Improving Wilderness Cell Phone Coverage

We spent a couple weeks at the Four Corners area this spring.

Particularly canyon areas had “dead spots” or difficulty maintaining a connection, and some mesas and plateau areas had better coverage but not always. I don’t have a fancy unit - nor do I “need” a cell-phone but it was damn nice to know that in a true emergency situation I could possibly make the call and save a lot of hassle. In that vein I sought to increase the coverage.

I thought of an external antenna but am unfamiliar with how they work. Is it possible to setup a random wire antenna of 50’ and wrap a few turns around the phone and obtain more gain via induction? I actually tried this, sort of, and showed 2-4 more chiclets on the signal strength indicator. Still unable to connect.

I also seemed to have much better luck, though, (I’m not making this up) if I was barefoot and in contact with solid ground. Strictly anecdotal, but I wonder if this improved the ground plane in line with the external antenna idea?

If you don’t have line of sight, no antenna in the world is going to help you. And in a canyon, you’re probably not going to have line of sight to much of anywhere but straight up. Depending on the canyon, that might still give you a connection on a satellite phone, but it also might not.

That might (definitely?) make it a time-of-day affair as well - a connection may be impossible at 9 AM but doable at 4 PM?

I’d buy into all of your possiblilities. Much like holding your car’s remote to your chin provides greater range. Being barefoot would change your “ground plane characteristics.”

For your random wire antenna, it may have boosted RECIEVED signal, but due to issues of length vs. frequency, you may have had a poor connection for TRANSMIT. The inductive coupling of your antenna with the phone’s may have been a poor match as well. IIRC, the signal bar on your phone shows only how well you are receiving the tower, now how well the tower hears you.