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Boosting LTE Signal in the UK

peterdg

New Member
Jan 16, 2021
4
4
UK
I am an M3 owner with a typical English garage, which is only just wide enough to fit the M3 and therefore getting out of the car relies on driving very close to the passenger side of the garage - which means I run a valet service for my less confident partner. I do have enhanced autopilot and therefore the use of Summon. Summon (when it works well) is perfect for self-parking in my garage. However, unfortunately the LTE signal is weak and therefore often fails and when it does it is normally when the car is a little way out out of the garage - blocking entry, causing big problems.

I was told by Tesla's pretty hopeless technical support that using a summon on a remote control would solve this - but having bought one and finding that the remote control did not operate summon was told (after over a month of to and fro with technical support) that summon with a remote control is illegal in Europe (and Brexit has not changed this for the UK!!).

Does anyone on the forum have any experience with LTE Signal Boosters in the UK, as this seems to be a potential (though expensive) solution? I would be looking for a building-based booster not one for the car. Also is anyone aware of any future plans to use wifi or bluetooth for summon (Tesla's technical support have been unable to help on this).

Thanks for any help / advice / experience that anyone can share.

Many thanks
Peter
Long Range 2020 Model 3 with Enhanced Autopilot
 
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Glan gluaisne

Supporting Member
Sep 11, 2019
2,782
2,701
UK
Yes, I have a booster for the higher frequency band used by EE. Not legal to use in the UK, and my experience with setting it up was that it wasn't that easy. Ideally, these boosters need a directional antenna pointed at the nearest mast, plus an omnidirectional antenna mounted away from the line of sight of the directional one to provide the locally boosted signal. I found that getting the required separation wasn't easy and needed a bit of experimentation to try and stop the unit from receiving it's own boosted signal, causing unwanted feedback.

I never got the thing to work, but spent hours trying in vain to get some sort of usable signal at ground level. I could just about get a signal on my phone when stood on the very top of the scaffolding we had up when building the house, which is what encouraged me to have a go at getting a booster to work. My experience suggests that the booster I bought just wasn't as sensitive as my phone when held up at around the same height. Whether they are all like this, or whether it's a limitation imposed by the need for the unit to not be able to receive its own retransmitted signal I don't know.
 

arg

Supporting Member
Aug 22, 2012
1,797
1,756
Cambridge, UK
Providing WiFi rather than LTE is normally the easiest option for this sort of situation (even if you've no broadband nearby and the WiFi has to be provided by a 'MiFi' unit with an LTE antenna on the roof).

Not 100% certain WiFi solves your problem (as I don't have an M3), but I think it does (ie. providing a WiFi internet connection to the car so it has the connection back to the mothership - not the same thing as using direct WiFi/bluetooth between handset and car which as you say is not supported)
 
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peterdg

New Member
Jan 16, 2021
4
4
UK
Providing WiFi rather than LTE is normally the easiest option for this sort of situation (even if you've no broadband nearby and the WiFi has to be provided by a 'MiFi' unit with an LTE antenna on the roof).

Not 100% certain WiFi solves your problem (as I don't have an M3), but I think it does (ie. providing a WiFi internet connection to the car so it has the connection back to the mothership - not the same thing as using direct WiFi/bluetooth between handset and car which as you say is not supported)

Thanks for suggestion, which would be a good solution as I have good WiFi in my garage - unfortunately Tesla don't support this (although many people have requested it). What is supported is WiFi from smart phone to cloud, but not from cloud to car, which is where the issue lies.
 
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M3noob

Supporting Member
Aug 22, 2019
563
415
Beyond the pale
Thanks for suggestion, which would be a good solution as I have good WiFi in my garage - unfortunately Tesla don't support this (although many people have requested it). What is supported is WiFi from smart phone to cloud, but not from cloud to car, which is where the issue lies.

ISTR a chap hereabouts put a WiFi bridge in the car. Got it from Amazon. About £200ish. Not sure if it would help your problem.
 

arg

Supporting Member
Aug 22, 2012
1,797
1,756
Cambridge, UK
OK, sorry for the misinformation.

It's quite strange, as they must be very deliberately un-supporting it as the car/cloud connection normally switches automatically (historically at least it was a VPN connection so that the higher layer software in the car was independent of the underlying connection mechanism, though that may have changed as they've gone through various security revamps).

I wonder how this relates to GPS - which is also likely to stop working in garages, and is a more reasonable thing for them to insist on (in order to verify that the phone and car are within sight of each other).
 

peterdg

New Member
Jan 16, 2021
4
4
UK
You can try using a Femtocell, but you need to have the same provider that Tesla in UK and pay a monthly fee.
Thanks for this Vincente - this looks like a possible solution. I believe that Tesla use O2 Network in the UK - but will research this separately. Have you used this solution for your Tesla?
 

arg

Supporting Member
Aug 22, 2012
1,797
1,756
Cambridge, UK
You can try using a Femtocell, but you need to have the same provider that Tesla in UK and pay a monthly fee.

The snag with this is that you normally need to register the individual phones that you intend to use with the femtocell - which is difficult when it's a car and you don't have the contact details.

Tesla use roaming SIMs, with at least two different contracts. The early UK cars were on a Telefonica SIM homed in Spain, initally roaming to O2 only in the UK but later opened up to roam on some other UK networks also for better coverage. There was a later change of supplier (starting from when cars with 4G hardware arrived?); I believe those were homed in Netherlands but I am not sure and there may have been more changes since.
 

Lasairfion

Member
Jul 24, 2018
494
538
UK
After the destruction of our local telephone mast during the winter weather, we had no service at home. You'd have to be higher than the roof and halfway down the road to pick up the next tower along. After significant back and forth with my supplier they finally gave me a signal box for free, and I have to say it works perfectly at bringing enough bars for service into my home.

If you can find out the details of your car's mobile service then I really think that 'femtocell' would work, like it does for my mobile phone.
 

peterdg

New Member
Jan 16, 2021
4
4
UK
The snag with this is that you normally need to register the individual phones that you intend to use with the femtocell - which is difficult when it's a car and you don't have the contact details.

Tesla use roaming SIMs, with at least two different contracts. The early UK cars were on a Telefonica SIM homed in Spain, initally roaming to O2 only in the UK but later opened up to roam on some other UK networks also for better coverage. There was a later change of supplier (starting from when cars with 4G hardware arrived?); I believe those were homed in Netherlands but I am not sure and there may have been more changes since.

This does concur with my reading on femtocell - and probably dissuades me from going that way - it also seems that O2 and EE need to configure their solutions. It would be really good to know what Tesla's roadmap is on this as I know that I'm not alone in wanting to use summon where there is no or little LTE network and many people are frustrated at the disconnections that often happen due to poor network.
 

meavydev

Member
Jun 19, 2019
115
74
Berkshire
Repeaters are legal, as I tried a CellFi here for O2. I can't recommend them though, as I never got it to work reliably and switched to a mobile phone contract with WiFi calling.
They are also very expensive...£700+ for one I tried.
The main problem is they are a fixed band which isn't going to be easy when Tesla don't say which network they are using...
Mobile phone repeaters – what you need to know
 

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