Working on the go with weBoost.
Before setting out on this trip, I had to seriously consider if I’d truly be able to keep client work going on the road. I never wanted to use the excuse of being out of communication from not having signal or failing to get a job done because I’m stuck in an area without it.
Work aside, the risk of something happening in an area without signal and being unable to contact anyone for help also played on my mind. That’s when I jumped at the opportunity to partner with Bolton Technical South Africa when they offered to install the weBoost AM100-Pro into the Jeep. It’s been just over a month of testing this cell phone signal booster out in the most far-away spots in the Northern Cape and I thought I’d give you a little breakdown of how I’ve been finding it, as well as my general signal / mobile WiFi setup on board.
FIRSTLY, WHAT IS THE WEBOOST SIGNAL BOOSTER AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The weBoost Drive AM100-pro is a first-of-its-kind 3G and 4G LTE signal cell phone signal booster that just launched in South Africa. It’s designed to provide strong cellular connectivity in cars, trucks, caravans and boats, and works with any phone or dongle using MTN, Cell C, Vodacom and Telkom.
There are no monthly fees once the booster is installed. Nor does it need to be connected to any internet source to work. It simply amplifies your existing in-vehicle cellular service by up to 32 times for better voice and text, and faster internet.
weBoost cell phone boosters work by pulling in weak signal, boosting it, and then rebroadcasting it inside your area in need.
Signal boosters are made up of a three-part system:
The Outside Antenna to capture weak cell signal.
The Amplifier (the box pictured above) to boost the weak signal.
The Inside Antenna (pictured below) to rebroadcast the enhanced signal inside your home or car.
It’s, essentially, a plug-and-play system, and comes as a complete kit with all parts included. I chose to have mine installed by the team at 4x4 Mega World Paarden Eiland, as there are a few technical aspects I didn’t want to get wrong in terms of placements and fitments.
The weBoost Drive AM100-Pro Kit includes:
A powerful cellular amplifier with up to 50dB gain
Mini magnetic outside antenna
Inside broadcasting car panel antenna
Power supply with DC car adapter
PUTTING IT TO THE TEST.
So far, so good! I’ve definitely noticed a more consistent, stronger connection in areas where it was choppy and inconsistent. I’ve been playing with it when the signal is incredibly weak by plugging the booster in and out and testing the difference. The minute I plug it in, my WhatsApp messages start pinging and I’m able to load Google Maps again. On the stretches that I’ve had people traveling with me, they lost signal completely whilst I was still able to make a call or send a message.
It’s also been levelling out connectivity in those areas where it works perfectly for two minutes and disappears for the next two minutes, so I now have consistent upload and download speeds when it comes to places like that.
However, the booster does not produce signal. In areas where I had zero bars it hasn’t been able to give me signal from nothing. I’ve also found, if you’re on Vodacom, that it doesn’t turn the EDGE connection to a 3G or 4G connection, which doesn’t bother me too much as I was still able to make calls and send SMS messages (which is all that really concerns me from a safety perspective).
If you’re looking for exact numbers, there is an Android-compatible app that I tested out during the installation, to measure just how much your signal boosts but I’ve got an iPhone so, unfortunately, I won’t be able to show you screenshots of that from the trip.
WHICH SERVICE PROVIDER AND DATA BUNDLES HAVE PROVEN TO BE BEST?
There’s no way I was going to be able to do this trip relying on the WiFi of Airbnb’s, guesthouses or campsites to get work done, so I had to work out a way to turn my car into the WiFi hotspot.
The first thing to consider is which service provider you’d like to go with. Personally, I’ve found MTN to work most places with Vodacom being a close second. So I went with both. I have two 4G data dongles in the car (one for my Vodacom sim and one for my MTN sim) with a data-only contract on each. I’ve found that the one makes up for the other in areas where the signal is bad. My phone also has a Vodacom sim in, but I only rely on that for calls, SMS and WhatsApp.
How big of a bundle you’ll need is completely up to you, your requirements and your given budget. I have the 150GB MTN package (R349 / month) because I need to run a full-time job requiring uploads, downloads and video meetings on the go, and most of what I do day-to-day is online. The 20GB Vodacom (R199 / month) bundle is simply a back-up for when MTN loses signal.
Sure there are still spots in which I’ve been stuck without signal, WiFi or being able to be online, but I always do my research and try not to get caught off-guard when it comes to those areas. If you know you’re heading into an area where you might lose signal, prep work in advance (did you know you can schedule email sends?) and keep those fully off-the-grid spots for weekends. That’s how I’ve been managing things.
To learn more please visit www.boltontechnical.co.za
Purchase the weBoost AM100 Pro through 4x4 Mega World online at www.4x4megaworldonline.com/cellphone-signal-booster/weboost-am100-pro
*This article was published in partnership with Bolton Technical South Africa and 4x4 Mega World