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Thread: Solution for low signal/roaming at home?

  1. #1
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    Solution for low signal/roaming at home?

    Not sure if this is the right section for posting this, but here it goes: I'm currently with Tmobile prepaid and use an unlocked smartphone. I have a very hard time using my phone in my own house because I usually only get a bar or two, phone drops calls and goes into roaming (same happens for another family member living here). I'm not in the middle of nowhere either, I'm in the city but near the border to Mexico. Years ago when I was with AT&T (also prepaid) and it would also go into roaming (though less frequently) I was told by a representative that it was because I was close to the border and picking up the signal from a Mexican antenna.

    I was considering getting a signal booster to see if maybe it would help but then I read a review by someone who said it hadn't worked for them and when he walked into a Tmobile store, he was told that because he had an unlocked phone and not one from Tmobile, the signal booster wouldn't work. I figure that's something they'd tell you just to get you to buy a phone from them, but this individual claims that after he got a phone made specifically for use with Tmobile, it worked perfectly and didn't even need the booster.

    So what I'm wondering is, would using an unlocked phone from another carrier be causing my problems? Or would the problem persist since supposedly it's due to being close to another country's antenna? Would it make a difference if I switched to a CDMA carrier? What if I were to use a non-smart phone that doesn't use LTE? Obviously I'm not tech savvy at all so any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

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    You could try to check the coverage maps of the other 3 major carriers (Verizon, At&T, Sprint) but keep in mind that the maps are not always exactly accurate.

    As for as I know an unlocked phone will work fine if it supports all the bands your carrier uses. If it is is missing some bands it might not work as good. Someone else might know more about how to check what bands you have and what bands you need.

    As far as I know a dumb phone that does not use LTE would not really help but it is possible another phone can get better reception.

    I am using another carrier but also have weak reception and what I do is put my phone near a window and it helps my reception so that might be something you can try.

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    If you have some signal, a cell signal booster ~should help. But it's not guaranteed. I have one, several people I know also have them. Mine is a Wilson, now Weboost brand. Without it I don't have a usable signal in the house, but with it I do. I use it mainly for home internet (cellular, cable and dsl aren't available here). TMobile, Att, and Sprint have no coverage at all here (30+ miles), but Verizon and the regional carrier work fine. 30 day money back minus shipping (don't know how Amazon would handle that).

    If you have access to reliable broadband internet, you could look into a network extender instead.

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    T-Mobile has marginal coverage in most of US rural areas, they concentrate on big cities and interstate highways (and even there is not always granted). The frequency bands that they use have trouble penetrating inside some buildings.

    Switch to another carrier (Verizon or AT&T based) that is supported by your phone. Sprint has even worse coverage problems than T-Mobile.

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    Does your device support WiFi calling?

  6. #6
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    I'm pretty sure the T-Mobile "signal booster" the T-Mo rep was telling you about was not actually a signal booster, but a Wi-Fi router that you install which is optimized for T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling feature, something that you can only get with a phone purchased through T-Mobile (which explains why you're non-T-Mobile phone wouldn't work with it).

    The simplest solution would be to switch to a T-Mo phone with Wi-Fi calling. IMO, Wi-Fi calling is an ideal solution because it puts the problem of coverage at home into your hands, and can give you coverage even in the basement of a house as long as your Wi-Fi coverage is good. It also solves the problem of having no signal at other locations, as long as you're on Wi-Fi. You don't actually need T-Mobile's router to use the Wi-Fi; it just prioritizes T-Mobile calls through Wi-Fi.

    A budget solution, if you don't want to buy a new device, would be to use Google Voice and it's Wi-Fi calling beta feature. But you'd have to give out a new phone number, or port your existing number to GV. A lot of people use Google Voice and the FreedomPop LTE SIM for practically free service. If this interests you there are plenty of threads here and elsewhere on the topic.

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    WiFi calling it is useless. Get a real cell provider and forget about the tricks to get phone service...
    Hangouts provides that "WiFi calling" for free on any phone/tablet, at lest you don't need a special phone to compensate for provider's lack of signal.

  8. #8
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    I wouldn't want to have to depend on Wi-Fi for home usage. What about an emergency, if your internet goes out?
    iPhone X on ATT Prepaid. Backup iPhone 7+ on inexpensive Verizon MVNO plan. Hopefully covers me in the continental US for phone usage. Cheaper than a single unlimited plan on ATT or Verizon or T-Mobile.

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    I keep my phones on wifi calling preferred since it seems to have less issues regardless of carrier.

    I've had isp issues in the past but once I ironed that out WiFi calling became pretty much bullet proof. Unless my internet went down it worked flawlessly

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    I am not sure if you have wired broadband at home with wi-fi.

    However, like the others have said if you already have wired broadband at home with wi-fi then using google voice is probable the best easy option. You can make phone calls for free to anywhere in the united states with google voice. You can use google voice from a PC or from an android phone using the hangouts app.

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    Thanks for your input, everyone. I'll consider my options. People just seem to encounter problems in this part of town so I guess that explains why several of my neighbors still have landlines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djphilosophy View Post
    I'm pretty sure the T-Mobile "signal booster" the T-Mo rep was telling you about was not actually a signal booster, but a Wi-Fi router that you install which is optimized for T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling feature, something that you can only get with a phone purchased through T-Mobile (which explains why you're non-T-Mobile phone wouldn't work with it).
    It wasn't me, I read it in a review posted by someone else for a Tmobile signal booster (the ones that got for about $70).

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    Like others have said, go with the carrier that gets the best signal in the areas you frequent. I had to change from a Verizon MVNO to Cricket a few years ago just because of a Verizon dead spot at some new property.

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    Quote Originally Posted by e.mote View Post
    >What about an emergency, if your internet goes out?

    Wired Internet is more reliable than wireless Internet => wifi-calling is more reliable than cell call.
    I'm thinking of cases where you have weather outages. If the local cell tower has backup power, cell access might be all you have if power is knocked out due to weather.

    Though my local cable is more robust than it was a few years back, it can go out at times.

  15. #15
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    I can see where it may be difficult if you are in a marginal area of the country. Especially if you are someplace with service only with one carrier, but maybe you work someplace that requires a different carrier. And maybe the route in between has yet a different carrier.

    I tried Sprint for a year back over 10 years ago, but it turned out to be too marginal at home.

    I was happy with Verizon over the last couple years, but coverage wasn't stable at my desk at work. But when I'm on the road, Verizon coverage is better for about a 20 mile stretch than my current ATT Prepaid service. My workaround is to have an inexpensive backup plan on Verizon for the road if necessary. But I can afford to keep a backup phone. The 2 plans together cost less than my last ATT Postpaid plan.

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