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Zero Knievel

Cell Phone Signal Booster

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It's gotten to the point of being intolerable on dial-up.  Cell phone WiFi hot spots don't work because we are too far from the nearest tower to get a strong signal.  My AT&T iPhone gets no signal but my parents' Verizon phones get 1 bar...enough to make a decent call if you stand in the right spot of the house.  Needless to say, Verizon is the carrier over the local tower.  When I tested the Verizon hot spot, I got a connection but slower than dial-up speed.

 

There is talk of upgrading our wiring to fiber optics, but if that ever happens there's still the question of monthly cost for broadband service.  We don't use a lot, but just checking e-mail is becoming insufferable...forget doing anything more than that.

 

I'd be looking for something simple and reliable for boosting reception/transmission to the nearest tower.  Affordable would be nice as well, but I want an "install it and forget it" system that does the job when it's powered on.  Whether it comes with the WiFi transmitter or not doesn't matter.  WiFi routers can fail, and it might be better to keep it separate...just in case.  I've searched Amazon, but I honestly don't know what is best for my needs.

 

Suggestions?

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Sometimes the cheapest solution is the best.

Stand on the roof.

In all seriousness, for in-home use, the key is to have an antenna outside the house.  Even the "amp" and "booster" kits you see all use an eave- or roof-mounted antenna for better signal.  The higher the antenna, the more likely to receive signal.  I have several businesses I have to go to that are in areas with great signal but they are in a low-lying area.  I have one guy in particular that I can drive up his driveway to the main road, which is at about roof level of his business, and go from no signal to 3 bars.  If you can get signal on the roof but it's crap in the house, then I'd go with just the antenna.

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I'm looking for hardware recommendations.  We are not line-of-sight to any towers...mountains in the way.  It's amazing we get signal at all.  I fully expected the antenna portion would likely need to be mounted on an eave.

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I have a Wilson RV system that sometimes works miracles.  It's the type that supports multiple devices and carriers.  There's an antenna to mount up high, and another to point towards the inside of the RV.  I have the outside antenna mounted on a long piece of EMT which I attach to the top of the ladder that goes to the RV roof.  It works great in most places.

 

One thing you can try also is to simply connect a good antenna to the Mifi directly, using its antenna ports.  In some locations that's all I need.  That would mean an antenna on a mast on the roof and putting the Mifi close to it to minimize cable length.

 

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I tried a well-rated unit.  Sent it back.  It did a massive improvement on the signal we do get (basic cellular), but no 3G or higher.  It can't pull in what isn't there to start with.  We're just too far away from the tower.

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