How To Boost Cell Signal On A Houseboat (A Case Study)

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Recently we learned of Travis Robinson, a houseboat timeshare owner on the Utah/Arizona border. He used a SureCall device to boost cell signal on a houseboat to fantastic results. When we heard about it, we knew we needed to get his story on record. We got in touch with him and asked all about his experience. For all of you mariners and leisure seekers out there – as well as anyone curious about pushing the limits of signal booster technology – this is information you are going to like.

Lake Powell

Even though you already know the happy ending, Travis’s explanation of how he accomplished what he did is well worth reading. We’ve woven some commentary into the transcript of our conversation with him. All commentary is in italics.

SureCall

Describe for us your location, the surrounding landscape, and your houseboat.

Travis

Two-story houseboat on Lake Powell on the Utah/Arizona border. It’s at the far end of the dock which houses a few hundred houseboats in the Wahweap Marina. Where we are, we can’t see the cell towers as a hill blocks them from our view in the neighboring Page, Arizona. The area we were looking to cover is similar to a small RV — a living room/kitchen area. It’s in a very remote part of Utah/Arizona.

If you’ve never been to Lake Powell, it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We’re not surprised in the least that Travis set up an alternate residence there.

SureCall

What was the cell coverage like on the houseboat?

Travis

Non-existent. Without the booster, you could sometimes get coverage on top of the boat as the second level is an open deck with no walls. But even then, only sometimes could you get a bar or two or enough for a call. But if you were able to make a call, it would almost always drop. In the cabin, you couldn’t get enough to run a speed test or make a call.

SureCall

What was the average signal like on the outside of the houseboat?

Travis

Weak to non-existent. Probably less than -110 dB.

Quick-reference decibel chart:

*-120 to -100 = poor to no signal
*-100 to -80 = you have a signal, but it’s weak
*-80 to -65 = good signal
*-65 to -50 = really good signal

To learn more about decibels and how to find out how strong (or weak) yours is, check out this previous article.

boost cell signal on a houseboat 04

SureCall

Can you share any specific examples of how the poor cellular coverage impacted you, your business, or your family?

Travis

During the recent pandemic, I’ve been forced to work from home. I wanted to spend some additional time on the houseboat, but couldn’t because I didn’t have reliable cell service. This affected my work and even some volunteer church service I was trying to conduct remotely. I’m on a lot of calls, including zoom meetings for work, and without the ability to do these from my houseboat, I needed to be back home. I needed to be able to work remotely and be with my family anytime we have availability on our boat (we share it with 6 total families). I knew the other families could benefit as well if we could figure the poor reception out.

If you’re also working from home as a result of COVID-related shutdowns, we have some material that you’ll find useful. Check out the links at the bottom of this article.

SureCall

Who’s your cell carrier?

Travis

AT&T

SureCall

What was most important to you when doing research about how to boost cell signal on a houseboat?

Travis

The device I chose needed to work reliably and consistently.

SureCall

Which SureCall product did you choose?

Fusion2Go 3.0 RV Cell Signal Booster for Vehicles
SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV

Travis

We bought the SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV kit and upgraded it to the Yagi antenna and SC-400 cable to ensure the best quality signal was received and amplified. We’re also using a panel antenna in the cabin so we can get a little better coverage throughout the area. The right/angle antenna it came with worked, but we found that the panel antenna covered the whole cabin, while the right/angle antenna only worked for the kitchen area.

Installing and using a signal booster on a houseboat is very similar to an RV. This was the perfect choice for Travis to make in this scenario. A booster designed for the home or workplace may still have worked for him (emphasis on maybe) but not as well as the Fusion2Go 3.0 RV.

SureCall

After installing the SureCall booster, what was the average number of bars or decibels (dB) of coverage inside of the houseboat?

Travis

It went from an unusable signal to allowing us to stream a movie through Netflix, run a zoom call with great sound quality and very
limited buffering, and send and received email. The average speed tests were about 4-5 MB down and 10-13 MB up. It averaged from -80 to -90 dB.

SureCall

Any other information you would like to share about the houseboat’s pre-booster conditions or motivations for seeking out a signal booster?

Travis

We needed an extra boost to overcome the hill in the way of the cell tower, so we opted to upgrade to a Yagi antenna. Since we only use it when we’re docked at the marina or when docked in a bay, we can use it to aim to where the cell tower is and try and work from anywhere on the lake. I even added an extra cable so I can set up an antenna on the back of the boat and work from inside the cabin or off the back of the boat to enjoy the sun while sending and receiving email or conducting business calls.

boost cell signal on a houseboat 04

Did you know you could run more than one coax cable and allow yourself more than one setup location? On a houseboat or RV, this is really helpful. If he wants to be able to use his phone in the back of the boat rather than the front, he can simply detach the amplifier from one coax cable and attach it to the other one.

SureCall

How much time do you spend making adjustments to the system on a monthly and yearly basis?

Travis

After it was set up, very little. We only “tune” the outside Yagi antenna when we move to another location on the lake and after we’ve anchored. Otherwise, after it was set up, nothing more needed to be done.

SureCall signal boosters are intentionally designed to minimize the amount of adjustments post-setup. We don’t want you to have to mess with it after it’s been installed, if it all possible.

SureCall

Any other information you would like to share about your reason for choosing SureCall or anything about how to boost cell signal on a houseboat?

boost cell signal on a houseboat 06
Lake Powell

Travis

Set up was quite easy thanks to having the right equipment. We recommend having Fish Tape on hand as it made it way easier to run the cable through an existing conduit. Otherwise, everything was really easy.

SureCall

How would you describe cell service in the houseboat after installing the booster?

Travis

Call, text, and data service – all excellent.

SureCall

Did you need to contact SureCall at any point?

Travis

Yes. Customer service helped us diagram the install and recommended the upgraded products that we knew we could return if needed.

SureCall

How would you describe the performance, value, and reliability of the SureCall products?

Travis

If you’re looking to work remotely and have the opportunity to do so but need reliable cell internet signals to do so, SureCall can and will help you.

boost cell signal on a houseboat 07
Lake Powell

SureCall

How would you describe your overall experience with the product and SureCall team?

Travis

SureCall was there to help make sure the install worked and that the product delivered the results I was hoping for. This will help me spend more time with my family during this uncertain time, and even well into the future. Overall, I’m very satisfied with everything. I’d purchase more SureCall products in the future if the need came up. Good value for the money, good customer support, reliable, and high performance.

The End

How To Boost Cell Signal On A Houseboat (A Case Study) – Conclusion

If you didn’t know you could boost cell signal on a houseboat, now you know. And Travis’s story isn’t the only one like this. We’ve received reviews from many houseboaters telling us their signal booster has added so much to their lake experience. If you have questions, we’d love to talk to you.

Additional Reading

Here are some of our previous articles related to what you just read. Because the process of installing and using a cell phone signal booster on a houseboat is very similar to an RV, some of the links below – though RV-related – apply to boats, as well.

9 Items To Make Cell Phone Use In A Boat Safe, Easy, & Fun
7 Devices To Maximize Cell Phone Usage In An RV
7 Easy Steps To Install A Cell Signal Booster In An RV
How To Glamp In An RV (And The One Thing That Changes Everything)

Working Remotely/COVID-Related Articles

How To Boost Cell Signal While You Work from Home
7 Essential Tools For Working From Home in 2020
8 Quarantine Tips To Stay Productive & Sane While Working From Home
Eliminate Quarantine Fatigue By Utilizing The 5 Best Signal Boosters For Vehicles
Did 5G Cause COVID-19? (Shattering 3 5G Conspiracy Theories)
Mobile Phone Data During COVID-19: Is The Lockdown Affecting Data Performance?
boost cell signal on a houseboat 08
Lake Powell

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