WiFi Calling When You Have Poor Cell Service – Guest Post by Jessica Crotty

wifi5bars

CC Vector WiFi Network  – 5 Bars!

Recently we were visiting my Father-in-Law at Quail Lodge Lake Almanor in Canyon Dam, CA. The lodge has decent WiFi through most of the property except where we were staying. Since I work at C. Crane I figured it would be the perfect time to test out our new CC Vector RV System – so I set up our system and went from one bar (in some cases none) to 5. Mission accomplished.

We were fortunate enough to meet our neighbors who were parked staying in their 5th wheel. I checked with them to see how their WiFi was in case they wanted to connect to the hot spot I’d created. Their problem wasn’t WiFi but it was no cell service. So we got to chatting about possible solutions and I remembered that while in China last year I had an issue that I was able to resolve by enabling WiFi on my iPhone SE. I am able to send and receive calls over WiFi when it’s available (like at the lodge). For many travelers this is a great solution, since so many remote places have poor cellular service but do have WiFi. In our case, with Verizon you do have to contact them to enable the setting and there may be a fee so it may not be something you want to have on all the time. I’m sure each carrier varies. To find it on an iPhone SE go to Settings -> Phone-> Calls -> WiFi Calling and enable the WiFi Calling on This Phone.

fbmessengercalls

FaceBook Messenger App – Make Calls by clicking the phone icon in the app.

The other option I shared, was the Facebook Messenger App. It requires that the other person also have the app, but I’ve used it with my Mother-in-law when she’s traveling internationally. It is much less expensive than adding an international data plan and there is even video calling available if you have a strong enough WiFi signal and it works even without an iPhone.

One of our resident WiFi gurus, Isaiah, also had this story of another solution – A couple years ago I added $10 to my Skype account for calling anywhere in the world and to any phone when I needed it. I’ve made many many calls .. some even to China and New Zealand and some just to family when I couldn’t find my cell phone.. I just used my computer and plug-in gaming headset. My audio was much better than using my phone and the other party could always hear me clearly because of the high quality microphone in my gaming headset. Anyways.. to this day I still have $4 remaining on my Skype account in case I need to make a call.

I hope this helps someone out there with similar issues and if you’re ever near Quail Lodge, tell my Father in Law, John and his partner Debbie that I sent you!

What are your biggest pain points with WiFi or Cell service while traveling and what solutions have you come up with? Tell us in the comments below and be entered to win a CC Vector Home Repeater System. Drawing September 8th. Please only one entry per person.

Special Note: Although we do have the most AMAZING U.S. based tech support (in my humble opinion) and we love to help, we only support our products and are unable to troubleshoot your cell phones.

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15 Responses to “WiFi Calling When You Have Poor Cell Service – Guest Post by Jessica Crotty”

  1. lwc Says:

    The biggest problem I recall having was while traveling to South Georgia and the Florida Panhandle where some of the diners along the way didn’t have strong Wi-Fi signals. On my way back I would plan my stops only for the places that seemed better.

    I don’t know what I’d do on a trip to someplace really remote and rustic.

    • Gene O'Mara Says:

      Two points. 1) You should always hook up to a wi-fi system for cell phone use as you don’t get charged for minutes used by the carrier; you do otherwise; 2) I’ve frequently had the worst time with motel wi-fi; signals that barely hit the radar; in our home we have the same problem with the wireless being bad in some rooms; the C Crane repeater would be a solution to both. With RV park signals, you almost have to be outside with your wi-fi equipment (laptop for example) to get any signal at all; once again C Crane to the rescue with the repeater!

  2. alprunty Prunty Says:

    When I travel my biggest pains with wifi is oftne you have to find a “sweet spot” in the hotel to get good service. There are some hotel operators that have good internet service… and some I have found out that have a 5m conncetion with one wireless access point in the office and they expect it to cover the entire hotel.

    I also have security cameras that are wifi on my property and to be able to repeat the signal outside would be a big blessing to be able to monitor my property better.

    • C. Crane Says:

      The repeater would likely work for both situations, but you might call our techs so they can ask a few more questions to see if that’s the best solutions for you.

  3. paclubout Says:

    I just use WhatsApp or Telegram for calling when on travel (and with Wi-Fi access). Skype is good too even with a 2G cell connection (no Wi-Fi). In the US T-Mobile has Wi-Fi calling on its phones and it works quite well too.

  4. Sherry Farley Says:

    While traveling? How about at HOME! Our cellphone signal drops a call as soon as I turn onto our road in rural Middle Tennessee. If I park at the top of my driveway, and hold my head very still while talking, I can usually have a conversation That’s all well & good in mild temps, but pretty uncomfortable in the winter & summer extreme temps. As soon as I approach our porch, the call is GONE. Your CC Vector RV system sounds great for home AND travel.

    • C. Crane Says:

      Exactly! Me too. I do have one of these setup in the house for exactly this reason and so my son can stream in his room and do his homework. If you have ANY questions, please call us. We’d love to help.

  5. NedLudd Says:

    iPhone WiFi calling is available in the same fashion on the iPhone 6/6s phones.
    I am not sure about the iPhone 7, but I think it is likely the same.
    We have ATT, so it is easy to activate this setting.

    We live in San Francisco, where internet access is slow and expensive, unless you are lucky enough to live in an area served by Santa Rosa based Sonic’s fiber installation. We have two properties, about 400′ apart. This would be perfect for a point to point WiFi link, which would save us about $600 per year we spend on access for the three units in our other property. The issue is the enormous Monterrey Cyprus in front of the house. From what I read on the interweb, it seems that even a few branches will block WiFi transmission. I think 2.4 gHz may be less effected by vegetation, but I do not want to spend $$$ and discover that this is not going to work. at all.
    Any ideas (other than chopping down my 110 year old tree…..)?
    Thanks

    • C. Crane Says:

      I would call 1-800-522-8863, M-F 9:00AM – 5:00PM PT. Obstructions do sometimes limit options, but our techs are really good at getting to the bottom of things and we’re honest about the odds of it working vs. not working. Using an Omni antenna such as the one that is included with our CC Vector RV System, may work to receive a WiFi signal up to 400’ and share within the second location. We also offer a full WiFi Bridge System plus antennas that can be placed at both locations: one to send out WiFi (Access Point) and one placed at the second location to receive the signal and connect to a router in the second location. We offer a 60 day Satisfaction for all our products in the event that it does not help in your situation you can return it for a full refund. http://www.ccrane.com/Long-Range-WiFi-Bridge-System.

  6. Travis Lloyd Says:

    My problem is one that just about everybody has, that being you have to park jammed-up right against whatever structure that the Wi-Fi emanates from until you get your business done. In one case this involved having to be in the restroom, which adds a whole new meaning to what I just mentioned. Needless to say a good, strong repeater that can glom-on to the Wi-Fi signal would really come in handy. The alternative (at least in my case) really stinks!

    • C. Crane Says:

      I think that was what the difference was at my father-in-law’s. Sometimes I could get 1 bar almost 2. Then there were other times where I would see a whole bunch of other networks and have zero bars. The repeater did resolve that completely.

  7. Jay Kalisek Says:

    I live in Santa Barbara, CA and often camp up on the ridge above the city. Although I usually camp next to a cell tower, my carrier doesn’t use it. So I get a very weak signal. I bought a weboost 4G cell booster and I am underwhelmed by its performance. I like to stream movies and watch the ocean up there. I also listen to the radio and air traffic while camping with my skywave radio. I get air traffic as far away as San Diego and Fresno…neat!
    I would love a system that boosts both cellular AND wifi signals.

  8. Bruce H Says:

    The biggest problem I have found with public WiFi is slow speeds. Most had been around 1.5 Mbps or slower. Some have been less than 1 Mbps. The good news is I have noticed this improving over the last year or so.

    I recently helped my nephew with getting a good WiFi signal in an RV park. He could on rare occasion get an intermittent one bar from the club house WiFi on his phone. We set up a repeater system similar in concept to the CCrane offering but hooked it up to a 2.4GHz 21dBi directional parabolic antenna aimed at the club house and it generally holds a signal strength range between -52 and -64 dBm. That is enough to stream video without buffering if the WiFi service is a high speed offering. An excellent Android app to display a simple to read signal strength on one screen for both cellular and WiFi is called “Signal Strength” by Lakshman. Just do a Google Play Store search on “Signal Strength to have it appear on the list for download.

    Cellular connections for data is another issue. I do backwoods camping in a travel trailer and many of the areas have weak reception. There are boosters like the Weboost products mentioned above but in many cases, your device, such as a phone, has to be within a foot of the inside antenna to get good results. My understanding is this is because the booster rebroadcasts the amplified signal on the same frequency. If the amplified output was strong for longer range to the device, then the outside antenna would pick up the rebroadcast signal and result in a feedback loop. The Weboost can detect this and will automatically reduce the rebroadcast output power. There are work-arounds such as using directional antennas and remote mounting the outside receive antenna, but these are not perfect solutions.

    The Winegard product mentioned above attempts to address the issue. The combo product for both cellar and WiFi has a cellular receiver that receives the cell signal then rebroadcasts it to the coach over the included WiFi router. That stops any feedback issues because it is not rebroadcasting an amplified signal on the same cellular frequency. There are a couple of down sides. One is that the system requires a separate data plan that has to be purchased through Winegard. You can not use an existing phone plan on the Winegard. Basically, consider it to be like a separate phone from a different provider. This is an additional expense if someone already has one data plan for their phone. The data pricing is similar to an AT&T or Verizon plan so it is not cheap. The other down side is Winegard is partnered to the AT&T network so the user will not have a connection if in an area without an AT&T cell tower. I do not know if the Winegard plan allows roaming on a technically compatible tower in the area.

    There are some good solutions, such as the CCrane products, for weak WiFi signals but not so much for a weak cellular signal.

  9. Scott Says:

    Wifi calling would be great, but my phone (S7 on Verizon) will only call via Wifi if the cellular network isn’t available. Hmmm, would it work if I jam the cellular frequencies? 🙂


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