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What can I do to improve my cellphone reception indoors?
January 2, 2007 1:50 PM   Subscribe

What can I do to improve my cellphone reception inside my house, and not one of the scammy crap things than I see available in spam and Google searches on this subject?

My cellphone works generally ok outside the house, but once inside I can't even make a phone call. I often end up standing inside with my head outside the door to have conversations with people. My wife's cellphone does the same thing (maybe slightly better than mine).

We don't have a landline, and use Skype for long distance, so I -can- make calls from inside the house. However, when I want to call a Canadian 1-800 number Skype fails. Our living space is a groundlevel suite, about 20 years old, and has some metal interior framing, which I suspect is part of the problem. Additionally, our wireless baby monitor has piss-poor reception as well.

Is there anything I can do? FWIW, my phone is an LG6070.
posted by Kickstart70 to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know if it is available in your area, but for a long term fix look into UMA from t-mobile. A good explanation of it here.
posted by lovejones at 2:17 PM on January 2, 2007


How about this?
posted by aeighty at 2:32 PM on January 2, 2007


A friend had the exact same problem, also at ground level, had to step outside to make and take calls on her mobile, no reception at all inside, but her flatmates using another provider had no problem, so she just bought a new sim card to switch to the one they were using.

You could try that, if you don't have a contract and are using prepaid cards, it will be cheaper than getting an antenna or any devices that may or may not work.
posted by pleeker at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2007


Aeighty's link lists four possible solutions and focuses on using a "wired indoor antenna booster"

Slate also wrote an extensive article about that option. Haven't read them closely enough to tell whether they are the same thing, but Slate calls it a "cellular repeater".
posted by kookoobirdz at 3:24 PM on January 2, 2007


Easiest thing to do is switch providers. Ask a few friends with various providers to use them in your house and figure out which ones work. Ask how they work in other areas as well though...

Some providers will let you out of your contract for coverage related issues.

Most repeaters on the market are junk and don't even bother with the antenna booster scam. Those are onlt good for voiding warranties.
posted by Octoparrot at 3:43 PM on January 2, 2007


Have you looked at something like this Wilson Smart Technologyâ„¢ In-Building Bi-Directional Cellular Amplifier / Repeater
posted by mrbob at 3:54 PM on January 2, 2007


I know a couple of people successfully using the Wilson repeater mrbob mentioned, FWIW. It's easier to switch providers if you don't have a particular reason to stay with the one you're currently using, though.

The people I know using them do so because they either have no other provider option at their location or they use so many mobile to mobile minutes that switching to another carrier would substantially increase their total costs, thus paying for the repeater in a few months.

Another option is to get a phone with better reception, as the one you're currently using sucks, to put it bluntly. I've seen the US equivalent in action, and it shows no signal in a lot of places where my Nokias can make and receive calls without much trouble.
posted by wierdo at 3:58 PM on January 2, 2007


The LG 6070 was not very good in most respects, reception being one of them. Assuming you're with TELUS Mobility, try their Nokia 6265i or any of the Motorola RAZR phones - they do a better job of grabbing a signal. (Get info on phone return policies when you buy, in case this doesn't do the trick.)
posted by danwalker at 4:13 PM on January 2, 2007


Thanks all...I'm kind of stuck with this provider (Telus, as danwalker suggests) for now (soon to be moving rurally and they have the best coverage there). A new phone may be the ticket so I'll be heading down to the local Telus store to see if they will help out. Currently the situation is ridiculous.
posted by Kickstart70 at 5:31 PM on January 2, 2007


It all depends on how bad you want the coverage to improve.

Call Forwarding probably isn't an option as most carriers charge you something like $0.10 per forwarded minute.

Being in the US I'm not familiar with TELUS but an in-building repeater is the way to go. If your cell is your primary phone then at $400 US it would pay for itself in less than a year vs. getting a landline phone.

http://cellantenna.com/repeater/building_repeater.htm

How many bars of signal do you have in your home? If it's No Service a new phone probably won't improve your coverage drastically.
posted by SupaDave at 1:55 PM on January 4, 2007


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