Trail Tested          Cel-Fi Go Mobile

Trent Webster, Editor, Australia

March 2020

Whether you like it or not, mobile communication is now as much a part of exploring as the good old bush TV.

With everyone trying to keep in touch there are more and more devices become available to help people stay connected as they venture away from the cities for their holidays.

Cel-Fi Go Mobile

Photograph by GRIT

The Cel-Fi Go Mobile is one of these devices, and we’ve been testing it out over the past 12 months or so as we’ve travelled from one side of Australia to the other and back again.

The unit itself is quite small and powered via a cigarette plug, which allows for easy installation. The most common place to mount it is under the front seat in the vehicle.  We tend to move ours between the vehicle and the trailer depending on where we are and for how long we are staying for.

The only other components you need to install are the 2 aerials. The input (donor) aerial needs to be mounted external to the vehicle and like with a standard UHF, you want it in a place that is as unobstructed as possible. The other (server) is mounted internally as the output aerial.

“We tend to move ours between the vehicle and the trailer depending on where we are and for how long we are staying for.”

How does it work??

The biggest thing people need to understand about these units, is that they are a signal booster. That means to work, there needs to be something there to boost.

If you are in an area of weak signal, it will certainly boost it, allowing you to make and receive calls and text message. If there’s no signal…then you aren’t going to be any better off.

We tested this as we crossed the Nullarbor, going from one bar to 3 and being able to make outgoing calls.

When it’s comes to data, in our experiences, once you get to smaller communities or areas of limited coverage, (small cell areas – as defined by the telcos), data bandwidth is already restricted and you will find it hard to do much more than browse. Uploading images is a painstaking and frustrating process and the unit certainly doesn’t increase these speeds.

Configuration of the unit is quite simple, but you are required to download the “Cel-Fi Wave” app. Once downloaded, you connect to the unit via Bluetooth. This then enables you to select the band (3G/4G/Auto), perform updates and monitor the level of the signal that is being boosted.

So, are they actually worth it??

Before you go out and spend the money have a think about what you actually want from the unit and where you are planning to use it.

If you are planning to travel remotely and you will be relying on this as your lifeline…then I would suggest you look at a Sat phone. Similar money, but you’ll have signal when you need it.

If you are planning to stay a bit closer to civilisation (areas like Fraser Island, NSW outback) and you just want to be able to keep in touch, then these units are perfect for that.

They will certainly give you the edge on the others in the area, who are all fighting for that limited signal.

Would I buy another one??

For what I do, yes, the unit is super handy. But to be completely honest, it’s only because I use it for my work and that’s where I get the value.

Local and regional trips…yes, we definitely use ours.

Remote travel…personally I’d be investing in a satellite phone and PLB.

And just remember, you’ll get mobile signal when you get into most towns and even a lot of the stations have signal boosters now.

If you’re chasing more technical info, head across to the Cel-Fi website.

Shows typical setup of unit.

Cel-Fi Go Stock Image




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