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  #1  
Old 09-28-2012, 01:01 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Do in-home cellphone signal boosters work?

I asked a similar question about ten years ago, but back then there were no products on the market. Now, it looks like Newegg has a fair number (but no substantial reviews).

Do these things work? Since moving out to the sticks, our in-house cell coverage is pretty weak. Having something set up so that we (and guests, babysitters and the occasional stray) can get reliable signal would be fantastic. No need for wireless boosting, just cell service. Anyone have good luck with these?
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  #2  
Old 09-28-2012, 01:10 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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I know I can subscribe under thread tools or something, but I'm also interested in the answer to this question. Heck, I wasn't even aware that such products existed. I assume you find a spot in your house, near a window facing in the direction of the nearest tower or something, and place the booster there. Rural life has its pros and cons.
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:17 PM
Grey area Grey area is offline
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Not sure how helpful this will be since this might not be the device in question and it's a different country. But...

A friend of mine in South Korea had basically no signal in his basement apartment so he called his service provider and they installed a device that looks pretty similar to the ones on that newegg link and he got great signal. But I'm tempted to think it's a different device since I used a different provider and my phone still didn't get signal. Maybe you should call your provider and ask them what they can do.
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:19 PM
yoyodyne yoyodyne is offline
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There's an amplifier, an external (outside) antenna, and an internal (indoor) antenna. The external antenna can be directional or omni-directional, and is usually mounted on the roof or in the attic. The internal antenna is placed in a central location at least 30-40 feet away (to avoid feedback).

I checked into them and conclude they work, but I bought a microcell instead.
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  #5  
Old 09-28-2012, 01:23 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Rather than a booster, if you have decent broadband, you might look into whether your provider will give you a femtocell. I have one from Sprint, and it works great.
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  #6  
Old 09-28-2012, 01:57 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Originally Posted by yabob View Post
Rather than a booster, if you have decent broadband, you might look into whether your provider will give you a femtocell. I have one from Sprint, and it works great.
I have one of these, which AT&T gave me a couple of years ago. The cell reception in my house has gone from laughably poor to outstanding. When the cable (Comcast is my broadband provider) or the power go out, the difference in reception is instantly notable.
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  #7  
Old 09-28-2012, 02:01 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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We're micro-users of the service (cell/data bills run $200-$300 per year for two lines), so I doubt that T-Mobile is going to cough up extra equipment, even for a reasonable charge (though I'm going to call/email them just in case).

One of the few times we need our cell in the house is when the Internet goes down. We do have two broadband lines coming in (cable and DSL), but asking a guest to make the switch from one to the other has its share of problems (e.g. not reaching them to let them know the cable is out).

yoyodyne's example is pretty much what I asked about years ago--a basic receiver/amplifier--that seems to be what these devices do. By "checked them and conclude they work," do you mean you looked over their specs and they should do what they say they should? Or you found other reports online? Also, what did you pay/where did you get your microcell, and did you need service provider cooperation?
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:24 PM
yoyodyne yoyodyne is offline
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I just read a lot of reviews and talked to a couple of people that had them.

I got the microcell from AT&T for $100 (they're $150 now). It works through the internet connection, but if the internet goes down I can just go outside to get a usable signal.

I don't think T-Mobile has something similar.
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  #9  
Old 09-28-2012, 02:44 PM
sitchensis sitchensis is offline
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All of the commercial fishermen I know have them on their boats. They work great. The old ones with physical connections were always a pain in the ass because you had to make sure your phone had the same plug-in. Nowadays they have eliminated the physical plug-in so you can use them with any phone.
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  #10  
Old 09-28-2012, 02:49 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yabob View Post
Rather than a booster, if you have decent broadband, you might look into whether your provider will give you a femtocell. I have one from Sprint, and it works great.
Sprint is in my neighborhood, but the coverage is the poorest of any carrier, which is why I have US Cellular.

Cellcom and U.S. Cellular are local and have the best coverage. However, neither provides a femtocell or allows such a connection. I could switch to Sprint, assuming they provide one locally, but then I'd lose coverage elsewhere, not a good idea.

So it looks like Femtocell's time has yet to come, at least in my neck of the woods. I sure would like to use one; my cellphone only works in the kitchen, and only if you stand still.
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  #11  
Old 09-28-2012, 02:51 PM
hajario hajario is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yoyodyne View Post
I just read a lot of reviews and talked to a couple of people that had them.

I got the microcell from AT&T for $100 (they're $150 now). It works through the internet connection, but if the internet goes down I can just go outside to get a usable signal.

I don't think T-Mobile has something similar.
I got one too. I and two other people I know were able to talk AT&T into giving us a free one by threatening to switch to Verizon.
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  #12  
Old 09-28-2012, 03:02 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Originally Posted by hajario View Post
I and two other people I know were able to talk AT&T into giving us a free one by threatening to switch to Verizon.
AT&T gave mine to me for free; I have no idea why (though they must have, somehow, decided that I was a likely candidate to defect to another service). I got a coupon in the mail: "come down to our store, and we'll give the device to you."

What's nice is that I can add others with AT&T cell phones to it (friends and relatives who come to visit), but it only works with phones on AT&T.
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  #13  
Old 09-28-2012, 03:07 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Originally Posted by hajario View Post
I got one too. I and two other people I know were able to talk AT&T into giving us a free one by threatening to switch to Verizon.
Note that AT&T calls theirs a "microcell", even though it technically isn't. From the wiki article:
Quote:
Typically the range of a microcell is less than two kilometers wide, a picocell is 200 meters or less, and a femtocell is on the order of 10 meters,[1] although AT&T calls its product, with a range of 40 feet (12 m), a "microcell".[2]
I didn't have to threaten anything for Sprint. They were handing them out free for anyone who had rotten cell reception inside their house.
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  #14  
Old 09-28-2012, 04:32 PM
jmm237 jmm237 is offline
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Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl View Post
We're micro-users of the service (cell/data bills run $200-$300 per year for two lines), so I doubt that T-Mobile is going to cough up extra equipment, even for a reasonable charge (though I'm going to call/email them just in case).
Uh oh, you have T-Mobile! Dual band amplifiers boost most 2G and 3G signals from most providers, but unfortunately, T-Mobile users a different frequency for their 3G and 4G signals. Instead, your best be would be a system like this: http://www.ubersignal.com/wilson-4g-...it-802388.html. Unfortunately, that's only going to work with T-Mobile, so it won't help your visitors if they have a different service. If you're ok with only 2G which would be voice calls and very slow data (like dial-up speed) then a standard dual band system should work.

If you can place a phone call in the location that your external antenna will be mounted (usually on the roof) then a cell phone signal booster will definitely help.

Last edited by jmm237; 09-28-2012 at 04:36 PM..
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  #15  
Old 09-28-2012, 05:53 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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Verizon options? I remember when everybody dumped AT&T for them when the iPhone was compatible. My problem is not the sticks; when out camping, I sometimes have the strongest or only signal. But in my own home (several locations/cities/two states), I have to maintain an landline.
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Old 09-28-2012, 06:48 PM
jmm237 jmm237 is offline
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Originally Posted by thelurkinghorror View Post
Verizon options? I remember when everybody dumped AT&T for them when the iPhone was compatible. My problem is not the sticks; when out camping, I sometimes have the strongest or only signal. But in my own home (several locations/cities/two states), I have to maintain an landline.
For Verizon 2G and 3G you can use any dual band amplifier. Picking the right signal booster requires knowing how strong of a signal you get where you are going to mount the external antenna and how large of a space you need to cover.

If you have a space that's under 1500 sqft and you have 3 or more bars where you're going to mount the antenna, I would look at a YX545. If you have a larger space, or a weaker signal, you should look at a Wilson DB Pro. In cases where you have a really weak outside signal, look for a kit with a directional (yagi) antenna.

Verizon (and AT&T and Sprint) use different frequencies for 4G LTE so you won't get that with a dual band kit, but 4G LTE isn't available in most places yet anyway so it's usually not too big of an issue.

If you want more help deciding, post how strong of a signal you get in the place where you get the strongest signal, usually your roof or maybe in the attic if you want to make it easier. Also let us know how large your home is and if it's multi-story. I hope this helps!
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  #17  
Old 09-28-2012, 09:09 PM
yoyodyne yoyodyne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thelurkinghorror View Post
Verizon options? I remember when everybody dumped AT&T for them when the iPhone was compatible. My problem is not the sticks; when out camping, I sometimes have the strongest or only signal. But in my own home (several locations/cities/two states), I have to maintain an landline.
They have this: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/d...twork-extender
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  #18  
Old 09-29-2012, 12:09 AM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmm237 View Post
Uh oh, you have T-Mobile! Dual band amplifiers boost most 2G and 3G signals from most providers, but unfortunately, T-Mobile users a different frequency for their 3G and 4G signals. Instead, your best be would be a system like this: http://www.ubersignal.com/wilson-4g-...it-802388.html. Unfortunately, that's only going to work with T-Mobile, so it won't help your visitors if they have a different service. If you're ok with only 2G which would be voice calls and very slow data (like dial-up speed) then a standard dual band system should work.

If you can place a phone call in the location that your external antenna will be mounted (usually on the roof) then a cell phone signal booster will definitely help.
Data shmata. We have two broadband lines coming in, both with excellent wireless coverage throughout the house--we just want to get better voice/text reception in the house. Sounds like one of the more basic boosters will do the trick.
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:57 AM
jmm237 jmm237 is offline
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Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl View Post
Data shmata. We have two broadband lines coming in, both with excellent wireless coverage throughout the house--we just want to get better voice/text reception in the house. Sounds like one of the more basic boosters will do the trick.
That's great. T-Mobile is actually in the process of migrating some technologies to the more standard frequencies so if you start with a dual-band system now, then sometime in the next year, you should actually start getting a fast 3G signal also. Check out this image: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7041/7...9fbbb8b264.jpg. The PCS band is what a dual band amplifier will boost.
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  #20  
Old 10-01-2012, 11:23 AM
percypercy percypercy is offline
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My parents have Verizon and live in the sticks where broadband is not offered and likely won't be for many years if ever. They have a booster like jmm237 linked to, the YX545. It works like a charm. Both of them have laptops and get on the internet at the same time. When I'm over there, I'm able to connect with my Kindle Fire. It is, of course, noticeably slower than my internet connection at home, but it works. I can get a signal on my cell phone throughout their 80+ acre property where before the booster I struggled to get one at all.
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