“Hello, Hello? Oh, fudge; I don’t have a signal. Now what?”
Sound familiar? If you have a cellphone, it probably happens more than you would like to admit. In fact, for many of us, obtaining a cellphone signal at home or work can prove to be a constant irritant — especially in those instances where a call has been dropped in the middle of a business discussion with your boss or perhaps after going through a lengthy hold pattern for a medical office.
However, it is also accepted that this is to be expected, since our connections are dependent on how far we are from the carrier’s cellphone towers or where we are situated in regard to mountains or man-made buildings. In fact, any of these possibilities can have an unwanted effect on the signal we receive. Fortunately, one can sometimes move out of the dreaded dead zone by simply moving closer to a window or going outdoors to increase the signal. However, if this is a regular occurrence that you are constantly fighting, there are other alternatives that can make your life easier and provide you with a strong signal — no matter where you are.
In fact, there are many options that can help you boost the signal from your provider’s cell tower to your phone. Two of the options will require the consumer to pay for them. The first of these options is to use a signal booster — many of which are designed for use in both cars and inside buildings. The second option to improve your signal reception is to use a direct wired antenna. If, however, you decide to try either of these options, I would suggest that you seek professional advice from a reliable cellphone company in your area as some equipment will work better than others.
There are also other options available that may meet your needs. One such option is to use what is known as a femtocell. Femtocell relies on a network connection rather than a traditional cell tower — similar to VoIP (voice over IP) services like Skype; you will need a broadband connection for a femtocell to function properly. Of course, this option — like others — is not guaranteed, but I would like to share my foray into using a femtocell with you. It began as the result of my own difficulty in receiving a proper signal from Sprint, and maybe my experience will help save you some money.
My femtocell experience began with my purchase of a used unit from a vendor doing business on Amazon. When the femtocell unit arrived, I merely connected the device to my home network. Once the setup was complete, I basically had my cellphone making calls through the Internet — kind of like VoIP. It worked well, but when I learned that Sprint provided its own femtocell for free, I returned the unit I had purchased.
The new femtocell unit also worked without issue, however, due to my location, I had to eventually give up on Sprint — not because I didn’t like the plan, but because it didn’t improve my signal quality as much as I required; voice calls were mostly choppy and constantly being dropped. I also learned something that may help you. The old adage, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, applies to getting a femtocell for free. While I was fortunate to hear about the free unit offered through Sprint, I have since learned that all of the major carriers offer free femtocells, but many are reluctant to give you a unit for free. Therefore, you may have to resort to extreme vocalization of your unhappiness at the service before you can get the carrier to relinquish one for free.
One of the other things I learned, which is usually printed in the user’s manual, is that it really does take a few hours for the femtocell to stabilize. You may also have to get your phone provisioned, which seems like a fancy word for getting your phone authorized on the network. I believe that this is to prevent any other phone from using your connection, but this is merely a guess on my part.
So, if you are interested in trying a femtocell service, discuss your location and service plan with a representative from your own carrier to see if they think it will help to increase your phone’s performance. Over all, however, I was pleased with the femtocell service I received and found the experience both reliable and easy to set up. Unfortunately for me, my carrier could not solve the other issues that I had with its service. This meant that I had to change carriers, but with this change, I am happy to report that I am now receiving a reliable signal both in my home and around town.
These are the suggestions that I know can work for you; like everything else in life, you will need to experiment in order to determine which one will work best to increase your personal cellphone signal.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by VC Guy