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cell phone reception in the country

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15469
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Apparently, there is such a thing as a "repeater".  You stick an antenna on the roof and then a contraption in your house will talk to any cell phone and repeat the signal to the antenna. 

My new digs in montana has terrible cell reception.  So I got something like this.  It has a box that you put on the window (it has suction cups) and it gets a cell tower signal.  Then it has a little thing that you lay on your desk.  You put your cell next to it and your cell thinks the little thing is a cell tower.  So if you have one bar at the window, the window thing has full house power to talk the longer distance to the tower.  And your cell gets four bars as long as it is close to the little thing. 

Except the one I have doesn't work worth a damn.

Anybody have any experience with any of these sorts of things working?


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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15469
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Here's an interesting thing for finding where there are cell towers around you:  http://www.cellreception.com/towers
Jeremy Bunag
volunteer

Joined: May 30, 2007
Posts: 231
Location: Central IL
My brother in law tried with limited success.  He got one that had something that went on the roof and brought the signal down to his basement, where he put some sort of repeaters, I think.

It helped, but not as much as he hoped.

That cell tower link you had is pretty neat, it lets me know who the heck owns those towers I see around me.  Unfortunately, the ones I looked at didn't have carriers associated with 'em!

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15469
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
So I shelled out the big bucks and got a full fledged "repeater".  The outside antenna is mounted on the roof.  There is a wire from that to a computer-ish contraption about the size of a linksys wireless router.  And a wire from the contraption to an indoor antenna. 

It works.  I get three bars all over the house.  My phone calls sound fine and they are no longer dropped.

                        


Joined: Sep 13, 2010
Posts: 148
Location: South Central Idaho
We are getting a new tower just three miles away after five years of poor reception. Come on Sept. 24th


If you get too far from the stone age .. things go haywire.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
I have an htc smartphone that I use as a modem on my computer, i generally use an antenna that plugs into the phone that has a magnet on it that you stick on the biggetst magnetic thing you can find to give you a better signal..generally i'm on line with 2 bars and get fairly good high speed internet.

my son next door has an outdoor antenna up on a pole..and he generally has 4 bars..so he gets better than I do..(he supposedly was going to put one of those up here, but i haven't seen it yet).

Michigan passed a bill to put broadband in rural areas, over the next two years..don't know what tha will do for us..if anything


Brenda

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Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
Brenda Groth wrote:

Michigan passed a bill to put broadband in rural areas, over the next two years..don't know what tha will do for us..if anything


you know that when they say rural areas they mean the thumb, voters in Detroit don't often remember we exist way up there
John Skaggs


Joined: Sep 21, 2010
Posts: 4
Location: Boondock, KY
We put a yagi directional antenna up on a 20 ft. mast (a couple pieces of metal conduit) and pointed it at the nearest cell tower.  Ordinarily we have no reception here, despite living on a high hill.  With the antenna we get 3-4 bars.  A low-loss cable is important.  It's the only phone we have.  We also found a bluetooth device that bridges the cell phone to our regular cordless, so we can pretend we have a landline.  Works flawlessly.  Uses minimal power, so is not a tremendous drain on our reserves.

John
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
the map they showed on the news showed grand traverse, wexford, missaukee, manistee, kalkaska counties..i'm going to google meijers communication and see if i can find it..brb.
Michigan broadband providers to receive more than $81 million to expand high speed Internet accessPosted in August 22nd, 2010 by AdminBSnook in Communications, Government & Politics, Science & Technology  Tags: ARRA, Broadband, Internet, Michigan LANSING – Governor Jennifer Granholm has announced that three Michigan providers will receive more than $81 million in federal grants to expand broadband internet access in a large, underserved portion of the state, including Southwest Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, and to build public computing centers in more than 200 Michigan communities.

The awards, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), are part of a total federal investment of nearly $7 billion to expand high speed internet access and adoption across the country.  The projects announced August 18th were part of the second round of Recovery Act funding for broadband expansion and are administered by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

“To diversify our economy and create jobs, we must expand high speed internet access to every corner of the state,” said Granholm.  “This Recovery Act investment will allow us to build the broadband backbone necessary to bring reliable, high speed connectivity to communities, businesses, schools, and public safety providers all over Michigan.”

The Michigan projects announced last week include:

Merit Network Inc. – $69.6 million

This award will allow Merit Network to offer affordable middle-mile broadband service in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, with additional connections to research and educational networks in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  The project will directly connect 61 community institutions to broadband.  As many as 1.8 million people and 49,000 businesses will benefit from the expanded service.

Michigan State University (MSU) – $6.1 million

This award will allow Michigan State University to establish and upgrade more than 200 public computer centers in south-central Michigan, reducing the wait time for computer workstations and providing access for an additional 180,000 weekly users at public computing centers.

Bloomingdale Communications Inc. – $5.6 million

This award will allow Bloomingdale Communications to offer affordable middle-mile broadband service in southwest lower Michigan.  The project will directly connect 40 community institutions to broadband and serve as many as 32,400 people and 1,000 regional businesses.

In January, Merit Network and MSU received more than $34 million in first-round federal broadband funding, and six Michigan organizations were awarded more than $42 million in additional second-round funding announced earlier this month.  To date, Michigan projects have been awarded nearly $158 million in Recovery Act funds to expand access to high speed internet service across the state.

According to an analysis released by the National Economic Council last year, overall Recovery Act investments in broadband are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near term and expand economic development and job opportunities in communities that are being left behind in the new knowledge-based economy.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
I may have had the name wrong, here is more info on Merit network and a map
http://www.merit.edu/news/newsarchive/article.php?article=20100120_REACH3MCaward
                              


Joined: Dec 12, 2010
Posts: 8
We're on the eastern Rocky Mountain Front in Montana and get no reception at our house.  We called Alternative Wireless (alternativewireless.com) and talked to Katherine.  She recommended that we get a trucker antenna with a Wilson signal booster.  Took us from nothing to 4 bars.  They were very knowledgeable and helpful.  (They had a 30 day return policy, which was nice.)

Disclaimer: I am not associated with alternative wireless in any way except as a happy customer.

Jen
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
paul wheaton wrote:the one I have doesn't work worth a damn.


Same here. Doesn't work well at all. Not worth the $300 I wasted on it.
Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1306
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
paul wheaton wrote:
My new digs in montana has terrible cell reception.  So I got something like this.  It has a box that you put on the window (it has suction cups) and it gets a cell tower signal.  Then it has a little thing that you lay on your desk.  You put your cell next to it and your cell thinks the little thing is a cell tower.  So if you have one bar at the window, the window thing has full house power to talk the longer distance to the tower.  And your cell gets four bars as long as it is close to the little thing. 

Except the one I have doesn't work worth a damn.

Anybody have any experience with any of these sorts of things working?


There is a rule that has to be followed with these things.... cell phones are 900MHz and up, they work "line of sight". That is, you should (with the right optics) see the antenna on the tower. Anything in the way degrades the signal. The signal will pass through glass or wood to some extent... but not hills or a forest of trees (one tree or two might be ok) So the thing you stick on the window is an antenna.... if your cell phone doesn't work at that window.... the sticky thingy won't either.

Repeater:

                              /---------transmitter--<--receiver-------\
Antenna A-------/\                                                                /\--------antenna B
                              \---------receiver ->-transmitter-------/

Antenna A is able to see the cell tower..... antenna B can see your cell phone. If the antennas have a high enough gain... the middle part can be replaced with a wire. With a high gain antenna, aiming becomes important. As mentioned elsewhere, a low loss wire (AKA feed) helps a lot if the two antennas are any distance apart.


-- 300 million meters per second ... it's not just a good idea, it's the law.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
paul wheaton wrote:
So I shelled out the big bucks and got a full fledged "repeater"



Paul, do you have brands, models, or approximate prices on the two options you tried? We have spotty coverage with the cell here, and are looking into repeater options (hopefully the less expensive ones will work as we are not so far from the tower).

Your link to a 'full fledged repeater" takes me to info on Griswold Skillets... very nice pans, but not what I am looking for. 
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I worked for http://wilsonelectronics.com/ almost 10 years ago. They were an external cellular antenna manufacturer, very good antennas, service, warentee, etc. they were just testing the repeaters when I left, but I know they are availible... pricy but will boost the signal in the area or building.... or you can get an antenna and connect it to your phone via adapter (if there is one for your phone) ... go to the website and call tech support, they will help determine what you need and get you in touch with the closest retailer.
josh brill


Joined: Sep 06, 2010
Posts: 86
    
    1
In vermont we have really spotty coverage in general and our house is in a dead spot.  We have internet though so you can get a box from verizon or At&t that creates a minitower that then passes through the internet.  It works pretty darn well.  But you have to have broadband available which is also pretty spotty in vermont.


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Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1306
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
jbreezy wrote:
In vermont we have really spotty coverage in general and our house is in a dead spot.  We have internet though so you can get a box from verizon or At&t that creates a minitower that then passes through the internet.  It works pretty darn well.  But you have to have broadband available which is also pretty spotty in vermont.


Ok, sounds good, but why not just go Internet to phone? You can get a box for this to plug an ordinary phone into, but even just use the sound card with the right software. I am guessing you have a monthly cell package with unlimited local? I pay $.30 a min on a pay as you go, but don't make very many calls... so it works out to less than $10 a month. I use gmail for free for outgoing calls.... local is North America.

Do you pay a monthly fee to set up your mini-tower, or is it a "pay once, use free" thing because you are already paying for cell service?
josh brill


Joined: Sep 06, 2010
Posts: 86
    
    1
The verizon box you just pay for buying the box.  I dont have at&t but i think you have the purchase cost then by default there is something you pay for monthly but it is not required.  I just like having one number for everything so using the cellphone as my house/business/around town phone makes sense to me.
 
 
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