Can you hear me now? Yes i can!

How to drastically improve your cellphone signal.

I gave-up my landline telephone years ago and have been using only a cellphone. But one of the problems with the magical iPhone 3G is that I can’t get AT&T service in Hawaiian Paradise Park. Actually a roomate had a Palm Treo and he couldn’t get an AT&T signal either so it’s not just the iPhone.

Okay, I CAN get AT&T service if I feel like standing outside the house in the sun/rain/dark amongst the coqui frogs screaming where I can get a signal. And as much as I’d like to blame AT&T all cellphone providers have weak areas on the Big Island and mainland. I’ve been places like Kalopa State Park where my Verizon cellphone had zero signal while the person next to me blabbered away on her AT&T phone.

The usual AT&T signal inside the house - before

What you see above is what I’m used to seeing inside the house in HPP. ‘No Service’ or maybe sometimes it will tease me and say ‘Searching…’ but it maybe might get one bar for a couple of minutes.

It means plenty of missed calls, not even dropped as you’d have to GET a call in order to drop it. And plenty of missed SMS messages.

I had resorted to a convoluted system of forwarding my AT&T calls to my Skype number before getting inside. Or having people call my Google Voice number so it will ring both my mobile phone and Skype at the same time.

Well, I got fed-up and got busy.

AT&T signal inside house - after

Above you’ll see my signal bars after my solution. Full bars and 3G service! This is not fakery! A couple more screen snapshots below.

AT&T signal showing -db instead of signal bars (closer to zero the better). Outside I'd usually get like -120 db if anything.

Real signal power shown above. iPhone App running on AT&T 3G inside the house.

And a final screen snap showing how download speed is pretty good. Ping and upload isn’t very good but it’s better than nothing.

Here’s the secret to the boost

Cellphone repeater system

I bought a signal repeater system. It has an antenna that goes outside the house, brings it in with a cable and retransmits it inside the house.

The guts of the zBoost repeater.

The long white stick in the upper right is the outside antenna that catches the cellphone signal. It gets carried by the white coaxial cable which runs from that to inside the house. That plugs into the center repeater which takes the signal and send it out over it’s smaller antenna.

There are some tricky points to setting this up but it does work. I noticed that the signal has a tough time going through hollow-tile concrete walls. If you’re house is made of wood you should be in good shape.

I’ve only set it up temporarily in this testing phase. I need to figure out the best way to mount the antenna.

Where can you get one of these gizmos? At with free shipping. Note that if you’re a Nextel user you’ll need the more expensive 510 model.

Sure I have an ad for this thing on my blog but I must say it does work. There’s another repeater made by Wilson Electronics but you have to piece it together more instead of it being a kit. If you’re in a fringe area you may need a Yagi beam antenna to point to the cellphone tower.

Note that if the outside antenna is at roof height and you’d normally only get one bar when standing on the roof, then realistically you will only get one bar of usable signal even with this set-up. Garbage in/Garbage out. So even though I have 5 bars it’s more like 1-2 bars of real talk power to the outside world. But at least it works now.

Any questions just ask in the comments.

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