Nearly 70% of cell-phone users report spotty coverage in their homes because wireless signals from a cell tower often are blocked or degraded by landscaping and a home’s walls. There are various amplifying devices that can be effective, but not all types work well in all homes.
Ways to get better reception in your home…
Boosters or “signal repeaters” capture a weak cell-phone signal from a cell tower, amplify it and rebroadcast it at four- or five-bar signal strength. They work with most US phone carriers. These are best for people who want a portable device that they can use not just in the house but in a car or office, too, and who only need to rebroadcast the cell-phone signal over a small area—within 20 feet.
Disadvantages: You need to install a little antenna near a window or on the roof of your car, and there must be at least two bars of signal strength from a nearby cell tower to amplify.
Popular: Wilson Electronics Sleek is a compact amplifier that boosts voice call signals and 3G data speed on all US networks except Nextel’s. $85 at online retailers such as Amazon.com.
Femtocells are miniature cell-phone towers that you plug into your Internet router. They work by acquiring a cell-phone signal through your Internet connection and then redistributing the signal inside your home. These are best for rural areas where there may not be any cell-phone signals to amplify or in dense urban areas where the signals can be too weak to boost. They typically give you five-bar coverage across an area of up to 100 feet away. Make sure to buy a femtocell that supports your particular cell-phone network. Typical cost: $200 to $300 at online retailers such as Amazon.com. You also may be able to purchase one directly from your cell-phone service provider. You may have to pay a monthly $5-to-$20 fee in addition to your monthly cell-phone bill.
Source: Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics, a wireless consulting firm in Dedham, Massachusetts. He was previously a senior vice president and head of telecom research for The Nielsen Company. www.ReconAnalytics.com