How to boost a cell signal in the wilderness?
June 26, 2013 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Are there any products out there that will boost a 1-bar 4G signal in the middle of the woods?

I am looking to boost a 1-bar 4G signal that is spotty at best in the middle of a heavily forested area. I have access to electrical plugs, etc - are there any products out there that I can plug in, or require only basic installation to ensure that I have a steady signal?
posted by perpetualstroll to Technology (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Which provider do you use? Verizon and AT&T have network extenders.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:05 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use a Wilson DB pro to boost my cell signal (DB is for dual band...if its just one phone or one provider you don't have to go that expensive). It works! However the trick is that the antenna has to pick up the you have to find the strongest signal with your phone and put the antenna in that location.

Its not an easy install ( you have to consider antenna placement, run cords, etc) but Wilson is great about helping you with that and you can find other peoples advice on the web. I would check out a Wilson Electronics device...they have several to fit diferent situations. I am happy with mine.
posted by MultiFaceted at 8:23 AM on June 26, 2013

There might be phones that have antenna jacks, I don't know (and you don't mention) if you are talking about a phone or a card, but it is very common for wireless cards to have a jack into which you can put an antenna. Like these.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2013

I have one of those AT&T microcells and it works great, but it does require a broadband internet connection and gives you a good signal in roughly a 50 foot radius, so you need to consider those limitations.
posted by TedW at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2013

I'd try a Wilson Sleek 4G, but you'll have to make sure it's going to work with your carrier (looks like the 4G version of the Sleek is more carrier specific than the 3G version). If you want to plug into a normal outlet instead of a 12-volt, you'll need to add the Home/Office Accessory Kit. Total for both should be around $125.
posted by LowellLarson at 9:13 AM on June 26, 2013

So, just working off of radio theory here, which is what your phone signal is anyway. While there are some products that may make an incomming signal a bit clearer for your phone to interpret, your outgoing signal will be limited by the amount of power your phone can put out, so, in my opinion, none of the stick on signal boosters are anything more than a scam.

The only real option is as others have stated, the microcell or cell extender devices which all require power to operate, and some require broadband internet, so it really depends on what your situation is. Are you going camping for a few days and want a signal? If that's it, you're likely better living with having to go somewhere in order to make a call. Do you have a vacation cabin that gets weak signal and you're looking to fix that? Then get a microcell.
posted by Karmic_Enigma at 7:45 PM on June 26, 2013

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