July 16, 2013
How To Get Cell Service Anywhere (Yes, Even In a Dead Zone)
Sometimes, the best part of a summertime weekend getaway is the fact that there’s not a cell phone tower for miles. Other times, though, being totally cut off just isn’t realistic—and in those cases, you’re probably going to need a solution for your half-a-bar-of-service problem. We’ve rounded up a list of the best ways to get service in the middle of nowhere, so you can escape in peace (while still staying connected!)
If You Get Spotty Coverage: Bluetooth
We’ve all been there: for some reason, the phone can only make calls when it’s carefully positioned on the windowsill/the deck ledge/the top of the mailbox. You might laugh, but next time you need to make a call, set up your phone in the spot with the best signal (taping in place if necessary) and link it to a Bluetooth headset. This will give you the freedom to move around a little, as the phone should be able to route the call through your headset, no problem.
If You Have Internet Access, But Awful Cell Coverage: A Femtocell
Get a hold of a femtocell, or small cell, from your service provider. It’s a small cellular base station that connects to your broadband and will support between 2 and 4 cell phones. A femtocell is a great option if you really need indoor cell reception, because the signal will be able to make it through walls. It’s not cheap, but if you’re in a dead zone often, it could be well worth it.
If You Don’t Have Internet Access OR Cell Coverage: A Cellular Repeater
Track down a cellular repeater/wireless cellular signal booster. These devices use an external antenna to collect the best cellular signal, and then amplify and rebroadcast the signal to a building. While these can be expensive, they can support multiple cell phones, and they are incredibly effective at creating a strong signal. They can even save your phone’s battery, because it takes less power to pick up a signal from such a close and strong signal source. Like the femtocell, a cell repeater isn’t the cheapest option out there, but if you’re really stuck in the boonies more than once it might be something to consider.
If You’re Not Made Of Money: A Pay-As-You-Go Phone
Not all of us own houses in the deep woods we can outfit with a femtocell, just like that. For the rest of us, there’s the obvious but often overlooked fallback plan—a no-contract, pay-as-you-go phone. In most areas, there’s at least one service provider that can offer more than half a bar, so figure out who it is and get a cheap no-contract phone. It’s not ideal for working vacations, of course, but for road trips and emergency calls, it can be a perfect solution.
If You’re Abroad and Have Internet Access: Google Voice or Skype
Google Voice is a great option if you’re heading across borders or oceans but still have an Internet connection. It’s inexpensive, very easy to use, and offers a good alternative for short-term travelers or the cost-conscious with access to the internet. Skype is also a good option, although its great price (free!) sometimes comes with performance issues.
What are your favorite ways to get around dead spots? Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!