Data Hubs + Signal Boosters (How Rural Canada Is Staying Connected)

Updated: Aug 24



Even though we live in the age of the internet, there are still hundreds of thousands of Canadians who live in areas with poor (or no) cell signal. Of course, one of the main goals of major Canadian networks such as Telus, Rogers, and BellOne is to eventually have good signal available everywhere. But this process takes time, money, and ever-advancing technology. In the meantime, people in rural Canada have found other ways to stay connected. With the help of innovative products designed by major carriers and companies such as SureCall Canada, these folks are able to create a stronger signal in their homes and cottages, despite the weak cell reception outside.


How Are They Doing This?


They're doing it by purchasing two specific devices and using them in tandem with one another. A cell phone signal booster and a data hub. We'll explain.


Cell Phone Signal Booster


A cell phone signal booster is a device that amplifies an existing cellular signal. These devices are common among people living in rural Canada (among other places). In simplest terms, this is how they work:


A signal booster kit consists of 3 main components; the outside antenna, the amplifier, and the inside antenna, all of which are connected to each other via coax cable. The external antenna locates and connects to the weak signal directly outside your home. It sends that signal to the amplifier which is set up inside your home. The amplifier boosts the signal and then sends it to the inside antenna which broadcasts it throughout your home.


A variety of cell phone signal boosters are available on the market. In most cases, the model that's right for you depends on the square footage you intend to cover. We'll go more into some more detail regarding how to choose the right signal booster after we discuss data hubs.


Data Hub


A data hub is a device that amplifies a wifi network. Like cell phone signal boosters, they're popular with Canadians living in rural areas. These small devices convert cellular data from your smartphone into wifi, allowing you to have wifi in areas and situations where you otherwise couldn't. However, the issue is that data hub speeds are usually slow because of a low-quality wireless link to the cellular tower. So on their own, data hubs often don't quite provide the service that users hope when purchasing the device.


As you know, most smartphones today have a wifi hotspot feature. If you've used this feature on your smartphone before, you know that it uses your cellular data to provide a less-than-adequate but better-than-nothing wifi connection in situations where there isn't one available. But a data hub will boost the wifi hotspot emanating from your smartphone and make it stronger.


How Do These Two Devices Work Together?


First, you use a cell phone signal booster to amplify your cell signal. Second, you use a data hub to convert that signal into a wifi network. The data hub then amplifies it even more.


Wifi problem solved.


Which Data Hub Should I Get?


There are 3 different types of data hubs and each one is made by a different major Canadian network. The Smart Hub from Telus, the RocketHub from Rogers, and the TurboHub from Bell One. Here are some important specs on each one. Remember that speed and signal strength may vary depending on geographic location, environmental conditions, internet traffic, and other factors.


Smart Hub from TELUS


telus.com

  • Up to 20 devices can be connected simultaneously

  • Download speeds up to 25 Mbps

  • Includes 1 Ethernet port

  • 3,000 mAh built-in backup battery prevents any interruption in the event of a power outage

  • Use the device anywhere there's an outlet to plug it in (in areas where TELUS has coverage)

  • Easy setup

  • Price is $250 or spread the cost of the device on your TELUS bill over 24 months with 0% interest

  • Powered by the TELUS LTE Network

  • Internet plans start at $65 per month

  • P2P gaming on gaming consoles is not compatible with this device.

  • Important: this is a fixed internet connection. The TELUS Smart Hub cannot be moved freely from the designated service area without notifying TELUS and officially changing the service address.

To purchase the Smart Hub, click here.


RocketHub from Rogers

4gltemall.com

  • Up to 20 devices can be connected simultaneously

  • Download speeds up to 100 Mbps

  • 3,000 mAh built-in backup battery prevents any interruption in the event of a power outage

  • Includes 1 Ethernet port

  • Built-in antennas

  • Supports multi-SSD, allowing for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections

  • Price is $259 or spread the cost of the device on your Rogers bill over 24 months with 0% interest

  • Powered by the Rogers LTE Network

  • Internet plans start at $10 per month

  • The Rogers RocketHub is portable. It is not bound to a particular service address.

To purchase the RocketHub, visit this page. Scroll down to the Featured Devices subsection.


TurboHub from Bell One


boltmobile.ca

  • Up to 15 devices can be connected simultaneously

  • Download speeds up to 750 Mbps

  • Includes 4 Ethernet ports

  • 5 external antennas

  • Supports nano-SIM card

  • Price is $399.99 or $250 with 0% interest if the cost is spread over 24 months on your Bell One bill

  • Powered by the Bell One LTE Network

  • Internet plans start at $10 per month

  • The Bell One TurboHub is portable. It is not bound to a particular service address.

To purchase the TurboHub, click here.


Will The Data Hub/Cell Phone Signal Booster Method Work Anywhere In Canada?



No, unfortunately. Achieving a reliable wifi signal this way is only possible in areas where at least a weak cell signal from your provider exists. This is due to the nature of cell phone signal booster technology. A signal booster does not have the ability to create a signal from nothing. What it does is boost an existing signal. So there needs to be some semblance of a signal outside your home in order for the wifi technique explained in this article to work.


There are simple ways you can discover if TELUS, Rogers, or Bell One have coverage in a particular area. On TELUS' website, for example, they have a help feature where you can type in your address and it will tell you if your location is compatible with data hub usage. (Go to this page and then click the green "Get Smart Hub" tab. This will take you to the address qualification section.)


If you're a Rogers or Bell One user, simply call their customer service phone number or use the chat feature on their websites and a representative will help you with address qualification.


Which Cell Phone Signal Booster Should I Get?


At SureCall Canada, we have five residential signal boosters. Each one is different with unique specifications. The one that is right for your home, cottage, or cabin depends on a few things. These factors include, most importantly, the square footage of your dwelling and knowing how much of that space you intend to cover with boosted cell signal and wifi. Once you know that, first and foremost, you'll be able to narrow down your choices. We've recently posted articles describing in detail many of our residential boosters. We'll provide some links here:


Announcing The Fusion Professional (SureCall Canada's Brand New Signal Booster!)


The 3 Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters For Your Home (Canadian Edition)


The SureCall Flare 3.0 Canada (How To Maximize Working Remotely)


And finally, here's a link to the product page showing all five residential SureCall Canada Signal Boosters


Do I Have To Get Both Devices?


If you live in an area where you have at least some cellular signal but no access to a traditional internet service, and you want to give this wifi solution a try, then yes, you do need to get both a data hub and a cell signal booster. However, if you already have satisfactory wifi but the cell signal at your home is poor, you likely have a need only for a signal booster and not for a data hub. And vice versa.


Are There Other Internet Solutions For Rural Canada?


Yes.


Satellite internet is available in almost all areas of Canada, rural and urban. In some scenarios, it can certainly be a good choice. HughesNet, for example, is a big player in this industry. But satellite tends to be quite a bit pricier than most forms of traditional internet (cable, DSL, fiber), the setup is more involved, contracts can be required, it almost never offers unlimited data usage, and it's not as reliable. Satellite internet bends to the will of Mother Nature more than any other kind of internet service. Wind, rain, and other common and otherwise non-threatening storms can cause the quality of your satellite internet to decrease in any given moment and for prolonged periods of time, depending on the situation. We recommend attempting the data hub + cell phone signal booster method first. Satellite should be a secondary option.


Speedify is another option. Like satellite internet, this option is not going to be the best for everyone. In fact, for some, it isn't an option at all because it requires certain conditions in order to be possible. Here's the information straight from their website:


Speedify is a fast bonding VPN that uses channel bonding technology to combine 2 or more Internet connections at once. This delivers more bandwidth, increased connection reliability and protects your private data. In order to get faster Internet in rural areas, you should have at least two Internet connections available. These can be from the same ISP or different ones:

  • 2 DSL lines

  • DSL and satellite

  • 2 satellite connections

  • DSL and cellular

  • satellite and cellular

Basically, any combination of Internet connections will work! Follow these steps.

  1. Make sure you have at least 2 Internet connections available to connect to.

  2. Get Speedify on your computer or mobile device. It’s available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.

  3. Connect your device to all available connections. Enable WiFi and cellular on your mobile device. Connect your computer to WiFi, wired Ethernet, and other connections via external USB adapters.

  4. Start Speedify and let it connect to the fastest server. It will automatically recognize all active Internet connections and bond them together at once.

  5. Enjoy fast Internet in your rural area! Depending on the bandwidth you get, you can download, surf, play online games and stream videos online.

Again, we recommend that you consider these other options as a last resort. If the data hub + cell phone signal booster method is an option for you and it works, it's almost certainly going to give you a better wifi signal than either of these two secondary options.


Data Hubs In Canada - Conclusion


Remember: First, you use a cell phone signal booster to amplify your cell signal. Second, you use a data hub to convert that signal into a wifi network. The data hub then amplifies it even more, giving you good wifi in your cabin, cottage, or home. If you're struggling with reliable connections at a location rural Canada, we highly suggest looking into combining the abilities of a data hub and a cell phone signal booster to remedy your situation.






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