Tech question for readers

Do any of you have experience with cellular phone signal boosters/extenders?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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8 Responses to Tech question for readers

  1. PeterK says:

    Just installed an AT&T mincell aka femtocell in my house this week. boosted signal from <1 bar to 5 bars. if you have a weak cell phone signal well worth getting. each cellphone provide has their own.
    I put my mincell in my basement office (requires access to my cable) get 4 to 5 bars in my second floor office

  2. PeterK says:

    also installed a wifi range extender to increase wifi signal strength to 2nd floor office. after installation signal strength went from ave. 75% to 100%

  3. mingione says:

    AT&T was giving out microcells for free a while back, so I have one at home (it’s out in the country and there’s usually no signal at all). It works really well. I get 5 bars and 3G from the microcell. It covers all of our house and the driveway.

  4. tzard says:

    There are a few different options on “signal boosters”.
    First off, there are those little stickers you put on behind your battery advertised on Television – they’re a scam and do nothing. I haven’t seen them for a while.

    Next is what’s now a fairly old technology – called a “bridge” – where you have an high performance antenna on top of your house (or high up) and it repeats the signals so you get a good signal for your cell phone. We use one of these in my place of employment. We also have a consumer-grade one at our cabin in the mountains – where we barely get a signal otherwise, but 5 bars with this. It works with multiple service providers and has no ongoing costs. It’s pretty good, but might cost a few hundred for one. Bandwidth is a bit less than if you had a good signal directly (for technical reasons).

    The third is a newer technology called a “femtocell” technology. Essentially you pay to put a small cell unit at your location and connect back to the phone company with a broadband Internet connection. There’s usually an ongoing charge for this, it’s fairly new in being available. It works well too and is available from multiple providers.

    There’s a separate service some are offering now, which connects to the cell data network but comes out on your side as a WIFI service (for up to maybe 5 computers). It doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re talking about. There’s usually a small monthly fee for this too and it usually only works well in metropolitan areas.

  5. TKS says:

    I’ve been researching this for myself. Friends have the microcels which they say only work within about 15 feet of the device. I don’t want to give up my iPhone so it’s either good coverage with Verizon but no ability to do voice and data at the same time, or stay with terrible AT&T coverage here in this area. I’ve not heard much good about the microcel so probably won’t do it. I have also turned off the 3G to see if 2G works better and sometimes it does so that’s an option. I personally use data more than voice.

  6. moon1234 says:

    One thing to keep in mind with femtocells, Father, is that they all have GPS chips in them. This was done so the unit know where it is located. The cellular providers license spectrum in different countries/part of the country. This same frequency spectrum may be licensed to other providers/users in different parts of the country/world.

    In order to get the FCC to allow the cellular providers to sell devices to the public that transmit on these licensed frequencies they required that the cellular companies use a technological means block the device from being used outside the providers licensed coverage area.

    Just want you to be aware of this in case you were thinking of being able to use a US based femtocell in foreign countries.

  7. Aaron B. says:

    It’s odd how “technological progress” means having to go buy extra equipment just to get basic functionality that you used to get out of the box. I’m stuck with a cell phone company I don’t like because they’re the B-band company in town, and B-band has solid coverage everywhere. All the people I know with A-band phones have to go outside to make a call. But they’ve got unlimited minutes to stand out there in the snow and chat!

    The same thing happened with TV: used to be you could get a decent picture with a simple rabbit ears antenna — or in a pinch, a wire coat hanger. Now that they’ve gone digital, I’m told I need to get some box that amplifies the signal. Gee, thanks for the upgrade.