Use these solutions to improve cell phone signals in home, cottage, winter lodge, or summer cabin
The relationships, work, and information that fuels our lives is made possible by our cell phones and devices. Remaining connected at home is no longer a matter of want, it has become a need.
This post is for those of you who have already tried the free tricks to improve cell phone signals and are now looking for paid solutions that can improve cell phone signals within the walls of your home, cottage, winter lodge, or summer cabin.
To improve your cellular signal for your home you’ll want to start by answering the following questions to better assess your needs.
1. What’s the strongest signal immediately outside of your home?
This is likely the clearest identifier for which solution will best suit your needs. To get started, learn how you can take a signal reading here. Use the results from your signal reading to determine which cellular solution will work best for you.
- If the strongest single point of cellular signal outside of your home is less than -105 dBm your needs will likely be best met by a femtocell, which can help you get better cell service in small spaces.
- If your reading is -94 to -104 dBm you are in a gray zone; you may be able to use a signal booster but may also require a femtocell.
- If your reading is better than -93 dBm you will be well suited for a cell phone signal booster and, depending on the signal booster kit you select and the size of your home, you can expect to receive usable cellular signals in spaces spanning from just a few rooms to an entire more.
2. How big is your home?
The solution to boost the cellular signal for a two-bedroom apartment will likely be different from the solution for a five-bedroom home or 12,000-square-foot mansion. Signal boosters tend to provide usable signal to larger coverage areas whereas femtocells are generally used in small spaces the size of one to two rooms.
3. In how much of your home do you need to use mobile devices?
Think about how much area within your home will need to have reliable cellular signals. Depending on the solution you select and the signal outside of your building, you may only see an improvement in a small area. If a small area of coverage is sufficient, a femtocell may be a suitable solution. On the other hand, if you have a moderate outside signal, a signal booster may be able to repeat that signal throughout your home.
4. What is your budget for a cell phone booster?
Your pricing options range from a few hundred dollars for a femtocell or signal booster that can support small spaces to $1000 for very large homes. For signal boosters that can cover very large homes, the cost can exceed $1000 and may require a cellular system design service, which SureCall provides free for buildings above 10,000 square feet. Your cellular provider may offer you a free (or discounted) femtocell solution to enhance your signal within a small area of your home. To pursue that option you’ll need to call your provider.
5. Are there other carriers who provide better service for your area?
If you have poor reception with your cellular provider but have friends or family who have better reception with a different cellular carrier, you may want to consider transferring carriers. There can be early contract termination fees if you are not at the end of a contract term. Check with your cellular provider for their contract termination fee or to see when your existing contract expires.
Based on your responses to the questions above you will have one of two viable cellular solutions available to you: femtocell or signal booster.
Dive into the details of each cellular signal solution below.
What is a Femtocell?
Also known as microcells, femtocells produce a cellular signal by using your internet connection. Femtocells can be purchased through your cellular carrier and will be carrier specific. So, if you have a cellular plan with Verizon you will want to purchase your femtocell through Verizon.
Femtocells are the ideal solution for homes with no cellular reception, which we consider readings lower than -100 dBm. In most instances, femtocells will improve cell phone signals for a small space, but typically not much more than one to two small rooms.
Femtocells cost between $100 and $400 and require a monthly subscription that will be added to your internet bill. Your cellular carrier may provide this for free, but this is very situational and something you shouldn’t depend on.
What is a Signal Booster?
Also known as bi-directional amplifiers (BDA) or repeaters, cell phone signal boosters come in kits that include an outdoor antenna, indoor antenna, signal booster, and cabling to connect and power the system. Some kits may combine the indoor or outdoor antenna and booster for a minimalist appearance in your home.
Signal boosters, also called network extenders, are carrier agnostic. In other words, for example, a Verizon network extender or signal booster from SureCall will improve cell service for Verizon, and every other North American carrier. These are the best solution for homes with weak cellular reception (readings stronger than -93 dBm) outside of the building.
Cell phone signal boosters work by capturing the signal that exists outside of your home with an outdoor antenna before feeding it to the signal booster. The signal booster then amplifies the signal strength and sends it to the indoor antenna to transmit the signal inside of your home.
Some signal boosters are more powerful than others, and the coverage area will primarily depend on the signal that exists outside of your home and density of internal walls and building structure.
Generally, with a clear line of sight, signal booster kits with a Yagi outdoor antenna can reach towers up to 40 miles away, whereas omni-directional outdoor antenna kits reach towers up to 20 miles away. This range is dependent on the strength of the signal leaving the tower and the number of obstacles between you and that tower.
Signal boosters cost around $300 for small homes and apartments, around $400 to $600 for large homes, and around $1000 for very large homes. These kits can be customized with different indoor antennas to adapt to the layout of your home and outdoor antennas to adapt to the distance between you and the nearest cell phone tower.
Both femtocells and cell phone signal boosters present strong solutions that, given your cellular circumstance, can take you from weak or unusable cellular signals to strong signals. If you have any questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or to view your signal booster options, check out all of our signal boosters for home.