I have been trying to do a little research on ways to boost my cell phone signal both at home and while on the road. The more I read the more confused I become. Here is a brief summary of the problems I am trying to resolve.
First, we live out in the boonies and can barely receive a signal at home (maybe one or two bars at best). If you have seen the TV commercials showing the guy sitting on top of the file cabinet next to the window to get a usable signal that's us. Virtually no usable signal inside the house. The current provider is Verizon which we would like to keep. We have tried Alltel, US Cellular and Nextel and have the same problems or worse.
Second, while traveling in our RV we would like to have a more stable connection for my wife to use to connect to her office.
The phone we use is a Blackberry 7130e which does not have an external antenna or jack (internal only). If possible we would prefer to use a wireless booster/amplifier and not be directly connected (defeats the purpose of a "mobile" phone). Most of the wireless devices I have found require you to be within just a few feet/inches of the internal amplifier to get a decent signal. Then there is the issue of the distance between the external and internal devices. With a 39' coach it is hard to get a 50-70' separation!
I am hoping someone smarter than I or at least with a little more patience has figured this out and will share their thoughts. Is there a system that can be used to resolve the issues both at home and in our RV?
I too use Verizon and on occasion must use something to get a better signal. I use a Wilson Dual Band Cellular/PCS amplifier. With the exception of the antenna, I purchased this as a kit. Wilson part number is 801201. It contains an amplifier, 12v power supply (12v input, 6v output), a 6' extension cable, a low profile antenna as option A and a small antenna as option B.
I purchased separately a Wilson antenna that is supposed to be attached to both sides of a glass window. However, I have taped the two pieces together and place it whenever it get the best signal.
I find that the Option A Low Profile antenna is worthless, regardless of the distance from antenna to phone. However, the Option B antenna works great. It comes with Velcro (tm) which I don't use. While using this antenna close to the back of the phone, signal strength goes from none-to-one bars to max.
I have never had a problem with oscillation when the antennas too close to one another. The amplifier has indicator lights which will tell you if they are too close to one another. I generally have a separation of 12 to 20 feet.
Wilson's web page is Wilson Cellular and their phone number is 1-866-294-1660
I know there are solutions out there, but they may be rather expensive. You can get a good antenna for the roof, an amplifier and then a device to rebroadcast the cell signal inside the RV. They use set-ups like this in movie star trailers and production trailers etc. Sorry I don't have specific part numbers and models, but I am sure you can do what you are proposing.
On the other hand, you might consider getting a mobile phone with an external antenna jack. Then use a device like a Doc-n-talk to connect to standard phone lines. That is what I do. I have a Wilson trucker antenna on the bus roof. It is hardwired to my phone. Phone is bluetooth to the Doc-n-talk. Then standard phone lines are used to connect a couple of standard telephones. I put one inside the bus in my office, and another out front in the patio. True, not totally wireless anymore, but works reliably. But if you want wireless, a standard cordless phone will work. Might interfere with your WiFi, but that is another topic.
I have not yet had a need to use an amplifier, but someday it might be a gadget to experiment with. Just getting the antenna outside and up about 12' can do wonders.
Julie's need to always be connected to the world via cell phone has nothing to do with business or emergencies. But it is very important to her none the less. VERY important it seems.
We love to boondock and quite often we are in areas of the desert that have little if any signal.
This was a hardware problem. So after some "research", we settled on a Wilson Trucker Antenna mounted on the roof, a Smooth-Talker amp velcroed inside a cabinet and a hard wire to our cell phone. (The Wilson engineers that I talked to discouraged us from trying to go wireless to our cell phone).
This combination has worked perfectly for us. If there is even one-half a bar, this setup boosts it to seven.
Julie is never without her cell phone and I am happy.
While in Boerne, Texas, we found a cellular repair shop to have one of our cell phones repaired.
The cellular signal in this shop was marginal at best, but the shop had a solution. They have a cellular 'repeater'. An outside antenna is mounted on the roof, and then an amplifier is mounted inside and a small antenna is mounted on the ceiling. Marginal signals are received on the outside antenna, amplified and repeated to the indoor antenna and all the cell phones within range of the indoor antenna then have excellent signals. I don't know what the range of the indoor antenna is, but the shop owner said that it was about the same as a wifi signal, and could be used as far as his parking lot also.
There is no physical connection to the cell phones using the repeater. Multiple cell phones use the repeater inside the shop.
We became a dealer for Smooth-Talker cell phone amplifiers a few months ago. They work extremely well, when I'm down to one bar I can plug the amplifier in and it usually jumps up to 5 bars. The price is reasonable at about $400. When used with my blue-tooth earpiece I'm not tethered to the unit and get good results inside the RV. I also keep a magnetic mount antenna for the tow car.
-------------------- Don Marr WWW.OREGONRV.NET 541-683-5361 See where I am Country Coach Concept 40' F1 - D3|7000s|99W|LinkSys wireless with 1000mw WiFi amp & Ext. antenna Posts: 3364 | From: Eugene, OR | Registered: Jun 2004
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I am in the market for some form of amplifier/repeater. How do they work with 'aircards' or other cellular broadband arrangements? The company that I visited in Boerne is a wholesaler, and will sell to 'walk-ins', but ususally sells through their distributors/dealers. They handle both the amplifiers and the repeaters.
What I liked about the repeater device was the ability to use it on both of my cell phones independently. I saw it in action in their repair shop and several technicians were testing cell phones via the repeater simultaneously.
The repeater in about the same size as a linksys router, and simply has an input antenna port and an output antenna port. Runs off of a power supply similar to the linksys power supply. I don't know the voltage.
I am going back to the San Antonio area next week (after Thanksgiving) and I may purchase one to trial. Boerne is about 30 miles west of San Antonio on IH10.
I'll dig out their business card and forward their info to you by email. You might want to look at it also since you are dealing with the products...The company is a wholesaler for all kinds of cellular accessories. And, one big plus for them is that they are a repair facility. For $20, they completely repaired/refurbished one of my cell phones. We had been quoted $160++ to have the phone repaired or replaced.