Ask the Answer Guy – How can I improve cell coverage in my home and office?

Dear Brent,

It has become nearly impossible for me to have a decent conversation on my cell phone. With the constant feedback, dropped connections and delays in voice travel, I dread making or answering calls on my cell and can't depend on it for data. Is there something I can do to improve my reception?

There are two different devices you can buy to address this problem: femtocells and repeaters (also known as boosters). They work, but they're expensive.

Femtocells, sold by AT&T and Verizon, connect to a home network router and use your wired broadband connection to move voice calls and data services to and from your carrier's network. Femtocells don't rely on the carrier's towers at all and provide immediate five-bar coverage across an area of up to 2500 square feet, regardless of how far you are from a cell phone tower. Femtocells can be configured to recognize only the phones you authorize, eliminating the ability of neighbors to tap into your service. Femtocells can only be used at the address where it is registered, which could enable carriers to offer other services, such as 911.

AT&T's solution for any 3G device is the MicroCell for $150 plus other fees imposed by the carrier. For $250, Verizon sells the Network Extender which also supports 3G data and voice and is compatible with all Verizon Wireless phones as well as some headsets.

Unlike femtocells, repeaters/boosters depend on cell tower signals to amplify and rebroadcast stronger signals and work independently of carriers. They are manufactured and sold by third parties and, while they do reach across a larger area than femtocells, cannot be configured to recognize specific phones. Repeater kits pricing depends on how large an area you want to cover and can range from $169 to $399; kits that cover areas larger than 2500 feet can cost up to $600.

Visit www.att.com or www.verizon.com for more on these products.


About Dyan James

Dyan has been researching, writing, copyediting, and proofreading articles across a variety of industries since 1998. She further developed her interest and talent for covering technology while working with the guys at DCG Technical Solutions, Inc. Whether writing from scratch, copyediting or simply polishing, Dyan has mastered the art of turning rough copy or a plain idea into an eloquently written piece.