for the carrier you use, the next question is whether or not the beam from the antenna is pointed in your direction.  Although we may, conceptually think of antennas as radiating in all directions, cell phone towers don’t operate that way.   

Figure 1 is a screenshot from an Android app called Network Cell Info Lite.  The app is reporting how my Verizon Pixel 5 is connecting to the network.  For the moment we’re going to ignore the numbers at the top of the picture and will only look at the map. My location is shown as the blue dot and the tower I am connected to is to my south.  

Notice that there are two yellow circles with signal strength bars just to my north.  Those are Verizon-owned towers which the app has in its database.  But notice that I’m not connected to either of them even though they seem closer.  

The answer to that question, most likely comes from the beam pattern of those antennas compared to the one I am connected to.  The antennas in the yellow circles are positioned to service the towns of Rockport and Fulton and their beam patterns are, most likely optimize to the urban areas around them.  The tower my phone is connected to is probably optimized to service State highway 35 that lies just to the west of our location.  It makes sense that that tower would have an “elongated” footprint roughly parallel with the highway.   

I happen to know from my own testing that my location is in a particularly poor spot because we are far away enough from the highway to be in the edge of the serving tower’s beam but too far away from the in-town towers to receive their signals.   

So now if you think you can guess the tower that serves you by knowing its beam pattern, you are only partly correct.  That’s only the first-tier decision process; the next step comes about when your phone or hotspot determines which of the towers in your area actually provides the best usable signal.  Notice that I didn’t say which tower provides the “strongest” signal.  Lots of people make the mistake of focusing solely on signal strength.  But that’s not always the same as which tower provides the best usable signal. 

To answer that question, we need to look at the “dials” and numbers at the top of the picture.  They depict the cell I am connected (on the left) and the “neighboring cell” on the right.  That might seem odd; why should we care about the signal from a neighboring cell that we’re not connected to?  That’s because our phone is always “looking” for a better connection and if it can find it in a neighboring cell it will shift our connection to that cell.  That’s what happens when you are driving along the highway; your phone is continuously checking the neighboring cells for signal strength and quality.  When it finds a better combination of the two it will switch your connection to that cell? 

Let’s now look at the dials at the top of the screenshot.  In the left dial the large number tells us that the signal strength is -104 dBm (decibels).  In “cell phone lingo” that’s called the RSRP.  If you haven’t heard this before, decibels are a logarithmic measurement and signal strength is measured in negative decibels so a smaller negative number will represent a stronger signal.  In our case the signal strength is -104 dB which Is not a particularly good signal strength but it’s what I have at my location.  But the reason that I don’t have much of a problem using that weak signal is embedded in that little “-10 dB” that you can see to the right of the -104.  That -10 dB is what is called the RSRQ and it’s a measure of what engineers call the “signal to noise ratio.”  We’re not going to worry about how the RSRQ is calculated, we’re simply going to accept the fact that an RSRQ of -10 dB is rather good.  Notice that just above the dial it notes that we are connected using Band 13. 

Figure 2 is a table published by Quectel, a major manufacturer of cellular modems.  The table provides comparative “ratings” of RSRP and RSRQ values.  My -104 dBm RSRP value is weak, but my RSRQ of -10 dB is rated as excellent (a value equal to or greater than -10).  That makes it possible for my phone to provide excellent performance despite the weak signal.  Would I benefit by boosting the strength of the signal; maybe not because the signal quality is already as good as it can be.  For those of us raised on analog signals, this is one of the oddities of working with digital signals; they only need to be “strong enough” to be quite usable.  Making them stronger doesn’t necessarily improve the situation. 

So now let’s look at the dial on the top right side of the first figure. It shows the RSRP and RSRQ for our neighboring cell.  We can see that the RSRP (the signal strength) is -112 dBm.  Because of the logarithmic nature of decibels, a reduction of 6 dBm in signal strength is a factor of 4.  The neighboring cell is definitely weaker.  In addition, when we look at the RSRQ we see that it is -11 dB which means that the signal to noise ratio is not quite as good as we have in the cell we are connected to.  In this instance, there is no question but that we’ll stay connected to the cell we’re in.  But these numbers can and will vary over time and every once in a while, even without moving my location, the connection will switch to the other cell.  Notice that in this case the evaluation of the signal was made using Band 2 compared to Band 13 used in the first case.

If all of this seems a bit confusing, I can assure you that this has been an extremely simplified discussion of how your phone selects a tower and a band to use for your phone conversation or internet connection.  And think about the fact that it is constantly re-evaluating that “decision” multiple times per second in order to give you the highest speeds and best voice conversation quality possible.  So the next time someone says to you “how come my cell service is so poor even though I live next to a tower?” you can tell them that “there’s more to it than you might have thought!” 

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WiFiRanger deploys 3,000 additional wireless routers for rural school buses

WiFiRanger’s recent acquisition by Winegard Company has made it easier to expand internet access to school districts across the nation hit by the COVID-19 shutdown.


Meridian, Idaho, September 9, 2020 – Building on the success of its Bus Response Program in Georgia and North Carolina earlier this year, leading mobile connectivity developer WiFiRanger continues its drive to bring high-speed internet to students across rural America.

Modified for use on school buses, the WiFiRanger Teton LTE-enabled router is making learning from home easier for countless students during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in areas with limited access to broadband.

The magnet-mounted, roof-top hotspot acts as a neighborhood hub with a maximum range of 400 feet. So, when a bus pulls up nearby, local kids can easily download and upload homework or other assignments.

Bringing connectivity nationwide

Due to demand in other states, such as Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, and Virginia, WiFiRanger is working with parent company, Winegard, to deploy 3,000 additional units in September, with the Winegard-designed ConnecT 2.0 making up 60% of the shipment.

“Our new relationship with Winegard is paying dividends right out of the gate,” says Mark Maliwauki, WiFiRanger Director of Customer Experience & Success.

“The ConnecT 2.0 is already a Verizon-certified product, meaning we don’t have to wait to get our own certification before deploying new units to school districts in need. It’s a real win-win for remote and hybrid learning.”

The post-COVID educational landscape

“But this initiative goes beyond our current crisis and opens up whole new possibilities for high-speed rural internet education,” Mark continues.

“It’s exciting to be able to help these school districts as they look for innovative ways to use WiFi hotspots in the future. In fact, we’re working with manufacturers to get hotspots pre-installed in school buses, too.”

Bridging the rural/urban internet divide

“WiFiRanger’s Bus Response Program has been wildly successful,” says Kelly Hogan, Winegard Company Vice President of Innovation.

“It’s been a privilege to come together as a team—and to work with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile—to deliver these systems across the nation. I genuinely believe every bus should have a router, as there are so many positives to this level of connectivity, beyond the immediate needs of this moment.

“We’re bridging the digital divide for the unconnected. And that’s the kind of mission our company is built to accomplish.”

For more information, check out this interactive map of every WiFiRanger-connected bus in the nation: buses.wifiranger.com

About WiFiRanger

Based in Meridian, Idaho, WiFiRanger is dedicated to producing American-made, top-of-the-line wireless routers for life on the move.

About Winegard Company

Built on more than 60 years of heritage in Burlington, Iowa, Winegard Company is a trusted partner for designing and manufacturing high-performance connectivity solutions. This includes WiFi, 4G LTE, 5G, satellite, IoT, broadband, video, and over-the-air technology for residential, commercial, and mobile. All made in the U.S.A.

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Winegard Company acquires WiFiRanger

This merging of forces marks a new chapter in Winegard’s drive toward technological innovation and customer-focused expansion.

BURLINGTON, Iowa, Aug. 19, 2020 — Winegard, the company dedicated to designing and manufacturing the greatest range of world-class connectivity products and services, announces today it has acquired WiFiRanger, a leading mobile technology developer.

Based in Meridian, Idaho, WiFiRanger is dedicated to producing American-built, top-of-the-line wireless routers for life on the move. WiFiRanger will continue to operate as a standalone brand.

Winegard Company acquires WiFiRanger.

A phenomenal partnership

“I am thrilled to welcome WiFiRanger into the Winegard family,” says Grant Whipple, Winegard Company President and COO.

“We’ve worked together for some time now, and they’re phenomenal partners. WiFiRanger brings so much networking and cloud computing experience to the team. This depth of knowledge will make us stronger as we grow in areas such as 5G, AI, the Internet of Things, and more.”

An immensely gratifying milestone

“This is an immensely gratifying milestone in nearly two decade’s worth of hard work,” says Kelly Hogan, CEO of WiFiRanger.

“Since 2001, we’ve pioneered connectivity solutions for the RV park industry, evolving our technology to include both park systems and consumers. This synergy is pivotal for further innovations in the industry, particularly when it comes to new connectivity opportunities and media offerings.  

“With this mission in mind, it makes sense for us to align with an established industry player like Winegard. They have more than 60 years of experience, along with a stellar reputation that will accelerate our combined drive to remain on the cutting edge of innovation.”

Customers can expect a greater array of connectivity solutions

“Winegard moves with our customers, and this merging of talent and expertise is part of that evolution,” says Grant.

“Together, we’ll bring a greater array of lifestyle-enhancing, technological solutions to the RV market and far, far beyond. We’ve always had eyes on the future, and our vision is going to keep us at the forefront of change.”

About Winegard Company

Built on more than 60 years of heritage in Burlington, Iowa, Winegard Company is a trusted partner for designing and manufacturing high-performance connectivity solutions. This includes WiFi, 4G LTE, 5G, satellite, IoT, broadband, video, and over-the-air technology for residential, commercial, and mobile. All made in the U.S.A.

More information about the company can be found at www.winegard.com.

SOURCE Winegard Company

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Making Your RV’s Internet Connection Nearly Unbreakable

Screenshot of the Realtime Bandwidth Utilization graph from the WiFiRanger Control Panel showing usage from multiple internet sources at the same time.

Written by WiFiRanger Ambassador, Joel Weiss “docj”

By now most RVers are pretty well acquainted with the difficulties inherent in trying to maintain 24/7 internet connections when your only options are cellular connections. There are many, many threads on the subject.  Even the best of cellular connections can result in varying download speeds on a continuous basis.  Quite often the download speed can vary from superb to downright awful over a very short time interval. 

Continue reading Making Your RV’s Internet Connection Nearly Unbreakable
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What’s the Best WiFi + LTE for Your Specific Rig During Your Specific Travels

Photo of happy young man with his head of the vehicle window while traveling down the road.

Written by WiFiRanger Ambassador, Joel Weiss “docj”

Maintaining an internet connection is no longer a luxury for many RVers. Although conventional thought may be that the RV community is populated by retirees, there are an increasing number of working people who now live at least part time in their RVs. Add to that group the huge number of RV “vacationers” who travel with their families and who want to maintain connectivity for all their web-enabled devices. The bottom line is that millions of RVers want and need stable internet connections.

Continue reading What’s the Best WiFi + LTE for Your Specific Rig During Your Specific Travels
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WiFiRanger Disrupts RV WiFi & LTE Market With $199 MSRP Teton Offering

Debuts Converge Teton Long Range WiFi & LTE At Half The Cost Of Competitive Units

Graphic of the WiFiRanger Teton router of the Converge product line.

ORDERS – Oct 1st 2019

SHIPPING – Oct 15th 2019

September 25th, 2019 – Meridian, Idaho – WiFiRanger, the leader in Innovative RV connectivity & control solutions, announced the highly capable Converge Teton WiFi & LTE RV connectivity solution, extending long range WIFi acquisition, and extended range LTE to the reach of any budget.

“Working with our global suppliers to improve value, we were able to deliver our renowned feature packed RV connectivity solution including Extended Range LTE at a very aggressive price point, offering our capabilities to nearly every budget.”

Kelly Hogan
CEO & Visionary, WiFiRanger

The Teton stand alone WiFi platform has an MSRP of $129, with a $70 add-on to include LTE in the outdoor unit. The system has a dual chain 2Ghz WiFi system, Integrated GPS, and includes the new TetherPoint(™) cable system, allowing owners to add an indoor TetherPoint(™) router for extending the capabilities to include future indoor LTE devices, and tethering up to 3 hand held devices for data aggregation. Powered by either 12VDC, or AC, the system is at home in Towable’s and Class A’s alike.

“This system allows the access to our sought after features of security, simplicity, and automation known to the RV community. Even adding our Poplar TetherPoint router to the Teton system still comes in nearly $100 less than stand alone, roof-top only competitive products, and delivers more capability and upgrade potential than any other solution.” Continued Hogan.

The product will be available via WiFiRanger.com website, and pre-orders will commence October 1st with shipments beginning October 15th, 2019.


WiFiRanger products are envisioned, designed & assembled in Meridian Idaho by a team of innovative Americans dedicated to improving RV connectivity. Information and ordering is available directly at WIFIRanger.com and direct inquiries can be eMailed to sales@wifiranger.com, or call 208-321-5544. For OE integration through MITO Corporation in Elkhart, Indiana call 574-295-2441.

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WiFiRanger Extends Connectivity Solutions with 3 New Converge™ Offerings

Debuting 3 Powerful Outdoor WiFi & LTE Systems, 3 Indoor TetherPoint(™) Routers

Photo of the WiFiRanger Converge outdoor enclosure and logo.

September 23rd, 2019 – Meridian, Idaho – WiFiRanger, the leader in Innovative RV connectivity & control solutions, today announced the availability of multiple roof-top and internal connectivity solutions, filling out their Vehicle Connectivity Integration System VCIS™ strategy with options for all RV markets and vehicle types.

“We’ve heard our OE and aftermarket customers tell us that one size does not fit all styles of RV’s and customers. This new offering extends our solution set, allowing an upgradeable platform spanning from value packed to extreme connectivity.”

Kelly Hogan
CEO & Visionary, WiFiRanger

The new offering includes 3 high performance roof-top platforms dubbed Teton, Denali, and Everest:
 
The value packed Teton system includes high performance WiFi boosting, with a drop in LTE modem option, positioned at an industry disruptive price point.

Denali extends the outdoor WiFi power capabilities further with 5X the power of competing systems for better range and throughput, built in Cat 4 rooftop Extended range LTE modem with integrated GPS.

The Everest platform is the most capable connectivity solution ever debuted to the industry. Offering outdoor dual chain, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz high power WiFi, an integrated Cat 6 multi carrier LTE modem, a second slot for an additional LTE modem, USB 3.0 connection for up to Cat 20 LTE & 5G futures, and up to 64GB storage of telemetry data.

All offerings are delivered in the flexible Converge enclosure, and offer simple “tray swap” upgrades allowing owners to improve their systems simply and effectively with no changes to the enclosure. Each system ships with the TetherPoint™ wire harness which facilitates locating an LTE unit conveniently within a vast array of floor plans and easy addition of indoor TetherPoint™ routers to extend capabilities in the future.

Complimenting the outdoor platforms are new indoor TetherPoint™ routers. Matching the outdoors naming theme, the options include Poplar, Aspen, and Sequoia: 

Poplar, the value packed option, includes a powerful 2.4Ghz WiFi radio, while Aspen includes both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz (AC1200 WiFi) broadcast capability.

Sequoia is unmatched, offering high power 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz radios, (AC1200 WiFi) up to 2 additional LTE embedded modems, USB 3.0 port for up to Cat 20 and 5G futures, and a USB 2.0 port for tethering multiple handheld devices.

All three routers include the ability to add an additional built-in LTE modem, SD Card for data collection, and USB 2.0 port to easily tether up to 3 different simultaneous handheld devices for data aggregation. Coupling with an outdoor platform creates a parallel processing connectivity solution unmatched by anything in the industry.

“This initiative was the WiFiRanger team’s opportunity to redefine connectivity for the RV industry, and our team nailed it. They built a flexible, upgradeable, and comprehensive suite of solutions that will appeal to all OE and Aftermarket customers. We’re proud of the progress and looking forward to offering our customers the opportunity to access the highest level of connectivity with proven reputation and features, available at any price point.” Continued Hogan.

Teton and Poplar will begin shipping October 15th, 2019 to aftermarket customers. Denali and Aspen will commence shipments mid-November, and Everest and Sequoia will begin shipping January 1st, 2020. OE customers can reserve volume positions by working with MITO Corporation for model year changes to secure availability.


WiFiRanger products are envisioned, designed & assembled in Meridian Idaho by a team of innovative Americans dedicated to improving RV connectivity. Information and ordering is available directly at WIFIRanger.com and direct inquiries can be eMailed to sales@wifiranger.com, or call 208-321-5544. For OE integration through MITO Corporation in Elkhart, Indiana call 574-295-2441.

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WiFiRanger to Offer AT&T Data Plans for RVs

The plans will support mobile hotspots, video streaming

Graphic of the SkyPro LTE Pack by WiFiRanger with AT&T logo.

July 30th, 2019 – Meridian, Idaho –  WiFiRangerTM, the leader in Integrated Vehicle Connectivity Systems,TM will offer AT&T 4G LTE data plans for its pre-installed rooftop antenna systems on Recreational Vehicles. 

The Weekend Adventure plan will offer 5GB of monthly data for $25 per month*. RVers can  choose the Extended Getaway plan with 22GB of monthly data for $90 per month.* This way, users can choose which plan works for their data needs.

“LTE connectivity has become more important than ever to RVers, to stay connected just about anywhere. With AT&T’s national LTE footprint, we will be able to be an increasingly trusted data source for the mobile lifestyles that we enable”

Jim Owsley
VP Marketing & Communications, WiFiRanger

WiFiRangerTM products are assembled and designed in Meridian, Idaho. Information and ordering are available directly at WiFiRanger.com and direct inquiries can be emailed to sales@WiFiRanger.com, or by calling 208-321-5544.

For information regarding RV OE integration of WifiRanger contact MITO Corporation in Elkhart, Indiana, 574-295-2441.

For more information on AT&T data plans go here:  www.att.com/wifiranger.

*Taxes and fees may apply; plans are non-transferrable and require the purchase of WiFiRangerTM 

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WiFiRanger Begins OE Shipments Of SkyProLTE V3 With Improved LTE Support

New V3 Iteration of SkyPro LTE delivers Improved LTE Modem, Processor Speed, Integrated GPS Capabilities and new Lower Profile.

SHIPPING IMMEDIATELY TO OE INTEGRATORS

July 9th, 2019 – Meridian, Idaho – WiFiRanger, the leader in Innovative RV connectivity & control solutions, today announced the next generation evolution to their popular Sky Pro LTE offerings. The new version, shipping immediately, includes an updated LTE modem that is positioned for faster LTE offerings and transition capabilities as the major carriers begin rolling out new advanced services.

“We’ve been working on V3 for some time, knowing that we had to give our customers a certified LTE modem with additional LTE bands 12, 14, 66, and 71 support. The change is of specific interest to the RV community due to it’s inherit ‘Extended Range LTE’ support, and positions our customers to take advantage of future offerings when they really start to hit the streets by the major carriers, including Band 14, for FirstNet usage by first responders and public safety organizations.”

Kelly Hogan
CEO & Visionary, WiFiRanger

WiFiRanger SkyProLTE release V3 includes other enhancements, including an updated processor offering for faster speeds and data handling, as well as improved firmware release 7.0.8, offering new features for integration with other RV sub-systems including an exposed NMEA-0183 GPS socket. Additionally, the V3 version includes a slightly slimmer outdoor unit, and our renowned “Rubber Leg” PCB mounting system within the outdoor unit, providing additional protection from road harmonics and vibration to the upgraded electronics, and improving longevity and reliability.

“In addition to our improved hardware, our engineering team worked diligently to insure that every aspect of our latest firmware is ready to take full advantage of faster connections in the future, as well as assisting other integration partners with features they need. We’re proud of our teams continuous efforts to improve connectivity for the RV community, and stay ahead of the competition.” Continued Hogan.

Some OE’s will start receiving the SkyProLTE V3 units in late July, and will see no changes in their volume pricing for the improved units.


WiFiRanger products are envisioned, designed & assembled in Meridian Idaho. Retail information and ordering is available directly at WiFiRanger.com and direct inquiries can be eMailed to sales@wifiranger.com, or call 208-321-5544.

For information regarding RV OE integration of WifiRanger contact MITO Corporation in Elkhart, Indiana, 574-295-2441.