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dianahc

Verizon/FMCA Jetpack issues/worthless at RV Parks

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So, a few months ago, I told my tale of problems getting signed up with the new Verizon/FMCA $49/mo plan with free Jetpack (I had earlier gotten a small tablet as a hotspot, which I was promised could be swapped for the FMCA deal when it finally got put together, and it turned into a nightmare to switch). Having reliable and unlimited internet is very important to me because I am still working part time as an attorney, and I have to work while we're on the road.

I have now been on three RV trips in our new-to-us RV (YAY! We're now proud owners of a 2007 Holiday Rambler Ambassador 40PDQ, and we upgraded our Jeep toad to a 2007 too!). We moved our WeBoost 4G-X to the new coach too. I have had the following experience with the Jetpack and Verizon:

  • It did NOT work in the RV park in Apache Junction AZ where I took it on the first trip, but I didn't mess with it much - we were only there for two nights taking driving lessons on the new rig, and I didn't have to do any work.
  • It works fine while we're on the road. While driving the 700 miles from the Phoenix area to south of Gilroy CA, I only really lost the signal in the Tehachapi mountains for about 5-10 minutes.
  • HOWEVER, on our next trip, which was nearly a month long, when we got to Betabel RV Park about 7 miles south of Gilroy (the south end of Silicon Valley) and right off of US101, the damned thing didn't work worth CRAP. I couldn't stay connected; could barely open Facebook, never mind opening and staying connected to my secure work VPN or streaming a video from Netflix. I was there for 2-1/2 weeks, with a big opinion to write, and I ended up having to drive up to my daughter's house to use her internet to get most of it done. 
  • HOURS were spent on the phone with Verizon, and all I got was lame excuses about "poor line of sight" access to the cell tower, "terrain, and congestion," and similar excuses. However, the connection DID work occasionally - sorta - the first three days, and it was a little more stable at after midnight or so. First clue.
  • When we left Gilroy/San Juan Bautista, we went to Las Vegas for a few days, staying at a BIG RV resort (Oasis) near the airport and right next to I-5, with no mountains or even hills around us - and had the same damned problem - the Jetpack was essentially WORTHLESS in the park.
  • When I got home, I complained bitterly to Verizon, and after repeatedly denying it could be the Jetback, they finally agreed to swap it out for a new one. Don't even ask how horrible that transaction turned out to be and how many more hours were wasted on the phone with them, as well as having to drive to the Verizon store where they didn't know anything about my being supposed to swap out the Jetpack.
  • Note - the Jetpack doesn't work worth crap in my home in Goodyear AZ either - in the middle of a large community. Varies between 1-2 bars, and drops my VPN connection constantly, when I have tested it at home. I use my home internet when home, of course.
  • Two weeks ago, we went on a 1 week trip to Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde AZ - right next to I-17. The Verizon internet connection was WORTHLESS.
  • I complained again, and this time they sent me a new SIM card. I replaced it today, and still only got one bar at home.
  • I called Verizon again, and again spent a long time on the phone with tech support.
  • Basically, their conclusion is that there are too many Verizon users in the RV parks competing for the same bandwidth.

So there you go - they are selling us equipment and "access" to a fixed amount of bandwidth. The more RVers who use Verizon in your RV park (or neighbors at home), the worse (i.e., essentially USELESS) your signal will be.

I'm livid, and disappointed, and feel cheated.

And I'm copying this post and emailing it to the senior people at Verizon and FMCA that I worked with at the beginning of this miserable odyssey.

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We just returned from a seven month, 9000 mile trip (Oregon to Maine to Louisiana and back to Oregon) and I had GREAT results with my jetpack.  Were there areas worse than others - certainly but those areas were remote areas where my phone even had problems.  In campgrounds (none that were LARGE) it worked fine.

I do use an external antenna with the jetpack and that seems to help a great deal when in low signal strength areas (1-2 bars).

Just my experience.

Lenp

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I use a Wilson truckers antenna with a home WeBoost with about 1-3 bar increase.  I'm in Tucson Pima county fair grounds at the Freightliner rally and I am using it right now.  I have the 7730L which cost me $30 month on my unlimited cell account.

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Does WeBoost just boost cell signal, or does it also boost internet data signal? My husband and I have had a disagreement about this.

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I bought into the Verizon "Unlimited" 4 lines for $40/month each last year.  My wife and I both have Samsung's Galaxy S7s and I use a Jetpack for a 3rd line.  I'm not sure how Unlimited turned into 15 GB and then throttled but that's their terms now.  I was told I had 20 GB per line and could bank 20 GB in unused data when I made the initial purchase.  I don't think those terms survived the year either. 

We just got back home after being away for 3 months - since the day after Christmas.  I used the jetpack exclusively for data while we were gone totally about 24 GB a month.  It worked fine on the way out along I-20 to I-10 and spent over a week at Gila Bend.  We stayed a couple of places for a total of 3 week at Quartzsite with no big problems   I use TeamViewer to print my church's monthly newsletter and that worked quite well.  From Q, we went to Cathedral City for a month and then to Sky Valley on Dillion Rd east of Desert Hot Springs.  From there to Lake Havasu City for a week and then Fort Mohave for a week before getting on I-40 for the trip back to St Louis.  The only place we had no signal was in Oatman, AZ but we were only day for a few hours.  The rest of the time I can't complain.  While I'm not using the FMCA sponsored plan, the Verizon network is all the same. 

Before I went with Verizon, I was with T-Mobile for less than a year - switching to them after many years on the Sprint network and never being happy with their coverage.  I'll stick with Verizon until something better comes along.  Comparing coverage and performance around the campfire, I was embarrassed to say anything when I was with Sprint and all the Verizon and AT&T people were raving about their service.  The local T-Mobile service was worse than Sprint's coverage for me which is why I didn't stay with them long.  I bought the phones and Jetpack on eBay and brought my own devices so I'm not under contract and can switch at any time.

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Its my understanding that the cell signal is the carrier of the data.  You get data on your phone that is hooked to the cell tower.  When you use your phone for a hot spot it only works when there is cell signal.

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My Verizon is an old plug in (like the old cards, it plugs into computer), I have never had any problems with it and Verizon would like for me, to change it for the "New & Improved",  Jetpack!  When an Attorney, can't get satisfaction, who am I to try?  I even use mine, each year in Norway & Sweden, it picks up the signal from Telenor, even better than my Apple! :D  Off course, I don't stream anything of the Internet.:P

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If you are using data through your hotspot, the signal is the same, and it will help. If you are picking data through the parks WIFI, then the weboost will not help this.

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Good Morning Diana,

As I've stated before, I'm very sorry to hear you've had so much trouble.  I want to do more for you, but I'm just not sure what that would entail. 

If you have any other thoughts please let me know; the more I can learn about your experience the better prepared we can be if other members experience the same in the future.

Sincerely,

Dan

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9 hours ago, desertdeals69 said:

 

I use a Wilson truckers antenna with a home WeBoost with about 1-3 bar increase.

 

If the WeBoost is disconnected, how many bars does your jetpack show? Reconnect the WeBoost, if the number of bars does not increase, then the WeBoost is doing nothing. Which jetpack are you using? I have both a 4510 l and 7730 l, both units will show virtually the same number of bars, ie., signal strength, but when checking bandwidth speed, the 7730 will show about three times the speed of the 4510. Also, have you checked the speed of the internet while outside an RV park with the same signal strength? The more bars that show on the device, the better the signal strength. You can test data speed by going to http://www.speedtest.org/, if your upload is not at least 1 meg up, your VPN will be very eratic, as the VPN is waiting for confirmation of encryption protocol before sending the next packet and will timeout accordingly. I have on occasion used a load balancing router to tie both the MiFi and the park data together for enough improvement to make a VPN more reliable. Don't buy into the bunk that the park internet is not secure enough, this is especially true if you are using at least 128 bit encryption on your VPN, because the VPN checks each and every packet, and if no match, the VPN will drop and try to renegotiate. Verizon tech support is very lousy unless you can get connected as a commercial customer, this is not easy to do unless you have a commercial account.

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Toward the end of our winter getaway, I found one of these in a thrift store:

https://www.amazon.com/AMAKE-Connector-Amplifier-Receiver-Broadband/dp/B01HQ2E8IY/

It does raise the signal strength a bar or two.  My JetPack is the model: AC791L and on the bottom edge are two slide doors where the TS9 antenna connectors are.  It's a passive device needing no power of its own.  It's only $20 new and worth a try.  A suction cup mounts it on a window or stands it up on a smooth surface.

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My external antenna plugs directly into the jetpack. In weak signal areas it will add a bar or two of signal strength.  There is no amplifier between the antenna and the jetpack.  The antenna is a magnetic mount and is about eight inches tall.  I could probably (and have) do much better with a Wilson trucker but make sure you get one for all the frequencies your jetpack can receive.

Lenp

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We have the same MiFi activated that we got from Verizon back in 2012 the first time we went full time.  When we came off the road we tossed it in a drawer in our new home and deactivated it.  Back in November, 2017, we reactivated it and went on their Unlimited Plan (which is really not unlimited).  With the discounts I get for paperless auto pay and other things I pay about $10 more a month than I would if I took advantage of the FMCA plan, but of course if you figure in 2 years advance annual FMCA membership then I am saving money, but that is another story.

Our old MiFi worked great full timing before (26 different states including Oregon and California coasts), and so far it has worked perfect in several locations in Florida this winter.  There are probably 20 other MiFi users in our current CG.

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On ‎3‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 9:11 AM, Moonwink said:

Toward the end of our winter getaway, I found one of these in a thrift store:

https://www.amazon.com/AMAKE-Connector-Amplifier-Receiver-Broadband/dp/B01HQ2E8IY/

It does raise the signal strength a bar or two.  My JetPack is the model: AC791L and on the bottom edge are two slide doors where the TS9 antenna connectors are.  It's a passive device needing no power of its own.  It's only $20 new and worth a try.  A suction cup mounts it on a window or stands it up on a smooth surface.

I ordered one of these last week, came in the mail today, my signal in my bedroom at my S/B home was showing 2 bars on the 7730L jetpack. I then installed the unit to the jetpack, signal increased to 3 bars, about 8 feet from the window, I then placed attached the unit to the window with the suction cup supplied, 4 bars. This is the only unit that works so far short of a commercial grade setup. So I'm giving my thumbs up for this unit.:rolleyes: I don't know if many of you realize that networking and computer related communications is what I have done for a living for the last 34 years, but it is.

 

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1 hour ago, manholt said:

You forgot about your first love...working with wood

Thanks Carl, no will never forget my first love, I have to blame Jimmy Carter for having to abandon her, but I thank God that Ronald Reagan was instrumental in turning my sinking ship into what has been a very successful career ever since. I hope this is  not seen as political, but mere fact, cause it is. Our company grew out of a two man show in the den of my brother to a very successful company since 1978, I came on board in 1984, just after completing an electronics course and have steered the hardware end of the company ever since, with the company still growing daily.

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2 hours ago, kaypsmith said:

Just follow the link above, Amake I think is the brand, I have have spent money on several others and actually sent most of them back that were much more expensive, this one worked out of the box as advertised. I work with much more expensive units, commercial, that work well, but are not portable enough to say that do help, but this one actually did. Herman has such a unit, not sure what brand that his is, but he tells me that his works also. He lives in an all metal house in the country and his signal goes from 2 to 4, if those bars double that means that the antenna is working, if they don't move, then the add on is useless. To a radio operator, 3 db gain means that you have effectively doubled what is coming in to your equipment, those bars do not represent how many db's but rather a percentage ratio, if your equipment shows 5 bars and 5 bars is the maximum signal that shows on the unit, then each bar represents 20% each, or 5 bars means 100%. In my case 5 bars is the maximum that shows, which means that with 2 bars the signal is 40%, by adding 2 bars to that, the signal is now 80%, easy to understand that 80% of a total input is much more effective than 40%.

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2 hours ago, piperfrank1 said:

We use the the Verizon Jetpack and love it!  No issues and we are on the unlimited plan.

Define "Unlimited" 
I signed up for a Verizon "unlimited" plan only to find out I'd be throttled after what was originally 20Gb and then became 15 or 16Gb.  I was told that was per device while signing up only to find out it's per plan meaning all devices share the same data totals.  After being with Sprint for several years hoping the dismal data rates would improve over time and then going to T-Mobile only to find many of the areas I traveled through were not covered at all, I switched to Verizon because of all the stories I heard around the campfire that said they had the best coverage.  I still find myself in many places that are undeserved with pitiful signal strength or none at all.  It's been many years since I had AT&T service and they told me I lived in an area with very poor coverage and they had no plans on their books to ever upgrade the service here and I should consider switching providers - btw, they wouldn't release me from their contract either.  I'm not a fan of any of big 4 cell providers at this point but I keep hoping for something better.  Call me on my cell phone when you hear something.

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Depending on the jetpack that you have a lot of people get better results with a MIMO antenna than they do with a booster including me.  I have a booster that will typically add one bar to the signal.  I started using a MIMO antenna.  (Sorry I don't know how to attach the link.)  Search MIMO antenna on Amazon.  It only cost about $27.  It has two antenna connection wires that plug into your jetpack.  I don't know enough about it to explain why, but it has something to do with signal mixing in the jetpack and using multiple signals from cell towers to increase speed. Anyway it seems to work better than the booster most of the time.

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