If you have lousy or nonexistent cell phone reception at home, don't hang it all up. For $400 to $800, you can install your own home-based cell tower that boosts cell phone signals for flawless service.
Here's how it works. An antenna mounted outside the house receives signals from the phone company's cell tower and sends them to an amplifier to boost the signal. That signal is then broadcast throughout the house via an interior antenna. Special “low-loss” coaxial cables connect the components. The system works equally well for sending and receiving cell phone calls. In very large houses or ones that have masonry partitions, you may need to add antennas elsewhere in the house for clear signals. But that's easily done by using specialized splitter connectors and additional cables.
Mounting the exterior antenna is simple: It just clamps onto a typical antenna mast and the low-loss cable screws directly into it. You'll need to mount the amplifier near an outlet and out of the weather, so it's best to mount it inside the house in a spot where you can run cables to both antennas. The interior antenna is lightweight. After you connect the cable to it, simply screw it to the ceiling or wall. It's best to position it at least 7 ft. above the floor.
The tricky part is orienting the exterior antenna for the strongest signal. When ordering your parts, order a “patch cord” that fits your brand and model of phone. Plug one end into your phone and the other directly into the antenna. Every newer phone has built-in electronics that'll identify signal strength as you turn the antenna and anchor it. The directions that come with the amplifier will help with this.
To find the exact parts you need, go online. If you're unsure what you need, contact either the manufacturer or one of the suppliers for help.
Cell Phone Signal Boost System
A cell phone signal boost system has four basic parts—the external antenna (1), the amplifier (2), the inside antenna (3) and the coaxial cables that connect them (4).
External Antenna and Amplifier
External Antenna (1): Sends and receives cell phone signals from a cell phone tower. Bi-directional amplifier (2): Amplifies signals coming from the external antenna (listening) and the signals coming from your cell phone (talking).
Interior Antenna and Cables
Internal antenna (3): Sends and receives signals to cell phones within the house. Low-loss coaxial cable (4): This special cable keeps interference from other electronics to a minimum and is crucial for transmitting signals to and from the components.