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Aquatrac Wireless Communications With EvDO

Choosing a Wireless Provider


The purpose of this guide is to help you make the decision on your wireless provider for a specific site.

Choosing a wireless broadband provider boils down to which provider offers the best signal to the location of where the Aquatrac controller is installed. Finding out which provider offers the best signal to the site location breaks down to the following two methods:

  1. Guess and Check
  2. On-Site Survey

Method 1: Guess and Check

Due to its simplicity, the Guess and Check method is the most common method for deciding which EvDO provider to go with. The only tools that are necessary for this method is a cell phone that is provisioned by either Verizon Wireless, Sprint, or AT&T.

The idea behind the Guess and Check method is; if you can successfully make a cell phone call at the site location of the installed Aquatrac controller, chances are good that the same provider (as the cell phone) will offer a sufficient EvDO signal for a wireless broadband connection.

Here's what to do:
Go to the site location where the controller will be installed. Then, using a cell phone, make a phone call (it doesn't matter who you call). If the phone call was successful and clear, you can "Guess" that the cell phone provider will offer a satisfactory EvDO signal to that site location. In which case, you can move forward in signing up with that provider for the wireless broadband service.

NOTE: Most providers offer a trial period. When using the Guess and Check method, this is good to know so that if/when you guessed wrong, you can return the data card and close the contract that you made with the provider at no cost (other than your time) to you.
However, if the cell phone call failed, you will need to find another cell phone that is provisioned by a different provider than the previous test. For example: The first cell phone test was done with a Verizon Wireless phone and the cell call failed. In the second test you use a cell phone that is provisioned by Sprint Nextel.

Method 2: On-Site Survey

The On-Site Survey method is where you go to the site location and measure the signal strength of each provider. The implication of this method is you will need to have, on hand, a data card from each EvDO provider and a laptop computer. Furthermore, you will need to make a trip out to the site to run the test - hence, On-Site Survey.

The first task you must do for an On-Site Survey is contact an EvDO vendor and order a data card for Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and AT&T. Then, once you receive the data cards, you will need to install the software that came with each data card onto a laptop computer.

NOTE: There are other wireless broadband providers other than Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T, but, out of these three, chances are good that one of them will offer a good signal to your site location.

Once you have the data cards and software installed on a laptop, you will bring the data cards and laptop to the site location. When you arrive at the location of where the Aquatrac controller will be installed, do the following steps:

  1. Insert one of the data cards into the laptop
  2. Turn on the laptop
  3. Open/Run the software that corresponds with the data card that you inserted (in Step 1)
  4. Follow the instructions below (Measuring Signal Strength for your EvDO Card)
  5. Repeat with each data card that you have
  6. Choose the data card that offered the best signal

Measuring Signal Strength (How to find RSSI) for your EvDO Card

When you run the data card software, you will notice signal bars that represent the signal strength of the wireless signal. However, besides the signal bars, there is a more detailed way to see how strong your signal is. RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) numbers provide a better idea of what your signal strength is. The close the number is to zero, the better your signal strength is. Example: -65 dBm is a much better signal than -95 dBm.

Keep in mind that to get a good RSSI reading, your device should actually be moving data when the reading is taken. You might want to be doing a speedtest at and then record those speeds with the corresponding RSSI value, for your comparisons.

FYI, a good target RSSI is -80 dBm indoors. At that point, it is highly likely you are getting the full speeds that the tower you are connected to, will provide.

If you are using Apple's WWAN support to connect to the EVDO network, then hold down the Option Key while in the WWAN drop down menu.

If you are using VZAccess Manager or Sprint Connection Manager, simply place your mouse cursor over the signal bars in the connection manager software as shown below.





the new SmartView connection manager puts RSSI under the bars

Alltel: (In your QuickLinkMobile panel, go to HELP)

Alltel (Mac):


Aquatrac Instruments

Office: (800) 909-9283 - Fax: (909) 476-2412

1840 South Carlos Ave. Ontario California, 91761