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Microcell or cell phone booster?
March 23, 2009 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Which will work better for me for improving my cellphone coverage, a microcell unit or a booster?

I have a 3G iPhone in the US on AT&T. My coverage inside my house is abysmal (the stucco siding probably doesn't help), I can get marginal coverage in certain rooms, sometimes I have no coverage anywhere. The coverage on the roof is excellent, so a booster could be an option (I have followed the previous booster threads with interest). Another option is a so-called microcell, which has the disadvantage that is isn't actually available right now, but is supposedly going to come out "any day now". So, pricing information for this is unknown, although I've looked at T-Mobile's pricing.

For what it's worth my current broadband connection is 1.5ish megabit DSL through Speakeasy (although I'm considering a switch to UVerse), and I have no landline. I'm looking to cover two phones at the moment.

The way I see it, the microcell has to be programmed to add handsets which is an advantage (neighbors don't steal the bandwidth) and a disadvantage (guests don't use your link either without adding them). It would probably be a good idea to allow people like my parents or babysitters to actually be able to use the phone in an emergency.

Besides the above, the other considerations I guess are bandwidth (how much does each connection take?), how many simultaneous connections are allowed, and (of course!) how well each solution actually performs, coverage wise, in the house.

Are there other things I should consider? I've seen booster users weigh in on the other threads, so I'm especially interested in any microcell users here.
posted by RikiTikiTavi to Technology (3 answers total)
 
Just some experience for you, I worked in an office next to a swim school with lots of pipes and whatever, horrible GSM signal for both Cingular and TMobile there. I bought a booster that went on the window and was supposed to boost it inside the building. It was meant for GSM and also I think it was meant for boats way off shore that wanted to keep the signal.

Anyways, it sucked and I sent it back. The only thing it did was lie to my phone and show more bars for signal strength.
posted by thilmony at 1:10 PM on March 23, 2009


I've got an original iPhone. In my house, in the middle of San Francisco, I get terrible reception. It's not good outside, and it's basically unusable inside. My conclusion is that either AT&T or Apple sucks. You may find iPhone test mode useful for diagnosing signal quality. "-98dBa" is much more useful than "2 bars.. no, 1.. 2... wait now it's got the O on!".

I tried a cell phone repeater and can't recommend it. Antenna on the roof, length of coax into the basement, transmitter downstairs. If I stand right next to the transmitter I get better cell phone reception. 20 feet away of clear air and it's no better than not having the repeater. Behind a wall downstairs, no better than not having a repeater. Waste of money, i assume because the transmitter is required to be very low power.

Microcells plugged into broadband are appealing. But then seriously, what are you paying a cell phone contract for?
posted by Nelson at 1:58 PM on March 23, 2009


But then seriously, what are you paying a cell phone contract for?

Everywhere else.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 2:28 PM on March 23, 2009


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