We've all had the problem - your phone works fine in the driveway, but as soon as you get inside, the bars drop to zero and you start missing or dropping calls.
PhoneNews.com reports that Sprint has chosen one solution - the Airave. It is some kind of indoor broadband signal booster - one of the comments at PhoneNews states that it uses VOIP to transmit the calls via your internet connection. I could find nothing on Google about the product or company other than the PhoneNews article. Possible availability in Q1 2008? Post a comment if you know more!
Samsung has a solution called a 'UbiCell' that creates and indoor cell tower and then sends the phonecall over a VOIP connection. Wonder if that's it? I've got calls out to Sprint people to see if I can get one to play with.
On other fronts, Martha McKay of the Hackensack, NJ newspaper, The Record has a great article about some possible solutions, from $40 on up. And no, those stick-on bits of aluminum foil are not effective. (quoted here in it's entirety because Google can't seem to find it just not my day!)
Despite the loud claims by our area's major cellphone carriers, there are still dead spots and places where cellphone coverage is poor. That's a particular problem for home office workers and others who rely on their mobiles to conduct business these days. If your home office is deep within a basement, or your house has aluminum siding that can interfere with cell signals, or your desk sits within the thick-walled confines of a large building, then you might want to consider a cellphone antenna. There are a number of products to help boost cellphone strength.
A good, low-cost method is a device called the Freedom Antenna by Arc Wireless. For about $40, this antenna, about the size of the hand, plugs into your cellphone, and the company claims an eightfold increase in cellphone reception. Depending on the version you buy, you might also have to pay about $15 for an adapter that connects your particular phone model to the antenna cable.
When I tested it deep inside The Record's building, the bars on my phone that represent signal strength increased when I plugged in the antenna. It comes with suction cups so you can mount it on a window.
You are somewhat limited because you have to keep your phone plugged into the device, and the cord stretches only so far. But if you are frustrated by dropped calls and weak signals, this might help.
There are also other devices out there that can boost signals.
If you run a business where reception inside is spotty you might consider a system with an antenna installed outside a building. From the outdoor antenna, you run a cable inside. There are systems that connect a single phone to the antenna. But for a large area and multiple users, you would connect to a repeater, which then wirelessly broadcasts the "boosted" signal throughout an office. These systems can start at about $300 and go up from there depending on how large an area you need to cover.
If you're considering an antenna system, make sure your phone (or data card) has an antenna port.
A good place to check is wpsantenna.com. This Web site sells antenna amplifiers and repeaters, including the Arc Freedom Antenna, and offers a list of phone models that have antenna ports.
Curiously, when I checked my phone manual (I use an LG VX5300) there wasn't a mention anywhere of a port. I found some belligerent small print informing me that if I used an "unauthorized antenna" I could "damage the phone void the warranty."
Matt Larsen, an amiable marketing manager for Minnesota-based wpsantenna.com, said it had been several years since they had heard of an external antenna damaging a phone. He also pointed out that people are replacing their phones fairly regularly these days.
And, he continued, "so many people are using their phones for business they are willing to take the risk."
I took the risk, although not without some trepidation. My phone had a small rubbery plug near the base of the phone's stubby antenna, and I might not have persevered to pop it out were it not for the insistence of the Arc Wireless spokeswoman who assured me my phone model would fit the Freedom Antenna.
I used a tiny eyeglass screwdriver and finally popped it out, managing not to scratch the phone. The antenna cable indeed fit my phone model, and I was in business.
I wasn't able to test the antenna in an area of very poor coverage. Larson said his company has a 30-day return policy so you can try the device and if it doesn't work you pay just for postage. Larson's company also sells a car roof antenna (attaches with a magnet) that can boost cellphone coverage when you are on the road.
Searching the Web I also found some tips that may work for you. They include simply using call forwarding on your cell to send calls to your landline. There are also VoIP services that can send calls to a cellphone and landline number at the same time.
I tested one of these Antennas before, made by Wilson. It was great in Northern Michigan at my cabin, took the signal from almost non-existent to somewhat there... I was able to make calls while moving around in the cabin, without worrying about staying in one spot with my head tilted a certain direction...
Orginally Posted on: 2007-12-20 16:14:45