Salena Lettera Puts the Drive 4G-X OTR to the Test
July 1, 2016 — by EMILY FISHER
When You Need A Little Boost
I was recently approached by Wilson Electronics to review a brand new product – the Drive 4G-X OTR Mobile Cellular Signal Booster – designed specifically for truckers.
My cell phone is my lifeline. There was no way I was going to say no to trying out a super-charged bionic signal booster. Are you kidding me? So, Ed did a little un-boxing video to show the product as it was packaged. There’s no music, so you’ll just have to hum for two minutes while you’re watching it.
According the the Pew Research Center, “64% of American adults own a smartphone of some kind”. I don’t have figures on this next statement, but I’d bet 100% of truckers own a smartphone. OK, maybe not a smartphone since we still have a lot of old-timers out here, but they have a cell phone of some kind. It’s our only link to the outside world.
And when your cell phone is your only link to the world when you’re on the road, it needs to WORK.
I’ve complained before of not having a cell phone signal or internet service. I can’t survive without it. I literally have trouble breathing when my phone doesn’t work. For real. I left my cell phone at a store in the mall last week and as soon as I realized it was gone, I started to hyperventilate in the car. I couldn’t even call to see if they found it because I DIDN’T HAVE MY PHONE. Thankfully, Ed was with me to both calm me down and help me get my phone back.
I do almost everything on my phone these days, as many people do. And I don’t care how many coverage maps you see from these cell phone service providers, there are black holes all over this country. One bar zones. With one bar I can sometimes eke out a text, but I can’t make a call, I can’t stream podcasts, and I can’t play Words With Friends.
My mother constantly says, “What happened??” in an annoyed tone when I lose her mid-sentence. Granted, it’s annoying, but in some areas that’s just how it is. I try to explain to her how some parts of the country don’t have enough cell towers, or sometimes stuff just gets in the way. My cousin is a bigwig with Verizon and once said to me, “Umm, the signal goes through the air. If there’s not a clear shot from one tower to the next, it gets interrupted.” Like in the case of mountains. This is how I’ve explained it to my mother.
Truckers, probably more than anyone, truly understand the frustration of not being able to get a cell or internet signal. Many of us run our businesses entirely by phone and computer. Email is essential. Faxing is still the mode of communication for some offices, so our faxes are set up to come right into our email. And trip paperwork needs to be scanned and sent in weekly.
There are some parts of the country you just know you’re not going to get a signal – the hills of West Virginia, the loneliest road in Nevada, the Deliverance woods of Northern Georgia.
On this run – Arizona to Oklahoma and back – there are several one bar zones. After a while you just get to know where they are. You say to the person on the other end of the phone, “Oh, crap, I’m going into a bad cellphone area.” or, “If I lose you, I’ll call you back.”
My actual signal through the Texas Canyon area in Arizona – five bars!
But with this new antenna? Holy mother of all pumped up cell phone signals! This thing actually gave me amplified service through Texas Canyon in Arizona, in the desolate area of far West Texas, and at our delivery point in Oklahoma where we usually have nothing. So much of nothing you can’t even text when you’re there. Ed was impressed.
The installation was easy. Easy because a) I didn’t do it, and b) it took Ed less than two hours. He’s meticulous about electronic gadgets and can spend hours fiddling with them, so watching him install this quickly and effortlessly scored some points. The installation guide was very straight forward and easy to follow, so you don’t have to be a gadget guru to get this thing up and running.
In the short amount of time we’ve been able to test this, we definitely think the antenna has boosted our signal strength – at least in the areas we’ve had the weakest connections.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we’re on a dedicated run right now so the real test will be when we get back over the road and hit all corners of the country. I’m looking forward to getting a boost in the places we need it most!
If you’d like to purchase your own booster, you can do so HERE.