I'd appreciate any practical, specific advice on the feasibility of a modest-cost cell phone extender for a private residence in a weak signal location in the Stanford University area of the San Francisco peninsula:
Details are: Verizon service, 3 family members on a family plan, all with inexpensive low-end Samsung phones, resident in a one-story house in a low spot on the back edge of Stanford campus (along JSB below the "Big Dish", for those who know the area). We generally get zero or one flickering tower and phones are pretty much unusable inside the house, though they will sporadically ring; we can get 1 tower weakly and sometimes make or receive calls successfully by going outside on the roof or all the way to the back or front edges of the lot.
Web surfing for cell phone extenders brings up a lot of not very clear information, and prices for "repeaters" seem to be in the $300 range. So:1) Recommendations on trying or not trying one of these? Specific brands?
2) Would more expensive higher-end phones have any better sensitivity or chance of working?[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: My experience has been (and I think this is true of most _transmitting_ radios) the antenna is 90 percent of the task. With that in mind, why don't you try an external antenna at least when the phone is not in use. For instance, I have my cell- socket device (for battery charging purposes, and to 'extend' the use of the cell phone to a 'regular' wired phone in my house. Plugged into the cell socket is a 5/8 wave antenna which sets on a pedastle in the corner of one room right near a window. If your phone has an optional jack on it somewhere (like Nokia 5165 does) you can plug in the coax cable there and see if the external antenna makes it work better. I do not think a more expensive phone would make a lot of difference. I have seen _really cheap_ transmitting radios which when outfitted with a _properly tuned, well placed_ antenna started working quite well. As you have found, being outdoors helps a lot; having an external antenna with a couple DB of gain (I suggest 5/8 wave are best for this) placed close to a window inside should help you a lot. I am assuming your phone has some kind of external antenna hookup.
To get such an antenna, Mike Sandman sells them, pedastle, base, coax and all. He'll need to know about your phone plug of course. The URL is. He also has a sort-of 'repeater' device. This 'repeater' mounts outside your house (like under the roof on your porch or on the roof) and _retransmits_ the signal in both directions on the proper frequency to the cell phone which is wherever. On the 'repeater' thing, a directional antenna points to the nearest tower. He uses that for his personal Nextel phone I think. Ask him for advice before you waste a lot of money on this project. PAT]