SureCall Fusion2Go 2.0 cell booster, the testing begins

This is the selection of SureCall Fusion2Go cellular booster system components I’ll lug to the boat in North Carolina early Monday morning. The white outdoor antenna should mount fairly easily on Gizmo’s mast, the booster itself will tuck behind the lower helm with switchable 12v power, and I’ll put my phone on that indoor patch antenna when boosting is needed. In fact, I tried roughly that configuration in my basement shop yesterday, and the results were quite promising.

Note the signal strength graph in the Network Signal Info app running on my Google Pixel 2 XL Android phone. Without boost it was showing -113 dBm or about 7 of 15 bars, or 3 of 6 bars in the phone’s own less accurate and less responsive estimation.  Sitting in exactly the same spot — and I saw this result several times — the powered up SureCall increased the signal to 13 bars (about -87 dBm) which looked like maximum signal on the phone itself.

In use on the boat, I expect this to mean that the phone will work better as a fast Verizon LTE WiFi hotspot in similar signal conditions, and should also be able to eek out some connectivity in marginal areas where the phone is otherwise nearly useless. I’m also confident that the SureCall Fusion2Go 2.0 will not get me in trouble for overpowering a cell tower (unlikely in a boat anyway), and will also let me know via red LEDs if the outdoor and indoor signals get mixed up (quite possible on many boats).

That’s because the FCC mandated automatic protections against these issues a few years ago and I don’t think that non-compliant cell boosters are available any longer (but watch out for eBay and similar). The regulatory change makes marine cell boosting easier, though getting the right parts kit can still be confusing.



Shown above is the complete contents of the SureCall Fusion2Go RV 2.0 kit loaned to me for testing by the good folks at the RepeaterStore. The low-power interior patch antenna is not shown as included, but I think that one comes in the box with every basic Fusion2Go. I will try the short RV-style whip interior antenna because then I could get boosting with the phone held to my ear, but I suspect that the relatively short distance to the exterior antenna with just a fiberglass cabin top in between will force me to use the patch antenna and my (fabulous Bose Hearphones) Bluetooth headset for boosted calls.

Meanwhile, I do wish that the SureCall outdoor antenna could adapt to a standard 1″-14 thread marine mount, but it does appear well made and I can use its base bolts with the flat mounting plates I added to Gizmo’s antenna farm. (Some boats may be able to use the aluminum L bracket, but those U bolts are not stainless.) Incidentally, the Fusion2Go User Guide (PDF) nicely lists all the antenna kitting options, including two for Marine use, and note that other antennas and cables can be substituted as long as the maximum dB gains are equivalent. I believe that means I can also try this booster with the excellent Digital Antenna Bullet and LMR 400 low-loss coax I once used successfully with a low-power Wilson car booster.

At any rate, a full review of the SureCall Fusion2Go cell booster will appear here eventually, and I’ll be testing lots of other gear as Gizmo slowly moves up the East Coast. Apologies in advance to TSA for all the gadgetry they may come across in my luggage on Monday.

 

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher since 4/12/2005, and now excited to have Ben Stein as a very able colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2018 and beyond.

13 Responses

  1. PS: There is a newer Fusion2go 3.0 model though I have yet to understand how it’s different than the 2.0 model:

    https://www.repeaterstore.com/products/surecall-fusion2go-3-0-rv

  2. Richard Casano says:

    I have spent a lot of time trying to connect to open WiFi hot spots using a WiFi extender with very little luck. Most times the sites are protected and occasionally the mooring or anchorage is too far to get a reliable signal even when I have the marina’s password.

    Wouldn’t I be better off with an unlimited data plan from my cell phone carrier and use SureCall to make a robust connection? Can more than one cell phone use SureCall Fusion2Go? Another words, can I offer this to my crew without a lot of reconfiguration?

    • Hi Richard, Using my phone as a hotspot has often worked great for me, but do note that the “unlimited” plans have data caps after which the company may throttle data speed. But then again, my Verizon caps — one for phone, another for hotspot use — have gotten quite high and even when I have exceeded them, I did not see substantially lower performance.

      And these days a booster is pretty optional if you stay in close. Coming down the coast last fall I hardly used one at all, just had the phone is a good spot with a power feed (hotspotting can kill a battery fast). With these modern boosters, more than one phone can work but that’s also dependent on the interior antenna you are able to use in your particular setup. On my boat without a lot of separation or signal insulation between outside and inside antennas, I tend to use the patch antenna which is only good for one phone.

  3. I just finished testing a booster and various antennas over the last year plus – https://sailbits.com/best-lte-antenna-booster-boat/

    I’m very interested to see how your testing goes. I have never liked SureCall’s antennas, but their boosters are great. And I especially like the app showing details on the signal – I have several myself, but that one is pretty nice looking.

    There are a couple of new systems that came out in the last few months that are even better than the weBoost one I have, and likely the SureCall, but they are atrociously expensive. I’m hoping to get a hold of a couple of those for some testing this summer!

  4. Ben, I just chatted with some friends who do testing of boosters and antennas all of the time, and they’ve said the SureCall 3.0 version is supposed to be more powerful than the 2.0, and even more powerful than the industry-leading weBoost 4G-X which has held that spot for several years. They just got the 3.0 and haven’t validated the claim, but it could be interesting to see the differences!

  5. Note that the Shakespeare SuperHalo kits uses the same SureCall technology but the booster itself is marinized and the outside Galaxy antenna (which I’ve heard good things about) ​uses the standard marine 1” 14 thread mounting:

    http://shakespeare-ce.com/marine/product/ca-vat-10-r-anywhere-superhalo-cellular-booster-kit/

  6. Michael Hervey says:

    Please mention the power consumption in your evaluation. I have stayed away from other amplifiers that consume so much power that can draw down the batteries when at anchor in remote locations.

  1. May 21, 2018

    […] on Marine Traffic. The Internet connection was thanks to some excellent cell boosting by the Surecall Fusion2Go I’m testing. And the fact that Gizmo was also being tracked on MT — despite a Class B signal that seemed […]

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