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Thread: Cell booster in metal shop.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Newalla Oklahoma

    Cell booster in metal shop.

    I've been in my metal building since October. When I first moved my tools in I liked that the shop automatically became a "No Cell Zone". Unfortunately I am now on call 24/7 for my real job, which means the "No Cell Zone" I once loved could potentially get me in big trouble.
    Do any of you guys have a cell phone booster for your metal building? It seems the ones that I have been able to find which are designed for permanent installation are pretty expensive. I was hoping to find something under $100. Something that boosts the data signal would be even better so I can stream Internet radio.
    Duc in altum!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Monroe, MI
    We are looking to reside my shop in steel and I've been looking into them. You won't find one under $100, unless you get a deal on a used one. I've been looking at the zBoost YX545 which get mixed reviews but I'm thinking in a big open space it will probably work. I'll buy it from Amazon so I can return it if needed.

    If you have Verizon and want to boost the LTE signal, you need one that covers the 700mhz band which is ton to be even more expensive. If 3G is enough that uses the same bands as voice.

    I assume you don't already have broadband access but if you did another option is a femtocell--basically a personal cell tower. Different companies call them different names, I.e. Verizon calls theirs a Network Extender. Still not under $100.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    West Texas
    Friends of mine swear by this brand (Zboost YX510) because it covers all bands and service providers -- requires an outside antenna.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Beaverton, OR
    Could you get a land line dropped in for a reasonable price?

  5. #5
    For about $50, I bought an external antenna, which was a whip about 18" long. It was intended to help reception for my wife's phone, which she needed for work. Our issue wasn't a steel building, but the fact that the nearest cell tower was about 13 miles away. The end of the cable was simply a pad which could be attached to a phone by velcro, or you could just lay the phone on the pad and use the speaker option. Signal strength went from one bar to mostly two bars, but dropped calls were eliminated. Obviously, you couldn't carry the phone around with you, but this was the cheapest thing I found, and worked for us.

  6. #6
    I use a Cisco Microcell which is an actual small "cell tower" that uses your existing Broadband connection to reach the nearest cell provider's land station. I think it was about $100 and has worked great for nearly 2 years so far. If you have an internet port in the shop, this could work for you. Oops, sorry, this seems to be AT&T specific as far as I can find online. Contact your provider. They may offer a similar solution.
    She said “How many woodworking tools do you need?”
    I said “Why? Do you know someone who is selling some?”

  7. #7
    Our service is through Sprint and they gave us an 'Airave' booster for free. It works great in our metal roofed house, giving us a 'cell tower' inside the house with max bars all of the time... but it only works for Sprint phones.

  8. #8
    2013-06-21 16.11.31.jpgI have a Wilson cell booster that I purchased from Solid Signal it works well but I do not remember how much it costs

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    You have several options. Others have posted above, it is the Airave for Sprint, Microcell for ATT, Verizon calls it a network extender, and T-Moblile does not currently offer a product. The product pages are below:
    Depending on your service provider they may send you a device for free and also provide the service for free. If not, these units cost close to $100 and they charge $5-$10 bucks a month. The downside to this is you will need to have internet service in your shop. You could extend wireless service to your shop and run it from another wireless base station. Do note that this is not the most reliable solution.

    If you already have wireless internet in your shop you could use Google Voice which handles both text and voice calls. If you have Sprint service then Google Voice will integrate with your Sprint service and use just one number and you can avoid using the femtocell idea. (As a disclaimer, I do work for one of the cell providers and so you may notice more details about one of those providers, I have tried to do as much research on the other providers so as to not be biased)

    If you decide to go the femtocell route there are some caveats to be aware of. You will need to run the GPS antenna to a window where you can get reception or it is best to run it outside and facing the direction of the cell tower. The unit can take up to an hour to come back online after a power failure or extended internet loss of connectivity. If you are heavily using your broadband connection it will affect your call quality. If you start a call when your phone is connected to the femtocell and leave it will usually transition the call to the nearest tower and your conversation continues. There are the odd hiccups where your call will disconnect but that is very rare. I have found the converse is not true. If you start a call outside the range of the femtocell and move within range the call drops majority of the time. I have a femtocell and would be glad to answer any questions you have or give you my personal opinion about them.

    The signal boosters are a mixed bag. I honestly found the Zytel brand to be a piece of garbage for ATT and Sprint bandwidth. The Wilson Electronics are superb and you will pay for that performance($300-$800). I personally prefer the signal boosters over the femtocell because it will support multiple carriers and simultaneous users. The femtocell has the advantage that calls made within range of the femtocell do not count against your monthly minutes nor do they deduct from your data plan. Something else to think about is based on carrier you will not get all frequencies boosted. ATT and Verizon have great Wilson support. You can boost CDMA/GSM, EVDO, EVDO-a, and LTE. There is no LTE or HPSA+ boost for Sprint and T-Mobile so you are stuck with 3G data rates on those two carriers. I would highly recommend getting a UPS for your signal booster as well. The other plus with the signal booster is you can customize your coverage area based on the antenna(s) you choose.
    My friend Fred taught me that relationships are like fine tool makers, what you pay is but a small part, what matters most is the time, passion, and care that was spent and the joy that you have.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Monroe, MI
    Jamie, did you end up doing anything yet?

  11. Wilson Electronics.

  12. #12
    Just check the radiation level of the active cell devices, it may be too high.
    It may harm your health. It is emiting radiation all the time, even you are not using it.

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